Monday, January 31, 2005

Toute une nuit (Chantal Akerman)

Yipes. Watched this film in crit studies class, it might have been the most boring film I've ever seen. I've seen some odd ones, that Chris Marker film about memories, Sans Solei, and the Quay Brothers, Institute Benjamenta, both of which I though had some super interesting aspects...but ultimately suffered from being pull your hair out of your head boring.

But this film took it to a whole new level. The premise was an assortment of everyday, banal activities by a series of characters that live in a neighborhood. Thematically, it had to do with leaving and arriving and men and women and somehow it felt like a feminist film, but I couldn't exactly articulate why, other than the women seemed outside of the male "gaze." The filmmaker is apparently famous for being a "feminist" filmmaker, but it seems to me, that one ought to be able to make a feminist film that is also exciting.

Anyhow, there were literally scenes of people sleeping, of people waiting, of people drinking a soda or a beer, of relationships ending. There were a few "unexpected" events, but they were still not really even on the borderline of being exciting.
Interactive Essays

A photo essay with quotes and stuff....about the election in Iraq. Now, if we could only add a soundtrack. I predict 6 more months.

A report on how the Saudi's are funding Wahhabist mosques in the United States, including one in Culver City. I'm so there this week...
Werner Herzog

Is coming to USC on Friday, which is pretty amazing, considering the fact that I thought the Zaki Gorden series had completely fallen apart and the fact that Herzog is talking at's unexpected and welcome. I'll be taking a crash course of his films in the library tomorrow if anyone is looking for me.
Human Jealously and Selfishness

Just might play into our favor with the Iraq election. Here is a link talking about how Arab news stations covered the election. It appears that the "news" was the election itself and not the violence that accompanied it. I think in the scheme of things, the news folks got it exactly right.

And human jealousy and selfishness, ususally bad things we allow to weigh too heavily on our feelings, may help out in the shaping of a new middle east. I can see men and women in Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia watching the Iraq elections and thinking, "Shit - I WANT that, also."

That's the master plan, isn't it?

There's lots over at Andrew Sullivan about the Iraq election, and he's been pretty fair and back and forth about the whole thing for awhile now. Here's an interesting email.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Over My Head

My crit studies class is dangerously close to being completely over my head and out of my league. So I apologize in advance for the next couple blog entries which will be me trying to decipher French narrative critics. Yipes!
Smart as Usual

The Onion "gets it" better than the "real" media:

"Twenty years ago, I never would've believed that we'd have a black, female Secretary of State, much less one who was a conservative warmonger, too. We've come a long way."

Can you sum up Condi's approval better than that?

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Yeah, Film Is Tough, But....

Unfortunately, so is everything else. Here is an article and lots of fairly passionate responses about 1st year law school grades. Reading it stresses me out...just because at times in my life I saw myself going to law school. The film business is super tough, maybe tougher than law, or medicine, or academia....but these fields, and I would venture to guess any field worth going into, is going to be tough.

Friday, January 28, 2005


It is true that I'll never have enough money to buy Alice, but I think the main point is that you've never had, nor ever will, have the right to sell her.

And this is why comparing the way women are treated in the US today and the way slaves were treated in the South prior to the Civil War is wrong.

Also, I did not say deductive reasoning = nihilistic utopians. I tried to spell out my definition of a nihilistic utopian:

They start with the premise that society is inherently corrupt, and that anything unfair about the status quo has to do with societal and historical injustices. Their conclusion on any issue, is that the status quo AND the possible change, are both indistinguishably, partially flawed, and therefore cannot take and stand by a specific position.

They are the person who will never shoot a movie at all because they can never find a perfect location.

They are the cinematographer who takes 6 hours (and would take 12, if they could) to light a single shot in a single room.

They are the UN, who after 12 years of Saddam evading sanctions, think that he should be given 6 more months to comply.

They are the folks in Iraq who refuse to vote because they don't want an "imposed" democracy.

Screening went great - audience liked the flick - particularly the women. Saw some other short films that have won awards and crap at other little festivals and was not very impressed. Once was decent, but all the others were trash....a couple were truly awful. It made my 508 look good, amongst a suburban, inherently un-arty, crowd. All were shot on digital, had terrible sound, pretty good music, and for the most part, atrocious acting. But it felt like a mini film festival, people asked good questions afterwards - how many takes do you do? How long was the shoot? How long did it take to edit? How did you shoot it? What was the hardest element of making a short film? How did you come up with the idea?

It's funny, the black and white, shot on film thing of 508 really made the film stand out amongst the other ones. Not something I would have thought of. I suggest anyone semi-proud of their 508 should submit it to short festivals and get it seen. They sort of fly under the radar and can really stand out. It made me glad to be at USC because the peeps at USC are way more talented than the folks out in the real world. Please don't jump all over me on this point, I'm sure there are people not as USC that are very talented, but as an average, mean, type of comparison....there's a reason people got into the damn school.
All Right

Finally, a criticism I can agree with!

I don't really know you, but the debate on your blog is interesting. However, I wish you'd post other people's opinions without your parenthetical remarks diluting their arguments. As it is now, you sound like an impatient child, (i agree) interrupting every ten seconds. I do agree with some of what you say, but it would be easier (for me) to follow other people's arguments without your interruptions and more polite (of you) to allow them to state their cases without interruption. (that's what the comments section is for and politeness is not one of my strong suits)

But regardless, this is all true, I must admit I've been strongly influenced by my crit studies reading which is full of "quotes" and (parenthesis) and other hip {things} that are *supposed* to have MEANING^.^
Oh, Man, Another Response

Greg is somewhat convinced by the argument that women are biologically inferior in math and sciences, for reasons that are obscured by sarcasm. (Greg is willing to accept what most researchers on the topic understand to be true, versus what Alice wants to be true...and Greg does not phrase it the way Alice does so as to connate some sort of victimization...but rather, is trying to explain a fact - more men than women in math and science in acadamia - what is Alice's reason for this fact?)

- G finds individuals breaking social stereotypes more interesting, albeit improbable (e.g., the biological improbability of a beautiful genius. Can't be done. Nope.)(Improbable? See Eminem, or Tiger Woods. Are you guys claiming that Denise Richards is convincing as a nuclear scientist? This is the girl who married Charlie Sheen, for chrissake. This is your position?)

-Feminism and civil rights are unfashionable, as, presumably, will someday be those other crazy fads, like gay rights and multiculturalism (can't we ever have any fun?)

-But for those individuals gauche enough to still subscribe to the feminist ideology, the only legitimate way to demonstrate feminism is to be outraged over gross misogyny in other cultures. To be disgruntled about academic leaders making "scientific" claims about biological limitations of women in the United States would be... like griping about a baseball loss. (whose making any claim about biological limitations??? the question is why more men are in science and math professions than women. my point about feminism is that some "feminists" can't see the forest cause they're looking at the trees. it's a metaphor.)

Have I got that right?

The thread is hard to follow, but I'm guessing that it's not unlike the logic that concluded that Africans were better suited to pick cotton because their natural darkness helped them withstand the sun, and that the shapes of their heads made them closer akin to apes. Scientists, backed by piles of research, were willing to swear by it - and by gum, those slaves sure worked hard, so it must have been true. (deductive reasoning by a nihilistic utopian - see the prior post)

Anomalies like Nat Turner and Fredrick Douglas were definitely interesting, but the idea that a strong black man could be a rocket scientist? Well, that's pretty improbable - though, that Carver WAS pretty smart, huh? (deductive reasoning by a nihilistic utopian....with an added flavor of deep cynicism to someone you happen to know and probably suspect isn't waving a confederate flag his doorstep)

I imagine that it got pretty old listening to those abolitionists go on and on about the issue of slavery - get over it already - because if they REALLY cared about the plight of Africans, they would have been shipping some aid back to Africa. It was a mess back there! (so, the way women are treated in America is similar to how slaves were treated? Uhhhh....yeah, I can see that. Alice - please tell Kevin I would like to purchase you - I'll write him a check, he can name the price.)

There are other examples, I suppose, of the dangers of bigotry cloaked in biology - native americans, chinese coolies, the holocaust - but ho hum. The topic is soooo passe that, honestly, it's getting a little boring. (true that)
Deductive Reasoning

I like all the issues that are coming out in this dicussion. But I find a lot of the reactions very knee-jerk. First of all, the quote, "most researchers in this area believe -- that biology plays a bigger role in [differences in ability in mathematical and scientific achievement] than socialization does," ought to give us pause. If this is common amongst researchers - who, I'm guessing, if they had any intention, was the opposite intention, to prove that men and women biologically are equal at math and science - what are we saying? We're saying they are wrong because we think they are wrong? We're starting out with a hypothesis and based on no research, drawing a conclusion, because we wish it to be true or think that it is true because "research" has been flawed in the past. That's simply lazy. And it also pins an undue amount of blame of the discrepancy between men and women math and science professors on societal forces, when in fact, they might not be the sole reason for the discrepancy. Truth, unfortunately, is not what we wish to be true true, but that which can be proven.

**Important disclaimer - this is not to say that men are more biologically better at math than women is THE TRUTH. It is simply to say that the REASON more men succeed in the academic fields of math and science has MORE to do with biological predisposition than whatever societal reasons there are for fewer women in the profession. Both factor in, yet people want to deny that biology has any factor, simply because it's easier to blame society.

And secondly, on the title of this passage, this narrow look at men and women in the academic profession of math and science does not in any way extend to the issue Kevin brings up about opportunities for poor urban folks versus rich suburban folks. Undoubtedly, rich people have more opportunities than poor people, and I doubt if anyone wants to make an argument that rich people are biologically predisposed to being rich and poor people are somehow inferior because of biology. This is reductive reasoning and is most commonly used these days to espouse what I call nihilistic utopia. It starts out with the premise that society is inherently corrupt, and that anything unfair about the status quo has to do with societal and historical injustices.

This form of logic took shape during the build up to the Iraq war and the basic argument was this: well, if we invade and occupy Iraq, what is stopping us from invading and occupying Syria, North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, etc? The conclusion - we cannot invade Iraq because it will set a precedent. This is reductive. The act of invading and occupying and helping to transform Iraq into a self-governed country, rather than a fascist dictatorship, in no way NECESSITES doing the same in any other country. The entire concept of precedent is based upon the precedent SUCCEEDING. We do not continue to do things wrong simply because we did before. If we were making a film and shot at a noisy but beautiful location, there are two potential outcomes: The scene would work despite the sound or the scene wouldn't work because the sound was too bad. If it were the former, we would choose to shoot at the location again for a similar movie. If it were the later, we would remember to not shoot at a noisy location again.

The alternative plan, to the nihilistic utopian, is to never shoot a movie at all because they can never find a perfect location.

The alternative, of course, cannot be simplified to catering to the status quo, accusations of culteral imperialism, or neoconservatism, or whatever hip words the nihilistic utopians want to call anyone who disagrees with them. Some of these charges may be true, but let me point out another way of looking at society...

1) Society is inherently IMPERFECT (major difference from being corrupt, which implies intention)

2) For a society to make choices, it inevitably choose between the lesser of two evils. In the case of women versus men in the sciences - we have a couple of broad choices. We can assume that men and women are equal biologically and then set up a system that REGARDLESS of aptitude tests or qualifications or any of the traditional methods of measuring competence, that we create quotas - the best 100 men and best 100 women become science and math professors. This is not unheard of, we have similar policies in the University with respect to men's and women's sports called Title 9, allowing equal number of scholarships to men and women in sports, despite a lot more sporting interest from men and women. This is why USC does not have a men's soccer team. Or, instead, we have the current system, using imperfect methods of aptitude and competence measurement and hire the best 200 math and science professors, regardless of their gender. Each approach has it's problems, the first approach throws out our accumulated knowledge about aptitude, because of it's flaws and forces us to "start over" with assumptions that we hope are accurate. The second approach is subject to historical and societal prejustices. The question for us is - which is better?

Would someone be a better filmmaker if they have never seen a movie or filmed a movie? They certainly would not be jaded by a male-centric history of motion picture making. Or would someone be a better filmmaker if they had seen the canon of films and studied how a male-dominated industry works and offered their own version of a jaded and corrupt and awful system, that was influenced by this corruption?


Detailed explanation:

Powerline wonders whether the reason for fewer women in the sciences has to do with biological, as opposed to social, reasons. (expository) That is, men are biologically superior at math and science because it was important to know about calculus and mapping the human genome and stuff when we were hunting, whereas those skills weren't so handy for the women cooking and breast feeding. (sarcasm)

I can buy it - except that I honestly don't really care that much. (truth - I don't care that much!) It's much more interesting to me when people are good at things they aren't supposed to be good at, women math professors, white male rappers, black golfers, you know what I mean. (true - it's much more interesting than "proving" who and what has biological in general are stronger than women, big deal. Megan Keane could still kick my ass. That's interesting, and funny.)

It does bug me, however, when Denise Richards plays a nuclear scientist (Tomorrow Never Dies) or Elizabeth Shue plays a genius mathematician (The Saint). I much prefer the nubile high school sex maniac (Wild Things) and the babysitter out of place in the big city (Adventures in Babysitting). Those roles are more appropriate, biologically speaking. (I prefer it when Denise Richards get's it on with Neve Campbell and Matt Dillon, revealing her enormous, perfect boobs in Wild Things than her cock-tease role as a bond chick pretending to be a nuclear physicist. Sue me. These are beautiful, young women, and I don't buy them as I said before, I wouldn't buy Austin Kucher as a scientist, either...or John Travolta, or Salma Hayak (although she's very mutha fucking smart, from what I hear). Does this make me threatened or wary of women?)

If that makes me a non-feminist, oh well. Feminism is soooo passé, anyway. (It's true, feminism is rights are in, mixed ethnicitiy is in, fundamentalist religion is in, civil rights is out...come on, guys, get with the program, you know these things.)

But if you want to take this shit seriously, and truly care about feminism, the PRIMARY issue to a true feminist in this day and age has to be how the Islamic world treats women. If a "feminist" wants to complain to me about how upper middle class American chicks don't have as many opportunities as upper middle class dudes - I think they aren't truly feminists, but rather, using "feminism" to further their own personal interests. Feminists care about women's rights. The right of women to even show themselves in Islamic countries is so horrendous and humiliating, I can't only barely imagine what effect it has on the human soul. To equate that with the fact that women CEO's make 85% of male CEO's - 850,000 G's a year versus 1,000,000 is to reveal such a narrow view of feminism, that it barely qualifies.

It's as if a baseball team won 110 games and lost 52 and the management points to a five game losing steak at the beginning of the year and criticises the team for a shitty year....yeah, it's true, but it completely misses the bigger picture that the team won 110 games, a spectacular feat.
Is it Retard Day On Public Musings or Something?

First Chuck, now Avital...

The original link.

Comments, with Greg's comments included in parathesis.

That's funny - growing up, most of my math teachers were women (me too - or gay men). I was raised to believe that women could and should achieve what they want and that it was the male-dominated society that held us back, not biology (I wasn't raised to think that a male dominated society held women back - in school girls did better than boys. When I played little league, my dad started a girls softball league so my sisters could play just like me, and that league is still going instead of complaining about how a male-dominated society held anyone back, I always thought that if you had a little imagination and a little will, any girl has just as many opportunities as any boy....). In fact as I recall, there was something called the women's rights movement which served to uplift the woman's status. women didn't even have the right to vote until 1920 (thanks 4th grade history)...i'm sure they had a biological reason back then for why women shouldn't vote. (as i said in my original post - I don't give a shit.)
it's too bad you prefer to keep women in "more appropriate" roles of high school sex maniac and flaky babysitter (uhhhh - did i say women? i was talking about denise richards and elizabeth shue. I can't buy austin kucher as a nuclear scientist, either, but do I need to point that out to make a joke?). It seems as if you have a pretty low regard for sad (yeah, you know me) . are we meant to do nothing but entertain men's fantasies? (is this a bad thing?) On a personal note - you don't seem to think less of me because I'm a woman, but maybe I'm wrong... (no, you're right, I think less of you because you are a women, I would much prefer Avital with a penis and hairy chest.)
I've met enough men who don't think women are equipped to direct. (I don't think any of us are equipped to direct - yet) I actually have a very low regard for these men. (I probably do too, but I'm not sure who you're talking about) it's like things have changed so drastically for women and then i hear this ridiculousness from those men. (it's an outrage!) why are men so threatened by women? (because we all secretly want to be women, underneath, and our mothers were hard on us, and because i think it would be cool to be able to suck on my own boobs in the shower)
Feminism is not really passe, but maybe the misinterpretation of what feminism is will be soon. (yes, maybe soon we will all be able to make butt documentaries in harmony with one another)

How does one explain sarcasm?

Thursday, January 27, 2005


Does anybody else find it strange that Greg "warrior of individuality, enemy of burocracy, slayer of the stupid and critic of the masses" works at SPO? Does he really belong behind that desk detailing to 508ers the crap that they must go through to make movies at USC? It's Greg who's going to calmly explain about permits from USC, the restrictions of Joe Wallenstein and the necessity of "the system" USC has set up?

What happened to the Greg I once knew?

COMMENT: Does anybody else find it strange that Chuck is criticising Greg on Greg's blog? And who coined me "warrior of individuality, enemy of bureaucracy, slayer of the stupid, and critic of the masses?" In a way, it's flattering, but I don't feel as though a single element of my being is remotely modified or changed from working at SPO. If it did, then I wouldn't had much to begin with. But as a point in fact, I actually like working there, it's fun meeting new cinema students, especially the hottie undergrads. So the Greg you once knew is respectfully thinking about dropping his ball across the bridge of Chuck's nose next time he sees him.

What if you had kids and they turned out to be really annoying, bratty, little fuck faces?
The Balls

I was sitting in Starbucks, reading a script, sipping on tea, waiting for my shift at SPO...I'm sitting next to these couple of dudes, undergrads talking about something that seemed more important to one of them than the other. The less interested guy was italian or something, decent looking guy. Well, I'm sitting there and this girl comes up to him, in the middle of his conversation with the other guy - she's a decent looking asian girl (and when I say decent, I'm being generous), and she says to the Italian guy, "You've been my eye candy for the past half hour, I was wondering if I could get your number." She didn't say it all that smoothly, but she said it, and the delighted guy gave her his number without being a dick at all about it - just a genuine sense of excitement and flattery.

I was sitting there, dumbfounded. Where did this chick get the balls to do that?

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Forget the Oscars

This is the best MOVIE of the year. It combines political, social, and advertising commentary, in less than a minute. Pure genuis.

I had a long talk last night with a college friend that ended up being largely about American Christians. She told her story of her friend, a sweet, nice, fun, sarcastic, actor chick, who is a rabid Christian. She ran into her the other day and God told her it was selfish for her to continue being an actor and that she now was going to pursue work in the ministry with children.

Hmmm. I hate to by cynical about "Christians," for one, I happen to be one, albeit not a huge practictioner. (I couldn't even bring myself to go to church on Christmas). But regardless, I think it's a little phony to discuss God in the way my friend's friend does....I don't think most Christians think that God and Jesus are this force field presense that they have a permanant I-link to, and who help inform them about decision making. Isn't this a sign of schizophrenia?

Isn't it more reasonable to assume that Christians view Jesus and God a template for a belief system and that each Christian has a common (but individually nuanced) version of what God and Jesus mean to them and they apply their "individually nuanced Christian filter" to the surrounding world?

Anyhow, I don't have an answer to the question, it just seems to me one is a reasonable position with respect to religion and the other way is a little bit of crazy talk.

Bud damn, this Christian, Donald Sensing has a great mutha-fucking blog and he talks interestingly about the Iraq situation, as usual.
Can't Get This Song Out of My Head

Upside down,
Boy you turn me,
Inside Out,
And round and round.

Man, it's really annoying.

Full lyrics here.
If You've Got A Lot of Time to Kill

This is sort of fun, the 99 hotest chicks in the world, according to

I didn't even know about a lot of the top ones.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

I've Got An Idea...

Let's all start sucking on Johnnie Carson's dick? Howard Stern nails it on his show today when he calls out Jay Leno for being a massive hypocrite for doing a solemn tribute show...Leno, of course, being the guy who finagled Carson's job, getting him to retire early, and not allowing Carson to name his own successor (he would have named Letterman).

I'm not a massive asshole, and I do believe in reflecting and respecting someone once they've passed - but isn't the issue really about how we treat each other while we're LIVING? Stern says that in real life, Carson was a miserable prick, treating people like a-holes, and his self imposed seclusion had as much to do with his own misanthropy as old age. And now all these sycophants, would couldn't lift a phone in real life to get in touch with their good friend, talk about how important Johnny was to them, what a great man, and all this greatest generation nonsense. Frankly, once it was said, it was said....the fact that all these old-time misogynist, racist, WASPs, keeping beating us over the head with their Greatest Generation bullshit, makes me think it may be a little suspect - that they need this noble, moral authority to feel special because they can't figure out how to work a computer.

Okay, maybe I'm tired or something, cause I'm usually not this grumpy.

Here is some basic, get to know you info on terrorist groups. Shiiiit, I could organize a bigger terrorist operation than some of these guys.
Documentary Subjects?

Hmmmm...check this out, in San Pedro, too. Isn't that where they make all the porn? Porn and terrorism. Now that's entertainment.
Oscar Picks

Some combination of what I hope will win mixed with what I think will win, regardless whether I've seen the film. Why not, right?

Best motion picture of the year
The Aviator
Finding Neverland
Million Dollar Baby

Performance by an actor in a leading role
Don Cheadle, Hotel Rwanda
*Johnny Depp, Finding Neverland
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Aviator
Clint Eastwood, Million Dollar Baby
Jamie Foxx, Ray

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Alan Alda, The Aviator
**Thomas Haden Church, Sideways
*Jamie Foxx, Collateral
Morgan Freeman, Million Dollar Baby
**Clive Owen, Closer

Original screenplay
The Aviator
*Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Hotel Rwanda
The Incredibles
Vera Drake

Achievement in cinematography
The Aviator
House of Flying Daggers
*The Passion of the Christ
The Phantom of the Opera
A Very Long Engagement

Visual Effects
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
I, Robot
Spider-Man 2

Who gives a shit?
Achievement in costume design
The Aviator
Finding Neverland
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

Achievement in sound mixing
The Aviator
The Incredibles
The Polar Express
Spider-Man 2

Sadly, I have no idea...
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
"Accidentally In Love," Shrek 2
*"Al Otro Lado Del Río," The Motorcycle Diaries
"Believe," The Polar Express
"Learn To Be Lonely," The Phantom of the Opera
"Look To Your Path (Vois Sur Ton Chemin)," The Chorus (Les Choristes)

Can't argue with spanish
Best animated feature film of the year
********The Incredibles
Shark Tale
Shrek 2

Best documentary feature
*Born into Brothels
The Story of the Weeping Camel
Super Size Me
Tupac: Resurrection
Twist of Faith

Best animated short film
Birthday Boy
Gopher Broke
*Guard Dog

Sure bet.

Achievement in directing
The Aviator, Martin Scorsese
*Million Dollar Baby, Clint Eastwood
Ray, Taylor Hackford
*Sideways, Alexander Payne
Vera Drake, Mike Leigh

Performance by an actress in a leading role
*Annette Bening, Being Julia
Catalina Sandino Moreno, Maria Full of Grace
Imelda Staunton, Vera Drake
Hilary Swank, Million Dollar Baby
*Kate Winslet, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Cate Blanchett, The Aviator
Laura Linney, Kinsey
*Virginia Madsen, Sideways
Sophie Okonedo, Hotel Rwanda
Natalie Portman, Closer

Adapted screenplay
Before Sunset
Finding Neverland
Million Dollar Baby
The Motorcycle Diaries

Achievement in film editing
The Aviator
Finding Neverland
Million Dollar Baby

Achievement in art direction
The Aviator
*Finding Neverland
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
The Phantom of the Opera
A Very Long Engagement

Achievement in makeup
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
The Passion of the Christ
*The Sea Inside

Achievement in sound editing
*The Incredibles
The Polar Express
Spider-Man 2

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
*Finding Neverland
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
The Passion of the Christ
The Village

Best foreign language film of the year
As It Is in Heaven
The Chorus (Les Choristes)
*The Sea Inside

Best documentary short subject
Autism Is a World
The Children of Leningradsky
Mighty Times: The Children's March
Sister Rose's Passion

Best live action short film
Everything in This Country Must
*Little Terrorist
7:35 in the Morning ( 7:35 de la Mañana)
Two Cars, One Night


A New Record?

Shot and edited a film in a single day...awesome! Of course, it's only a one minute project, but I'm quite please with how it has turned out - we'll see what the class thinks.
Oscar nominations are out. Do we really care? - I'm much more intersted in what the worst movies of the year were. The Razzies nominated:

White Chicks
Surviving Christmas
Superbabies: Baby Genius 2

Chuck's nominees:
The Whole Ten Yards
Napolean Dynamite
Open Water

Worst Actor:
Vin Diesel
Colin Farrel
Ben Affleck
Ben Stiller

Chuck's nominees:
Jude Law

Worst Actress:
Angelina Jolie
Hilary Duff
Halle Berry
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen

I second the Halle Berry sentiment! I'm tired of bad acting hot chicks, that's why we have porn!

Monday, January 24, 2005

Holy Moly

This post from the Belmont Club is rich with stirring rhetoric articulating why we're in Iraq and what will will achieve by being there.

Iraq is like going in a big nasty hand in poker, where we've got some interesting angles - you know I'm in those type of hands.

This is up there - either in my great or very worthwhile, I'm going to need to sleep on it. Man, this movie is fascinating. It takes place in Australia and these two kids are left stranded in the outback after their father shoots himself in the head and burns their car. The older sister feeds her younger brother fairy tales to lead them to safety. On their way, they meet an aboriginal boy on his "Walkabout" where he goes off to survive in the wild on his own, before returning to his family. On the obvious level, it's about the two different cultures and narratives meeting one another, but the style adds so much, intercut images of the sun to demarcate time, along with inserts of animals native to the outback interacting with the characters on their journey. There are competing narratives, the brother and sister are operating on different levels, the boy is in Robinson Crusoe, an eager adventurer, whereas the girl is on a mission to save the group. The aborginal boy, too, is on a much different narrative, trying to prove his worth and survive his walkabout. It's as if Sam Peckinpah made Crocodile Dundee with precocious children. And the last scene rules.

Other movies by Nick Roeg...The Man Who Fell to Earth featuring David Bowie. If you just feel like being really, really weird, I highly recommend.
Anal Prison Butt Rape

Is most definately a big problem because it's more or less sanctioned by society.

Let's do something about this, guys!

UPDATE: "I'm doing my part by staying out of prison, thanks." I wish I could be smug and avoid proselytizing about prison rape, but....isn't this comment precisely the problem? We view prison rape as something that happens to others. But the point isn't that we should fear prison rape because it may happen to us, but because it's unjust to allow individuals to be systematically raped - even if they are criminals.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

A Crappy Al Queda Article

But it acts like it knows it's shit.
A Lovely Sundance Story

What a nice story. Puke. I'm sick of reading about this crap. I wish they'd tell the story of the 50 other movies that finally get into Sundance, are good films, and then never get distributed.

It's the the exact opposite of war coverage - 1 in 100 bad things happen and it gets covered. In movies, 1 in a 100 good things happens and it gets covered.
What Will They Think of Next?

This sounds very, very odd.
SUNDAY NIGHT - a photo journal

Abode Posted by Hello

Gated Posted by Hello

Car Posted by Hello

Street Posted by Hello

Reading for crit studies brings me back to some rough ethics classes I had during college. I had to read these essays a couple of times to get what this kooky Russian dude was talking about. But here goes...Bakhtin is concerned with the literary origins and function of the novel - as separate from greek tragedy and epic. He cites parody as a "root cause" of the novel. Parody, prominant during greek times, as well as current times, creates a sense of distance from language. Language exists not only as the "primary means of representation" but also, in the case of parody, as the OBJECT. What parody does is create a counter part to the simple representational quality of language. It allows the author to exist within his words - to speak in his own langauge versus merely existing outside of it. The author of a novel is within the conversation and is constantly criticizing himself.

Another factor of the rise of the novel is what Bakhtin calls "heteroglossia," a mixture of languages and peoples and cultures - which destroys any myth of a single unitary language. Rome was bilingual, according to Bakhtin, due to having been spread throughout the world, intersecting with other cultures and languages.

What came of this mixing was mockery and parody, soon to be applied to all languages exposed to others. Thus, the novel became the genre that could represent heteroglossia, with respect to language, it was both literary and extraliterary (outside it's own existence).

You can imagine what this affect might have on people who believed in the authority of the Bible and the Gospels.

He talks about some other stuff as well, the most interesting to me, the job of the novelist to create an "artistic hybrid" of "images" from various uses of language. The good novelist, as opposed to a hack writer, systematizes a random combination of "elements of language" to create an ongoing directly authorial language.

Okay, so all of that is a little trippy, but this guy certainly is.

If he were a film student, he'd be off screening Nick Roeg and Peter Greenaway films, in some warehouse drinking coffee and writing handwritten journals, with the occassional use of some form of speed. He'd also have a blog with it's own unique interface.

Summary: He makes his main point at the end, "Language, no longer conceived as a sacrosanct and solitary embodiment of meaning and truth, becomes merely one of many possible ways to hypothesize meaning." Pretty smart, I guess.
On a Platform Against Democracy

I'd say Zarqawi isn't in danger of winning much popular support...but then again, that's really not what he was going for, was it?

As Jon Voight warns Deniro in Heat, "(Pacino) can swing and miss, he only needs to be right once." Likewise here - Zarqawi can keep swinging and missing, but every time he lands a punch, it hurts. That's why I can't get too excited in winning the popularity war with Zarqawi - we need to win by nabbing or killing him.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Feminists and Math and Science and Shit

Powerline wonders whether the reason for fewer women in the sciences has to do with biological, as opposed to social, reasons. That is, men are biologically superior at math and science because it was important to know about calculus and mapping the human genome and stuff when we were hunting, whereas those skills weren't so handy for the women cooking and breast feeding.

I can buy it - except that I honestly don't really care that much. It's much more interesting to me when people are good at things they aren't supposed to be good at, women math professors, white male rappers, black golfers, you know what I mean.

It does bug me, however, when Denise Richards plays a nuclear scientist (Tomorrow Never Dies) or Elizabeth Shue plays a genius mathematician (The Saint). I much prefer the nubile high school sex maniac (Wild Things) and the babysitter out of place in the big city (Adventures in Babysitting). Those roles are more appropriate, biologically speaking.

If that makes me a non-feminist, oh well. Feminism is soooo passé, anyway.
Bush Inaguration

I didn't listen to or read or protest against it.

But Andrew Sullivan has some quotes that I agree with:

BEST LINE: "Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave."

MOST SIGNIFICANT LINE: "So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world."

MY PERSONAL FAVORITE: "Americans, at our best, value the life we see in one another, and must always remember that even the unwanted have worth. And our country must abandon all the habits of racism, because we cannot carry the message of freedom and the baggage of bigotry at the same time."

Friday, January 21, 2005

A Documentary

Here we go....Muslim Student Organization at USC. This is certainly a start. Read this frigging website.
Hotel Rwanda

A few powerful sequences doesn't make a movie. Man, what a subject, what a possibility for a film. But the execution is so poor. Incredibly predictable writing. None of the characters are interesting, except Don Cheadle. Somehow, Terry George manages to make Nick Nolte and Juoaquin Phoenix boring - which must be difficult.

The story deserves a much better film. I didn't understand what drove the decision making of the interahame and the Hutu army. I didn't understand the thought behind the UN and US decision to not intervene. There are lots of accusations thrown around, but no analysis or understanding of what real people were actually thinking. It made the film feel like it was beating you over the head with the message "We should do something about this, guys." Although exactly what, who frigging knows?

But the film got made, which is something. I noticed no studio was attached. I wonder if a studio would attack this type of subject matter? I guess not.

Rwanda. It's so fucking embarrassing to know something like that happened. I can't even write anything, despite feeling like I should have volumes to say.

Questions I have:

1. Were people in the UN fired for dereliction of duty for not intervening or trying to stop the genocide?

2. Did a single member of Congress lose their seat because of a failure to insist on US action?

3. Do we see films like this to feel guilty for 2 hours and then be able to go on with our regular and frivilous lives?
Debate Time

I work at the Student Production Office, which allows me to do some of my own work during downtime. Today, that meant doing some work for my SA ship.

Now it must be unethical to double bill USC for my hours working at SPO and the work I'm doing for my SA-ship - even though I was technically "doing both."

Thoughts on the issue are welcome.
Uno Mas

Another blog has been added to the Of Local Interest - Madame Coggins has re-started blogging after a long hiatus. The blog is named What Is It, but the aptly named Madame Coggins, refers to her side job that pays for graduate school and the high publishing cost of the blog, that is, running a brothel out of her echo park house. We all realize the subtext of the "What Is It" title - a reference to the Stokes popular album - it is also the specialty of the Coggin brothel, the stroke, the happy ending, or whatever term you prefer for what is officially known as the hand job.

We look forward to lots of double entendre and other clever literary devices to explain the goings on at the Coggin residence. She is, as far as I know, the only Madame operating in Los Angeles who scored a perfect 800 on her verbal SATs.
Abbas Doing Something

He's reacting at least.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

The Genius of Common Sense

Read this little snippet of analysis.

By the way, Virginia Postrel has officially become my new favorite blogger, surpassing the godfather of blogging, Glenn Reynolds. The great thing about it: Glenn would be happy about this development.
Hey Hey Hey

Thanks to Fat Albert, reality TV, and Collateral, shooting in LA went up - according to EIDC. Whooo hoooo. I wonder how many of these permits were for USC films.
The Prince of Darkness

Richard Perle, nicked named the prince of darkness by Ronald Reagan, was on Charlie Rose tonight. This guy is the grand emperor of the neoconservative movement.

His idea: Make Iraq into a functioning democracy and you shatter the myth that Arabs are incapable of democracy....once shattered, the chess pieces are lined up for reform in Iran, Syria, Jordan, and perhaps even the granddaddy of Islamic Fundamentalism - Saudi Arabia.

Jeremy Kagan

Does not take a break during his 3.5 hour classes. The man is a machine.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Bollywood and Hollywood

As a film student I'm ashamed to admit I've never seen a Bollywood film. The emphasis on dancing and music sequences isn't exactly a big sell for me. But, this distribution model over the internet, I must admit, is getting me interested. They make more films than Hollywood each year and I'm sure each film is much cheaper and therefore more able to take risks. Maybe I'll go over there after graduation and try to make movies. Wouldn't that be a trip?

PS - The New Beverly is the best deal in town. $5 for a student to watch a double feature. Last night was Collateral and To Live and Die in LA. Great double Live and Die is a William Friedkin film (French Connection), basically a coked-up fascist cop 80s action flick, a mix of Beverly Hills Cop and Miami Vice, with major homo-eroticism going on, including tight jeans, plently of gratuitous ass shots, and even a silhouetted cock-shot. The plot had plenty of holes, but more than made up for it with some insane sequences - a car chase that certainly endangered lives - a chase sequence in an airport at 30mph - and a great scene when John Turturo is about to be attacked in prison and he sits around pondering who the fuck is going to get their ass kicked - and unheard-of plot devices.

The popcorn costs $2 for a small. The soda, $2 for a big medium. Candy is $1. And the crowd is a bunch of winos and weirdos and ugly chicks and interracial couples and homeless chain smoking Schwin riding musicians and irreverant film students and lonely newcomers to LA.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

This is Crazy

Before and after satellite photos of the tsunami.
Housing Bubble

People have been talking about home prices being overvalued for years. LA, methinks, is awfully susceptible to a bust - as is San Francisco. At some point, the value of certain investments has to be overvalued, speculation cannot go on forever. The example used in the article is the stock market prices of the 1990s. Anyhow, it makes me feel better to be investing in school versus a home, knowing the home prices are overpriced. (I think school is overpriced as well, but I doubt that will go down anytime soon.)

Monday, January 17, 2005

Limited War versus Total War

A fascinating and scary article.

Hypothesis: Our goal should not be "democracy" in Iraq, but rather, victory over Islamic Totalitarianism. Democracy may spring from that as a side note.

We need a culture of victory to win this war, not try to win "hearts and minds." Americans will not support a war that the do not think can be won.

He thinks if we disengage from Iraq, it will increase the probability that another 9/11 or larger attack will happen on American soil. America will respond with vengence and will occupy all sorts of other countries for fear of being constantly attacked. Our nation and world will change drastically - and for the much worse.
Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging dark of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross-county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you know forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness" then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience." - Martin Luther King Jr, in his "Letter from Birmingham Jail."

There's an good argument for Dr. King being the greatest American ever...he articulated and understood the impact of oppression on the soul. If he were alive today, I no doubt he would be most outraged by the behaviour of Islamicists across the globe, particularly in Darfur, Iraq, and Iran.
Interesting Thoughts

Hmmmm, the Iraqi governing counsel goes to the UN to appeal for peace-keeping forces to quell the insurgency. Doesn't sound like a bad idea to me. But Powerline, points out the obvious problems with it.
Decision Time

I think the Palestinians and Abbas need to make a decision - either they are going to stop fighting Israel or they're going to be in perpetual war. They must make a decision and then stick to it, or else they will lose any trust of the Israelis and Palestinian factions will begin continue to take their own action.

Sunday, January 16, 2005


A good nytimes article on the film bees-nass. It looks like our odds are pretty slim of making a living making movies. Dammit.
Tired and Lazy

Tremendously tired and lazy (that's what happens when you sleep at 3 and wake up at 7:30), so much so, I don't feel like blogging.

But on a fun note, I started reading Persepolis, a graphic novel by a Persian woman growing up during the Iranian Revolution. Thus far, it's a amazing.

Islamicists potentially behind a murder of an outspoken Egyptian Coptic in New Jersey. Do people realize what's going on right in front of us - in the middle east, afghanistan, south asia, the netherlands, france, north africa, and america? Something really, really fucked up.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

A Must Read

For me, at least. A CIA study of what the future holds for the next 10, 20 years.

A student was having an open audition today at Zemekis. After finishing helping with a small SA-ship, I was hungry and she had I did the logical thing and auditioned for a the role.

The script was a bit lacking, a story about a politically obsessed 18 year old, whose rivals of those folks supporting a different candidate - she described the performance as being cartoony.

Not giving two shits about the role was liberating and it was fun to audition and make an adjustment.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the role.

Friday, January 14, 2005


My Gmail account is 25% full. I've never deleted a message. I well into the thousands. What will happen when it fills up in roughly 2 - 3 years?
Hollywood and Politics

I always like stuff like this cause it is so funny, in a way.

This article is full of fun info, but I think the writer is a dumb-shit. Apparently because Sideways only made $25 million box office it's overpraised. Come again?

So, I guess he learned something in 4 years of being President.

HEADLINE: Bush: 'Sometimes, words have consequences'

War Coverage

Often makes me think of capture the flag.
Here We Go Again

Sharon suspends talks with the PA. Greeeeaaat.
Rebels on the BackLot

Looks to be awesome. All about the rise of PTA, QT, David O, Spike Jonze, Soderbergh, and Fincher.

But the Quentin Tarantino tales seem the liveliest. One "friend" told writer Waxman, "He'd walk into his office and announce to an assistant. 'I've always wanted to f - - - Anna Nicole Smith. Get me Anna Nicole Smith.' And an hour later she'd come walking in." Tarantino's longtime talent manager, Cathryn Jaymes, whom he fired after "Pulp Fiction" hit big, also tattles. She says Tarantino explained his behavior thus: "You know, I've always been selfish. I don't need to pay a manager anymore. I have an agent. Look, I can get kings and queens on the phone now. I don't need you. What makes you think I'd stay with you anyway?"

Kagan asks us to write: if we could apprentice under one director, who would it be? I didn't want to pick Tarantino because, well, it's sooo played. But maybe I ought to reconsider just for the material.

An interesting article from Like a Colon Cleansing on the African reaction to tsunami relief.

Money quotes:

This cannot be explained by racism against black people. In fact, if it were racism, it would be good news, because then we could hope that the world would one day change its ways, or even be embarrassed into responding with equal care and generosity to Africa's tragedies.

Rather, this difference reminds us that Africa has been institutionalised in the global mindset as a failure. The result is that the international aid it receives (most of it official development assistance) has become inelastic; it's unlikely to increase no matter the scale of the crisis.


It's something we should be able to understand. If you found a colony of 20 starving beggars on the corner of a Kampala or Nairobi street, and then read in the day's paper the story of the best student in primary school exams, who is looking for money to go on to secondary school because his parents are too poor to afford it, whom are you likely to help?

Most Africans would help the student and let the beggars die, because at least the student is going somewhere.

Accurate self-criticism always gives me hope for the world.
Kicking Arab Linguists Out of the Army

Because they're gay. Now here is an issue we all ought to be able to agree on.

Regarding gays in the military: who gives a fuck if they help us win?

Regarding Arab linguists: HELP US!
Save the Drama for your Mama

I don't know why I titled this particular entry this way, I just heard this the other day and thought it was funny....but I guess it somewhat applies to the abuse Michelle Malkin takes for being a "minority conservative."

Some girl in my doc class yesterday expressed interest in a doc about gay republicans - I think there's an interesting doc to be done on "against your interest or against the grain" or something like that, when people examine why some individuals vote against their interests. For instance:

1. Poor folks voting Republican
2. Rich folks voting Liberal
3. Asian folks supporting affirmative action
4. Minorities supporting republicans
5. Gays voting republican
6. Businessmen supporting liberal
7. Hawks voting liberal
8. Catholics (pro-lifers) voting liberal

And also people's reaction to such positions.
Free Speech, Apple, Etc.

Apple is pissed about a blogger releasing product information early - and wants the blogger to reveal his source. The blogger, defining himself as a periodical, thinks he's protected under the 1st Amendment.

These things are never as simple as we would like them to be.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

It's Going to be a Crazy Year

In Tahoe.
Michael Moore

Did Michael Moore hurt the democrats? I've never been sure of this argument - I'm more inclined to think the democrats hurt themselves by letting him sit with Jimmy Carter at the convention and so forth...and not publically dismissing his position with respect to's the typical democrat thing to do - wait and see how popular his message is and then decide where they stand on it.

cites Moore hugging Wes Clark as a symbol of Clark's doom. Early on, I thought Clark might've been the guy....I was quickly proven wrong. But I always thought the way to beat Bush was going to be a right-side attack on Foreign Policy. To say, look, we haven't significant hurt Al Queda ENOUGH. We should have gone in the day after 9/11 and gotten as many of the leaders as possible. We had warned the Taliban prior to 9/11, in the Clinton administration, that if Bin Laden does anything to us, it's your ass. But then we gave them another chance.

Such a response would have had two major effects - one, it would have appeared that we knew what we were up against. It would have demonstrated preparation and readiness to respond. It would also have been be nearly impossible to critique - we got hit hard and we're hitting back even harder.

The dems could have articulated the type of war we are fighting - one against Islamic Fascism as opposed to this "war on terror." We could have defined our goals - elimination of Islamism and how we're going to do it: solicit support of all countries and punish those who dont' support the "War on Islamicism," how to measure progress: FDR used to give Friday Evening chats, updating the country on WWII progress - something like that, candid, honest, and not clouded with rhetoric.

I thought maybe Clark was this type of guy. He never really got rolling, though, and I think got too mixed up with Michael Moore, etc, which way have make him look anti-war or even worse, like Michael Moore's candidate.

Anyhow, I didn't feel this way after 9/11, but do now, and wish I had leaders who would have lead rather than apply what they think is popular.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Men Want to Marry Servants

At least Maureen Dowd thinks so (even worse - she says Mommy). As a, eh-hem, man, I must admit some of what she says is true. Fuck it - she's right on the money and it's damn sad.

All I can say is, I'd date Princess Leah anyday.
The Ice Storm

Can't believe I hadn't seen this movie until today. Brilliant. Loved it. My schedule is odd, I keep having these one hour appointments at odd times during the day and all this space in between class and meetings etc. I figure once school gets going, it'll smooth out. Or maybe it's my planning. Anyhow, it leaves these little pockets, and I've been heading over to the library to watch flicks. Man, this film was full of the "it" teenage actors, huh? Christina Ricci, Frodo and Spiderman. The story and way it was told was so rich and controlled and purposeful. It felt like every detail meant something and there wasn't anything superflous. The ending was great, this almost happy ending, the family being together and all of them almost able to appreciate being there - because each had their own little tragedies throughout the film. But Kevin Kline starts weeping...he can't hold it together, the father isn't able to keep himself and his family together. The final shot is on Toby as if to say - Can you handle it? It's a challenge to men to modernize and discover some new form of masculinity, obviously not patriarchal, but also not hypocritical, to be fathers and husbands and men of substance, without resorting to phony religiousity or patriarchy.

Christina Ricci sums it up while wearing the Richard Nixon mask, "Don't play the stern dad with me."
Pretty Confident

Strategy page and instapundit seem to think we and the Iraqi's CAN win in Iraq. But does this mean we WILL win the war on terror?

Watching Hiroshima Mon'Amour got me thinking about a nuclear bomb and the devastation it could cause. Osama Bin Laden is known for constantly talking about the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki as evidence of America's deep evil. Do we deserve a come-uppetance? A scary number of people probably think so.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Hirsoshima Mon'Amour

Oy vay! On a recommendation I started watching this film in the library this afternoon before class. I nearly cried. Swear to god. I didn't even get to finish the film, because I needed to get to class, but watched about an hour of it. The only other Alain Resnais film I've seen is Providence, which I thought was amazing. This guy has quickly escalated into my top tier of filmmakers - over any other French New Wave filmmaker. This film felt to me like a documentary, footage of Hiroshima and Japanese movie depictions of Hiroshima are cut into this love story between a Japanese man and a French actress. Brilliant stuff, a moment when the Japanese man nearly jumps for joy when she shares a story of her first love with him and reveals that she hasn't told the story to anyone else in the whole world. Something about that moment is so touching. But the horror of the Hiroshima images and the description of the two characters, particularly the French women in describing her reaction to Hiroshima - at first she couldn't believe they could have done it, then she was glad the war was over, then she felt indifferent, then she felt guilty about the indifference. WOW!

I need to watch the whole thing. I was reading the Critereon Collection DVD story about the movie and it said it was Alain Resnais first film. Then I check out his IMDB list and he's done 20 plus films before it. Well, some of them are shorts, apparently, but still...his first feature. Give me a break.

All it takes is one brilliant film and a career is made....
Was Lincoln a Homo?

Apparently there is some debate.

Mary Todd was one ugly broad, so it's not out of the question. Of course, he wasn't such a looker himself....but for guys, it matters less. With his oral skills (pun, thank you) he ought to have been able to get someone hotter.
Aristotle is Full of Shit

So we had assigned reading for my crit studies last night - Aristotle's Poetics, which I'm sure I read in college and neglected. We articulates the first "literary theory," and talks about genres - the epic, the comedy, and the tragedy. His conclusion - there is a hierarchy of genre, and that tragedy, as defined by something that makes you feel pity and fear, at the end, is the highest form. He argues comedy is a less serious form, that it makes men worse than they are in real life and that tradegy and the epic make men better than they are in real life. The difference between the epic and tragedy, for him, is that a tragedy is an epic, but an epic isn't always a tragedy. Hence, the tragedy is superior. "All the elements of an epic poem are found in tragedy, but the elements of a tragedy are anot all found in the epic poem."

He talks about length - which I thought was pertinent. He uses the example of a painting. If it is too small, it cannot be great, because it does not contain enough information. If it is too big, one cannot process all the information in a single viewing. Therefore, there are paramenters that need to be set, in terms of size and scope of a work of literature. We can apply the same to film, I suppose.

He talks about how character is subserviant to plot for the sake of the piece, that audiences respond to action.

Poetry, he writes, comes from an instict to imitate. Humans imitate for pleasure and poetry is an extension of that. (Is that why my girlfriend wanted to watch the porn film and copy their positions? Just kidding - I don't have a girlfriend.) Anyhow, just checking to see if anyone is really reading about this Aristotle entry...I guess I'm writing it because writing helps me remember what I read. Plus, I can go back and see my own summary when I need to write a paper.

Other things - poetry tries to express the universal, whereas history tries to express the particular...a reason, for Aristotle, that poetry is a higher calling. He thinks the plot should be single in it's issue, rather than double...(i wonder what he would say about Pulp Fiction?). The change of fortune should be from good to bad, not because of choices or default of character, but because of circumstance or human weakness. Duh. It's tragedy. But I guess he's the first one to articulate it, so we'll let him be trite...

Anyhow, the rest of the writing, I found boring, he started talking about masculine and feminine words and letter and what vowels are and stuff. I never got into metaphysics and all the minute details of things.

Aristotle was limited because all he had to operate with were the Greek poets. How different would his world-view be if had watched Seinfeld, the Sopranos, Alex Payne, Charlie Chaplin, or read some James Jones, John Steinbeck, Larry McMurtry?

Comedy, as Eugene says, when done well, becomes tragedy. Again, there is some sort of implicit ordering of genres in such a statement - as if it is higher to be a tragedy...but it's true. The end of the little tramp is truly funny, but also deeply sad. Sideways - same thing - deeply funny, but also deeply sad. The music of Bessie Smith, blues, something about it is so sad, yet funny, also. Tragic-comic sensibility, as Cornel West says.

Whatever, Aristotle. I appreciate his scholarly work done way back in the day and for being one of the intellectual bases of Western civilization and all that, but for my money, he's a bore and too damn simple.
Idle Speculation

This title should be a footnote for all of my blog entries. Anyhow, I just was informed that I need to make a deposit into a Charles Schwab Roth IRA account I started years ago when I first started working - like Jan 2001. Since then, I haven't deposited any money it in...for two reasons: 1) the performance SUCKED - I invested at the near peak of the stock market and then 9/11 and subsequent recession, I've gained 0 dollars in four years, when it should have gone up at least 30% over a similar time period and 2) I didn't have the cash flow to do the Roth deposit each year, which would have been smart.

Anyhow, they now inform me, I must make a deposit or the account will be deactivated. They cite a California law that accounts inactive for 12 months get deactivated.

My IDLE SPECULATION is that this a tricky way Arnold hopes to get some money in the coffers of the California state budget. I know a little about what's called escheating - it's a legal term for unclaimed money. After a certain amount of time, the state is able to claim ownership over unclaimed money. If for instance, a class action lawsuit is won, and all the claimants are entitled money....sometimes a claimant does not claim it. (word play). Well, the state gets that money.

I think Arnold is trying to expedite that process and steal some cash from unknowledgeable money holders - including folks like me, who were working and saving and now are back in school without any cash-flow.


Monday, January 10, 2005

After I Get This Filmmaking Thing Out of My System

It'll be worthwhile to do something in politics - either working on a campaign or running for some small office, myself. Civic duty, man. Anyhow - it certainly looks like the dems need the help.

A Blog of War

And he has the same template as Kevin...with just as an obscure name.

Well, not yet - but one day....a phone, an ipod music player, a credit card, a dv camera, a playback device, an organizer, an internet browser....this could be the most significant tool society uses since the automobile (i just made up this rather audacious claim).

PS - cell phones can also be used as sex toys...especially on the vibrate function.
This Should Make Liberals Think

Clinton and Bush, best buddies.

Excellent. First day of school. I attended a 508/310 acting SA/teacher meeting this morning. What a hoot. Seeing the faculty operate behind closed doors is some of the best entertainment I've seen at USC - these folks are characters. I won't go into details for fear of being read and fired from my job (it can happen - ask Alice).

Then I was off to make copies and do my job. Mildly entertaining.

Ate at the UV, got nauseous. Disgusting. But I hung out a bit with some folks I haven't seen in awhile - always nice.

Did more errands, got more tasks for another job I'm doing. Busy, busy.

Attended Interactive Narrative Theory and Practice, a hoity-toity critical studies class that looks completely amazing to me. We are going to write a paper that acts as the first draft of a potentially publishable work. I'm definately going to write about blogging and the interactive potential and narrative structures that are developing each day. We also participate in the labyrith project, some sort of interactive project with different little sub-projects. I am interesting in "Replacing Hollywood," a project focused on the use of cell phones a distribution tool and operating on the premise that Hollywood is a national industry with a set of interests masquerading as a universal image-maker.

We watched Pillow Book, a movie that continues to fascinate me. The film doesn't touch me or emotionally move me, but it constructs this odd world that emphasizes and values a different approach to both movie-making and story-telling. Not to mention a perverse approach to sexuality, which I always appreciate.

Then I argued about torture with Cindy and Kevin.

I ate Burger King because I only had 1/2 hour and 4 dollars in my wallet. Disgusting.

Visual expression was pretty cool. We talked a lot about the visual elements of painting, still photography, and film. It wasn't super sophisticated, but we covered a lot of material and the class will be valuable. I just don't know if I'll have time to take it.

Drove Merker to the bus stop and came home to 5 messages of varying importance.

Ahhh. USC, if nothing else, it keeps you on your toes.

Postrel writes about torture, which happens every day in prisons and we make jokes about it, yet there's an outrage about the prisoner abuse in Cuba and Iraq.

I haven't written much about it, because sadly, I don't care all that much...does that sound inhuman? I don't think we ought to be torturing people for sport - anyone who does that is a sick bastard and should be dealt with - harshly. Yet at the same time, I'd not terribly adverse to using sketchy methods to get information from our enemies. I don't have a problem delegating that authority to "experts." Is that against the Geneva Convention? I guess so. Does that make me a bad person? I suppose. But to me, if the choice is between being nice and winning a war, I choose winning the war any day.

Note: many people argue that torture has proven to not be an effective way of interrogating folks. Fine, if that's the case, I'm all for not torturing. However, I wonder if there isn't a bit of cognitive dissonence going on with that type of thinking....

Also note: Opening up the door to torture is a slippery slope. You don't want to unleash the darkest, ugliest sides of human nature in ourselves. That can quickly spiral out of control.

I think universal outrage over the issue is the easy way out. Consistency is the hobgoblin of simple minds.
Is This True?

More gen x and gen y are living happy middle class lives, better than their parents, without needing to work insano hours?

I hope so.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Dr. Strangelove

Caught the end of the film on the movie channel and it occurred to me, after having read Through our Enemies Eyes, that this satire might have had a negative effect on our current world-view. It mocks the militarism of the US Army, and does a damn good job of it. I wonder how signficantly this film, and the attitude towards militarism it espouses, has influenced the generation of Americans now in power - and by power, I mean the media, the government, scholars, and the professional class.

We look down at professional soldiers willing to go off on a suicide mission to attack the Russians in the film - but aren't those the exact type of soldiers we relied on to win WWII and the Civil War?

Dr. Strangelove mocks the flaws of the excessive militarism of the Cold War, yet we won the Cold War without a huge military confrontation with the Russians. They feared us because of the militarism of many in our armed services. But now, al Queda doesn't fear us, it attacks us without fear of retribution. We are trying to fight these humane wars and our enemies interpret it as weakness - unwilling to take casualties and unwilling to harm citizens.

I'm sure these filmmakers would like to take credit for preventing huge nuclear diasters by warning the government and military - will they also now take responsibility for weakening the resolve and survival genes of our country?
Brad and Jennifer

Driving home from Target, my radio was on 97.1 and these three girls were talking about the Brad and Jennifer split. They wanted guys to call in to talk about why Brad would split with such a great girl like Jenn. So I dialed up and waited a couple callers and spoke my bit - that Brad is out of Jenn's was a relationship doomed from the start. Their marriage always confused me - Brad is like a mega-star, the most sought after guy in Hollywood. Jennifer is essentially a TV star. She happens to have done a few good, small movies, but the only reason we know her is because of Friends. Furthermore, she really only plays a waitress in anything, as far as I can tell.

The radio girls didn't like me too much and pointed out how many men have trophy wives, but that it generally does not matter for men to marry "below" them. Fair enough, but there are certain types of men who don't want trophy wives - and Jennifer isn't a trophy wife. She has to compete with Angelina Jolie and company and so it's tough to hold onto your man, especially since everyone wants him.

I liken it to the Julia Robert, Ben Bratt relationship. She's way out of his league, it was never going to work.
Through Our Enemies Eyes

I finished this book yesterday, written by an Anonymous CIA agent on Osama Bin Laden. He started writing it before 9/11 and got it published shortly after by an obscure press. Since then, it has been lauded as the best work on Osama Bin Laden and he has written a second book called Imperial Hubris, which focuses more on the US reaction to 9/11, criticising the Iraq and Afghan invasions. The author has also "come out" due to the popularity of his books - Michael Scheuer, although for all we know, it could be a fake name.

I found this book to be tremendously interesting - it read part like a narrative, part like an intelligence report, with long chronicles of wins and losses in the war on terror...which, incidentally, he thinks is a misnomer. Bin Laden, he says, is not waging a terror war, but a world-wide Islamic insurgency, primarily motivated by faith. He's created a self-sustaining organization that can run on the cheap, has proven resiliant to US attacks - via intelligence services and now, via the military.

He think westerners far underestimate the power of faith to bin Laden and his followers. He notes that we constantly talk about money and how bin Laden is basically a rich kid that funds terrorist activities. It's true he has money, but has also proven very successful at building profitable businesses and raising money from like-minded Islamicist. He has also suffered major set-backs, losing assets in Saudi Arabia, being duped into buying fake atomic bomb materials, and never using Western banks or financial institutions.

The book, full of great information, tracking al Queda all the way back until the 1980s, does not offer a great proposal for dealing with al Queda and bin Laden. Like an intelligence report, it gives tremendous amounts of information, but no policy solutions. The most I can get from it is that we need a more savage war on terrorism - we need to pummel the enemy, not underestimate him, and beat him into submission...but how exactly, is not answered. He criticises going into Afghanistan and Iraq, because democracy does not know how to grow in those places. But how can we maim al Queda without attacking their base of operations? (Afghan, not Iraq) He thinks waging a "sensitive" war, where we try to minumize civilian casualties is a recipe for losing. He most strongly urges us to focus on specific goals: What do we want to accomplish? How do we measure progress? What do we define as victory?

We have yet to do this coherently. And, I will also note, once we do this, we need to sell our goals to our country and the world, so we can have support rallying behind those goals.

Bin Laden has been clear in his public addresses about his goals: Removal of the US army for the Holy Land. Elimination of the state of Israel. Elimination of apostate regimes in the middle east, namely the Saudi royal family. His tactic - attack the US, who he views as the puppetmaster of all these problems. He will attack the US in increasingly larger attacks until the weight is too much to bear on the citizens and the economy and the US retreats from our support of Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the middle east in general. Bin Laden will urge the formation of a pan-Islamic caliphate that runs the middle east in a strict form of Islam, will sell oil at much higher prices to the rest of the world, and he will build infrasture and schools in the middle east to espouse his world view of jihad - that the west and Islam have been in battle, military and economic, for the past 900 years and that only recently has the Islamicists won anything of significance - the removal of the USSR from Afghanistan. He sees himself as a modern Saladin, the famous Arab warrior who beat and battled the Christians in the crusades.

But he is not an egomaniac and does not claim to be the rightful heir of power for the Islamic world. He thinks the rightful religious men are locked up in Saudi Arabia, mullahs who have been preaching radical Wahhabism for years, that are the high members of Islam. He sees himself as an ordinary Muslim, doing his duty of Jihad since Islam is under constant attack by the West and apostate Muslims.

The strength of his belief is unquestioned, even by those in the Middle East who disagree with him. His competence and the competence of his organization should also be clear, although we like to pooh-pooh an organization whose base is in caves and does not have superior scientific technology. He makes up for a lack of resources with patience and cunning. They beat the Russians, by uniting Arab fighters with Afghan fighters and calling it a holy war. This, in itself, was a major military and organizational triumph...Afghanistan, notoriously a factionalized, tribal place, rarely was united. Yet, during the Russian invasion, Afghans, tough fighters, united together and with the support (money and troops and technology) of Bin Laden and like minded Arabs defeated the largest army in the world, at the time. The Arabs, not known as great fighters, learned from the Afghans and now, the Islamic insurgents, are tougher and more battle-hardened than many fighting forces. Evidence is in their survival against many different enemies - Russians in Chechyna, Chinese troops in Western China, US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, Israeli troops in Palestine, Indian troops in Kashmir. These are the biggest, baddest, armies in the world and the Muslim insurgents are fighting all of them at once - and NOT losing.

Bin Laden has promised increasingly larger attacks agains the US homeland. So what can we expect from him - to keep his word. He has done so, so far, by attacking the Cole, the Embassy's, and 9/11, not to mention a string of other, smaller attacks, and failed attacks. He is contantly trying to find chemical, biological, and nuclear ways to attack us. If there's a will, there's a way...and he will find it. He has already trained and bred competent successors, and engrained a solid work-ethic, patience, and confidence in many of them.

Anonymous thinks it will take another attack, of larger proportions than 9/11, to stir the American public to make the kind of decision it does not want to currently make - a fight to the death with the world-wide Islamicist insurgency, one that has a 20 year head start in training and preparation than us.

The future is going to be gnarly.

Saturday, January 08, 2005


I can't read this whole article - 10 pages long, but it seems somewhat interesting. It talks about the negative effects of the crackdown on fraternity drinking.

My suspicion - no one is really going to stand up strong in favor of frats. They benefitted from a long time of most people not caring enough one way or the other what they were up to. They were funny institutions who threw parties. Nowadays, too many view them as evil, exclusive bastions of male testosterone. They all of sudden became threatening to some. You can't really justify a need for fraternities, but their opponents can justify a reason for not having them.

I wasn't in a fraternity, but I was on a college sports team which had initiations and many of the bonding type of events a fraternity had. They were stupid and irresponsible. But they were memorable, which is a lot more than I can say for any events thrown by any politically correct organization....imagine that. Politically correct and fun - it doesn't seem to go together, now, does it.
A Decent Step

Thomas Friedman writes about the upcoming elections in Iraq, Palestine, and Israel - the battle between theocratic, undemocratic forces and the more tolerant, pragmatic majorities.

Why doesn't Israel crack down on these hardliners who refuse to move from the settlements on the West Bank? Wouldn't that be a sign to the world the Israelis were willing to crack down on their hardliners, and therefore have a right to demand the same from the Palestinians and Iraqis?

UPDATE: Thanks for the comment...yes, Sharon has historically been in bed with the hardliners, however, it was huge news when he went against years of Likud policy and decided to unilaterally withdraw from the West Bank. Here is an opportunity to demonstrate the adherence to his own policy. And if anyone is tough enough to stand up to the extremists, and has the street-cred to do it, it's Sharon.
Okay, California Split

There's something about Altman...I think he'd be a great host of a party. I imagine his film sets were a blast. I'm almost positive that Gould and Segal are truly drunk when they are discussing the seven dwarfs at the bar. Gould in his Altman films is the Jewish Shaft - so badass in a irreverant, 1970s way. When he beats the shit out of the bum who stole his money and when he convinces the gunman to only take half his winnings. Genius. The end of this film is brilliant, an indictment against itself, the movie ends unbelievably good for the protaganists, yet Segal realizes how empty and shallow their success, and hence, their relationship is.

This film is about men. It's a buddy film film about addiction. How can middle age men become friends? Only through low-brow activities - gambling, drinking, hanging with whores. Maybe this is the only way men can become friends post-puberty.

Segal is a bit blas'e for most of the film. His best moments are the beginning when he is pretending to be hurt and stealing chips and the end when he yells at Gould to stay away from him during his winning streak.

I can't say I liked this film as much as Sideways or McCabe and Mrs. Miller. But I'm glad I own it, so I can keep revisiting.

Friday, January 07, 2005

The Math Tutor

Will make it's film festival premiere at the annual Tiburon International Film Festival. Yee Haw! It pays to know the guy who started the festival. Wink.