Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Ultimate Nightmare

Somehow part of my master tape just got recorded over. I think I must have hit the record button on accident or something somehow with the camera on my desktop. Worse, it could have been something I was doing on the computer. I can't figure it out, which is almost the worst, because this shit can't happen again.

This stupid fucking apple computer might end up being the worst purchase ever.

It has already had so many simple little connect to the wireless internet, you have to put a $ in front of the IP address....yet it doesn't say that anywhere, so it takes four different phone calls to different people to figure out something so simple, yet kept hidden. This type of shit infuriates me, because it makes no frigging sense and despite how simple a fix it ultimately is, makes the computer useless. One professional thought I might need to mail the computer back to the manufacturer. Jesus.

This final cut pro business sucks my ass because what they don't tell you is that you need extra ram, an external harddrive with special specs, it has some weird effect with 24p, the audio doesn't work for this and that. So much for plug and play. Why am I wasting my time with this bullshit? Fuck apple and all the apple-a-philes who fellate the damn product.
Woody Allen Is Too Fucking Good

"What were you thinking about when we were making love last night?"

"Willie Mays."

"Do you always think of baseball players when making love?"

"It helps me keep going."

Small pause.

"I was wondering why you kept yelling 'slide.'"

Done in one two shot of course.

Two weeks ago Sharon announced he would leave the Likud, the right wing party he started in Israel to form his own centrist party. It is obvious that Sharon sees the end of his political career (he's in his mid-70s) and would like to go down as the man who made peace with the Palestinians.

This is an abrupt shift from the Sharon of 2000, whose visit to the Temple mount instigated the first infitada. His turn clearly coincides with the death of Yasir Arafat, Sharon's longtime nemesis, and a man Sharon concluded long ago would never be a fair "partner in peace." In hindsight, he proved to be correct. Let us hope that his next move will follow suit.

Starting his own party and recruiting centrists from Israel's elite, including Shimon Peres (as of today) is a huge gamble, he's betting that the Israeli people will follow him and not the traditional parties (much more common than say in the United States because of different electoral systems). He is also trusting that Israel's unilateral withdrawal from the occupied territories can lead to the goal of establishing "final borders," whereby Israel is permenantly recognized by the UN and her neighbors.

He's arguably the best living military commander and should this manuever succeed, potentially the best living stateman.
"The Only Exit Strategy is Victory"

-John Kerry

Now I remember why I voted for him.

Maybe all this bickering is good...a bipartisan consensus is developing - we win and then we leave. This way, both sides get what they want. I don't see any downside...

Also, I haven't read it, but the White House issued a strategy for Iraq victory document.

Also, Senator Henry Reid speculates that Osama died in the Pakistani earthquake, which seems to me a tremendously stupid suggestion. All of the Osama being dead rumors thus far have proven to be false, so why don't we just wait 'til we really know. Jez...

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Perception - And Why I Still Think the Left is Way Off on Foreign Policy

Different narratives have sprung up about Iraq. Each day we read about disasters and hope. For those who supported the war, we favor stories we read from soldiers and civilians and politicians who report about progress and hope, and how Iraqis are voting, learning to protect themselves, prosecuting Saddam for his crimes, and generally trying to become a civilized country. For those who either were always were against the war or have now become against the war, they favor stories of mayham, misery, enormous cost, and empowered terrorists.

How can these two groups, and most of the Americans residing in them, including myself, who don't really know the full story, have such competing views? What drives these differences? Is it what we read? What we choose to read? Or is more about perception...and how we want to be perceived in the world?

I think the Left wants to be perceived as amiable and fair to the rest of the world. That is why they have such a problem with Iraq.

I think the Right wants to be perceived as tough and steadfast to the rest of world. That is why we are in Iraq.

My concern is specifically with Islamic Extremists. IF the prevelent narrative on Iraq is that it was a mistake, a big huge costly mistake for the United States, the extremist movement will consider Iraq a victory for themselves. They have done this before in every single instance in which they have attacked the US and survived - claimed victory, become more emboldened, more wealthy, and more powerful.

To me, we cannot fathom "losing" Iraq, in perception or in truth because it will be handing the Jihadis their biggest victory, even bigger than 9/11.

But the anti-war Left will not allow a winning narrative to take hold. They will argue, it is a failure because it is a failure. But what isn't a failure? Every choice, including a non-choice, fails in some respect. Was the first Persion Gulf war a failure? Not considered so at the time. But in hindsight, we left the Kurds to be massacred and allowed Saddam to set his country back another 10 years, and now we're in the mess we are now.

Was Vietnam a failure? Yes, but at the same time, in the context of the 50 year Cold War, maybe not. We averted nuclear disaster.

Was WWII a failure? Not considered one, unless of course you ask the 50 million who died.

Was doing nothing about the Armenian genocide in 1915-1917 a failure? No one considers this a failure of the US, because we sat around and did nothing...

But why is doing nothing not considered a failure? It seems to me a morally bankrupt position...

Then again, read a specific article about the middle east and it makes you want to throw up your hands and just let them all kill one another - the shi'ite, sunni, christians, israelis...f-em.
This Sucks

It appears tactics used by terrorists in Iraq are now showing up in Afghanistan, ie bomb making skills, etc. It seems to me inevitable that this would occur, who knows whether it is because of the Iraq war or in spite of it...although this article seems to think Iraq has sped it up.
Is This What's It Come To?

My mother tells me that when I was little I would ask question after question - why do we have to drive over the bridge to get dinner? My dad would patiently answer, "because the restaurant is in San Francisco?" But why do we have to go to San Francisco to eat? "Because they have better restaurants than Marin." But why do they have better restaurants than Marin? And on it would go...

Other inquiries such as why Back to the Future did not win Best Picture at the Oscars, how come there are four balls in a walk but only three strikes in an out, and why Donruss baseball cards were worth more than Topps...would invariably include multiple follow up questions, generally beginning with "But why, but why?"

It must have been annoying.

The graduate school manifestation of this curiousity is that teachers commonly will respond to my question with read this book or that book.

Today, in addition to being recommended A Problem From Hell by Samantha Power, I was recommended The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace by Wertheim and The Geopolitical Aesthetic by Frederic Jameson.

The questions, you ask, that prompted these responses...let's see if I can remember...

1. Is there any type of work being done in International Relations looking at film and the way impacts global attitudes towards America? We (me and the assistant director of the International Relations school) went back and forth discussing the field from documentary film to narrative film and my reveal that indeed Bruce Willis was trying to put together a pro-Iraq film, which prompted her to recommend A Problem From Hell, an analysis of America's do-nothing policy with respect to the Kurdish population prior to 2003 - despite the genocide perpetrated by Saddam. We both concluded policy makers have tough jobs.

2. During a presentation a fellow student made about how spaces are changing in a digital environment, I asked a rather smarmy question - what's the big deal? I mean, all this talk about space and a new epoch of space, but we're in our bodies 24 hours a day, and we still place ourselves somewhere - whether it's our room or a movie, or a class...what's so different? I didn't mean to diss the guy's idea, I was actually asking more out of curiosity, but he sort of shrugged his shoulders and was like, "I dunno." The teacher cut in and told me to read The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace.

3. Lastly, I asked another fellow student about her project, making a short film with a cell phone. She talked about how narrative would be impacted, but I asked how will narrative be impacted - I mean, all evidence points to falling back into the same genre conventions as movies and TV, yet everyone keeps insisting on narrative changes. What makes the need for narratives to shift? Why did we start reading novels? Why are movies 2 hours? The teacher butts in again - read Fredric Jameson.

Look's Amazing

It's now on my must read list.

The premise: America has never done anything about genocides.

Monday, November 28, 2005


Freakonomics refers to a fun little book that examines everyday, Seinfeld-esque phenomena with an economic eye. My sister read it and thought it was right up my alley.

The basic premise is an economic one, that if one asks the right questions, one can deduce truth via economic analysis. It is attempt to counter conventional wisdom and political correctness with hardheaded analysis of interesting phenomenon.

Some interesting findings....

1. The crime rate went down as a result of Roe v. Wade. During the mid 1990s the crime rate drastically dropped across the entire US. No one predicted this demise, especially as the early 1990s saw crime rates reaching an all time high. Experts varied in their explanations for the drop, ranging from a better economy, better policing strategies, harsher prison sentences, etc. No one looked beyond the typical, politically convenient explanations, even though a numeric, economic analysis could not establish causality. For instance, harsher sentences were applied in some places and not others, yet the crime rate went down in both locations and other economic upturns and downturns have not witnessed corresponding crime rate changes.

It turns out that when Roe v. Wade became law, the people most affected were poor women with unwanted children. More well off folks were already able to get abortions, either illegally or in the handful of states that allowed abortion at the time, including NY and California. After Roe, many poor unwanted babies, who incidentally, are the most predisposed to becoming criminals, went unborn. Therefore, in the mid 1990s we saw a considerable drop in the number of total people in the overall pool of those people most likely to become criminals. The data is supported by similar drops and increases in crime in other countries where abortion either became legal or illegal and in states, like California and New York who saw the crime rate drop earlier, prior to other states, because abortion was legal in those states earlier.

2. Real Estate agents don’t always have your best interest at heart. Levitt analyzed the sales of Real Estate agents professionally versus how Real Estate agents sold their own homes. It turns out that all things being equal, agents sell their own homes at a higher rate. The reason is due to the incentive scheme for Real Estate agents fees. An agent gets 10% of a home sale, half of which goes to their company and another half of that to taxes. A home that sells for $300,000 turns into about $7,500 into the agent’s pocket. Decent money, right. Well if the same agent sells the same house for $310,000, the agents gets $7,750. This difference is only $250 – is it worth it to the agent to put in all the extra work to sell for $10,000 for only an additional $250? To the seller, that’s a lot of scrilla, but to the agent, what incentive do they have to make that extra boost? The agent benefits most from selling two homes at $300,000 each, as opposed to one home for $320,000, even though it might take the same amount of work. As they say, however, the proof is in the numbers...

What to take away from this book? Simple. People respond to incentives. But we knew that, already, didn't we.

Walk the Line - Everytime I see a biopic, I feel compelled to say, "I don't like biopics." This one is no different. It's a decent movie. Reese Witherspoon deserves an oscar nomination.

Good Night and Good Luck - I thought I would enjoy this because I think Cloony has a lot of potential as a director. I was surprised how small the film was. I was also surprised how slow and rather boring it was.

Syriana - Haven't seen it yet, but it's getting big reviews. These days, that means little, since most movie reviewers suffer from one of two problems: a) They care more about "predicting" public opinion than having one of their own or b) They have their noses so far up the ass of filmmakers they've become defacto advertising revenue.

I guess the most reliable are still NY Times and New Yorker...if David Thomson or Elvis Mitchell haven't weighed in. Here's the times review of the film.

It looks like those who like to believe in conspiracy theories will be delighted. For anyone with any type of intellectual honesty, but also prone to believing in conspiracy theories, I suggest trying to throw a surprise birthday party and then tell me how easy it would be to cover up the Kennedy assassination. I have a feeling I will feel this way after I see Syriana...

Friday, November 25, 2005

Peace Out, Mr. Miyagi

There's no denying it, Karate Kid was certainly one of my earliest favorite movies, a story of courage, triumph, and discovering family.

Here's to Mr. Miyagi...
I Agree

Here's a real critique of the Bush Admin not having a big enough vision for transforming the Middle East into a democratic region.

That's what I'm talking about.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


It's so freaking beautiful up LA, I play tennis at a crowded intersection of Alvarado and Temple or at the ever-busy USC courts. In SF, I play tennis at the top of Russian Hill at a public park that is empty and has a 360 degree view of the bay and city or a club in downtown Tiburon surrounded by trees, peaceful as all hell.

But I still like LA better because up here, I go to a movie and it's practically empty. My energy level goes down to neutral up here, I'm so frigging mellow it almost makes me puke. I feed off the energy of LA, it keep my blood pumping and my neurons firing. In LA, nothing is ever settled. Here, it's as if everyone has found exactly where they want to be and it's just a matter of maintenence.

My parents got back from a recent China trip and I looked through the pictures, Shanghai looked insane. 31 million people. The skyline make SF look like a small township. 1.1 billion people in the country. They still have the one child per family law, my dad says, after going there, the policy makes a lot of sense.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Are We Getting Close?

I find it funny that almost everyone wants the same thing from the US Military in Iraq. Everyone wants it to leave. Iraqis want the US military to leave so they can run their own country. Al Queda wants us to leave so they can set up a base in Iraq and claim victory. Hawks want to win the war, so we can leave. Doves want us to leave to prove that the war was wrong all along (this is cynical but is it true?).

It's hard to measure how the war on terror is going. It's hard to measure how Iraq is going.

I don't much believe the "finger in the wind" politicians claiming that Iraq is a lost cause. Nor do I believe we have in any way secured victory. The biggest indicator to me, that Iraq is NOT going well is that we are unable to get Zarqawi. If things were going well, it seems to me, that Iraqis would be trying to rat out Zarqawi and stop his nonsense. It seems like we are close to getting him, but it's felt that way for awhile.
Thanksgiving Plans

1. Play Tennis
2. Write
3. Eat
4. Watch movies
5. Play Tennis
6. Write some more
7. Eat, maybe have a coffee
8. Watch more movies
9. Play golf
10. Eat
Could Saddam Have Been Contained?

The writer of this article lays out a convincing argument that the 2003 Iraq war was unnecessary because past efforts to contain Saddam have worked. (hat tip, curious m)

My problem with this argument is that it is the same logic the US and world applied in 1993 to the Saddam issue - Saddam is better than the other options, he is containable, and it's not worth the money. Further, there are negative consequences, ie incentives for NoKo and Iran to get nukes, further hatred of America, etc.

But the writer has completely overlooked 1993-2003 when we tested his theory of Saddam containment. We saved money and we were prosperous. But Iraq and the middle east moved backwards for 10 more years....that's 10 more years of economic stagnation, political tyranny, corruption, 10 more years of children raised without prospects, ten more years of women without rights, of governments passing the torches of leaderships to spoiled and sometimes psychopathetic children.

And you say, well, that doesn't affect us. What do we care? We powered our cars off of their misery that they've become accustomed to.

But the negative side effect of doing nothing was the empowering of Islamic fundamentalists, who opposed the tyrannical governments of the middle east and the US government which they said, propped them up.

So they question is - are we better off sitting back and hoping that one day democratic or political revolution happens in this region? That modernization will just spontaneously occur if we keep suggesting to thugs and dictators that they should loosen up, while we line their pockets with billions of dollars in "aid"?

Will we be safer bonking Saddam on the head once each time he fucks with us? Will we be safer just by prosecuting terrorists when we can find them in time?

Or does there need to be a seismic shift in the region? A complete overhaul, change in attitude?

I think the latter, he seems to think the former.

UPDATE: Of course saying the Middle East needs a seismic shift does not ensure we can deliver it. But utilizing the same failed policy over and over again despite access to new information and new world developments is downright foolish.

Iraq is certainly a different place than in early 2003. Is it getting better or getting worse? I think there is slow and steady progress at great short term cost. But so long as the wheels are turned in the right general direction and continue in the right direction, the long term benefits to the region and the world will be huge.

What do we want Iraq to look like in 2013? How do we achieve that? Is pulling out our troops and declaring the war a mistake the answer?

Here are some notes by a recent visitor to Iraq, indicating progress.

Isn't all this anti-war sentiment more about American fatigue, than actually about Iraq itself? Americans traditionally get tired of war after 3 years, even WWII. I think that is generally a good thing. But does it mean it's the right thing?

UPDATE 2: I have never said that the US always supported democracy in the Middle East. We haven't. We've supported stability at the expense of democracy and the output was Saddam, the Royal Family, and cheap oil. The negative byproduct was the rise of fundamentalism. Post-9/11, we needed to take a different track...I'm not positive that removing Saddam was the right move, but it sure as hell is a lot more promising than complaining about how the US has treated the region in the past, which is about the only thing the Muslim world or the liberals seemed willling to think 9/11 warranted - some type of renewed discussion.

Iran's reform president was unsuccessful because the Ayatollah's have an essential veto on any policies he tried to implement. That is why Bush included Iran in the axis of evil, because they have a government where the power lays in the hands of a counsel of Ayatollah's who rely on a paramilitary police force of thugs to keep the country in line. To say that it's the US fault for not allowing the theocratic country to reform is absurd.

Turkey, from a strategic standpoint has never supported removing Saddam because of issues related to their own Kurdish population, whom they fear would seek independence if the Iraqi Kurd population sought independence. The Kurdish people are the largest population of people on earth without a country of their own and they yearn for a Kurdistan, a combination of Kurds from Iraq, Iran, and Turkey. None of the countries in the region want while Turkey's democratic majority did not support the Iraq invasion, one might consider why they wouldn't want such a thing, and then ask yourself whether it's just. Shit, we're a democracy and we voted for George Bush, right?

And let's not kid ourselves, people around the world range for a dislike to a strong hatred of the US for two reasons: 1) envy and 2) inept leaders find blaming the US the easiest way to gain short term popular support. The US, moreso than nearly any other country in the modern world, has generally done good. Yet, people far and wide hate the US, cherry picking grievances that have had zero effect upon them. Anger at the US exists when we invade Iraq, but the anger still would exist if we didn't do anything about Iraq or the region. So I don't think we should kid ourselves by turning to the popularity of the Iraq war around the world as some type of measure of whether it was the right thing to do - my point is, no matter what policy we have, whether it be invading Iraq, to complete isolation, to donating our GNP to all the poor people in the world, people would still be angry at us.

Saturday, November 19, 2005


If we spurned the Michael Moore wing and went further in the direction that Clinton leaned towards, without the "I need everyone to love me," caveat, I imagine the United States could be ruled by reasonable moderates: responsible fiscally, socially moderate, and serious about foreign policy (which means kicking those Islamo Fascists ass!)

I bet we'd lure a lot more Republicans (and the good ones) than we these guys.
Ahh, Signs

For shits and giggles.
A Brief History of a Long War

Despite it's supposed "brevity," this is a very long article on the relationship between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and the United States/UN between the years 1990-2003.

It's well worth reading. For those who love the image of Rumsfeld shaking Saddam's hand in the mid-1980s, they should especially read the article, to get a fuller history of the US-Saddam relationship.

After reading the article, I feel as though we should have gotten rid of Saddam a long time ago. Because the press never kept anyone up on Saddam's activities, we felt as if he were contained, or no longer a problem. If there had been reporting on all his malfeasence and what he continued to do, it seems to me there would have been a lot more support for his removal all along. Or perhaps America just wasn't interested in hearing about Saddam's attempts to get weapons or continue to tyrannize his neighbors and own people.

Even debating whether removing Saddam was worthwhile is the saddest thing about the whole situation...

I don't like the image of Bill Clinton in the Middle East saying to a group of Arab students that the United States made a big mistake going into Iraq, and getting a standing ovation. That's a weak-ass move. To me, this is an example of Clinton craving approval and love at the expense of talking about the hard truth - that the cause of Arab misery is not the United States or the Israel-Palestine conflict - but their own inept governments. Clinton is merely stroking the one idea that gives every Arab a hard-on, the idea that America is to blame for their problems. It is the one issue that can rally the Arab/Muslim masses together and make them feel good. The sad thing is that it is untruthful and will never lead to alleviating their problems of poverty, unemployment, and lack of political liberty.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Well, That's Didn't Go Over Well

They were having interviews for a Reality TV pilot today searching for a film student to interview famous directors. I missed my spot early in the day, but stopped by at the end and got squeezed in.

They were working at a fast pace and so they laid out the instructions quickly to me...

"Can I go over what I'm supposed to say?"


"Okay, you want my name, my three favorite directors and two questions I would ask one of the directors?"

"Yes. And I'll play the director."

"Okay, I can ask anything I want?"


"Ok. My name is Greg Johnson," a sudden wave of nervousness hit me, "My three favorite living directors are Michael Mann, Quentin Tarantino, and Alex Payne. I'd like to ask Alexander Payne a question. So Alex, I know you went to film school back in the day and I have a theory that a lot of young men go to film school to increase their chances at getting women. My question is whether being a successful filmmaker has gotten you more women?"

The girl interviewer slumps over in her chair, apparently it's been a long day.

"This isn't entertainment tonight. It's supposed to be filmmaker to filmmaker."

"Oh. I thought you said anything I wanted."

"Yeah, but about the filmmaking process."

"Well, that screws up the second question, too."

Shrug. I pause uncomfortably trying to think of a non-lame question.

"Okay, how many times during the week do you read something or hear about something you think would make a good movie?"

"All right, thanks for coming in."
Trips for a Traveling Terrorist

(reprinted from an Atlantic article)

1. Don't wear short pants that show socks when you're standing up. The pants should cover the socks, because intelligence authorities know that fundamentalists don't wear long pants. [Do they call themselves fundamentalists?]

2. If a person, for example, wears a T-shirt or a shirt that has the drawing of a spirit - that is, a bird, an animal, etc - don't cut off the head (Islamic tradition frowns on the depiction of living beings). Either wear it with the drawing, or don't wear it at all. Moreover, you should never carry any item of clothing in your suitcase where the pictures have been tampered with, or where the head of the animal or bird has been cut off.

3. Don't wear clothes made in suspect countries such as Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, North Korea, Cuba, etc.

4. Underwear should be the normal type that people wear, not anything that shows you're a fundamentalist. [You know, like Osama boxer shorts]

5. A long time before traveling - especially from Khartoum - the person should always wear socks and shoes, to get rid of cracks [in the feet which come from extended barefoot walking], which take about a week to cure [good to know]

6. If the mission requires wearing a chain, you should show it by opening the top buttons of the shirt. [i agree completely]

7. Never use the perfumes used by the brothers [fundamentalists]

8. You should differentiate between

a) Perfume used only after shaving - "After Shave" is written on the bottle. This type is used only on the chin and nowhere else [not true, i've rubbed it on my balls before]

b) Perfumes - marked "Lotion" - that are placed anywhere on the clothes, on the head, behind the ears, etc.

9. You should use the type of perfume for the underarms that usually comes in the shape of a soap ball. You should never use any other type of normal perfume under the arms [i think this should be a general rule applied to all non-US citizen entering in the country]

10. You should differentiate between men and women's perfume. If you use women's perfume, you are in trouble. [goddamn right, allah doesn't like that shit]

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


The WSJ gives a smackdown to the UN Digital Divide Conference starting today in Tunis.

What Mr. Annan evidently does not care to understand, and after his zillion-year career at the U.N. probably never will, is that for purposes of helping the poor, the problem is not a digital divide. It is not the bytes, gigs, blogs and digital wing-dings that define that terrible line between the haves and the have-nots. These are symptoms of the real difference, which we would do better to call the dictatorial divide.

In free societies, all sorts of good things flourish, including technology and highly productive uses of the Internet. In despotic systems, human potential withers and dies, strangled by censorship, starved by central controls, and rotted by the corruption that inevitably accompanies such arrangements. That poisonous mix is what prevents the spread of prosperity in Africa, and blocks peace in the Middle East, and access to computers, or for that matter, food, in North Korea (which is of course sending a delegate to Tunis).

OUCH. Why do I have the feeling that the $100 laptop will have more to do with bridging the "digital divide" than anything the Syrians, Saudis, or Libyians will come up with at the conference they are sponsoring.
Holy Smokes

SF in Jello!

This is ugly. A secret detention facility in Baghdad run by a Shiite brigade torturing Sunni prisoners with drills, warm water, and electricity.

What's with these prisons? Why are people obsessed with torturing one another and a continued cycle of violence over and over. It happens in different degrees all around the world, including in the United States prison system...not systemic torture, but oftentimes willful ignorance of rape and so forth.

I don't want to go to prison.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Not A Good Topic

But the blog is a place to explore ideas, not to be politically correct. The debate raged on last week about whether girls are funny. It seems to be a rather lame question because intellectually we think, well of course girls are funny. But it all started in a late night diarrhea mouth session on the Hegira set and talking about funny people - not just like oh, Ellen Degenres funny people...we're talking REALLY funny people, like Larry David funny or young Eddie Murphy. Serious funny.

It came up that no girls were on the REALLY funny list. This, of course, enraged the women involved and has since enraged other women and invoke cries of misogyny and so forth, but the one's who made the thesis (not me, of course) were fair, I think, to suggest they would reverse the thesis IF ONE counterexample could be presented to the judges: Name a Funny Woman.

Some have named Carol Burnett and Lucille Ball. We have disqualified these nominations because while we agree they may be funny, we feel the two ladies are irrelevent to our generation, most of whom never, ever watch either of their shows.

Others have brought up Elaine from Seinfeld, whom I am very partial to. Elaine was frigging hilarious on Seinfeld, in my opinion. However, can we honestly say Julia Louie Dryfus is REALLY funny? Come on.

Then we are stuck with those who bring up Sarah Silverman. The most accurrate response I can give at this point is a shoulder shrug. Maaaaybe. I promise to see this movie over the Thanksgiving break and will issue a summary ruling if it is indeed funny. But otherwise, the questions remains unanswered until a counter example is found. Note: The funny girl doesn't have to be a celebrity.
Director vs. Filmmaker

Often the two get lumped together, but there's a difference between a director whose primary responsibility is getting performance from actors and a filmmaker who is striving for an aesthetic.

Jeremy Kagan, for instance, is a director. It is pretty amazing the performances he is able to get out of mediocre actors in our directing classes. If you're a USC student interested in directing and haven't seen it, it's pretty damn impressive. It'll make you understand what a director does.

On the other hand, you have a guy like Brian DePalma whose films are distinct and a lot fun to watch, but you realize if you seen his ouevre, he doesn't direct actors, he just lets them do whatever they want and he does his camera thang. Sometimes it works great - Scarface and sometimes is works poorly - Blow Up.

Monday, November 14, 2005


And this interview doesn't present Senator Rockafeller very well. He basically says, "The President had his mind made up about Iraq days after 9/11." The interviewer then asks, well, "why did you vote to authorize force, then?" He responds, "Based upon the intelligence estimates we had." The interviewer says, "Well, so did the President." Rockafeller says, "He had the daily intelligence reports, we had only the summary reports." The interviewer says, "Well, the committee that compared the two reports said that the daily reports were more alarming than the summary report." Rockafeller says, "Well, I haven't looked at the daily reports."

The truth is, any responsible politician facing a post-9/11 world knew rogue regimes are a greater threat to world security. Four years later, without another major terrorist attack and hardships in Iraq, make it look as though we might have overreacted. The base of the democratic party is trying to pitch that idea and argue that Bush lied and screwed up Iraq.

Kaus has an idea about how the Dems can win an election - win Iraq.

I've thought this for a long time, but could never put it into words so well. Money quote (but really the whole thing is short and well worth reading:

He (GW Bush) is blamed when he does something (anything) and he is blamed when he does nothing. He is blamed for things that ocurred even before he was President, as well as everything that has happened since. He is blamed for things he says; and for things he doesn't say.***

This psychological defense mechanism is referred to as "displacement".

The purpose of displacement is to avoid having to cope with the actual reality. Instead, by using displacement, an individual is able to still experience his or her anger, but it is directed at a less threatening target than the real cause. In this way, the individual does not have to be responsible for the consequences of his/her anger and feels more safe--even though that is not the case.

Booya, shaka-khan.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Good Things About Jarhead

Well, the best thing about Jarhead was that it showed the preview for Spielberg's new movie, Munich. All those who know me, know I'm not the hugest Spielberg fan. I think he's a tremendously talented filmmaker, but that he generally picks safe topics because his deepest fear is that people won't like him. Now, it looks as though Spielberg is putting his talents to a controversial topic - the Israeli response to the Munich massacre by the Black September Palestinian nationalist movement, when Israel decided to assassinate everyone involved with the plot. The story follows those characters. Badass! This is the most excited I've been for a Spielberg film since Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. That's saying a lot considering I am no longer 10 years old.

I know some will compare this project to Schindler's List. Fair enough. I happen to be much more interested in this topic and frankly, don't think the Holocaust genre is very interesting, nor is the Holocaust a subject that can adequately be dealt with by movies. Also, it'll be a lot more interesting.

Gotta respect filmmakers who are keeping us on our toes....Spielberg is tackling a subject that I believe to be the most important of our age, how a country must sometimes compromise it's own values to do the right thing. It sounds like a movie about moral choices. Hoo ha.

Also, there was one nice set piece in Jarhead - the raining oil.
Movie Update

Fargo - Five stars. Watched it the other day for Script Analysis. Better than I remember it. So simple. This is the type of great film that makes you not want to make films because it is so opposed to the type of great film like Pulp Fiction that makes you want to run out make something the next day.

The Weather Man
- Not a great movie, but I found it refreshing to watch, not unlike drinking unflavored ice tea. I don't think ice tea is a particularly good drink, but every once it awhile it'll be satisfying. If you can get past the first few minutes which begin with a voice over and Nick Cage looking straight into a mirror, a major filmmaking faux has it's moments. The biggest compliment I can give it, is that it's like a poor man's Sideways set in Chicago. It deals with the same mid-life angst. The father-daughter sequences are solid and the wife does a a hell of an acting job. I can't decide between two and three stars. On the one hand, two stars means I didn't like it. But on the other hand, I give the Royal Tennenbaums three stars. So it's a tough choice, as you can see.

Jarhad - One star. This movie sucks. By reading further, I am ruining the plot for anyone, but to be honest, the movie ruins itself. First poor directing choice: how can you possibly start the movie with a drill sergeant yelling funny things at the Marine recruits? It wasn't an homage to Full Metal Jacket, nor did it try to add anything new to Full Metal Jacket. It was a sanitized rip off from Full Metal Jacket, as if was some obscure film no one had ever seen. Horrible directing choice. Second horrible directing choice - casting the smug as fuck, narcissistic, I'm cute, Jake Gyllenhaal. Third horrible directing choice, having Peter Sarsgaard play a criminal devoted to the Marines as if he were, in Phil's words, a college professor. Fourth horrible directing choice, there are two big emotional explosions in the movie that aren't even close to being earned. In one, Jake G threatens to kill a fellow Marine...I kept thinking this a joke, he's clowning on the guy, but eventually you realize it was supposed to be a scene that he's losing his mind. Not for a moment do I believe he's going to kill the other guy, it comes across like he's pretending to lose it, like a poseur friend from high school who goes around pretending like he's "all fucked up," to get attention. Disgusting. The second emotional blow up is at the end when Peter S loses it because he wants to shoot an Iraqi commander instead of letting planes blow up the whole regiment. There is no set up to this outburst. It makes no frigging sense and comes out of nowhere. Completely unearned.

Fifth horrible directing choice, the entire first act you're supposed to empathize with Jake G who's girlfriend is at home possibly seeing other people. But you never meet her or them and have no sense of their relationships except for inserts and photographs. And let's be honest, who gives a shit about a 19-20 year old having some girlfriend that may be be cheating on him. That's what 19-20 year olds do. They cheat. You don't give a flying shit about their relationship, so who cares? Jake should of be out trying to get laid with prostitutes AND get murderous about the girlfriend possibily seeing another guy. Now that's interesting. But I don't give a shit about a woe-is-me, I live away from my high school girlfriend, she is supposed to be loyal to me nerd. Give me a break.

Sixth horrible directing choice: choosing to direct this film. Sam Mendes lives up in the Hollywood hills fornicating with Kate Winslet. Since when do we entrust this British fuck to make movies about middle class Americans? This guy has no perspective on what these people are like, probably doesn't know a single Marine prior to getting attached to Jarhead, and here he is making a movie about it. What a fraud.

Seventh horrible directing choice, trying to present "all side of the argument." Why make a movie obviously about our current Iraq war when you have no opinion NOR understanding? Mendes has this Texan character speak for the American left, talking about how America supplied Saddam with guns, how he doesn't trust the military, blah, blah, blah, reciting arguments high school students probably find smart. Then he has the Jamie Foxx and Peter Sarasgaard playing the American right, shut the fuck up, let's kick this Saddam Hussein's ass for all the terrible things he's done. Mendes a) doesn't understand the nuances or more compelling arguments in favor of the war OR against the war and so can't present either and b) Doesn't have an opinion of the war he'd like to express. People will probably read the film as an anti-war piece, but that's because people think every film about war is an anti-war film.

UPDATE: I purposefully didn't read any comments on Jarhead prior to seeing the movie because I wanted to enjoy it on my own. Oppps. Anyhow, Instapundit has a round up of lukewarm to shitty reviews. This movie may be the biggest joke of the year.

Anyhow, I could write more, but bottom line, Brett Ratner and Michael Bay should invite Sam Mendes into their hack director club - Welcome to the Suck, Sam Mendes.

UPDATE II: One more shitty directing choice I forgot about was a scene when Jake G was obviously lit to look like Marlon Brando in Apocolypse Now. Huh? How is Jake G at all reminiscent of the Kurtz character? Such a cheap frigging reference. I can just see Mendes talking to Deakins on set - so can you light him with yellow/orange light a la Apocalyse Now. Deakins must have wanted to barf.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Questioning Intelligence

Is there any doubt that Iran is trying to develop a nuke? I don't even need this technical intelligence to draw that conclusion. Clearly, they are assembling the parts. Clearly, they have a motive (an increased one with the US invading Iraq). Why would anyone try to deny that they are trying to develop a nuke - that is absurd.

The question is how they will use it once they have it. Will they have incentive to do so? That is the real question and real problem.
"Can't Be Done"

To use a phrase of an old coach of mine, shouldn't be part of our vocabulary...

Senior officials say we can't shut down the influx of fighters from Syria and Iran. It's absurd to think it can't be done - it's just a matter of how much it'll cost and what it would take.

Member of the MSM seem to think that being "impartial" and "critical" are more important than the truth. What does it tell you when the troops on the ground view the press as against them?
O'Reilly's A Pig

San Francisco has banned military recruiting in it's schools, which I don't particularly agree with. But O'Reilly's response is fairly disgusting, suggesting the US shouldn't protect San Francisco if Al Queda attacks.

O'Reilly is welcome to drop his show from California and return any money he's earned from anyone in California to protest our behaviour. But he won't do that....

UPDATE: Fox News ought to fire O'Reilly for being a shit face. How does this not "encourage" Al Queda, by demonstrating how we can't rely on one another for solidarity against the terrorist organization. What a fucking ass. I'd punch him if I knew him.

Friday, November 11, 2005


“While it’s perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began...” - Bush


“Instead of providing open and honest answers about how we will achieve success in Iraq and allow our troops to begin to come home,” Kennedy said, “the president reverted to the same manipulation of facts to justify a war we never should have fought.” - Ted Kennedy

And the democrats wonder why we lose elections?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Sans Coffee

After studying Trainspotting in my script analysis class, I become inspired by one of Sic Boy's tactics - to quit herion just to show to Rent how easily he could do it. Since I don't do herion, I chose coffee, not because I have a problem, but just to see if I could do it. I told myself, no coffee for a week. Then, just to make it more fun, I said no soda also. I've missed coffee more than soda and today was a big test because the week is over tomorrow and I was at the Getty this AM, right after the rain and it was cool and around 10:30am and the only food place open was a coffee cart and I saw this lady sitting with a cup of Joe and it looked perfect, this clear morning sky, cool air at the Getty, a view of LA, perhaps read a few pages of Atlas Shrugged. Man. But I told myself no coffee until friday, that's it, don't whine about or think about, just do it.

And so I didn't.

UPDATE: Funke makes a good point. When I say "not because I have a problem," it almost incidates the exact maybe I do. I wonder what indicating that perhaps I do have a problem indicates?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


The headline on CNN is Blair loses key terror vote. I think the headline is wrong - it's not about Blair or Bush, but rather, how to deal with the terror issue. Blair sums it up with common sense:

"We are not living in a police state ... but we are living in a country that faces a real and serious threat of terrorism," he told the Commons.
Can't Say I Disagree

Nate discusses the secret prison system run by the CIA in Europe. Yeah, this probably isn't the best idea for promoting American values abroad. Worse is Bush refusing to sign the bill in front of Congress explicity renouncing torture. This is ridiculous.

I tend to agree with something Glenn Reynolds said months, maybe years, ago that torture should be banned absolutely as a policy. This would ensure that the practice of torture would only occur if the situation was so desparate that we would feel compelled to break with the policy, ie the typical hypothetical example of a nuke potentially going off and needing to use torture to get information. This, of course, is not a plausible scenario, but if such a scenario arose, we wouldn't care about any law or policy.

This is why such a policy is so important. It would ensure that only in the most extreme cases, torture would be used. Any systemic use of torture is plain wrong, no way around it.
It's Long

But I think worth it, a post of Europe and Islam and the challenges.

I don't think there should be any fear in describing strict forms of Islam as backwards, hateful, and wrong. Any ideology, whether be religion or nationalism, that cannot coexist with others, will lead to perpetual war.


[L]ook what a typical radical Muslim leader, Dyab Abou Jahjah, the leader of the Brussels-based Arab European League says: “We reject integration when it leads to assimilation. I don’t believe in a host country. We are at home here and whatever we consider our culture to be also belongs to our chosen country. I’m in my country, not the country of the Westerners.”

Or consider the statement of a German radical Islamist that I recounted in my book (based on a National Public Radio news story broadcast): “Germany is an Islamic country. Islam is in the home, in schools. Germans will be outnumbered. We [Muslims] will say what we want. We’ll live how we want. It’s outrageous that Germans demand we speak their language. Our children will have our language, our laws, our culture.”
So What Are You Saying?

That Hollywood is now filled with a bunch of pussies? Damn right. Albert Brooks movie isn't just a movie, it's a much needed step to help America and the Muslim world come together.

Coupled with "The Cell" the brilliant idea about an Al Queda cell who come to America and fall in love with her that can't get aired.

What happened to this country? Andrew Jackson would puke in our faces. Who gives a shit if people get their feelings hurt? I hope they do.

What the Muslim world needs more that "leaders" like Chalabi or Assad or Hussein or Abdullah is a Woody Allen or Larry David....sadly, we probably won't see one until there is there are more open governments. So let's think of Iraq that way - we're freeing it up for a Muslim Woody Allen.
It's Not Jihad

Instapundit and some other seems to share my gut instinct about the France stuff the other day. (I am polishing my fingernails against my lapel in smug righteousness right now).

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Wonders of the Internet

Ideas for production designing one's walls:

"I decided to turn to wallpaper and devised a way to adhere the paper to the walls without damaging the existing paint - I striped the wall with 2" masking tape (which comes off paint clean without damaging surface) and then put an industrial double-sided tape on top of the masking tape and adhered the wallpaper to that. "

Monday, November 07, 2005

A Bit of An Overreaction, I'd Say

Well some on right are going a bit overboard on what has happened in France. Here is a post about how Paris will now become a front for Al Queda, an area of territory they seek to "hold," ie the ghettos of Paris, where Parisian law is no longer recognized.

And here is a story comparing the riots to how the American Revolution, Civil War, and WWI started. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say, I doubt anything that large will grow out of these incidents.
The DV Revolution

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."
Mohandas Gandhi

You can see the writing on the wall. There was that first thrust, that of the Dogme 95 movement, the Celebration, which first gave DV some legitimacy. Then there was the formation of InDigEnt, an American celebrator of DV, who made Pieces of April, Tadpole, and Tape.

But none of these films were huge financial hits, so while everyone appreciated the artistry associated with the work, there was always that fallback reactionary position of "well, they didn't make talks and bullshit walks." Of course, they leave out the fact that they probably didn't COST a ton of money, either, but what does Hollywood care for a $500,000 movie grossing $1,000,000. They obviously prefer the $80,000,000 picture grossing $90,000,000. How else can they pay all the agents and executives?

But then there was 28 Days Later, a horror-zombie apocalypic film, which made a lot of money. The "film" lovers argued, well, it's had the right CONTENT for video, ie apocalyptic themes. You couldn't film a romantic comedy with video...

But beyond these points, these were all "independent" pictures. Of course you'd expect weirdo "arty directors" to experiment. I mean, who cares that David Lynch is shooting Inland Empire on DV - and promises never to shoot film again. But it does give you pause, doesn't it?

But deep down the seeds of video are now sown. And what ought to be scaring Hollywood isn't David Lynch, but itself. Tony Scott's new film, Domino is shot on film, but film meant to look like video. The extreme coloration and zoomy handheld camera work - that's video, man. And what about Collateral, shot mostly HD, but give me a break, the damn film reveled in it's video-ness, the grain, the night.

When computers took over the post-production world, it was over a very short time span, like three years when 20% of films were edited with computers and 80% flatbed to the exact opposite ratio - 80% computer to 20% flatbed. Could something similar happen in the production phase? Are we one step away from a video technology that makes film obsolete?

Here's the prediction: Within the next 5-7 years there will be a few huge DV hits. One or two will come from David Lynch like directors, auters experimenting with a new medium. There will be others, like Napolean Dynamite, some type of comedy that hits the right beat and grosses a TON of money - probably by someone my age with my type of resources (this day I'm going to be really jealous), and there will probably continue to be a few horror films that are majorly successful.

Will that be the death knell of film? Of Hollywood? Surely not. Of course, I wonder what the French monarchs were thinking in 1776 when the watched the American Revolution....
Pro-War Liberals Backtracking

Normblog critiques pro-war liberals backtracking on their support of the war based upon "the incompetence of the administration argument."

Nate has been writing here and here basically taking that position.

Normblogs best comment regarding the pro-war liberal backtrack is "I don't believe that an undertaking like the liberation and democratization of Iraq, undertaken by anybody (whether internal movement or external intervention force), could have been free of mistakes and misjudgements; because, on some of the issues in play in Iraq, I haven't felt especially competent to judge what the best course of action would have been; and because I have not seen in the discourse about US administrative incompetence from the anti-war side much in the way of an effort to discriminate between culpable error or negligence and the sort of unavoidable mistakes that are part and parcel of any enterprise of this magnitude."

And he summarizes the anti-war camp well "I'm referring, rather, to a wider anti-war left, those who would bridle (and reasonably so) at any suggestion that they might actually support the combination of jihadists and Baathists opposing the US and its allies in Iraq, but whose time, whose criticism and, above all, whose passion so far as that country is concerned are all but consumed by their hostility to Bush, Blair and the supporters of the war, and who evidently find it rather more difficult to get excited about the reactionary aims and the murderous methods of those the US-led coalition are fighting against."

Hitchens writes a big critique of Brent Snowcroft, the foreign policy realist from the first Bush administration who presented the most formidable opposition to the Iraq war within the states.

Sunday, November 06, 2005


Actors are weird creatures. They schedule auditions and then feel like it's optional to show up. Some call with excuses, "I just got in a car accident." Right. If one looked at the data, the incidents of car accidents when actors have auditions scheduled would be like 3000 times more often than the rate of car accidents for the rest of the population in the same space and time. So forgive me when I'm not sympathetic.

UPDATE: But why? Why call and tell lies about emergencies, etc. Do they think I believe them? Wouldn't that be stupid? How many times can you use an excuse and expect it to be believed. Three times? Perhaps. But these actors must use emergency type of excuses weekly. And not just with auditions, with friends, lovers, whomever, the number of excuses and emergencies must pile up. So at a certain point, it must be obvious to a somewhat intelligent actor that the lie is obviously a lie. This is point that interests me. What is the desire to lie, knowing that the person you are lying to knows you are lying? It's the old, getting your hand caught in the cookie jar, and wanting everyone to love you despite it....the Bill Clinton phenomena. I guess that's why everyone thought he should come to Hollywood.

But here's the issue. They still expect to be loved. When the guy calls about his car accident, he wants me to feel sympathy for him. Why? I don't know him. Even if an actor that I had never met died, would I feel any different than I would upon hearing about a death of a child in the Pakistani earthquake?

Does he think that if he gets sympathy from me for his "car accident" that I will be more likely to forgive his absense? But why would he care? I'm not casting him in this project. I won't even remember his name five hours from now, so it's not like a black mark on his record. Even if I did remember his name, and wanted to cast him in the future, ditching an audition wouldn't proclude me from doing so. So why lie? It makes no rational sense.

So is the actor counting on my rationality saying, well there's no incentive to lie, so he must be telling the truth? I highly doubt an actor is thinking this way. It would be like a beginning poker player who barely knows what he holds in his hand is predicting what Doyle Brunson is holding next to him. I don't even think they could conceive of thinking that advanced.

So....wanting to be loved, to be felt sorry for. Just like lawyers get a bad rap because weasels tend to gravitate towards their profession, actors get a bad rap because phony, needy people gravitate towards theirs.

UPDATE II: Just finished auditions. In the end, saw a bunch of people, some pretty damn good ones. Some awful. Checking my email, got one from an actor that couldn't make it, "Someone rearended me on the freeway, not gonna be able to make it. Let
me know if we can rescheduel."


UPDATE III: Another actor called tonight because his daughter had a trip to the emergency room this morning. Jeez. I felt bad for the guy, I mean, obviously some things are more important than auditions. But that's three major emergencies - close family member to hospital and two car accidents out of 15 or so people. 1 in 5. I think I have about 20 friends or so in LA and I imagine NONE of them had emergencies this morning, although if the statistics of my actors scheduled for audition were the control group, 4 of them should have.

This stuff in France sounds absolutely nuts. They doused a handicapped woman in gas and set her on fire? That's not funny. It's like a John Carpenter film or something.

The weirdest thing to me about all this is that it was set of over a misunderstanding. How insane is it that all these crazy kids are willing to go buck wild, causing mass chaos over these two kids dying because they thought they were being chased by police. This whole idea of phony victimhood and paranoia has reached unbelievable proportions around the world, from Zionist conspiracies in the Middle East to far American lefists conspiracies about the Bush admin's cabal to take over the world. What is going on? Why are people so predisposed to believing obvious lies rooted in paranoia and bullshit?

Friday, November 04, 2005

He Was A Great Soccer Player

It's too bad Diego Maradona turned from one of the greatest soccer players ever into a fat communist.

Anyhow, he's leading protests against Bush, America, etc, etc, in Argentina per the personal request of Fidel Castro.

I wonder if Maradona blames America for getting fat.
I Had A Dream

The other night that I went to North Korea to make a film starring Kim Jong Il. He really wanted to star in my film and was suprisingly into the mechanics of making the film, where the camera went and how we were doing the special effects. Anyhow, I just happened upon the North Korea Times today. Who knew they had a website? Fabulous.

Condi taken to task by kowtowing to Islamic groups. All I can muster up to say is, "Amen."
More Evidence the World is Going to Hell

It's been nine days of rioting in Paris and outside suburbs all related to what appears to be misinformation about two Muslim youths who were electrocuted when hiding from police (who say they weren't even chasing them) in Paris.

These gangs of young folks sound scary. One could view this through the lens of radical Islam, because most of the youth are Muslim, but it does not really appear to have roots in the terror infrastructure, ie Wahhabism, Al Quedism, or even the other Palestinian or Lebanese terror groups. There's something else here, a class of poor youth eager for violence, more akin to New Orleans or those gang of skater kids around USC who are just itching for an excuse to act out. It's not just France. But who knows, who knows?

David Lynch said he'll never shoot on film again - only DV (that's right, not HD, but DV). Interesante...

UPDATE: First off, wonderful comments, it's good to see random comments from folks interested in movies. Regarding the Digital vs. specifically DV comment. I'm basing this on what Lynch said last night in a talk at USC. He said specifically DV. He may have misspoke. But in this article, he again points specifically to DV and to what properties of DV (looking like early 35mm film without tight grain) are attractive to him. I am writing this after coming back from a telecine session for a film shot on Super 16 that, skip bleached, shot on old expired stock and the grain was almost non-existent. We wanted grain and thought that shooting with old stock and skipping would give us some. Again, it goes to what Lynch is talking about, the dreamyness of the image.

Now, unfortunately, I have not seen a lot of blown up to 35mm DV features. All of the DV features I've watched have been DVD. This is something on my short list to do (maybe Inland Empire will be the one), but based upon what Lynch talks about in the article, we could possibly be witnessing a major artistic shift in the capture medium of film. I'm not saying Hollywood will jump on the bandwagon, but there are a lot of upsides to DV that I'm not sure any longer can be countered by simply saying "the image isn't as good." Well, the image isn't 35mm, that's for sure, but this idea of "good" is the notion under discussion.

The description of Lynch going around shooting sounds similar to experiments Godard has theorized about and tried with video, albeit to not much commerical success.
Things I Can Do With Less Of

1. Cell phone usage. I have had limited abilities with my cell phone this week because I couldn't call anyone without knowing their number. My habit of not calling has spilled over to my new phone, I have fewer phone numbers programmed in. Guess what? I'm liking it. I'm liking it a lot. I've become less depenedent on precision communication and rediscovered "run in" encounters. I forgot how much I love the "run in." In college, one of my favorite meeting female tactics was what I called the manufactured "run in," the smart physical placing of myself in an area I might see a certain someone.

But the manufactured "run in" is only one small sliver of "run in" possibilities. I'm now consciously using the phone less and practicing the "run in" more. There is something fabulous about being in the same physical space at the same time that the cell phone purports to shatter. I'm bringing it back, baby.

2. Any kind of sweet alcoholic beverage. No Mas!

3. Soda. Eventually I'll ween myself off completely.

4. Coffee. This is a bad bad habit I've picked up in the past 1.5 years. I really dislike it becoming a habit, but goddamn it, I crave coffee a lot.

5. That's three beverages in a row. I should have condensed into an elegant, one item list, but this is a blog, people expect sloppy randomness. But the item here is BIG STUDENT FILM PRODUCTIONS. From now on, I'm working on only small crews.

6. Traffic. I've already made a huge effort this semester to avoid traffic and I'm continuing to get smarter and smarter about it.

To be cont...

Thursday, November 03, 2005

I'm Sure They'll Use Proper Discretion

On the 9/11 Oliver Stone film. My favorite quote, "We're not doing the 'Towering Inferno'-'Titanic' version," said Michael Shamberg, who's producing the Paramount film with his partner, Stacey Sher.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Travel Office Job

I can't claim to be very "in the know" at my rarely attended Travel Office job. Most of the volunteers that I work with are USC alumni with grandchildren. It is for that reason that I just found out that a lot of people cancelled trips to France after the UN decision regarding the Iraq war. I guess this fact doesn't surprise me, but it makes me re-think about that choice by the French to not support the UN resolution and why it has been perceived by many in America to be an enormous betrayal.

For our generation, I think we take for granted NATO and alliance developed over the 20th century between France, Britain, the rest of Western Europe, America, Australia, Canada, as "protectors" of the free world. For my lifetime, America has been strong enough to stand on her own and not need help from anyone else...and yes, there is that tendency because we are so rich and powerful for us to treat our allies as poodles. How can one not, when you don't really need their material support?

But the people who work in my office were alive during WWII and remember the great alliance that defeated fascism. They remember the huge sacrifice Americans made for liberating Europe when confronted with an existential threat. And for people whose lives are marked by a) WWII and b) the Cold War, it goes without saying that we stood by France and Britain in their time of need because it was the right thing to do. So it was the perception that when America was in need of support, not material, but ideological, as the virus of anti-Americanism around the world exploded on 9/11, and America decided it was high time to do something about the was at this moment when France decided to take not a stand with America, but instead, a stand against America. To this generation, that was an insult, a tragedy, and a stabbing in the back.

Yes, America has had her hands in dirty things over the years. And yes, Iraq isn't a perfect bet. But haven't we, after all this time, and by virtue of our behaviour over the past 200 plus years, earned, moreso than any other nation, the benefit of the doubt?

The answer in 2003 by France was NO. The consequences:

1. France provided "cover" for other nation-states, such as Germany, to also oppose the Iraq Resolution.

2. Forced America to "go at it alone," which reinforced both at home and abroad the sense that America was a bully.

Imagine for a moment that France had supported us with Iraq. The UN Resolution would have been pushed through. It would have taken the steam out of the anti-war movement much earlier. It would have signalled the UN, as an institution, stood for something other than than an autocrats club writing resolutions condemning Israel. It would have been a signal to the world that post 9/11, the WORLD stands against rouge regimes, and not just America. Things would be different, mostly for France, but for all of us.

What they did sucks and unfortunately will be remembered for a long time in diplomatic circles, I imagine.
North Hollywood

Over the past couple weeks I've made a few treks up to North Hollywood along Van Nuys street to get my car worked on. Thankfully, I think all is resolved. Van Nuy street gets fairly shitty in the area past the Federal Building.

Today, as I sat and ate breakfast, awaiting the phone call from the Subaru dealer, a crowd of about 15-20 teenagers walked by, some wearing facials hoods and/or hankerchiefs over their nose and mouth. I'd say of the 15-20 boys and girls, about 75% of them had either hankerchiefs or hoods and hankerchiefs. What on earth could they be doing? To me, it immediately connoted Hamas uniforms. Why were they wearing that stuff? Very puzzling. They weren't Muslims, I'm sure most of them were Hispanic. For a moment, I thought it might be a protest, but there were so few people.

I saw a cop car slowly following them along. Odd.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Things I Have an Irrational Distate For

1. Drinking Games
2. Islamic Extremists
3. Tattoos, piercings, plastic surgery, essentially anything permanent one can do to the body.
4. Horror Movies
5. Hockey
6. Lifting Weights
7. Parking on the street
8. Identity Politics
9. Sweet alcoholic beverages
10. Subway
My New Favorite Blog

I could read this crap all day and I realize that means I have a problem.
Good God. Whose Next? Peter O'Toole?

Islamic extremists have threatened to kill Omar Sharif. What bastards.
I Feel A Double Feature

In the near future...Wallace and Grommit, Good Night and Good Luck, Prime....mmmmm

Why don't I know about these things? USC interactive division has a badass blog.
I'm Worried About This

MSN article on raising a brat. Everyone seems to think it's all the parents fault when kids are bratty. Perhaps. But what if your kid just turns out to be an asshole? He/she could just be born an asshole, you know.

I'm worried about this.
Why Social Conservatives Can Really Kiss My Ass

A new vaccination for cervical cancer is worrying social conservatives because it'll encourage sex.

I remember around my junior year in high school the big issue was whether condoms should be handed out in school. I was, of course, in favor of the idea, but even back then could see the other side... a) it's easy enough to buy condoms and b) condoms are pretty flagrant symbols of sexual promiscuity. (which is probably why I was in favor of it, versus the STD saving possibility, which is pretty impossible to measure, ie how handing out condoms would lessen std transfer)

Anyhow, this vaccination seems to me to be a fantastic medical development, one with zero downside. It ain't flagrant and could demonstrably save lives. Any social conservative who believes that their religious beliefs and moral standards ought to take precedence over the lives of women who are threatened by cervical cancer, has a severe mental problem, I think.
Alito - LA Times Article

It doesn't come up well on the website, but the LA Times article on Alioto sure made him seem like a likeable guy.

It's odd - people are going to point to this abortion dissent he made. The issue: prior to getting an abortion, a women would need to provide a signed statement that she had informed her spouse of getting the abortion. The court said this was an undue burden on the wife. Alito dissented.

I'm a pretty pro-choice guy, but at the same time I'm not the type of liberal who is losing sleep over the possibility of the court overturning Roe. I still think abortion would be legal in most states. And I believe this issue of informing the husband is cloudy at best. As a man, I would want to know if I impregnated someone and she was going to get an abortion. I wouldn't presume to have any "veto" power over the woman, but it seems to me, I ought to know about it. I dunno, this is a weird one for me.

In the end, with all this Supreme Court business, I trust smart, rationale people to make sound decisions regardless of ideology. I think the law has sufficient checks and balances and overall is a system that works quite well. I don't see myself getting into a big fuss over this nomination. A liberal democrat who worked with him voices support.

Money quote: "Of course, Alito would not have been on John Kerry's or any other Democrat's short list for the Supreme Court. But, as we all know, John Kerry didn't win in 2004, nor did the Democrats capture a majority in the Senate. Given that reality, Pringle said, "I'd rather have someone who has real intellectual ability, who has experience, who has a history of making these kinds of difficult decisions, and who has demonstrated respect for the Court as an institution, than a stealth candidate." "

And jeez, it's not really like I disagree with this decision either, although he'll be chastised for liberals for it.
Karl Rove Is Behind This

If I were a paranoid liberal I would think that Karl Rove intentionally had Bush nominate Miers because of the shitstorm it would cause, have her withdraw (she's a loyal Bushie, so she'd do it without question) and then nominate this big conservative guy...the liberals will be too tired for the big judicial fight, we don't want to look like the party that opposes everything. They know the people get tired of negatives...and so with Miers obviously not working out, we are less inclined to protest the new choice. Smart, very smart.