Monday, January 30, 2006

Jesus Christ

So after Seinfeld is the UPN 11 o'clock news. Introducing the show are two hosts, an older gentlemen and some hot-ass thirty year old babe with enormous boobs. I'm talking super huge, and really hot.

I'm like - what does this have to do with the news? Anyhow the stories looked awesome - 1) A lady tries to drown her own baby, but someone rescues it 2) Police chase down some dude and beat his ass 3) driving small cars gets you killed and 4) is Tom Cruise getting voted the worst actor in the world.

I think there was another awesome story, but I've forgotten it already. Talk about roping you in...

UPDATE: I think it's the chick on the right at the top of this page.

UPDATE II: YES! Chuck identifies the best story of them all, that I forgot, the bull jumping into the stands during a bullfight and going crazy. Holy shit!

The woman's name is Lauren Sanchez and here is a picture gallery on imdb. Like I said, huge breasts.
I Love You

Watching Seinfeld...George contemplates whether to say "I love you" to a girl he really likes. (he really likes her because she shows an interest in his inane theory that toilet paper hasn't changed in his lifetime).

Jerry and Elaine express concern about the move, since George thinks he's only got about a 50-50 chance of a return, "I love you," return. George is frustrated because he's never gotten to say "I love you."

"You've never said it?"

"Once. To a dog."

Why do I laugh out loud when watching that?

When I finally start my own country, it'll be the death penalty for people doing really, really, fuck up shit. And that'll be in the constitution, like article 5, or something. You do some super fucked up shit, you're gonna get lethal injection, mutha fucka.

What is the definition of "some super fucked up shit," well, that'll be up to the courts, but it'll be sort of like the definition of pornography - you'll know it when you see it. For instance: meeting someone on the internet who voluntarily offers to allow you to eat them - and then comes over and allows you to cut off his penis and you try to eat it together. Well, that qualifies as super fucked up shit.

Hang 'em high.
USC and the NY Times

A big article in the NY Times about film school. I thought this article was going to make me angry, but I actually agree with a lot of it. The school, as a whole, is a trade school. The deceiving part is that it markets itself as a school for auteurs, but then quickly changes face when you get here.

Waxman, of course, gets a whole lot of facts wrong - about the specifics of our class assignments, the cost per year of tuition, and the most egregious, calling Walter Murch a cinematographer. How stupid is that?

I just wish Mrs. Waxman had come to our Night at the Movies screening to see some really good work. I think it is an intellectual travesty that she neglects the changes digital video can bring to our education. We all whine about the high cost of shooting film, yet we have the answer right in front of us - digital video. It's cheap, it looks good. We haven't even explored the limits of DV because we still use the the PD-150. The Panasonic 24P is good, but limited with lens choice. The school doesn't even own a Canon XL2 and who knows what can be done with it's 24P combined with the ability to change lenses - which is the big secret to the film "look," I think.

And on and on we go...

Why would we let an obviously high ranking member of Al Queda go free? We better be using him as a double-agent or something.

Why are people not more upset about this?

Sunday, January 29, 2006


Walid Phares talks about Hamas and what will happen in Palestine. The devil is in the details...will they crack down on secular Palestinians? Will they recognize Israel? It should be interesting...

UPDATE: As scary as Hamas is, there might be some good to come out of all of this, maybe they'll be a reckoning or some type of cartharsis by which the Palestinian people need to face up and look at who they are and what they truly hope for in the future. And maybe, someday down the road, they'll see and understand that Israel is here to stay and they best serve themselves by concentrating on their own lives and living peaceably with their neighbors.

I became aware of a soccer game yesterday evening over a poker game and invited myself along. In a drunken bravado I guaranteed a goal. It was stupid. I go to the game, it's lovely to be back on the field. I'm put in at forward at the twenty minute mark.

We go down 1-0. We tie it 1-1. They go up 2-1 before the end of the half.

I get a good shot on goal before half and kick it right at the keeper. In the second half I'm switched to center mid.

They go up 3-1, most of their goals are because of sloppy defense, mistakes on our end. I miss another golden opportunity, again kicking it right to the goalie.

Then, a cross, I nail a sweet header into the upper-v. 3-2. I scored my goal, but we're down, with about 12 minutes left.

We are playing much better than them. I get another opportunity and smack it again at the keeper. I should have easily scored three goals in this game.

We give up an incredibly stupid penalty kick 4-2. The refs call the game early, because of other games. People are pissed. I hate losing, but it was great to get out and play.

Then I run into another team filled with guys I went to college with, all a year or two younger. They've just started to play. They want me to play in the game. My head says go, but my legs say no.

It appears soccer has come back into my life.
That's Just Weird

An 81 year old grandma kills her ex-grandson-in-law.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

American Confidence

I've been thinking about screwball comedy, particularly that of Preston Sturges and Howard Hawks, from the 1940s and thinking how shitty our entire society has become. The relationships between men and woman from that period were Today, the romantic comedies are incredibly weak. I guess I shouldn't be too harsh, because there is Sex in the City and Seinfeld, etc, which are essentially serving what the screwball comedies were doing back in the day - smart talk between men and women.

But I think there is something else going on, particularly in the depiction of women in film, that priviledges body over mind. In these old comedies, there wasn't a need for a sex scene because the two characters were "getting off," practically orgasming in their interactions, the quick back and forth rhythms are sexier than the lustful half naked scenes of two "hot" stars.

I think all of this (and much more) is rooted in an extraordinary loss of confidence. During and post WWII, America rightfully saw itself as the most legitimate, powerful, and righteous nation on the planet. We were proud. Granted, there were still awful internal injustices - Jim Crow, Japanese internment, etc., but there was a verve with which our society could attack this problems, a swagger, and can-do attitude, and a little bit of ironic edge about the whole thing - a sense of fun. Today, our critiques of internal injustices of the past amount to a gigantic pity session, bemoaning injustice and using grievance as a tool to find sympathy and in some cases, claims of resitituion. Past generations of Americans would told us to quit whining and go live in Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, or Maoist China if we were so damn unhappy. And then they'd make some clever comment, grab a drink and go dancing. Today, someone would be offended and go home pouting.

This lack of confidence manifests itself in several ways. The first is intense overreaction and overcompensation, and it is typically masculine. There would be an interesting thesis or dissertation written about how the Iraq war is an attempt by the American male to restore a sense of confidence and masculinity. And we see this manifest in almost a glee with which we spurned the UN and the French and German pussies...the attitude which says, well, fuck those guys. I, myself, fall within this camp, so I know a little bit about it.

But another way this lack of confidence manifests itself is the flip side, politically speaking, when people cannot even muster up the moral courage to say why Iran shouldn't have a nuclear bomb. Can you see the bumbling, shaking, idiot saying, "well, if I were an Iranian or an Arab, I would think, I can't say for sure whether Iran should be able to have a nuke. I mean, who are we to say what others can and can't do?" Are you fucking kidding me? If you don't trust yourself enough to know the difference between say, the US having nukes, Israel having nukes, France and England having nukes, versus, Iran's mullah theocracy haing nukes...well, I don't even know what to say.

We're so goddamn wary. We're warned of self-righteousness and this vague idea espoused in Europe and the Middle East about American "arrogance," and we're so scared of overstepping our bounds and telling people what to do, we're wary of having power.

And we should use power responsibly and telling people what to do isn't our job or our place and arrogance is ugly and self-righteousness is a turn-off. But we SHOULD NOT be afraid of telling people what we think and acting upon what we think is right. Because there are things that are right and that doesn't make us self-righteous. We shouldn't be arrogant, but we shouldn't be afraid of doing what's right and saying what we think is right because we fear others will interpet it as arrogance. We're entitled to opinions and entitled to exercise power how we see fit. That is why we shouldn't financially support Hamas - because we don't agree with their ideology. Because they are wrong and we are right. If that's arrogance, then so be it. But since when did having an position, rooted in our sense of justice and fairness, and acting upon that position amount to arrogance. Isn't that righteousness and isn't that what we ought to be doing?

And how does this all tie back into romantic comedy? This may be a stretch, but I'll try it anyway...watching two hot people brings along certain pleasures...that first shot in Mr. and Mrs. Smith is like - goddamn, these two people are HOT. But that shit doesn't last, we all know that, and the movie is nothing special. And we go to these movies with the idea that we can no longer see ourselves as romantic comedy leads. Let me explain that more. Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant are both good looking, but not AMAZING. They are smart, and in watching them, it makes you want to be smart and makes you think, I can have that type of banter, I can have interactions like that, that could be me. I could play that game! It's just a bunch of fun, I think. But in watching Brad and Angelina, there isn't a sense that I could be like that. How many people - even good looking ones - feel like they could sleep with every single person they meet? Hardly any. But that is true for Brad and Angelina. And so it becomes an issue of how different our lives are from those characters lives we are watching, and the pleasure is actually derived from how physically different we are, as maschistic as it sounds.

The ironic thing is that even Brad and Angelina don't appear to me to be as confident or as in love as Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell or any of the couples in Sturges' movies. I don't know, maybe they even loved each other better back then.

Well, this entry didn't make a whole lot of sense, but hey, that's what blogging is for, right?
Woman's Lacrosse

I hate to be one of those ignorant (pronounced ig-nant) people who watch a sport they don't know and make snarky comments about it. I am particularly sensitive to this given that I've played soccer all my life and have listened to dumbasses try to make fun of the sport. (although I'll admit the Simpsons episode with two cartoons kicking the ball back and forth overlayed by a hysterical spanish announcer was hilarious).

Today, while running around the USC track, there was a woman's lacrosse game. From what I could tell, you were allowed to have the ball in your stick/net contraption and either run down the field and try to score or pass the ball to a teammate. The defense didn't seem to have any way of stopping anyone.

So a girl would get the ball on one end of the field, some girls would stick their sticks in front of her, so she couldn't pass, and she would run around them if she was athletic enough, and maybe pass it if she got tired. Anytime a girl had open space, she could run down the entire field, dodge people, and either get a shot on goal or pass it.

It just seemed liked a weird game, where it was awfully hard to defend against anyone just running towards the goal and scoring. There seemed to be little incentive to pass, and therefore, wasn't much teamwork. It was sort of like watching a bunch of Kobe Bryant's playing bball. Dribble up the court, shoot. Boring.

I'd love an explanation of this sport as I hear lacrosse chicks are hot and I've been dying to the term: lacrostitute.

Friday, January 27, 2006

How I'm Like Costanza

Well, it has begun. My slow decent into George-ness. It started with getting angry at small things and now it has turned into eating out of the garbage. That's right, out of the garbage!

In SPO, someone was munching on a bag of popcorn. I took a bit. I'm hungry. I like popcorn. He leaves, I notice the bag, with popcorn still sitting in it, laying on top of my empty Doritos bag in the trash. Clearly, it isn't nasty yet. I take the bag out and eat the popcorn.

The only thing more George-like would have been getting caught doing it.

Usually I like working in SPO, seeing people, helping out newbies. For some reason today was incredibly annoying. Some retard couldn't figure out how to use nowcasting so I needed to hold his hand. Fair enough if it's hard, but you figure it out on your own, stop asking me a 1000 questions.

Some 507 girl needs a buddist statue for her movie. No, I don't know any buddist temples, you moron, or whether they'll let you shoot for free.

Some guy is dismayed we don't have the theater school auditions ready. Sorry Zemeckis hasn't learned how to burn a cd without data dropouts yet.

No, I don't know where to purchase an empty saxophone case - maybe look up on the yellow pages online, jackass.
The Worst Option, Except for all the others...

A good article on what we can expect from democracy EVEN when we don't like the outcome, like in Hamasistine.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Werner Herzog

Last night, at the New Beverly, I was lucky enough to sit a few seats away from the legend himself, Herzog.

He is exploring some interesting things with his life and career:

1. The difference between Fact and Truth. This has become particularly relevant in the age of photoshop and digital effects...we can no longer trust our own eyes.
2. The deep sickness in our civilization. Why do so many obese women claim to be abducted by aliens and gang-raped? This does not happen in Nepal or Somalia.
3. Nature is not harmonious - but chaotic, murderous, and short.
4. He is interested in characters who try to leave the confines of civilization and become something else - a man a part - a man with only his own soul.
5. Ecstatic truth - not aesthetic - he is trying to discover what it is it in those ecstatic moments that we feel, what is it we touch, when we feel those moments of intense joy, some form of human truth that transcends everyday reality.
6. What is it about our collective dreams that allows many of us to believe in the supernatural?
7. A person deserves dignity and privacy with their own death. It is why he would not incorporate the tape of Treadwell's death in Grizzly Man and why home video of people dropping from buildings on 9/11 will never and should never be shown. He recommends destroying the tapes.
Risk Takers

Rather interesting article on risk-taking. It turns out the better at math you are, the more likely you are to take risks. I love these type of math questions.

It turns out men are more likely to take risks than women and a dumb man is about as likely as a smart woman to take risks.
Nuclear Option

No, I'm not referring to the Senate overriding a filibuster, but rather, French President Jacques Chirac suggesting that any act of terrorism committed against France could be met with a nuclear response if another country sponsored the attack. He means Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, or Palestine, in case anyone was wondering.

I wonder why the left in this country hasn't gone nutso over this comment, given that if G W Bush made such a statement, they would freak. Could it be because the left doesn't give a shit about anything other than making Bush look bad? Yes. That is exactly why and also why I find it hard to take the left seriously.

Some think that since we took on Iraq and neglected Iran we have ourselves to thank for the current situation. That's one interpretation. The other, of course, is that we took on Iraq and "trusted" the Europeans to negotiate and deal with Iran. The outcome is a hectic Iraq, but we don't need to deal with Saddam anymore versus an Iran who is actively pursuing nukes and by virtue of their weakness, has incentives to use them. Good job, Europe, way to go! Negotiating works!
It's On

Hamas wins a huge victory in Palestine. Palestine is now run by a terrorist organization has risen to power. Not that Fatah, which was an off-shoot of the PLO, wasn't already a similar version of the self-same thing...

Hamas is known for a lack of corruption and uncompromising attitude towards Israel, in that it advocates Israel's complete destruction - that it be literally driven back into the sea, by their own charter.

How do we interpret this? Is this a clear statement by the Palestinian people that they do not believe in Israel's right to exist?

If one group of people seeks to eliminate another country, what can we expect to look forward to?

Some people are happy, though.

Challenge: Let's see the creative ways the left blames GW Bush and/or America on the Hamas victory.
That's Right Bitches...

I'm a Porsche 911!

You have a classic style, but you're up-to-date with the latest technology. You're ambitious, competitive, and you love to win. Performance, precision, and prestige - you're one of the elite,and you know it.

Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Paranoia, Back-Stabbing, and all the Other Fun Things We Have to Look Forward To

Ahhhh, Hollywood, Los Angeles, I'm glad to be here and enter this world of bullshit. We've been sort of avoiding it for the past three years, in the safe comforts of film school, but I guess it's inevitable in this town to jump into the darkness of trying to pull each other down if we sense we might be left behind. Why are things like this? I know why - because we make it that way and allow ourselves to think that way and behave that way.

I remember Iqbal saying something really true in 508, he said, "I really, REALLY, don't want to be a hater." But it's almost logical to root for your own film to be "better" than the other ones. How can you not? It's ingrained in human beings, a competitive hostile spirit...

As Werner Herzog said tonight at the New Beverly, the universe is not harmonious at all, it is chaotic, hostile, and murderous.

And so it is. Welcome to the Jungle.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Designer Game Idea

Title: Spies

Object: Complete your mission before the other players.

Basic Rules: At the start of each game, a player selects two cards: a Country and a Mission. For each country and mission combination, a player need to acquire a specific set of resources to complete the mission. Players are each given a $100,000 budget, in chips, to complete their mission.

Basic Mechanic: Each player has a turn and turns over a resource card that has a resource and a cost. The "turner" has the first option to purchase or pass. Then the option goes to the next player and next player and so forth.

*I'd like to introduce a trading element, where players can make trades of money, resource cards, or a combination of each. I'm not sure how or when this trade option would come into the game.

**I'd also like to add an element where a player can actually lose by winning. That is, another player can get a mission that is completed by allowing the first player to win. (I haven't figured out how the original player can turn this around...)

Dynamic Element: Each player is trying to complete their mission, but at the same time trying to sabotage each others missions. Therefore, one tries to keep their own mission a secret, so other players won't sabatage and might inadvertantly help. If a player is too obvious about completing their own mission, other players will figure out their mission and exploit it.

To complete a mission, players will need to collect a specific mix of 9 resource cards. For instance:

Mission Card: Steal Rival Missile System
Country Card: China

In order to complete this mission you will need to collect: 3 translators who speak Chinese, 3 scientists with aviation expertise, and 3 transports of metals.

*Note: each resource card will be "dual use," that is, each translator speaks two languages. Each scientist has two areas of exertise, and each container ship can hold either metal shipments or oil.

Sample resource cards:

Translator: Chinese and Farsi. Cost: $6,000
Translator: Chinese and English. Cost: $3,000
Translator: Chinese and German. Cost: $4,000

Scientist: Aviation and Biological expertise. Cost: $5,000
Scientist: Biological and Chemical expertise. Cost: $2,000
Scientist: Physics and Chemical expertise: Cost: $4,000

Transport: Metals and Oil. Cost: $10,000
Transport: People and Bombs. Cost: $1,000
Transport: Drugs and Cash. Cost: $5,000
Truce With Bin Laden

I've written about it before - how it's so obviously bullshit, BL's offer of a truce...

Here is CS Monitor article about whether we should take it or not - and the author naively thinks so...but in order to allow BL to break it and prove to the Muslim world he's full of shit. (Just a guess - but when he breaks it, the people who don't already know he's full of shit will still believe in him).

If I were in power, I would seriously consider accepting the truce and then breaking it ourselves, if I thought it would lead to capturing and killing more Al Queda members.

I've never said I wouldn't hit below the belt. In war, winning comes first, fairness second. That's sort of the fundamental difference between war and peace.

Monday, January 23, 2006

German/Designer Board Games

It's the next big least for me. So big, it might overtake poker. I'm serious. It is the best thing out of Germany since Thomas Mann, or those little pieces from the Berlin Wall.

Playing Modern Art the other day was awesome. It gets your mind thinking in super complicated ways and has me continuing to think about it afterwards.

Here is the Wikipedia definition of German Board games. This is seriously awesome. Think about it from a social and economic standpoint: these are cheap, simple games - costing around $20 each. They provide 1-2 hours of entertainment for 3-6 people (families) per time played. They are cerebral and get you thinking in fairly complex levels. Modern Art is basically an intro lesson into complex game theory - fairly high level math.

So let me get this straight - you can produce something cheaply, sell it at incredibly low cost, provide hours of entertainment, and get people thinking. What are we doing making movies? This is the future....beyond video games, I think. This is almost a model of what society ought to be.
The NY Times is Ripping off the Blogosphere

I LOVE IT! This is the weirdest article I've ever read from the newspaper. It's also the funniest. And for the record, it's a review of Cache.

The world is going a little crazy and I relish it.
Iran, Cont...

But this time a good thing. An example of how regular folks function in Iran, a devoted poetry club, despite Western poetry being banned in Iran.

We should take inspiration from something like this. If these guys are willing to risk prison to meet about poetry, we should be more than willing to risk massive humiliation and failure for organizing A Night of Movies and not give up until it's a success. I mean, these types of little details make you forget how drastically different it is to live in a free society. Can we even fathom this notion of being locked up, tortured for meeting about poetry?
A Deal to Be Had?

Did the Bush administration royally fuck up by not trying to make a deal with Iran in 2004, similar to the deal with Libya?

Are we at this point right now by taking too hard of a line back then?

This could prove to be a very costly play.

I got a few comments on the race post, mostly disputing my claims.

Today, there's an article that discusses the very same subject.

The article argues that white liberal politicians have exploited black grievance (and more in general, all minority grievance) for political power. Democrats have constantly "felt the pain" of blacks and other minority groups, encouraging grievance, thereby securing the voting block. No demographic has been more loyal to the democratic party than the black vote. Ironically, once secure with this power, the Democratic party has little incentive to helping minorities overcome (to use MLKs words) past and present injustices. They simply have incentives to pander to their grievance. He gives examples in the article.

There is no doubt minorities and particularly blacks, have had rougher histories than the white race in this country. The question is how we deal with these past and present injustices - do we grieve and bemoan them or do we overcome them and make the country a more fair place?

The article seems to think a Hillary vs. Condi 2008 election will highlight this vast difference. Hillary embodies white liberalism who plays lip service to feeling black pain, but underneath is smugly condescending, counting upon being depicted as the "less-racist" party and hoping to exploit grievance. Condi, on the other hand, embodies overcoming racism, a child of the segregated south, she has risen to become one of the most powerful woman on the planet.

If a Condi presidency could symbolize that the issue of racial injustice in America has been conquered, and the rest we have to do is clean-up, well, I'd vote for her, almost on that issue alone (so long as she doesn't surrender to Al Queda).
My Favorite Blog Entry, Ever

Here it is.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

A Night at the Movies, Part II

Point of clarifications, because my prior post was perhaps not clear, with respect to The Night at the Movies...

There is no question in my mind that this goes on and we learn and adjust. I think last night was pretty awesome. I mean, we watch these great student films on the massive Norris screen. We partied and celebrated the love of movies, both watching and making.

Things to work on:

1. Nomination Process. Part of the original plan was to have this initial screening and inspire others to look for and make movies that could be part of future screenings. Now that we've started A Night of Movies, hopefully the word will spread and nominations will fly in from a wider swath around school. We can have as many screenings as quality movies, in theory. That process will start in a couple of weeks.

2. Promotion/Advertising/Getting People in the Seats. As much as we tried to avoid the trappings, I suppose it is somewhat inevitable that the only audience one can rely upon for a screening is the people involved with the movies. Thus, I feel a wider nomination process will increase attendence, as many of these films were by a particular social group within the cinema school. A wider amount of movies, a wider audience.

But beyond that, we are also going to attempt to find a bigger audience in a different way. A) Utilizing the "Tipping Point" idea and promoting/selling the event to select people in school who will get behind the project and promote it. We tried to do this for this project by contacting TAs and friends. What I realize, in hindsight, is that a lot of the people promoting the event were inter-promoting, that is, when Chuck promotes the movies, it is most likely to get me and Kevin into the movie; when I promote the movies, it gets Kevin and Chuck; when Kevin promotes the movie, it gets me and Kevin. Thus, our promotion attempts overlap and become circular. We need to make an outreach to other "social groups." This will need to be managed with care and done in advance, maybe going so far as to recruiting other people to help in the movie programming.

Note: it seemed as though we got a good deal of first year students, which I think were a response to the TA emails. Other TA emails probably we not taken as seriously, simply because you look up to TAs more your first semester, and then the next couple semesters when you're TAing classes of people who are your TAs and it all sort of loses it's allure.

B) Trying to add a level of sophistication ie, outside the normal cinema crowd...perhaps reaching out to faculty we like, or other departments in school. I made a small attempt to get the word out to the MFA Fine Art students and Business school, but there are probably much more thorough ways to go about it.

C) Getting Cinema school backing. We can tell the dean, the public affairs office, and all the "other" people around the cinema school. Now that we've started something successful, people will jump on the bandwagon and get into it.

3. Technical Improvements. The big failure of this screening, that no one probably noticed, was that we were unable to play the movies off a single (or two) DV tapes. The exported tape was done the night before and the error not discovered until we didn't have time to re-export. We were forced to screen off the original tapes. Therefore, we were unable to control overall sound levels and edit out credits until the end. It also hampered the screening order and end credits. We will do it earlier next time and use better equipment (if we can get our hands on it).

4. Programming/Ordering. A consensus seems to be shorter is better. Or, if there is a significant length difference, some sort of brochure for the audience, so they know what they are getting into. Part of me thinks - well, they know they are coming for an hour and 15 minutes, so what's the problem. They should be able to sit through movies we select...but I don't think the short film audience is conditioned that way. Anyhow, we need to consider the rhythm of the screening or whether a program is necessary.

That's about it for my notes. I'd be happy to hear any other thoughts by those who went, or even those who didn't...

Update: A competitor of A Night of Movies? It looks like a much bigger scale, but which films would you rather spend an 1:15 in you have DVDs of each and which one gets scratched first? And as in, which is the bigger spectacle. I predict, already, that I will be talking trash at the screening...why? the free, good booze, and the fact that a lot of people I know will probably attend who missed a Night at the Movies.
Modern Art

It's a designer (also known as German) game. We played. I won.

Formal Elements

Object: Players try to finish the game with the most money by selling and buying art cards.

Core Mechanic: Players take turns putting up art for auction.

Basic Rules: Players start with a $100,000 in chips. Players buy and sell artworks from five different artists based upon their possible future value at the end of a season. When 5 pieces of art from a single artist are sold, the season ends and the most popular artist's work sells for $30,000 each, the second most popular for $20,000, and the third most popular for $10,000. You play for four seasons. An artist's work can gain more value if they were in the top 3 during the prior season.

A player starts with chips and art cards to put up for auction. Each art card has a specific type of auction - open, fixed price, secret, once-around, and double (which simply means an additional card from the same artist is put on auction together). Each auction has it's own specific rules for determining the winner. The winner pays the auctioneer.

Within the game are a series of rules that break ties both within an auction and within a season.

You have a hidden amount of money, and the winner is the one with the most money at the end of the four seasons. Ways to gain money - sell art at the end of the season and auction off art. Way to invest (and possibly lose) money - buying art.

Dramatic Elements

The entire set up as an art auction is the dramatic element of the game. The game could be boiled down to strictly numbers, but it guised in the set up of an art world. Each players is a gallery that purchases works of art by artists, trying to determine their future value. The dramatic elements of the game are fairly simple.

Dynamic Elements

The first dynamic element is deciding what art piece to put up for auction. You make a strategic choice based upon what art pieces have already sold and what remaining auction cards you have in your hand. By placing a piece of art up for auction you hope to accomplish two things simultaneously: sell the piece for a lot of money and raise the overall value of your gallery. Your overall value of your gallery is based upon how many total cards of a given artist are displayed in all of the galleries.

The second dynamic element is the type of auction you select (based upon the card options in your hand) The most dramatic auction is the double auction, when two pieces go up for sale. This can often propel the value of a given artist in a season. Other auctions choices are also strategic, putting up secret auction versus an open auction can trick people into "overpaying" for a piece. A once around auction leaves only one opportunity for people to make price that can be outbid by the auctioneer at the end. A fixed price auction allows the auctioneer to make the price and let the players take it or leave it. The trick for auction selection is try to gauge how the other players will "misvalue" a piece of art and find the appropriate auction to take advantage. For instance, if a piece of art is completely undervalued because other players think it cannot possibly have value at season end, you might select the once around auction, so each player gets one bid and will likely bid low and then purchase the piece for yourself. Likewise, if a piece you think is your opponents will overvalue, you might hold a secret auction to get them to overbid.

The third dynamic element is collecting art pieces, or purchasing art. You are purchasing art with the hope that it will be worth more than what you paid. But you are also purchasing art to increase the value of what you already have AND to decrease the value of what your opponents have.
Bring on the Hate

Comment on my blog: "I don't believe you're half anything, you sound all-white to me."

This of course, assumes a monolithic identity for all white people and all people of color, which seems to me pretty much the worst way to view human beings, as nothing beyond their geneological heritage. But alas, if it makes it easier...

And by the tone, and please correct me if I'm being too sensitive, it sounds to me like it's supposed to be an insult - and not a funny ironic one, but rather a mean-spirited, unhappy one.

For all those out there who are angered by my blog entries, I invite them to start their own blog and write down their responses and thoughts on similar subjects.

First blog entry title suggestions for the recent anonymous comments: Why I Feel Sorry For Myself / Color = Good / Why I've Never Bothered to Visit a Third World Country / Why I'm Exactly Like Everyone Else in My Race and Different From Everyone Else
A Night of Movies

Some type of summary of the events feels appropriate....first off, anyone who came is cool. People that didn't show, well, they suck my ass (and I may pretend they don't to their faces, but truth be known, they can fucking eat it and like it). Unless they were on a pre-planned vacation, had a family illness, or hate me or movies in general deeply. All of those excuses are legit, the rest, I won't listen to.

It's a nightmare getting the shit ready to project. The whole idea was to have two dvd tapes that just play straight. Then there's export problems that mess up the entire adjusted we have to screen tape by tape.

Then there's the people who don't like the movies. "You must be drunk to like those..." A good sign or bad sign, I'm not sure. I think it might've been someone's parents. If my parents saw these movies, they would have been embarassed to admit they liked them. That's why I love my parents.

The programming was off. Maybe there should have been a brochure. Maybe all the movies should have been under a certain length. Maybe, maybe, maybe. Maybe I should have spent my evening jacking off instead.

I didn't enjoy watching the movies from the projection booth. I couldn't feel the audience. I had no idea the response. I still have no idea what it's like watching these movies in Norris.

Overall, the whole thing didn't go over as big or as well as I anticipated. But the fact is this - we tried to lay down the gauntlet and say, "this is what we like and what we think movies are about." At least we stated an opinion and tried something. We'll learn and someday, hit the whole mother fucking thing on the head.

And then afterwards. The unexplainable. Drunken drama. Followed by watching, peering, cleaning. Followed then by beer pong and undergrads and girls not getting my jokes and guys asking me who I knew in the house and me giving smart ass answers and taco bell.

All in all, an above average evening.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Fascinating Round Ups On Iran

To start off, a rather reasonable, even hopeful analysis of the Iranian situation from the Chicago Boyz outlining explanations for Iran's bizarre recent behavior. On the flip side, is the pessemistic look from Winds of Change, who basically believes a war showdown with Iran is inevitable. (I just realized I am totally copying an Instapundit post...)

For those not following too closely, including myself, a brief round-up of recent events:

1. Iran very publically re-starts development on nuclear plants. They've made it painfully obvious, by any standard, to be interested in developing their own nuke. It is pissing of the Europeans a lot, and even the Russians (who rely upon Iranian oil) are offering compromise solutions to an obvious problem.

2. The most far right candidate in their recent election becomes president and announces the holocaust was a myth, organizes a holocaust convention to debunk the myth perpetrated by Jews and the West. This is the difference between the crazy radical in office and his predecessor, who slightly less radical.

Many in the foreign policy establishment believe that if Iran develops a nuke, it is inevitable that a nuke will be used in the near future. Reasons:

1. A nuclear Iran will spark an arms race in the Middle East where Saudi Arabia (who is already talking with Pakistan about getting a nuke), Syria, Lebannon, and Turkey all need a nuke to maintain a deterrent. The reason: Iranian Shi'ia don't see eye to eye with the Sunni majorities in each of their neighbors.

2. An nuclear arms race in the Middle East GREATLY enhances the possibility of a terrorist organization getting access to a device.

3. Iran, with it's known terrorist ties, could at any time hand off a nuke to Hezbollah or like organization to wreck havoc or blackmail the world.

4. Iranian mullah's are happy to use the nuke against Israel to provoke a war if they become fearful that their internal grip of power is coming apart to moderates (infidels to them).

5. Iran is happy to have nukes and appear all crazy to invite a pre-emptive attack from Israel or the US, thus hoping to consolidate Muslim support for a full on holy war with the West...which is secretly what they've been hoping for years...

Thursday, January 19, 2006

How You Know You're Full of Shit

A litmus test: if your reaction to the Bin Laden annoucement that he would like a truce in exchange for US troop withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan is that "hey, this is an interesting possibility, maybe we should honor a truce to bring peace to the world."

You are full of shit, and secretly know it.
A Truce

OBL has offered us a truce.
It's Like Dealing with the Norris Theater

The Muslim Brotherhood proves difficult to talk to.

These guys aren't as bad as Al Queda, etc, but they're completely full of shit. Great questions by the interviewer.
Me So Angry

Listening to the radio on the way home this evening and some talk show guys are upset about a student in San Diego who was not allowed to form a "heterosexual" club at school. Apparently there was another issue somewhere about a "Caucasian" club as well that was not allowed to be formed.

To me, all of this is fundamentally stupid. Of course they should be able to start such clubs. The only reason they aren't is because they are poking fun (perhaps even maliciously) at the idea of minority groups forming clubs. But what they are truly reacting to, is the entire idea of political correctness.

In the last couple of years, political correctness has come to anger me deeply and I'm not sure why. Or maybe I do.

Today, when people bring up racism as a big problem in society, I feel the obligation to agree. But actually, every time I agree, I feel a bit phony. Because the fact is, I'm not racist. I've never been racist. I've never thought someone should be denied opportunties because of their color or race. I've never purposefully wished anyone harm because of their race. I've never done anything negative to anyone because of their race.

Now, that's not to say, I'm not prejudiced...I certainly done stupid things around black people, like adopting slang I've seen in movies and saying things like, "Naw, man." I've crossed the street when I was younger and saw three young black men wearing Starter parkas. I've gotten annoyed at Japanese tourists, I've cursed Mexican work ethic while waiting a long time for a taco, and I've even pondered the stinginess of Jewish friend.

But none of these things have amounted to any tangible harm. I can't see how society has been affected by my admittedly stupid prejudices, ones that I would be the first to denounce.

On the flip side, I can't honestly say I've been a victim of racism. I've been called a chink, which got me sore, but it was usually by a jackass friend trying to piss me off or get back at me.

My half-Chineseness has hardly influenced my options or choices throughout my life in any sort of meaningful way. It hasn't helped me or hurt me.

But, you say, just because you are not a perpetrator or victim of racism doesn't mean it doesn't exist. What kind of narcissistic bastard are you?

Perhaps. But the thing is, of all the people I know, I find it pretty tough to say that any of them are either the victims or perpetrators of racism, in any sort of meaningful way.

Perhaps they got called names, or perhaps they got slow service, or maybe even teachers didn't think they were capable of as much as they were...or maybe they've made racist remarks, had racist thoughts, or even not befriended someone because of their race. But honestly, do these things really amount to that much?

Racism is not being allowed to eat at the same restaurants, drink at the same water fountains. Racism is not being allowed to borrow money, being assaulted or terrorized because of your color, or not being allowed to attend a school, not being allowed to vote, these types of MEANINGFUL things, things that affect your life, your ability to practice freedom and liberty, and to have dignity.

You can't tell me your diginity is affected if someone crosses the street because they don't want to run into you. You can't argue your dignity is affected when people make an assumption you can speak Korean. These things are silly little results of stereotypes and prejudices, but hardly amount to a big problem with society.

But I run in privileged circles, there's no doubt about that. I don't see the underbelly of American society, so of course, by virtue of the people I know, none of them have been victims of racism - BECAUSE by definition, they are doing well.

Perhaps. But I'm not an idiot. I recognize that the Mexican community in Los Angeles is less well off that the white-bread community. I can see that. But I can't, with any intellectual honesty, say that is tantamount to racism. I imagine it is harder to get ahead in California and America when you don't speak English well - that's not racist, that's pure practicalities, and the fact is that a lot, especially older Mexicans in Los Angeles don't speak or write English that well. Their children won't have as many opportunities as wealthier white kids, but they'll have some opportunities, and they'll learn English better than their parents, and have more opportunities than their parents.

But what about the African American community? Are they victims of racism? I've had a very small and limited contact with the African American community in LA - my trips to Walmart on Crensaw, Roscoe Chicken and Waffle on Pico, and my temp job with some black folks last summer, that's about the extent of it. Were all these folks victims of racism? I don't know, the folks at Roscoe Chicken and Waffle and my temp job just seem like middle class Americans going about their business. Walmart obviously employees and serves poorer people - like me. Is this because of racism? It sure doesn't seem like it.

I guess the biggest issue in recent years has been police brutality. You could argue that subconsciously the LAPD is more disposed to hurting a black man than a rich white man, and probably be right. I have a hard time believing, however, that law abiding African American citizens walk around in fear of being wrongfully accussed or being unfairly arrested. Yes, black men probably get pulled over more often, and this is annoying, but come on, does it really make that big of a difference? I mean, teenagers get pulled over an unfair amount too. Secretly, you know it ain't that big of a deal and further, it doesn't even happen all that often.

So it's pretty annoying to hear people talk about racism as if it's a huge issue. Because I'm not about to claim that I'm a victim of it, OR let anyone else tell me I'm a victim or it. On the flip-side, I don't accept someone telling me that I'm racist, because I'm not. So then people say, well, society is racist. But who is society? It's you and me. So are YOU racist? Am I racist? Are you a victim, am I a victim? If not, then who is?

Who is this boogy-man? Where are these racist people holding others back?

The movement of political correctness is a reaction to this perceived racism, which is often intangible, but nonetheless supposedly there. So we have this movement, with an agenda, of multicultural clubs, of group identity politics, all as a reaction to what?

Who are we helping by thinking this way? Who are we hurting?

UPDATE: In response to the first (two) comments...the issue of deep mistrust and feeling as though you are suspected of a crime, are these perceptions accurate? Are they based upon incidents that actually occurred, or about something that may happen because it happened in Boys in the Hood? In short, have people gotten it into their heads that others are perceiving them in this way that inaccurate? Because when I walk around and see a black person I don't think - CRIMINAL. If I'm walking down a dark alley near the parking center and a homeless person is walking towards me yelling, I get paranoid and scared - whether they are black or white. If a car with tinted windows rides by and slows down while I'm walking, I get worried. But does this have anything to do with race?

So again it goes back to the question - are you the victim of racism? And, who is the perpetrator of racism? I don't buy into this vague bullshit, I think people don't like me or treat me shitty because of my color and it's demeaning, etc, etc, unless one can specifically state something that has happened that demonstrates hurtful, wrong, or racist behavior...not "perceived" racism, or the generalized concept of institutionalized racism, but an actual case, like - a bank didn't give me a loan because I was black. Or a policeman pulled me over and frisked me and jailed me because I was Mexican, or my brother wasn't allowed to purchase a house because he was Jewish, or my mom wasn't allowed to rent an apartment because she was Chinese.

UPDATE 2: "You live a rarified life of limited experience." Don't we all? And isn't that what makes life so interesting?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Whenever I Say Stuff Like This I Get in Trouble

But maybe when it comes from a transsexual, people will listen.

She/he dated both men and women and dicusses the differences. It turns out a lot of women aren't very fun. "Be lighthearted," they say.

I haven't gotten a dog yet, but I do have an unused fishing pole.

Monday, January 16, 2006


Highly watchable, tense, but I remain a bit confused. Who was doing the videotaping?

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Easy Position

The easy position to take with respect to trying to kill Zawahiri is the one the Pakistani government has chosen - if the attack is successful, they take partial credit, if the attack unsuccessful, they blame the US. People protest that we are killing innocents, etc.

Well, I certainly don't like the idea of indiscriminate bombs with collateral damage, nor do I like the idea of targeted assassinations. However, we all know that terrorists hide within civilian population precisely because we abhor killing innocents (and they do not).

Because of that, we should NOT have a blanket policy AGAINST killing innocents, that we need to balance the quality of intelligence against the number of innocents and so forth. From ever indication I've seen, we seem to keep civilian casualties to a minimum and thus, I do not have a fear that we are over bombing innocents. I think our intelligence is generally bad (compared to say Israeli intelligence in the killing of Hamas leaders), and that IS tied to how often we ought to try such things.

The other thing I've become comfortable admitting is that with respect to Al Queda, targeted assassinations are legitimate (and likely the morally correct thing to do, given the alternatives). In a war, it is obviously beneficial to kill the enemies leadership and that's precisely what we are trying to do.

A friend of mine snickered yesterday at my hope that we killed Zawahiri...the implication that it is inhumane to wish death upon someone else. Such hope about the world is a luxury I don't think we have, nor truly have ever had, that we should be strong enough to recognize an enemy when there is one, and likewise fair enough to recognize who isn't.
Evidence of Drunkeness

Hanging at Melissa's new pad, gearing up to watch Pat Garrett, and I make the casual observation,

"Melissa, your bed is really wide, but pretty short. I'm not that tall, but my legs go all the way past the end."

"You're sitting on it sideways."

Friday, January 13, 2006


I suppose it's rather lame to be spreading rumors, but Zawahari, the Al Queda #2 was the target of an unmanned aircraft bomb today in Pakistan. Let's hope we got him.

UPDATE: I will no longer post rumors regarding Al Queda because they always turn out to be untrue.
Truth To Power

Some thoughts on a Harvard Professor leaving his job to run for parliment in Canada.

What I find interesting in here is the idea that a middle power like Canada is more able to exercise power through developing ideas than through economics or military might.

This is related to thoughts I've had recently about movies, that small movies, in order to compete with Hollywood films and star power, uber special fx, etc, has to come out with crazy ideas. You see this in indy films, tackling more avante garde, subjects, pimps, transsexuals, etc.

These days, I think the smaller the movie, the bigger the idea, almost...
USC Basketball

They made it slightly interesting in the 2nd half tonight against #13 ranked U Washington. There are a few decent, young players on the team. It's pretty amazing how unpopular USC basketball is compared to football, but I found it quite pleasant to attend a game, be able to sit close, and stretch out.

Highlights of the evening, other than the game:

1. Dance Girl routines.
2. Halftime Announcer who hosted the shooting contests. A few of his funny comments on the student shooters - "Are those tapered jeans you're wearing? Where did you find those, JC Penny?" and "Maybe you shouldn't have worn flip flops."

Anyhow, I found them funny.
Fascinating Article

It's a long 14-page essay written by a British Officer on the things the US Army has done to our own detriment in Iraq. By all accounts, it seems to me a very fair and balanced and honest look at things.

There is a section that describes the institutional differences between the US Army and the British Army, and why the Brits succeeded in limited war in Malaysia while the US Army failed in limited war in Vietnam. This issue, he writes, is that the American Army, since it's conception, was created as an instrument of national survival. It is a conventional warfighting machine. This is in contrast to the British Army, which has always been an instrument of "limited war" or achieving limited goals at limited cost.

In Vietnam, the Army was plagued with the idea that we needed to completely destroy the enemy, which neglected the wider political goals of the war.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are, of course, limited wars. Our Army is designed as a conventional war fighting machine, that is why we used a tremendous amount of Special Forces in Afghanistan.

More Food For Thought:

He writes that the Army relies too heavy on finding technological solutions to problems. In the case of finding intelligence, the army relies upon wiretapping and listening, as opposed to developing humint (or spies). In the case of Iraq, it has led us to becoming distant from the host population, and thus viewed as occupiers, as opposed to friends. He writes, "a predilction for technology encourages the search for the quick, convenient solution, often at the expense of the more logical, enduring solution." Yipers! That sounds right on - not just the American army, but American society.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Stop Your Bitching

Or so this essay ought to be retitled.

It is a critique of the book "Generation Debt," a book about how 20-somethings have it rough today because of student loans, credit card debt, and high real estate prices.

His response - quit whining. Every generation has their own set of problems - Vietnam, AIDs, bad job market, whatever. In time, things change, markets get settled, you find a job, shit ends up working out. It's not that what the author says isn't true, it just has no perspective.
The Depths of Absurdity

Today I discovered that the coffee carts no longer offer coffee at USC. The employee reported that they need a permit to sell coffee, and they didn't have one, yet they could sell Lattes, chips, Cafe Americano, Tea, apple fritters, and so forth. Apparently, they always needed a permit and had been operating without one all these years.

Imagine being the person who decided that they should no longer sell coffee at the coffee cart because of the permit. Imagine being the person who thinks there ought to be separate permits for sweet rolls, tea, and coffee.

Talk about a society trying to commit suicide...this is a form of pure bureaucratic evil.
I'm Having Three Kids

Now this is what I would call a provocative essay.

It would be easy to write this guy off as a right wing nut, but he makes a few BIG, interesting points.

1. European civilization is in danger of extinction because of low birth rates. To sustain European economies, Europe will need to rely upon immigration, mostly Muslim immigrants, who tend to be less than favorable towards Western democracy (for instance that 60% of Muslims in Britian are in favor of sharia.) Uhhhhh...

*Note the CIA predicts that by 2020, the EU will not exist

2. "The great thing about multiculturalism is that it doesn’t involve knowing anything about other cultures—the capital of Bhutan, the principal exports of Malawi, who cares? All it requires is feeling good about other cultures. It’s fundamentally a fraud, and I would argue was subliminally accepted on that basis. Most adherents to the idea that all cultures are equal don’t want to live in anything but an advanced western society: Multiculturalism means your kid has to learn some wretched native dirge for the school holiday concert instead of getting to sing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” or that your holistic masseuse uses techniques developed from Native American spirituality, but not that you or anyone you care about should have to live in an African or Native-American society. It’s a quintessential piece of progressive humbug."

Ouch. But he's right, sadly. The only thing truly good about multiculturalism is a variety of restaurant choices - it's true, face it, let's not make it into anything more than that.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Real Nuclear Option

Sensing sometimes writes, frightingly, about the stakes of the War against Islamic Terrorism. The basic premise is that we need to quash this rash of Islamic Terrorism, or else we face a much less desirable option, an enraged US population who takes the war to the entire Islamic World. This would be catastrophic, but not unthinkable, given that Americans will not live in fear of suicide attacks and if attacks grew worse, Americans would blame the larger Islamic world for harboring and allowing such attacks to occur.

It is only responsible to think of these problems, as opposed, to fantasizing that they are an impossibility. I can only assume that our military has a pre-set response devised for certain types of highly possible attacks...a nuke on NYC or LA, for instance.

The only insight I would add is that I think it vital to inform whomever would be effected by our response, what our response would be. That is to say, if Islamic Fundamentalists nuked New York and our response was to nuke Mecca, we ought to let the Saudi's, Al Queda, and people living in Mecca our response prior to the New York nuke. That way, there is predictable behaviour on our part, and everyone with prior knowledge of our undesirable response would seek to prevent the initial New York nuke. It is the deterrent theory.

Of coure, the problem is that those delivering the nuke might be encouraged by our response because it would prove that America, is indeed at war with all Muslims...but does Al Queda really want that war? Do they really want America to make their death wish for their entire culture to become true?
Great Title

Meanwhile, there's a war going on. It's a great title for a blog post and a pretty amazing indictment of the main stream media's lack of reporting. In Europe and around the world there's been a big AP story about cracking a cell of Al Queda members plotting an attack on America that would "dwarf" 9/11. Is this news to people? It should be, I think. It certainly shouldn't be news only after it happens. The accusation in the linked blog post is that the liberal media purposefully neglected the terrorist plot to push the NSA wiretapping story - demonstrating the illegality of using listening devices on citizens. Of course, it was the listening devices that led to the capture of this Algerian cell, which would give credence to the idea that we're spying on Al Queda members for a reason - not just to invade the privacy of others.

The fact is the left fetishes privacy rights and the threat of government spying on citizens. It blinds them from seeing any possible reason for eavsdropping or any weighing of values - privacy vs. security. At the same time, it seems like Bush could have easily used the court orders to get warrents to eavsdrop.

Anyhow, I'm not losing sleep over anyone listening to my phone calls.
Self Esteem is Down to Zero

Last week I got a frantic phone call from one of my closest friend's from college. She heard a rumor one of our close friends got engaged. I figured, it couldn't be possible, he would've called.

This scenario is double-ly absurd because ANOTHER one of our supposedly good friends from college secretly got married two years after college to his high school sweatheart. The three of us, that is: my friend who called, my friend who may have just been engaged, and me, all discussed how sad it was that we were not informed or invited to the wedding of our other friend.

At our 5 year college reunion last summer we discussed the issue of shunning old friends to get married, this realization that we had grown so far apart that we weren't invited to the wedding, and how we'd never does this to each other.

So it was today when I ran into a college acquitance at USC pursuing his PHd in literature and he says, "So that's crazy about Gabe, huh."

I explain how I heard the rumor, but haven't spoken to him and how disappointed I was.

He said, "Yeah, he didn't call me either...but YOU....didn't you guys live together for four years?"


I have no friends.
A Lot of Ideas

There is an interesting article in Time Magazine about originating ideas. After examining great innovators and creators, one element that seemed to spring up is that many of them had TONS of ideas that were failures. The difference for the great ones is that they tested their ideas, developed them, and were willing to part with them if they later on figured out they didn't make sense.

The best example they used was Charles Darwin, who started working on a theory of hypothetical life forms called monads, some type of spontaneous life form that sprang from inanimate matter. He theorized that when the monads died, all the species that evolved from them died at the same time, explaining why certain species did not continue to develop (later to be known as becoming extinct). In hindsight, it seems like a pretty silly self-contained theory or idea. But it's obvious that elements of this idea later developed into the theory of evolution.

I like stories like this.
Bad News

I can understand why it is difficult to track down insurgents or terrorist who have devoted their lives to avoiding capture. I don't understand, however, why it is so difficult to find the money trail for overall terror operations. By it's very nature, there must be transaction records with respect to money, otherwise, how could they ever occur? With this bit of info suggesting a waning interest in terror finance, this seems to me one of the big problems with the Bush Admin's handling of the terror war. What do we know about how they finance attacks and insurgencies that we didn't know pre-9/11 and what are we doing to stop it? Simple question, yet I have no clue about the answer.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Ackkkkk (that's a cough)....bullshit...Ackkkk (another cough)

If you buy the premise of this article, I've got a bridge to sell you and the check's in the mail.

Update: I feel like an idiot even talking about this issue anymore.
Well, That Was Different

Tonight I attened the Game Design Workshop offered by the USC interactive media division. This is the training ground for new game designers. I walk into the class, expecting interactive division MFA students, maybe some cute girls, I dunno. Instead, I got what was probably the more logical expectation - 30 undergrad guys, half of whom are playing some type of video game before class, either via handset on or the computer. There are MAYBE one or two girls. Frankly, I feel slightly intimidated because I know nothing about video games post Super Nintendo.

Anyhow, class starts, a few awkward game jokes are made that pass over my head. The teacher seems a little dull and the grading and workload a bit intimidating.

But then we enter into the lecture section and start discussing the material and I find it incredibly intriguing. We briefly talk about what comprises a game: the formal elements, dramatic elements, and dynamic elements.

Formal elements: Players, Objectives, Rules, Procedures, Resources, Boundaries, Outcome.

Dramatic Elements: Premise, story, characters

Dynamic Elements: What occurs when the rules are set in motion - what's referred to as "emergence" or new and unique patterns.

I start thinking about games I love - poker, risk, tennis, chess, mrs. pac man, mario kart, mortal kombat, soccer, and why the patterns that emerge from these games are so compelling and fun to play. I think about designing something to be played versus being watched or experienced (like a movie) and how these things might be related. We talked about how games are this voluntary "stepping into a magic circle," where we abide by certain rules to create a temporary "new world" governed by rules. I started thinking about how much fun I have playing games with friends and family. I start thinking about how games can act as a metaphors for bigger things, such as political systems, legal systems, business, etc. I start thinking - wow, isn't this what education is supposed to be about, expanding ones mind and learning new things as opposed to say, multicam. Fzzzz (that's a fart noise).

We'll be designing games on paper and playing them. Yes, this will be fun, hopefully I can convince USC to let me substitute the requirement....

Every time I come back to school after break I have the same experience with the UV, the smell and the food nearly makes me puke.

I should vow to never eat there again, but sadly I know it'll happen at some point.
Crit Studies

Each semester USC generally offers some interesting crit studies classes. This semester, after perusing the list, looks a little light. There is class on James Bond. I love Bond as much as the next guy, but do you really want to pay $4000 to study a bunch of films you can watch on the TBS marathon? The most interesting one to me is the blaxploitation era and question of film authorship: jean luc godard and anne-marie mieville.

It looks to me like the department is missing Marsha Kinder and Drew Casper, both of whom can generally be expected to come up with something interesting.

Monday, January 09, 2006


What a cheese-dick show. 24 is like the crack cocaine of TV. I'm watching the first season and it's such a soap opera, constant injuries and near deaths, and twists, and each little segment ends with a cliff hanger. It keeps you watching, but it has very little elegance.
Bitter Bunny

Today, I was at school, the first day back, I felt like I should be happy and nice to people, but instead I was a bitter bunny. I knew I was a bitter bunny when I first entered the elevator and was talking to this guy I marginally know and I start picking a fight with him about being a cinematographer and how USC DP's use too much equipment. I have no idea what prompted this outburst, actually, he said he was DPing a 546 and I said, "Don't use too much equipment," to which he requested an explanation, and I said USC DP's use too much equipment, and he went on about how they are tools, and then I said the New World was shot with a beadboard, he said that probably wasn't true, and I said read American Cinematographer, all the while there are people in the elevator.

What is wrong with me? Then I'm in 551 class and the teachers are saying what a good deal 581 is and how we should take advantage of USC equipment. I was compelled to say that most 581s don't end up using USC equipment, to which they nodded and said, 581 is still a good deal.

Then the professor showed a film clip and asked up what we thought. I raised my hand and said I thought it was propaganda. He disagreed. Several sycophantic students disagreed as well. One guy agreed with me. Communist bastards.

I don't know what it was, but I was an antagonistic mother f---ker today. I think I became uber weird at school because everyone is younger than me, and listening to their stupid movie ideas in 551 and then by writing class (lord, have mercy!) and then the ass kissing. Ughhhh. It all makes me want to puke.

I guess I'm normally kind of an antagonistic m---f-----, but today was a little out of control.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Random Thoughts On Genocidal Regimes

In reading A Problem From Hell, I am becoming more acquainted with various genocidal regimes. This is how I think I would have fared, had I been a member of the victim groups at the time:

Turkish genocide of Armenians, 1915 - I don't think I would've survived this one. It was the first modern genocide, sort of the new thing on the scene - they didn't even have the word, genocide, yet, so they didn't know what to call it. I probably would have noticed something shitty was going on and opened my big mouth and then gotten massacred.

The Holocaust, 1939 - I don't want to sound cocky, but I think I could have survived the Holocaust. Because there seemed to be widespread fear of the Nazi regime and certain folks went to great lengths to survive, I think I would have played this one rather cautiously and managed somehow to survive like Adrian Brody in the Pianist.

Khmer Rouge, 1978 - These bastards would've got me for sure. They killed like 2 million out of 7 million Cambodians in existence, mostly the educated ones. I think if I opened my mouth to ANYONE for a period of three years, they would've caught on - hey, that mother fucker used a fairly big word, KILL HIM. Yeah, there's no way I survive these guys.

Iraq, 1987 - I have no doubt I could have survived Saddam's gas attacks against the Kurds. I would have gone up to the mountains and chilled and just stayed out of the way like the Kurds were used to. I would've bailed on the villages that were ripe for attack.

Bosnia, 1992 - Surviving the bombing of Bosnia seems rather luck based, just whether a bomb hit you or not. I'm going to go out on a limb and say I would've survived this one, cause I dodge bullets, baby!

Rwanda, 1994 - This is a toss up. It happened so quickly that I think I could've hidden out and survived for the 100 days or so, but it seemed like they were pretty thorough about not letting Tutsi's leave cities and then tracking them down with machetes. I know I wouldn't have tried fighting, I hate that hand to hand, knifes and shit, so I would've hidden out. I really don't know the terrain of Rwanda well enough to gauge whether I would've been able to make it.
On The Lookout

Here is a chart of Zarqawi's organization, in case anyone was, like me, keeping an eye out for these guys.

My friend's younger brother is a Marine Officer and I asked him over the break why we aren't able to capture Zarqawi and he gave me what seemed like a reasonable explanation: the insurgents that are still alive are the good insurgents. Essentially, we do a good job of killing the "low hanging fruit," or the mental midgets of the insurgency, but the good ones are much tougher to find and kill.

It makes sense, but it still seems to me like we should be able to find these guys...I mean, we really only have to get lucky one time.

I hate these theories that maybe we're better off with Bin Laden on the loose. Fuck that shit. That's the same stupid attitude that people have on movie sets when there is a lot of noise and people say, "Well, maybe the traffic sound will be good for the background noise." Yeah right. It's called cognitive dissonence, or wishful thinking. We want Zarqawi and Bin Laden and methinks we should be able to capture them by now.

Granted, it took us years to find the unibomber, but it came about once the FBI released letters he had written and his own brother recognized the prose and turned him in. We need to take some more radical approaches to catching these guys, like offering weird amnesty deals for low level terrorists, or paying foreign intelligence services to get us info, or set up fake situations, like availability of a nuke to purchase, to bring them more out in the open. Stuff like this.
Looking For Comedy In the Muslim World

I'll see this movie because I support what Brooks is trying to do. I don't have high expectations, however, I have a feeling it'll be a little glossy and safe and cheesy.

To me, however, the biggest tragedy is the Sony Executives who blocked the release of the film because they were worried it would offend Muslims and a fatwa may be issued. How did these people become studio executives? Did someone cut their balls off so their voices wouldn't drop? Jesus Christos.

This is the problem with America, we are so damn afraid of hurting people's feelings, that we consistently take the easy, path of least resistance, rather than actually ever trying to do the right thing, like say, stop genocides or not support dictatorial thugs.

If I were dictator, I would fire the Sony Executive for being too big a pussy to hold his position. What kind of world is it when we dance around the title of a lightweight comedy because we're afraid of some fanatic theatening to cut off a head. I say bring the fucking fatwa!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

I Guess We Knew This Was Coming

Zawahari claims Al Queda victory in Iraq as US pulls troops out. I guess Al Queda doesn't understand the idea that someone would not want a forever troop presense in a country not their own.

Anyhow, this type of gloating still bugs me and is why I'm still pissed we haven't caught Bin Laden or Zawahari. Those bastards still need to be strung up.
Training Terrorists

Well, it looks like we uncovered documents demonstrating that Iraq was training Islamic Terrorists from North Africa. I don't think it should be any big surprise to anyone, it certainly isn't to me. It seems to me logical that Saddam had all sorts of odd, shady things going on that we couldn't have possibly known about, and that's precisely the reason the invasion was justified, because you can't expect rational behaviour from a guy like Saddam. All you can expect is irrational behaviour that is probably going to bad for the US and the Middle East.

Friday, January 06, 2006

He Laid Out A Vision

All Israel needs to do is follow through with the thought.

Say what you will about Iverson, he's a punk, a thug, whatever. He's still my favorite pro basketball player. I'm glad he doesn't pay "deference" to Michael Jordan. Why the f--- should he do that?

The fact is this - Iverson plays his frigging heart out every single time he hits the court. He plays fearlessly and intensely. He'll drive into the face of seven foot monsters and get slammed to the ground like an insect, get up, and make a steal the next play. How can you not love a guy like that? He doesn't fight on the court. He takes a lot of shots, but never comes across as a ball hog. His teammates love him. His fans love him. He's hardly ever in the news for doing anything shady. People keep bringing up a "brawl" he was involved with in high school. High school! Are you kidding me?

I love his loyalty to Philly - he says in this article, he'd rather lose in Philly than chase a championship. That's loyalty.

I'd take losing with Iverson over winning with Kobe any day.
Next Movie To See

Not really sure how I missed this one, but it sounds like something worth checking out.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Gotta Give Props When Props Are Due

Over the break I was at a store and found a pair of pants I liked. I purchased them because they were on sale and I really liked touching the material. The problem was, they were too long in the leg.

As I got back to Los Angeles, I was confronted with finding a tailor and was reminded of Cindy's blog entry.

Today, I went in search of this maestro into the back shops of Chinatown, finally finding her, hidden behind loads of cheesy clothes and showed her my pants. I explained, "I want the seam at the bottom the exact same."

She said in broken English, "I have to cut pants."

I said, "I know, but can you make it look the same..."

She nodded and had me try on the pants to get a measurement.

I gave her the pants and she told me to come back in 20 minutes. I though, jeez, only 20 minutes, I expected a day at least. I walked around Chinatown and got a Cha Siu Bao and Sprite.

I came back and she gave me the pants. Perfect seam. Even better than the original. The Italians who made the pants don't have nothing on this women. I figure pants shortening, on the high side, could cost up to $15. She raises her hand, $4. I wish I had more long pants.
Plans to Straighten Out My Life

Well, they sound frightenly similar to this guy.
Rose Bowl

What a game! Both teams played flawed football, with a tremendous amount of heart. Shit, by the end, I don't even know who I was rooting for was just so much fun watching the game itself. Vince Young's performance was a treat to watch. Sometimes sports transcend life and makes heroes out of young men and/or women, and I think we all got to witness a little bit of that last night, just watching these guys find the energy and heart to make huge plays - Reggie Bush's touchdown run, Vince Young leading a drive down to score. Crazy shit.

There will be those who critique Pete Carroll's decision to go for it on fourth and 2 around midfield, which they didn't make, and gave the ball back to Texas for the final drive...but Fuck that. That is how USC plays and that's what worked for them for 34 straight wins. I could never critique a coach for making a call that shows confidence in his offense and says to his team - we can win this thing right now with a first down and then puts his money where his mouth is and goes for it. This is what the NFL is missing, teams that play like this...shit, it's what the world is missing, teams and people that play that way, smart and ballsy. I might second guess his play call, or not leaving in Reggie Bush as a decoy at least, but whatever, that's Thursday morning coaching...

So it ends up that they didn't make it. 3 out of 4 times they do, and then Texas still needs to drive down and score.

Anyhow, a damn fine game, and I guess if you have enough of these close games, Fresno St, Notre Dame, and now Texas, you're bound to lose one of them.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Not An Original Idea

But why not a top ten list for the year? Update: Couldn't think of 10 movies I liked. No joke.

I'll frame it this way: 5 movies that gave me pleasure and 5 movies that were disappointing.


1. Match Point - perfect cast and a simple situation executed expertly.
2. Grizzly Man - nature is cruel and murderous.
3. Batman Begins - I like Batman more than Spiderman.
4. Hustle and Flow - pure fun.
5. 2046 - the Tony L and Z. Zang sequence alone worth the price of admission


1. Jarhead - hack
2. The Aristocrats - lame
3. Red Eye - I can't even look at Cillian Murphy
4. Star Wars - I poop on you
5. Syriana -
Match Point

It's goooood.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Backed Up

Jesus, that's been a lot of blog posts today, but yes, I guess I've been backed up.

Anyhow, for all the USC academics who are searching for the first big interactive project - I think it's being done right now, by who else, the reality porn industry.

Explanation: It appears they are putting together an online multiplayer game that can lead to well, sex.
Black Comedy vs White Comedy

I've always liked black stand up comedians more than white. Eddie Murphy was the first. I must have seen Raw and Delirious several times each prior to high school. It was only after Chris Rock, Bernie Mac, Dave Chappelle, and re-discovering Richard Pryor, that all of sudden it became obvious to me: black comedians are funnier than white comedians.

Now don't get me wrong - not all black comedians are funny. I'm no big fan of Cosby or of DL Hughley and I think Cedric the Entertainer is way overrated. But compared to white comedians?

Let me put it this way - I love Seinfeld. LOVE it. But I've seen Seinfeld's stand up, both in person and the HBO special, and while it's funny, it ain't half as funny as Rock, Murphy, B. Mac, or Richard Pryor.

Well, you say, Seinfeld is a clean comedian, more like Cosby...and they both had good sitcoms. Fair enough. (Note: Cosby is an overrated sitcom if you ask me, and Seinfeld, well, it's the Citizen Kane/Godfather of sitcoms, again, if you ask me)

So whose the dirty white guy comedian who can tussle with the Murphy, Rock, or Pryor? George Carlin? Fzzzzz. (That's a fart noise). I've seen some Carlin, and I've never been that impressed. I don't fall out of my chair like I do when Rock is on. Andrew Dice Clay? I stopped liking that guy around the same time I stopped reading Truly Tasteless Jokes.

Anyhow, while black stand up comedy kicks the living shit out of white stand up comedy, I have to say that black sitcoms don't really measure up to white sitcoms.

Seinfeld is the obvious example....but also check out Arrested Development or even Cheers. Black sitcoms? Good Times. The Jeffersons. The Bernie Mac Show. And those are the good ones....the WB has a host of shitty black sitcoms.

The reason this all gets brought up is that I'm watching TV and the original Kings of Comedy is on and I'm trying to flip between an episode of Arrested Development and Bernie Mac stand up. Super, super tough. Bernie Mac on the orginal kings of comedy, for his few minutes, I swear, could stand up to the best of Murphy or Rock. No joke. When he's talking about the three kids, one being the daughter of satan, the middle child being a deaf mute, and then the other kid being a homosexual. Lord. Or when he's talking about his wife tryin to get an orgasm and how she's got three minutes, that she doesn't need all night, he's old, and wary, she got three mintues. Hilarity. But the Bernie Mac show? It has a few moments, but come on....

UPDATE: Comedy Central's list of top 100 comedians. I find it kind of bullshit and arbitrary, but it reminds me of one reason why you can never trust anything I say: Sinbad.

One question: Why does Eric Bana continue to trust the French know-it-all dude after he purposefully sets the Israeli team up with the Palestinian terrorists in the safe house?
Now I Remember!

When I saw pictures of Cindy Sheehan, she always reminded me of someone...and now I remember, Livia Soprano!

Add twenty years and a little longer hair...

Double Feature: Match Point and Memoirs of a Geisha. Oh yeah.
I Saw Brokeback, But

Larry David has a funny op-ed on Brokeback.

Over the break my dad indicated that he did not want to see Brokeback Mountain and my mother accused him of being homophobic.

I suspect my father is not alone, in that many men probably don't want to see Brokeback and will be accused of homophobia. All the gayaphiles in LA and NY will yell, "Well, it's true! They probably are homophobic!"

So is that what our society has come to? You are a homophobe if you don't want to see a movie with gay lovers? If this is true, then is being a homophobe wrong?

Are white people who didn't see Diary of a Mad Black Woman or Memoirs of Geisha racist?


I guess it just means that racism and homophobia have no meaning beyond the everyday insecurities about different lifestyles and cultures...
Some Sort of Flu

In the days right after Christmas nearly everyone I talked to in the Bay Area seemed to either have, been recovering, or know someone close, who had a pretty bad flu. It lasted for folks between 3 days and 2 weeks, generally was a headache, fever, coughing, and achy muscles.

I, of course, listened to these people thinking, "what weak immune systems, they should eat more fruit," and persuaded them come out drinking.

I like to go skiing in the week between xmas and new years, it's this useless time period when you're in school when one should be "writing," but the fact is one has basically two options - 1) eat, watch tv, and sleep or 2) go skiing. Or at least, those have always been my two options.

We awake at 5am after a night that included hanging with old friends, drinking, and a good basketball game. We power up with coffee and the rare energy one can gather for an exciting day of fresh snow.

We go to Kirkwood, my friend has a recent fondness for the out-of-the-way tahoe resort due to the good snow, solid terrain, and cheap prices. It's a good day. By the end my legs are cramping - an indication that I skiied hard and that I'm out of shape. Both true.

We meet our other friends after lots of traffic and crash in a small hotel room. We have trouble finding a place in South Shore to eat, all the buffets are closed. What a joke. I notice all the blackjack minimums are $10 or $15. Poker is popular, 3-6. A little pricey. Finally, we find a buffet and have 15 minutes to pig out.

No one wants to gamble except me, and I have no money. If I'm going to gamble, it's going to be when I have money or at least when I can have fun, and I can't have fun gambling alone in South Shore's shitty-ass casinos. To gamble while feeling shitty, with people looking over my shoulder, without much leeway, would've been about as fun as a kidney stone.

I can't sleep. Four dudes in a small ass hotel. I now conclude there is nothing worse. My head aches, I have a fever, I hope it is the beer or the altitude. I shiver and hope it's not the bird flu.

The next morning it's pouring rain. Rain is the worst for skiing. It makes you wet and cold and the snow heavy and wet. When it cools, the slopes turn to ice, which is hard to turn on, and hurts when you fall. Me, a sickly bastard, coughing, headache, couldn't get paid to go up on the slopes, much less shell out the dough for a lift ticket.

My three friends vary in their enthusiasm for going up, but all end up skiing Kirkwood for about a half day. I sit in the deli and talk with housewives, teenagers, and college chicks. I try to read by the fire, but everyone is huddled indoors and there's nothing worse than crowds when you're feeling under the weather.

Part of the whole reason for going up was to stay in my buddies parents new luxury time share in tahoe...we go there to crash that night, with the hope of possibly skiing the next day, although from all indications, the weather will be even worse.

I buy TheraFlu and am miserable. I can't eat dinner. I sleep in a big nice, comfortable bed from 7pm-10pm. I am happy to hear my buddies girlfriend's flight to Reno has been cancelled and he wants to go home to meet her for new years. I go back to sleep from 11pm-9am. We pack up and are leaving. We listen to the news and the roads are closing around tahoe due to mudslides. Luckily we are just west of the hwy 80 closure. There are floods in the bay area as well, hwy 80 is closed in vacaville. We will go around.

Finally, we get home on new years eve. I hop into bed. I awake to eat dinner, a good mom-cooked one. I hop back in bed.

It was one of the worst ski trips ever, but still beats watching tv, unless it's the Sopranos.