Thursday, August 31, 2006

Now That Sounds Like A Good Idea

New lightbulbs
that are quiet, white light, and energy saving.

Can we use this for filmmaking? Specifically digital filmmaking?

I know on Collateral they used lights that were essentially the same technology as the light in cell phones, which obviously do not expend a lot of energy, since they run on batteries that seem to last for a long time.

Go Walmart and GE.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

More on Iraq

A Chris Hitchens post worth reading for both the Funke and Nate comments:

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Miami Vice and Collateral

Lovers of digital or anything new, I urge you to relook at these movies and pay attention to the color of the sky. Is this what Michael Mann was after? Is this why he shot HD? To capture the color of the sky as it can be seen in these films. Los Angeles at night in Collateral...the you can see the sky, lit, basically by the city. You can see it when you go to the Cemetary screenings and you can see it when you drive past downtown, on the 110, late. What is that color? How does one describe it? Is it grey? It is not black - and you can see for miles that color, an impossible effect to achieve with film.

In Miami Vice, so many of the exteriors are shot at that time after magic hour. The time when it's gotten too dark to see an image on film, but our eyes can still see. I remember seeing takes from Phil's thesis after the sun had dipped below a certain point, film could no longer read....but HD, HD sees it, almost better than our own eyes. In Miami Vice it is also a grey, but with more blue.

I think this is what he was after, or at least what he got, the ability to see miles of colors that one hasn't been able to see before on the movie screen.
Upside Down, Inside Out, Round and Round

I had a casual obervation about the transexual proved innocent by DNA evidence. I remember when DNA evidence first came up, the ACLU and other such civil liberties organizations feared that our society would become 1984ish and we'd have these big databases of information on people and convicting all sorts of criminals based upon DNA evidence alone. But as far as I can tell, DNA evidence seems to be working in the exact opposite way - it is more often used to prove the negative, to demonstrate that without a doubt - this creepy pedophile actually did not kill Jean Benet. Civil libertarians should be happy they were wrong.

But there so many other things that are all flipped around these days. Liberals have turned into isolationist foreign policy wonks. GW Bush, the FP realist, has turned into a liberal internationalist in the school of Woodrow Wilson. Civil libertarians argue for strict interpretation of the constitution when it comes to new technologies available for surveillance, but for loose interpretation of the constitutiono when it comes to technology with guns. Conservatives argue for huge increases in government spending. It's all very confusing, really.
More Troops

Hey, if smarter people than me think it'll work, let's frigging try it. I'm still down to win this thing in Iraq.
Terrorism and Judges

Richard Posner interviewed on the Glenn and Helen show. Posner was one of the guys I had to read in my ethics classes during college, so I always pay extra close attention to his opinion because I associate him with expertise and knowledge. He's just written a book about terrorism and the constitution and is one of the most widely recognized legal minds in the country.

He basic premise is that the Constiution is a flexible document - always has been - and should not be interpreted as a suicide pact, that is to say, we cannot be handicapped with civil liberty concerns that would jeopardize our well being. The familiar liberal suggestion, echoed by Denzel Washington in "The Seige," and I'm paraphrasing, "if we budge just a little bit on civil liberties, all is for nought, and the terrorists have won." Well, it just ain't so.

He believes the terrorism issue is tough to break apart because we have two insufficient narratives to describe the issue - the total war narrative and the terrorists as criminals narrative. And actually what we are facing is somewhere in between. The WWII analogy is insufficient because the enemy was easy to identify. But with terrorism, the enemy can be one of our own, and is in general, difficult to identify. This model then basically turns the entire world, including the US, into a battlefield and hence, battlefield rules apply. But this is obviously the wrong approach to handling the terrorism issue.

The crime model, he argues, is worse because we are living in a era of proliferation and the threat of uber powerful weapons being used against us. Our criminal justice system is set up not to end crime, but just to control it...hence all of our criminal procedures. For instance, we wait for crime to occur and then we try to capture them as a deterrent effect for others.

Obviously, in an era of terrorism we can't sit around an accept terrorism as a cost of doing business, just adding the tally to murders. For one, terrorists being caught or killed in successful attacks do not act as a deterrent to other terrorists, hence, the entire system doesn't work. Secondly, in an era of weapons proliferation, any attack is too catastrophic to consider.

He makes another interesting argument that prevention of terrorism is the best safeguard against civil liberties because any additional attack will lead to greater civil liberties being abused. It is ironic, therefore, that liberals have an instinct to underestimate the terrorist threat because of it's perceived damage to civil liberties, but what they may in fact be doing, by underestimating the threat - putting civil liberties in more danger.

He also talks about how judges in America fall into a Generalist tradition, in that judges do not have specific expertise on criminal subject matter. For instance, in France, they have specific judges to handle terrorism cases. The problem Posner identifies is that American judges are rarely experts in terrorism, but they tend to be experts in civil liberties. Therefore, in making decisions, judges tend to error on the side of civil liberties and do not adequately understand the unique challenge of terrorism.

It look to me like a book worth reading.
ANSWER Coalition

One time, several years ago, I went to an Answer Coalition meeting to see what these nutjobs were up to. I got on an email list and still get crap from them - it's on my crap email account - I get porn advertisements, Answer Coalition emails, and SPO Heads Up on this account.

Once in awhile I'll read one of them. Here is an excerpt:

If the capture of two soldiers, or one in the case of Palestine, justifies assaults against whole nations and peoples, as Israel has done, then there is no law, no alternative to war, no hope for peace. Only a person with a memory no longer than three weeks could believe the capture of three Israeli soldiers began the present violence. Was not cross-border violence between Israel and Lebanon commonplace for decades? Had not Israel kidnapped half the Palestinian cabinet, destroyed its Foreign Ministry offices and other government buildings and engaged in summary executions throughout Palestine, the West Bank and Gaza, since the elections this year of the Hamas majority in the Palestinian parliament? Was there not a continuum of assaults at will against the Palestinian people over decades?

here is another:

As Iraq descends into uncontrollable sectarian war, President Bush needs new threats to distract the attention of people in the U.S. from what his Shock and Awe policy has brought for Iraq, for us, and for the world. War in Lebanon helps divert attention temporarily and may serve to widen the conflict to include Syria and/or Iran. If not, there are always Cuba, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Venezuela and others to act against.

As with Iraq, in Lebanon we have seen a war of aggression, the supreme international crime; an attack on the equal sovereignty of Lebanon, violating the First Principle of the United Nations Charter; excessive force of a major magnitude, with Israeli planes striking a nation defenseless against aerial assaults; indiscriminate bombing; targeting of civilians; and collective punishment, in which everyone in Lebanon suffers.


I love the last line: "We must persevere until peace prevails."

Are they serious? Do they read history? I just read the wikipedia entry on the state of Israel. The creation of Israel was essentially breaking up the British colony of Palestine into 55% Jewish area (Israel) and 45% Arab area - basically into parts of Jordan and Egypt. The Brits left because the Arabs and Jews were beginning to fight too much and they didn't want to deal. But this split seems somewhat more fair than the normal depiction of Israel booting Palestinians out of their land.

Further, the concept of being a Palestinian did not actually exist at the time Israel was created. "Palestinians," as we know them now, were considered part of the pan-Arab movement, or basically, just considered Arabs. When the Arab armies attacked Israel in 1948, the Arabs in Israel or "Palestinians" fled, some have speculated under orders from Arab generals. They anticipated an Arab victory and that they would be able to return home afterwards. Well, it didn't work out. Israel won and gained additional territory from Jordan.

After this, Jews were expelled from Arab nations and Iran, and many of them fled to Israel. Coupled with holocaust survivors from Europe and the Jews that lived in the British colony of Palestine, modern day Israel began to take shape.

The definition of "Palestinian" is the group of 600,000-800,000 Arab refugees from the Arab-Israeli war of 1948, and the bloodline of children born by that refugee population. What I don't understand are the current numbers of Palestinians are estimated in the 6 plus million range, 2.5-3.5 in Gaza and West Bank and an additional 2.5 million in Jordan and 1.5 million in Israel. Not all of these people are registered decendants of the 600,000-800,000 refugees, right? That seems like too high a number.

Anyhow, the idea of a Palestinian national identity really began to develop after the six day war when Israel won more territory from Jordan and Egypt and had to occupy Arab lands. The people living in these occupied territories helped cement the idea of a national identity - that of being a Palestinian. Today, it is well recognized that the Palestinians are a national people, although prior to 1948 that was not the case.

History is pretty fascinating.

Thinking about America and the time prior to the Civil War, many people had identities based upon which state they were from that trumped any sort of national identity. This is reflected in Robert E. Lee's famous declaration when asked to lead the Union Army that he could never take up arms against his fellow Virginians. It's interesting to think about how people define themselves and identify themselves and how those same peoples identities shift over time.

I mean, the most obvious cases are immigrants moving to new countries whose next generation comes around and begins to view themselves entirely differently than how their parents view themselves. These ongoing shifts are pretty amazing and reveal how constructed identities actually are.

Golda Meir once made a statement: "There was no such thing as Palestinians. It was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself as a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country from them. They did not exist."

Palestinians gripe about the right of return. But it seems to me, their ancestors made a choice, they decided to fight the UN and the British mandate and oppose the 55/45 split, hoping that the Arab armies would conquer and control all of the land. And they lost. They made a gamble - and mind you - probably a wise one - at the time. Who would have thought on the eve of independence that the new state of Israel would be able to fend off Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. But somehow, the Israeli's won. And then the Arabs deem it fair to complain about being kicked out of their land?

Isn't that sort of like playing in a poker game, losing, and then claiming you want your money back?

UPDATE: Jesus, this wikipedia has a lot of information. I just read up on the British Mandate in Palestine. Very interesting. So Palestine, prior to WWI was part of the Ottoman Empire. The Arabs living in the region had the status of peasant and under such conditions could not own land they lived on, but in a strange property rule at the time, were considered owners of trees that they planted on land where they lived, although they didn't own the land itself.

Anyhow, after WWI and the destruction of the Ottman Empire, Britain managed the area known as Palestine. The British, see Lawrence of Arabia, struck a deal with the Arabs, to fight the Ottman's in exchange for the British helping them create an Arab state over the Arab homeland. The British had also made a deal with the Jews to create a Jewish homeland in the region per the Belfour Declaration in 1917.

Such areas were conceived - Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, and British Palestine. But strange things happened between 1922-1948...Jews from Europe began emigrating to Palestine, because of rising anti-Semitism in Europe. The Jews, many who had private money, but also large Jewish foundations, purchased land in British Palestine. This started to anger the Arab peasants who found themselves kicked off of land where they lived, but did not own in the European landowning tradition. This is where we see the roots of the present day conflict.

As Jewish emigration increased, Arab resentment grew, and as Europe descended into the chaos of WWII, all sorts of weird alliances and sides were taken. The British wanted the Jews to emigrate to Palestine - but not so many that it would upset the Arab population. When WWII broke out, it looked like the Nazi's were the strongest and would prevail, and so many Arabs, including the Grand Mufti, of Jerusalem sided with the Nazi's, hoping to rid the region of the British and strike a deal with Hitler to get the entire mideast for Arabs.

But not all Arabs sided with the Nazi's. Many Arabs in British Palestine felt allegience to the British and decided to fight with them. Because of this, the British did not want to exacerbate Arab-Jewish tension in Palestine and stemmed the flow of Euroopean Jewish immigrants to the region...the result of course being, many of these Jews were captured and put in concentration camps by the Nazis.

Ironically, some of the Jewish population in the mideast sided with the Nazi's because of their animosity towards the British, who they thought were favoring the Arabs. Some Jewish groups hoped to strike a deal with Hitler to expel Jews from Europe to the Mideast and create a Jewish state. Hitler opted for extermination instead, but the idea that some Zionists were trying to deal with Hitler is one of those fascinating little tidbits of history that oftentimes gets forgotten.

Even after WWII and the holocaust, with 250,000 displaced Jews in Europe, the British still did not allow their emigration to Palestine. Zionists began attacking British interests in the region and finally the British decided to up and leave and in 1948 the UN decided to charter the state of Israel.

Of course, this pissed the Arabs off, and they tried to destory Israel from the get go. But Israel defended itself, the Arabs who left didn't get their land back, and the rest is well, the history of Israel.

Monday, August 28, 2006

They Sound Like Filmmakers

Maybe if I can't get a job in LA after school, Hezbollah will hire me.
But Did He Find It Funny?

Now, that's the question, isn't it.
A Return to the WMD Argument

A pretty damn good essay on the legitimacy of the WMD argument.

I never bought into the WMD argument ALONE as being the reason to disarm Saddam. I believe the argument was used to legally justify invasion, although the real good reasons for invasion were political.

But needless to say, the "Bush lied," argument has been put to rest by all reasonable people.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Half Nelson

I went last night because I really wanted to see a good movie and the reviews for this pic were great. Yipes. They were pretty off. This is a decent movie, with some awful, actually...unforgiveable...moments.

Gosling is a good young actor, but I don't think he was directed particularly well in the film. It looks to me like the screenplay got the Sundance Lab treatment and they fixed a lot dialog to make it well crafted. The little girl was excellent, I thought.

The shooting style - ugly. Lots of lazy close ups, you can tell they just rolled a lot of film with the plan of making it work in editing. Then they'd do a wide to end scenes. The entire movie had the same editing pattern. It gave me a bit of a headache.

The intersperced parts of documentary footage and kids talking to the camera. Ugh. Cringeworthy. The "subtle" point about September 11, 1973 being the day the CIA helped topple democractically elected communist Allende in Chile was not lost upon anyone in the audience who would prefer to remember 9/11 as America's comeupance. Sadly, at the Sunset 5, I'd venture to guess half of the audience falls into that camp.

But the worst part, the part I'm not even sure the filmmakers were aware of, was the fact that the Gosling character was a pretty awful teacher. He used his charming personality to overwhelm the students into listening to his childish rants about the machine and the man and opposites, lessons that didn't make any sense whatsoever, the kind of chit chat that seems to only exist in the wee hours of the night in a college dorm room between kids getting high for the first time together.

What I found particularly awful about the POV of the film was that I think they were trying to show what a great teacher this guy was or at least was capable of being - if he just didn't do drugs. But in truth, what we have is a narcissistic baby ranting and raving to students because he feels basically impotent about his role in the world. He's using his charm to avoid doing his job and actually being kind of a dickhead to kids who he's supposed to be teaching. The moment when a thankful parent mentions to him that his daughter is starting college at Georgetown as a history major makes very little sense to me a) Because I don't believe he's inspired any of the kids in the classroom and b) Because he's way to young to have been teaching for 5+ years already.

It makes me almost understand the criticism people have about Bill Clinton, that this guy a sleeze-monger and that everything his does is to serve his own weird ambitions for power and acceptence, that at his core, he just really wants to be loved by everyone to make up for his father being distant. Yeah, trite, but I don't know...but I see the same thing with the Gosling character in the movie.

I should have told him this at Sunset Junction last night.
That Would Be My Strategy

I'd definitely convert to Islam if I were kidnapped by terrorists.

It's been my strategy for awhile. Of course, I'd take it back after I was released, because, well, it wouldn't really count, now would it?
A Different Picture

A much different picture is emerging from the Hezbollah-Israel war that one would have imagined even a week ago. Odd.

Nazrallah essentially admits the kidnapping of IDF soldiers was a mistake. Hunh? Why didn't he just give them back, then, and avoid the whole killing of hundreds of people.

Weird dude.
Geraldo Getting High

Yes, it's funny.

Friday, August 25, 2006

If I Lived In Iran

I'd be very worried.

Israel exists so the holocaust could never happen again. They should know the Israelis take their security seriously and won't go down without causing terrible, irreparable pain to their enemies. That is their strategy to avoid another holocaust. I just hope the mullah's realize it.
Excellent Line of Dialog

"Even though playing acoustic is totally lame and not metal, if we don't do it we won't be able to check our email with high speed DSL ever again."
Hezbollah's Victory...Or Not

While it has been widely regarded as a big blow to Israel in the Western press, the Hezbollah-Israel war isn't necessarily being regarded as a victory for Arabs, according to this article in the Wall Street Journal.

In fact, it appears to have turned some Shiites against Hezbollah, particularly those who would prefer the Lebanese Prime Minister's approach of molding Lebanon into a peaceful model for the region, as opposed to Iran's design to make it into a model of defiance against Israel.

This potential aftermath shares similarities to Israel's fight against the PLO in Jordan 1968-1970. Jordan was home to the PLO leadership who used Jordan as a staging ground for attacks into Israel. Israel attacked the PLO in Jordan and it had the effect of turning the Jordanians against the PLO. The Jordanians and went after them, ultimately driving the organization out of Jordan and temporarily to Tunis. (Part of King Hussein's calculation stemmed from the PLO also having an interest in overthrowing his kingdom and establishing a Palestinian state). From there, Jordan, became the first country to start to work with Israel, even during the Suez war of 1973 against Egypt. By the late 1970s, Jordan, along with Egypt, became the first Arab countries to recognize Israel and neither have attacked Israel since.

Could this be the future for Lebanon? I hope so.
Criticism of Leadership During Wartime

I agree with what Sullivan writes here about open, candid criticism of the way the war in Iraq was/is being handled.

He ought to acknowledge, however, that a large part of the Iraq war criticism deserved to be dismissed right off because so much of it was of the "George Bush is an idiot" variety and was not aimed at the war itself, but of villianizing both Bush and America.

By not silencing or distancing themselves properly from the moonbats, the left did themselves a disservice by allowing everyone to not take them seriously.
That's Why They Call Them Moonbats

I knew it was only a little bit of time before someone came to the conclusion that the Fox News Reporters were legitimate kidnap victims for their role in the "American War Machine."

How stupid can one be? How does this explain the numerous kidnappings of journalists not associated with Fox News?

It's the same logic that terrorists exist because of Israel. Then why do they bomb Indonesia, Spain, Britian, Russia, the US, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and India?

What a freaking joke.

And you wonder why I don't take "feminists" at the film school seriously.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

School Begins

And so it begins. Another year. My last year. I'll probably never attend school again. My parents think, "Finally."

The laments of classmates and peers who have entered the world makes me sad. But what can one do? Just struggle along I suppose.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


And it is fear for good reason.

I don't know, man. I really don't. Are we to believe this region is full of freakazoids? All signs point to yes. But it does go against human instinct in that when you come face to face, mano to mano, to these people, they are just like you and me.

"These people." Jeez. Is that the type of rhetoric that needs to be used today. Ugh. Maybe so. I'd love to be convinced otherwise.
When You're Right, You're Right

Hitchens talks about air travel and why in god's name terrorists attack it. Because they're fucking assholes, that's why.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


The Dems take the house this fall. I know it's too early to tell, but finally...FINALLY, the dems are looking like a party that deserves to be taken seriously. Joe Biden has put forth a new plan for Iraq, basically grabbing one of the arguments in the most recent issue of Foreign Affairs.

The plan is well summarized here:

The first is to establish three largely autonomous regions with a viable central government in Baghdad.

...The second element would be to entice the Sunnis into joining the federal system with an offer they couldn't refuse. ...The Constitution must be amended to guarantee Sunni areas 20 percent (approximately their proportion of the population) of all revenues. ...The third component would be to ensure the protection of the rights of women and ethno-religious minorities by increasing American aid to Iraq but tying it to respect for those rights.

...Fourth, the president must direct the military to design a plan for withdrawing and redeploying our troops from Iraq by 2008 (while providing for a small but effective residual force to combat terrorists and keep the neighbors honest).

...Fifth, under an international or United Nations umbrella, we should convene a regional conference to pledge respect for Iraq's borders and its federal system.

Now was it really that hard?

Don't get me wrong. It might not work. Frontpage writes a critique of it. But now, they are the ones looking like idiots reacting to a plan that may work better than the current plan, which doesn't seem to be working well at all.

If the Dems continue along this path and put forth the position: "look, we take this war seriously, we've given Bush and Rummy a chance, and their plan isn't working as well as our alternative will. Anyhow, let's test it out."

If they just take that position and quit with the Bush bashing and moaning and whining about the Republicans and talk seriously about how to deal with Iran, and Al Queda, well, it would be damn easy to win the House back, and shit, even the Presidency. The problem, of course, is that party doesn't have any electable candidates with solid national security credentials.

Bush would have to pull Osama Bin Laden out of his ass to save the Republican House. Then again, I have about as much faith in the Dems falling over themselves like a bunch of morons as I do in Bush's ability to catch Bin Laden.

But seriously, and I'm going off a little here, why stop with Biden's plan for Iraq, why not offer an entire plan to combat and defeat Islamic Fascism. A plan to catch Bin Laden, a plan to stop the Muslim Brotherhood from establishing an independent financial system, a plan to stop Iran from developing or using nukes.

I mean, shit, I would at least take a democrat seriously who came out with a plan for Iran. Even if he/she said: we aren't going to attack Iran. What we are going to do is hold them responsible. First, they have gone on record a million times that they only want reactors for peaceful purposes. Iran, we know, relies upon selling their oil. If there is evidence that they develop nuclear weapons, their ability to sell oil to any other country in the world will be immediately revoked. If a single country violates that sanction and purchases Iranian oil, we'll blow up their entire oil industry. If they ever use a nuke or give it to a terrorist group, their major cities will be destroyed. That simple. At least it's a plan. Maybe there is a better plan. Maybe it would be smarter to blow up their nuclear facilities before they create the bomb.

It just comes down to a choice. And frankly, I don't think America trusts the Republican party to make that choice right now. All the Democrats need to do is provide an alternative, something they haven't done for three years now.

If the Republican's were smart, they'd beat the Dems to the punch, have Rumsfeld step down and lay out a new strategy for Iraq, or adjust the strategy, because "Stay the Course," has completely lost it's appeal. But there is no evidence to suggest the Republicans are smart.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Maybe Kevin Drum Is Right

Maybe if we just don't think about, or just don't talk about it, it will all go away, or at least not get worse.

Wishful thinking.

Iran is building nukes, and will have the option of giving them to Hezbollah, which will have the power to detonate them in Israel.

And so we will live in a world where nutjobs posing as governments have access to nuclear bombs. Maybe the Iranians aren't that stupid. Maybe they aren't willing to allow their country and civilization to be wiped off the face of the planet. Maybe.

Kevin Drum hit hard by some old remarks of his.
A Plan for Islamicists

And it sounds like a pretty smart one.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Zidane Tee-Shirt

I'll probably get one.
Pacific Dining Car

My former roommate was in town and I owed him a steak dinner for all the movie shoots I inconvenienced him with at our apartment.

We opted for the Pacific Dining Car, an old steakhouse sort of near downtown. I read that it was James Ellroy and Curtis Hanson's favorite restuarant, the one where they sealed the deal to make L.A. Confidential and I needed no more convincing. It was, of course, great, and expensive, and exactly the kind of old style steakhouse I imagined.

One of the perks of the evening was sitting in a big booth in this big, quiet restuarant, and a really beautiful tall women walks by and I immediately recognize her as Renee Russo. I look at my former roommate and he says, "Was that...."

"Renee Russo."

We smile. The place is quiet, and she turns around and walks back past us, with a big knowing smile right at the both of us.

Hot. About 50 years old. Very skinny. Incredible shape. She also happened to be with a guy that looked like a 28 year old loser, who was up to her shoulders. She's gotta be six feet tall.

Anyhow, that was fairly neat. I think I also saw TJ Cloutier and this guy from Clear and Present Danger and Training Day.
On Tennis and Federer

A long article on tennis and Federer entitled "Federer as a religious experience."

A bit much? Worth reading, especially if you play...
Guns, Guns, Guns

An article about Israel's next war.

I posed a question last month - if Hezbollah's aggression was truly the work of Iran and Syria, why does Israel not retaliate against them?

I argued that it seemed hardly worth starting WWIII over a couple of kidnapped soldiers, but the somber mood with respect to the IDF and Israel right now makes my earlier suggestion seem somewhat more attractive.

But if everything from the above article is to be believed, Israel ought to duke out with the big boys, or so it seems.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


I think it gets harder to make new friends the older one gets. In particular, when friendships are based upon hatching schemes to collect on insurance policies by running the insured over with a car.

Friday, August 18, 2006


A British journalist basically hits the issue on the head.

I believe, fundamentally, that the United States should make it very costly to passively or actively oppose us. That is, having plans to wipe out the entire Al Queda organization should they be successful in attacking us, prior to 9/11. But it also means treating general belligerance, like that of Saddam, with an ass kicking as opposed to a mere slap on the wrist.

It also means not trying to get thug or racist regimes like the PA or Egypt or North Korea to like us. It doesn't necessarily mean fighting everyone all the time, but being clear that we don't like you and would prefer if you were not the ruling power of your country.

But, this journalist makes a good point - are we making behavior we don't like costly enough? Are we making it costly at all?

The problem prior to 9/11 was that in the Arab world, hating the US had a number of upsides and almost no downsides. Iraq tried to flip that around. But it's become a lot more complex and weird than anyone anticipated. I don't recall anyone talking about a sectarian civil war as a reason not to invade. I could be wrong. Most rational people opposed to the intervention talked about a national insurgency or guerrilla movement or said that it would be a distraction from the focused war on Islamic Fascists in Afghanistan, etc.

The sectarian issue has come up in the past year or so, with a few initial warnings gone unheeded, but it is clear now that is the big issue. In fact, here is an Israeli professor's podcast talking about how those interested in sectarian strife are using Israel and Iraq as an excuse to fan the flames.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Yeah, Who Wants That?!?

Video of Lebanese troops mingling and sharing tea with Israeli troops has, big surprise, pissed some folks off in the Arab world.

How dare they act like civilized neighbors and share a cup of tea!

Do people honestly still wonder why there isn't peace in the Middle East. Isn't it obvious?
Most Controversial Movies

I don't know if I agree with most of it, but here it is anyway.

I was stuffing bags as per the beginning of the semester to give to new students. I run into my old 507 professor, Jean Pierre and have a small conversation about Copolla and the future of digital filmmaking. One of the more interesting things Copolla said was that in four years nothing would be shot on film anymore.

Jean Pierre agreed. He looked at the Kodak bags and said, "Kodak. Are they still in business?"

"It appears so."

"May I have one of those."

I gave him a bag. I guess he thinks it'll be a keepsake.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Use of Anti-Semitism

Great article, by the guy who writes Europundits.
Hollywood, Coming Round

I'm glad to see Michael Mann signed.

They aren't all douche bags, these folks in LA.
An Addendum to the Addendum

It may appear that I didn't like the Copalla event, which is not true. In fact, I liked it and him very much. I liked how he talked about his struggle with writing, I liked how he talked about how to make decisions on set when you don't quite know what to do, I like when he talked about his father and growing up in a household chasing his father's dreams, I liked when he talked about wine making, and advice he had for young filmmakers.

Let's not get things confused. The man made the two Godfathers, the greatest movie+sequel ever made. He is without a doubt, one of the greatest Artists American cinema has known. He has spawned two other filmmakers, been a producer of experimental films, a mentor to countless young movie brats of the George Lucas generation. The guy is a heavy weight boxer in film history. And he also seemed like a fun guy to sit and talk about movies with.

Mr. Copolla did what many artists aspire to do - stretch himself to the depth of his own creativity - and leave it all out on the field, so to speak. Copolla left something out in the jungle in the Philipines and it's been clear to anyone whose paid attention to his career, that he hasn't been the same since then. He has had a second career as a winemaker and restuarantuer. I'd take his career any day of the week.
Addedum to Last Post

A serious one. At some point during Copolla's diatribe, he asked rhetorically, how can there be peace with Palestinian children living in concentration camps?

I almost blurted out laughing. I should note, this is the second time in the past two years, I've heard the term concentration camp misused. The other was in a Japanese American exhibit on the internment in Japan town in which a lecturer kept refering to the Japanese internment camps as concentration camps.

If I had any balls, I would have stood up and corrected Mr. Copolla, as I had done at the prior lecture.

Concentration Camp has a specific meaning, a meaning derived from the holocaust, a meaning that implies state sanctioned genocide on a mass scale, with the specific example of Jews in Nazi Germany.

Palestinian children live in refugee camps, not concentration camps. Japanese americans lived in internment camps, not concentration camps.

I wish I could assume the misuse of this word was on accident, but I know the misuse is completely on purpose, it is meant to equate the suffering of the Palestinians and/or the Japanese Americans with the suffering of the Jews at the hands of Nazi Germany. If we want to play that noxious game of comparing suffering, which we shouldn't be tempted to in the first place, neither group has the right to claim equal suffering to the Jews during the holocaust. It is an outrage, and those of us on the left should be offended and angry by anyone who brutalizes words in the way Orwell warned us about.

No wonder he didn't become a writer.
Francis Ford Copolla

Last night, Don Copolla himself sponsored an event at the DGA whereby he presented film students a copy of his new Apocalypse Now, the complete dossier, filled with more extra features from the gargantuan project he made in during the late 1970s. Don Copolla also spoke to said film students about filmmaking, his family, growing up, winemaking and the war in Iraq, amoung other things. I will try to summarize the highlights of the question and answer section, with the questions, his actual answers, and my imaginary good answers.

1. Q: You shot a over a million feet of film and yet, even in the complete dossier, we only get to see mere thousands. Where is the rest of the film?

A: Do you mean physically?

IGA: Do you mean physically?

Q: Well, what I mean, is there anything else interesting to see?

A: In the complete dossier there is 5 plus hours of extra features and Walter Murch and I went painstakingly through everything to include what we thought would be interesting. I'm sure you and I could sit together, go through the negative, and find something else that might be interesting, but one thing that lay people don't quite understand about filmmaking is that in any given movie you are seeing only a very small percentage of the film that was shot.

IGA: Are you suggesting releasing a DVD series of all 1 million feet of Apocolypse Now? If so, please get a life.

2. Q: What kind of drugs were you on while making the film?

A: I smoked some cigarettes and some weed. It was the first time I smoked weed and it made me depressed.

IGA: You have a chance to talk to me about filmmaking and that is the question you ask?

3. Q: Did you ever lose confidence in yourself as a director on set?

A: The question should be, did I ever NOT lose confidence in myself as a director on set. From the moment the shooting began, I was in a state of panic.

IGA: No. And if you do, you should quit trying to make films.

4. Q: You have a point of view on the Vietnam War in the film, do you have an opinion on the war going on right now:

A: I won't go all the way into it, but he had a super long answer about how he was always taught the USA was the good guys and that maybe it hasn't been the case everywhere, especially during the Cold War, etc. He kept saying rather childish things about world peace and the middle east and was met by a few scattered applause, but nothing really serious. It was quite embarassing.

IGA: Are you asking me the question because you want a serious answer or because you want me to validate your own opinion?

IR: I want a serious answer and I want you to validate my own opinion.

IGA: What should I think about the Iraq war?

IR: It is bad. Bush is bad.

IGA: Fuck yeah.

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Atlantic

Per a tip from Nate, I read the Atlantic article by James Fallows who proposes a new strategy for the war on terror: Claim Victory.

What we can and have defeated is Al Queda's central command. No longer can an eager young jihadi "join" Al Queda, as they could pre-9/11 by going to Afghanistan and partake in terrorist training camps. Al Queda can only "inspire" and they can't even muster enough resources to hold secret meetings. They communicate through videotapes and internet chat rooms, a difficult way of working, even in the 21st century.

Most of Al Queda has been killed, captured, or isolated, and is operationally useless.

Our biggest threat comes from groups of jihadis "inspired" by Al Queda to plot huge attacks. Furthermore, the biggest weapon from Al Queda's arsenal, that of surprise and shock, was spent on 9/11. No attack, even a bigger one, will be able to shock the world as much as 9/11. The only type of attack that could top 9/11 would be a nuclear blast or some sort of other WMD.

In short, nothing happens on Al Queda's terms anymore. They cannot cause anything. They are impotent. The only damage that can be done to us, is damage we cause ourselves. Fallows compares Al Queda to the European anarchist movement of the late 19th and early 20th century that overall killed less than 2000 people, but were responsible for the killing of Arch Duke Ferdinand, which led to the cluster fuck of nations battling out WWI and then, arguably, leading straight into WWII. This war destroyed the Ottoman Empire forever, once the strongest, most progressive place in the world. Perhaps Al Queda imagines doing the same to America.

Fallows argues for a pullback. We should pullback from the warlike mentality and start to concentrate on sustainable ways to keep the pressure on Al Queda and other Islamicist groups.

He argues that spending uber amounts of money on both Iraq and Homeland Security makes sense in war mentality, but not in a state of victory in which our basic goal is to not let the threat rise again.

We should acknowledge the fact the we will be attacked again, by some group, quite possibly an Islamicist group, but that is basically the cost of doing business. We've suffered attacks before and will in the future, it doesn't justify trying to plan for every single contingency.

Anyhow, that summarizes most of his points. Then there's this article about how history does not care that America is tired and annoyed with dealing with the cesspool of shit that is the middle east. That we have a burden on our hands and that we know helping democracy and building liberal institutions is the only long term solution to Islamic terrorism.

I watched part of a segment of 60 Minutes with Ahminabijad (or whatever), el presidente of Iran. I could barely listen to him. He was like an annoying jerk from a grad school class would couldn't just answer a question straight, but needed to talk in circles like a mental midget. I find it hard to believe this doofus can be such a threat to world security. But then again, we have a C student as president, so maybe I'm the one missing something.

Anyhow, like Cary Grant, I'm tempted to move Hitler to the funny pages, it's just that I somehow think smugly mocking these guys doesn't seem to get the point across as well as a good precision guided bomb.
Marilyn Manson

How in the world does this guy do what no one on the left seems able to do: Make O'Reilly look like a total doofus. I mean, does O'Reilly watch this show and think to himself: man, I look like an idiot. Because he does.

Powerline is claiming WE lost ie Israel and the US lost this battle against Hezbollah.

But are we ever going to change the balance of power in the Middle East without Arab help? Aren't we, at some point, going to need to rely upon the Lebanese Army, the new Iraqi government, and other forces of change in the Middle East?

It is absurd to think that Israel alone can wipe away Hezbollah or Hamas. They can certainly inflict damage and help the moderates in Palestine and Lebanon (if there are many). As could we in Iraq. But without moderates stepping up to the plate, we cannot effectively take down the Islamic Fascists.

The moderates need to be given the chance. We cannot do their job for them.

Friday, August 11, 2006


It sounds good to me.

Point 5 suggests disarming Hezbollah. Now, with the world paying attention, maybe it can happen. 15,000 UN troops plus the Lebanese Army asking Hezbollah to give up their guns. That smacks of legitimacy to me.

Prediction: As the Israeli army pulls out and the Lebanese Army pulls in, Hezbollah attempts to instigate a fight between the two by attacking Israel and hoping for a response.

In this case, I hope they don't.

UPDATE: Powerline disagrees with me, and surmises the resolution is a joke and won't work.

I am probably naive, but I also think if Hezbollah gets put under the international spotlight, like it was when they kidnapped the soldiers, and with the world paying more attention, perhaps we and Israel can push, through the UN to enforce the resolution.

I've criticized the UN before. Now they have an opportunity to do their job. Why shouldn't they have another chance? Let's see how they do. Like in other things, I don't see a better option.

He's an expert. How else could he write for the Counterterrorism Blog, basically my favorite blog these days?

But seriously, a long article interviewing Walid Phares, a Lebanese ex-pat who knows tons about terrorism and Lebanon.

I never followed the actions of the post-Cedar revolution, but it looks like we and the Lebanese got out maneuvered by Hezbollah and Iran.

He claims the stakes are high in Lebanon, either it'll fall to Jihadists, which will spread Jihadism and pave the way to a nuclear Iran, or it'll fall under the control of democrats and pave the way for a new middle east.

I'll be paying more attention this time.
I'm Not Sure What Sullivan Is Saying

I kinda agree with both sides on this debate, but I'm not sure really if there's any difference.

It seems to me that Sullivan thinks the war was the right thing to do, but handled poorly by the Bush administration, citing torture and general incompetence and unintended consequences.

But here's the thing - I don't think the Bush administration wanted torture. At best, the argument is that they were too lax about it. Unintended consequences - well, shit, that's obvious and it swings both ways, that is, there would have been unintended consequences to not going to war. It's the general incompetence argument that I find easy to agree with, but also fairly tough to feel honest about using myself.

It's easy for me to support the war and the minute it goes bad to criticize the administration for too many troops, or too few, or for promising results and not delivering. But it's hard to know all the factors and the decision making process. So many tough decisions I come across in my own life boil down no right answer - just a choice. It seems to me, we all want right answers where there aren't right answers to be had, just choices.

The same goes, even moreso, for the handling of nascent democratic movements in the region. It looked like Lebanon was working, but that's obviously done with. I've heard rumors about Bush failing to support democratic movements in Egypt. But again, it's so hard to tell and the devil is in the details.

Choices, choices.

Austin Bay asks for a McCain-Lieberman ticket.

I'd be down.

UPDATE: More support here.
Islamic Fascist

An arugment against calling AQ and company Islamic Fascists.

Hmmm. I still think the term Islamic Fascists works better than Islamist. Perhaps it's simply the negative connotations with fascism, but it seems to me, Islamist refers to the ideology and not all Islamists necessarily believe in the use of terrorism. There is nothing, say, illegal about subscribing to Islamicism. In fact, historically, the Islamicist movement had a rather peaceful arm that got radicalized by the writings of Sayeed Qutb. To me, an Islamic Fascist is one who believes in using terror and lies (tenants of fascism) to further the Islamicist ideology.

Yep, I think they have their priorities messed up.
Is There Anything To Say?

A big terror plot was foiled. Good. They will try again.

And eventually they will succeed not because they are right or smart or anything other than persistent. How long will it be before they can get their hands on a virulant strain of smallpox? All they will need to do is inject it into a willing jihadi, who board a flight, undetected, right into New York City. 7-17 days of incubation and in the meantime, hundreds, if not thousands, of people are spread throughout the world carrying the disease. It could destroy cities and civilizations and it is impossible for us to even fathom a way to stop it.

Is it worth thinking about this? Is there anything to say or that can be done that isn't already being done?

We've made so many attempts towards turning the tide in the Middle East. There's the constant brokering we've tried with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. We've supported democratic reforms in Palestine and Lebanon. We tried a military overthrow of a corrupt regime in Iraq. We try to work with allies to have a united stance against Iran. We try working with autocratic thugs in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. We try going through the United Nations to get Syria to relinquish control of Lebanon.

And let's face it - none of these attempts have worked. They've all failed to varying degree.

We are facing a strand of fascism, something we thought dead, but turns out was merely dormant. It is tied back to Nazism, this ideology of hate and it's found a new cloak - not German National Socialism - but Islamic Radicalism. See the relations here. Like a virus that won't go away, it jumps from national/cultural characters and disguises itself as whatever is politically feasible because it's so clever. It's migrated to Islam because it senses weakness and it can feaster and survive in that environment. It's using Islam as a shield, as way to go unchallenged in the West because of our political correctness. It wallows in phony misery and feeds it, until the belief becomes real, up becomes down, 2 and 2 = five. It tells partial truths for deeply cynical reasons, to yield and seize power, to destroy, to dominate, the oldest and sickest of human desires.

And we still can't agree whether it's worth fighting against. We have one party in America whose majority thought before the 2004 election that George Bush was a greater threat to world security than Osama Bin Laden. And say what you will about George Bush, but this is not an issue of Iraq or dead civilians or defense expenditures, of bombs, or soldiers. This is an issue of civilization versus barbarism. Of criminal gangs versus governments. We should never confuse the two or succumb to the temptation to equate the two, or to concede to their partial truth that we are the cause of all of this.

It is they who seek to turn back the clock and up to us to stop it, if we think it worth the time, money, and energy.

UPDATE: And it seems Sullivan agrees with me.

In his 434 part series of visiting Congressional districts in the United States, Colbert made his 24th stop in my home district of Marin/Sonoma County this evening. Lovely. He interview Lynn Woosley, our congresswomen, and of course, made her look stupid. It was quite funny. He asked her, "Do you support gays in the military?"


"But you also don't support the Iraq War."

"That's right."

"So that's a bit hypocritical, don't you think? You don't want the gays to be sent home from Iraq."


"Well you want gays in the military, so you want to keep them in Iraq, but you want the soldiers from Iraq to come home, don't you think that's putting a lot of burden on gay soldiers."

"Well supposedly there are no gay soldiers."

"That's right."

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Talk About Contraditions

From Belmont Club:

A non-state (Hezbollah) at war with a foreign state (Israel) has voted to deploy the forces of a nominal state (Lebanon) to police itself, while taking orders from two foreign states (Syria and Iran) for the purpose of preventing more civilian casualties in a conflict it began until the forces of international states can interpose themselves between the forces of a foreign state (Israel) they have sworn to destroy and themselves (Hezbollah) under terms which in any case they have no intentions of respecting. To international diplomats that makes sense. In contrast, when "in Texas, Bush said any cease-fire must prevent Hezbollah from strengthening its grip in southern Lebanon, asserting 'it's time to address root causes of problems,'" his remarks are dismissed as the ignorant ramblings of an unsophisticated simpleton.

Well, just because the diplomats are stupid, it doesn't follow that Bush isn't a simpleton.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

State vs. Non-State

Europundits writes a very good post about how our current world view ineffectually enables us to destroy robust criminal and non-state actors.

I think these armed gangs didn't even know what they stumbled upon, this loophole in the nation state system, but it's working for them, and hence, they continue to use it.

The Bush admin chose to view the problem of non-state actors as functionaries of masters or state actors. That is one way to look at the problem and in the absence of other ways, makes a lot of sense. Al Queda functioned by having a safe "haven" in Afghanistan. Hamas relied on the support of Saddam Hussien and other Arab governments. Hezbollah exists because of a failed state in Southern Lebanon and by funding from Iran and Syria.

It is important to note, however, this is not just a neoconservative view. Many subscribe to the view that states are the primary movers in international relations and not subscribe to the Bushian outcome. Case in point, many hardcore leftists blame the United States for empowering illegitimate movements to seize government control in South America, and point to the United States supporting Saddam and the Taliban and so forth in other times against the Soviet threat. This view of state-ness pervades the thinking of most everyone, including non-state actors, I think, many of whom try to seize control of states, ie Hamas.

Am I naive in thinking that the civilized world should band together to resist these non-state threats? Judging by my previous post, I can't even seem to reasonable agree between my friends that Hezbollah should be destroyed. We end up arguing about whether Israel is capable of doing it and in the absense of that, how they ought to act, and so forth, all this minutia, than in effect, just kicks the can down the street.

I don't understand why the world, the UN, can just agree on one thing: Hezbollah should not have guns and missiles and then figure out a way to get rid of them. I don't understand why Arab governments won't explain to their people that whatever grievances they may have, Hezbollah ain't gonna help. I don't understand why Israel is left alone to fight this battle and then criticized in the manner in which they fight it.

But whatever, the truth is, it doesn't affect me all that much. I can just go watch Brewster McCloud this evening and work on my screenplays. Why, in short, should I give a flying shit about the middle east and let their misery affect me?

I sometimes wonder if we just didn't pay attention to the middle east whether the problems would go away. Sort of like ignoring a stalker. Because honestly, the only attention we pay to the region is when there is violence. If these groups got no attention for their violence, would they realize how wasteful and stupid it is? What if suicide bombing got no media attention? Would it cease to be a useful tactic? Would it diminish it's value?

If we just didn't need the oil....

Monday, August 07, 2006

Yeah, But...

A simple post about how Israel has earned the right to exist, even if you concede the country was begotten wrongly.

To wit, we have a nation established by international law - by the almighty and all sacred UN resolution, in this case UN Resolution 181. This nation - Israel - has been under constant attack. When it wins its wars it has proven it can gain peace as with Egypt and Jordan. It has proven it can compromise as with multiple agreements with Palestinian groups and its withdrawal from its former buffer zone in southern Lebanon (itself established to protect the country from regular attack). It has proven it can compromise by accepting the Roadmap for Peace and a willingness to coexist with a Palestinian state. It has also proven its tolerance of others with its acceptance of Arab citizens in its government.

And on the other hand, we have an armed wing of an organization banned by the UN fighting a legally established country and who is most of the world rooting for? Hezbollah. Disgusting. Truly disgusting.

I was listening to the radio today about how Cuban exiles in Miami have claims upon land in Cuba, stolen by Castro.

We don't dream of sending Cuban suicide bombers into Cuba because they have a claim on land. And yet, that is exactly what happens in Palestine. The Arab powers pay for Palestinians to go blow themselves up because of disputed land and they hate Israel. What's worse are the people in this country and in Europe who say, "Yeah, but..."

Yeah, but...nothing.
A Fairly Unnoticed, But Awesome Movie

Master and Commander Far Side of the World suffers from an insufferably long title. I think I didn't see this movie in the theater simply because the title. And I remember being dumbfounded when it got nominated for best picture.

Then a couple winters ago I was lucky enough to catch the movie on HBO or something on a ski trip and thought it was totally awesome.

It was on TV tonight. I stand by my statement - it's a totally awesome movie. I'd say it's just as good as Gladiator.
Getting In Shape

I doubt if there is anything lessing intriguing to me than yoga. A lot of people I know and have known (wink) are into yoga. It's one of those things that has never been even remotely interesting to me. Almost as uninteresting is the gym. Uck. I prefer the dentist to the gym, with the cheesy guys and all those used machines. It's nasty. Running? Boring. Martial arts? Are you serious?

If it weren't for soccer and tennis, I'd be pretty hard pressed to find anything to do for exercise.

So it was today, while I was eating a Philly Cheesesteak after work at this place on La Brea and I look out the window and for the first time (I've been there several times) I notice a boxing gym. I've never actually been inside a boxing gym. I always pictured it like Million Dollar Baby or Rocky - dedicated street tough guys working with old wise black men on how to fight. Losers with nothing better to do. Perfect.

I pop my head in and am surprised to see a large, immaculate boxing ring. Wow. Along the sides are punching bags, exercise bikes, and a smaller ring. There were a few old black men, but also a bunch of young men and women doing jump rope and other exercises.

Finally, a small, but in very good shape, white lady comes up to me and I ask her about classes, brochures, and all that. They have open classes Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights. They stretch, jump rope, hit the bags. She promises it's a lot of fun. It sure looks like it.

I don't think I'll be able to swing it anytime soon. I've just committed to a new soccer season and my jobs have piled up and school is about to begin. But sometime.

I don't know if I'd step in the ring. I think I'd be scared. One on one. Boxing. Hardcore. I have always fancied that I'd be a pretty good boxer for my weight. I'm small, but quick, and not a weakling. My soccer coach said at our senior banquet in college that I was the best pound for pound player in the league. This was the same guy who pleaded with me for four years to hit the weights and put on 8 pound of upper body. I remember my teammates giggling at the the thought, knowing full well by that look in my eyes at the gym, that this place was not for me.

Boxing. Hmm.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Good News

It's looking like Iran will is getting closer to making nukes, unless of course the UN decides to...gasp...sanction them. That'll throw back the nuke development about, say, 15 minutes or so. Who are we kidding anyway, the sanctions won't work, they can just sell oil to countries willing to break the sanctions for their own short term profit...

Anyhow, what's the good news, you say? Well, the good news is that after the UN brokers some type of cease fire between Hezbollah and Israel, bringing lasting peace (if lasting means 5-10 years), that the next round of attacking Israel will likely either include the threat of nuclear retaliation or a nuke being somehow used against the small democratic nation.

If there is any doubt about how easy it will be to nuke Israel in one fashion or another, scroll down to the pictures at the border of Lebannon and Israel. They are that close together.

And after that, well, then you'll see a lot of "innocent" Muslims killed by Israeli retaliation. But no worries, the UN will try to broker a cease fire afterwords.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

An Aside

Well, if this is the case what the hell have I been doing the past 28 years, huhn? Smarty pants!
Where Do The Non-Douche Bags Shop - Part II

Larchmont is dead. So far, I've purchased a lame pair of khakis and a tee shirt because a hot chick talked to me. I've spent about $100. This is not going well.

"Where can I find a French Connection, for chrissake?" I yell.

"At the Beverly Center," a gay guy working at Banana Republic says. (Yes, time and space shift in this narrative).

I'll be damned if I go to Beverly Center. That might promptly cause me to shoot myself in the arm with an Uzi. Even though they do have a French Connection.

Where do all the Non-Douche Bags Shop?

I drive up to Melrose. I park. The meter says, "fail." I leave a note on my car - no ticket - failed meter.

I walk into a store. A really tan, hot bodied chick is working. "Can I help you?"

"Looking for a jacket." Only partially true.


"No," I almost laugh.


"Maybe a casual one."

She takes me to the blazer section and pulls out a black shiny one.

"Do I look like I'm in Yakuza?"

"Ya-what?" Okay, this part of the conversation didn't really happen.

I look at another jacket. It says Tony Montana across the front. Jesus Christ.

She pulls out a blazer that I could plausibly see myself wearing. I try it on. She says it fits me perfectly. It does not.

"Do you have a medium?"

She looks around as if I asked her about Jimmy Hoffa. This chick is really starting to annoy me. She yells at her co-worker. The co-worker can't hear her because the Fugees are playing too loud in the store. Her co-worker runs out of the store.

I tell her that I can look around the rest of the store, she doesn't need to pulls things off the rack and help me try them on. She says, "I'll find you some shirts."

She runs around to the racks and pulls shirts off and brings them to me. I don't like this process.

I find one shirt that I could conceivably wear. I try it on with the jacket. They look okay.

"How much are these?"

"The jacket is normally $300, but on sale for $150 and the shirt is normally $120 on sale for $60."

It seems like a decent deal. The co-worker comes back with a white jacket.

"This is a medium."

I try it on. The arms are too long. But I kind of like the white. OH GOD! What the hell am I doing? I freaking look like Don Johnson. I look at this tanned, stupid girl, and I get really uncomfortable. I hate the smell of her make up and this creepy store that has jackets with Tony Montana across the front. What the hell am I doing?

It's amazing how lame certain girls come across when contrasted with a cool girl. I think lame girls get away with a lot because well, they are girls and I don't know, have breasts and stuff. But when there's a cool girl to contrast against a lame girl, it's sort like how a quiet moment right before a loud one makes it seem REALLY loud.

Anyhow, this girl working at the store is really irritating me in contrast to the hot boutique girl. I tell her politely that I'm going to look at some other stores. She warns me that the jacket is the last small one they have, that it might be gone when I come back.

"Do I look like I'm in a flea market in the Middle East?" I don't actually say that.

"I like the jacket. But I don't love it. I might come back." Only the last part is a blatant lie. She knows it. I know she knows it. It's the most polite way I can think of to say, "I don't like you or your store, you skanky slut."

Walking down Melrose, I notice more jackets with dragons and numbers and other stupid shit on them and incense smells and am beginning to realize that rather than finding where the non-douche bags shop, I've come to douche bag central.

I know there is an Urban Outfitters somewhere, so I figure I ought at least try to salvage my shopping trip. I continue to walk down the street and there's a cute Asian girl standing outside a store. I'm walking past and she yells, come in, we're having a big sale!

"A big sale, what could be wrong with that?" I think to myself.

She escorts me in and asks me what I would like. I again come back with the jacket line.

"Oh, were you the one who wanted to try on the white blazer?"

"Yeah, how did you know that?"

"She got the blazer from our store."

So that's where the co-worker at the shitty store had run off to. Odd.

"We are the same store."

"Oh." This is incredibly pathetic.

"What didn't you like about the blazer?" Because of my leftover displeasure from the other girl, I'm associating her with this girl and already don't really like her. I don't even respond.

She pulls down the same black blazer from the other store in a small.

"I've already seen that jacket."

"Come on, you should buy it."

Have I come to the red light shopping district? She looks at me with this droopy, pathetic eyes, the eyes prostitutes in Amsterdam stare with, the eyes of an inexperienced woman trying to use her sexuality for a meagre profit. The only thing more pathetic being the men who go for it...

"If I wanted to buy the jacket, I would've bought it at the other store." I say very curtly.

She smiles and shrugs, sort of holding out the jacket. The phone rings. She turns to answer it. I leave abruptly.

Onto to Urban Outfitters. I wish I could be writing. Is that a weird thing to think?
Where Do The Non-Douche Bags Shop?

Before coming back to LA my mom handed me a check and said, "Get yourself some new clothes. Some nice ones that'll last." My mom obviously knows that film school has not been lucrative for me, and apparently has also noticed my wardrobe hasn't changed much in the past three years. She managed to remind me to spend the money on clothes and not on, say the cable bill and car insurance or some type of wild movie camera purchase.

It's her money, so I figured I ought to obey.

It's been a long time since I really went shopping. I've bought things, but only as I came across them or because I hadn't got around to doing laundry...the idea of going out shopping has become...foreign. Not that I really ever enjoyed shopping...I know, I know, all of you who see more on a regular basisi are thinking, "Wow, that's so odd, because you're a really good dresser." (psyche!)

But seriously, I was once told, although it is probably an urban legend, that guys displayed similar symptoms prior to having a heart attack when inside a retail store. I believe it.

So with efficiency in mind, I parlayed my meeting at the Grove this morning into a shopping trip and I figured I'd stop by Nordstroms, the old shopping standby. (Yes, I grew up in Marin County, all right, gimme a break). But seriously, I thought, "nice clothes that will last," and I told myself I'd like to pick up some knitted Facconable shirts.

I stepped into Nordstroms and headed straight to the Facconable section. Now, granted these shirts are a bit pricey, but they are incredibly well made, much better than Polo and only a few bucks more. I don't know how they stand up to Lacoste, but I'm not auditioning for Wedding Crashers II, so I'm kind of avoiding the pastels. Plus, despite my disappointment in the French for not joining the Crusade against Saddam Hussein, and generally being proud of being American, I actually kinda like French things like brie, Zidane, and Facconable. What can I say?

But in Nordstrom I was disappointed to find only two knitted shirts of the style I like and none in my size. So I looked around at the other shirts and shoes and clothes and nothing really struck my fancy. And everything was so expensive.

Now my opinion on clothes and expensive items in general is rather consistent. I don't mind spending dough on things, so long as I get a lot of use out of them. Spending $80 on a shirt versus $40, is well worth it, if you wear the $80 shirt a lot and don't wear the $40 shirt much.

The odd factor in this calculus is the fact that you don't really ever know how much you'll wear an item until after you own it. And the cost of the item rarely has an impact on how much you'll wear it. I have a number of expensive shirts I wear all the time. But I also have a number of really cheap pairs of pants that I wear all the time too. I also have a bunch of expensive sweaters I never wear. I also have a couple of cheap shirts that I never wear. One thing has little relation to the other. So my theory of shopping is to buy things you like, cheap or expensive.

Nothing was striking my fancy in Nordstrom and when I walk outside I start thinking to myself, "I must have gotten gun shy. It's been a long time since I've been shopping, I forgot how to pull the trigger."

I head toward the Lucky store. Nothing. I reluctantly go into Banana Republic. I hate Banana Republic. It's the same reason I hate Garden State. I can't really explain it, they are close to home, but something evil about them. If I were a super hero, my arch nemesis would make movies like Garden State and wear Banana Republic clothes, let's just put it that way.

But I'm upstairs and there's this pretty sweet long sleeved shirt. I touch it. I leave it. I go back and look at it again. I find a pair of khaki pants. I go back to the shirt. $78. "Buy some nice clothes that will last." I start thinking of how many shirts I could buy at Ross Dress For Less that look pretty similar to the $78 Banana Republic shirt. Goddamit, just buy it you pussy!

I leave it on the rack. I buy the khaki pants. I exit the store feeling like a tool. Khaki pants. Can you get any more boring? They weren't on sale or anything, it was just a straight khaki pants purchase. From Banana Republic. Jesus, what a horrible start.

I need to leave the Grove. I decide I should stop by Larchmont Village. About six months ago I walked by a store and really liked a jacket in the window, but was too cheap to buy it. That'll cure this damn khaki pants purchase!

I get to Larchmont and remember the store was right next to Kicks, the styling shoe store. I go to the store and it's been closed down. Shit, I wonder if I had bought that jacket...

I end up in another boutique and there's this tall, tanned, very pretty girl working. She smiles at me. They have one rack of clothes. I walk up to the rack and start glancing at the prices. Woooo. I stand back and notice a tee shirt. It has pictures of 8-9 stand up comedians: Woody Allen, Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor, George Carlin. Awesome.

"Can I help you with something?"

"I kind of like this shirt. But I don't see Chris Rock."

"Dave Chappelle is better than Chris Rock." Chappelle is on the shirt.

"Yeah...well, I'm not so sure...but Chris Rock is better than Martin Lawrence." Martin Lawrence is also on the shirt.

Why we are only comparing the black comedians, I'm not sure.

"I agree, Chris Rock is better than Martin Lawrence."

I almost want to get into it a little more with her about why she doesn't like Chris Rock, but she seems sweet and I want her to like me.

She steps closer. "It kinda seems like they were going for the old school thing."

"Yeah, who are these guys? Is this Lenny Bruce?"

She shrugs.

"But then they have Chappelle, it's weird," I say.

She smiles and leaves me alone. I go to buy the tee shirt.

"Just $29 even." It was $29, she wasn't charging me tax.

"Oh, is this your store?" I assumed she just worked there, but no regular employee would have the chutzpah to not charge tax - or would they?

"Yeah, I co-own it with a friend."

Hot. The hot girl just became the badass hot girl. She has doubled her hotness, in my eyes. I, for the record, don't buy Maureen Dowd's thesis that successful men like the marry their secretaries. Like I said, to me, the fact this girl owned the store doubled her hotness. Of course, I'm not successful...yet.

I don't ask for her number or anything, well, because I'm a pussy and part of me thinks she was probably just being nice to sell me the shirt, but I did like talking to her about comedians.

Friday, August 04, 2006

An Update

As I just wrote in my last post, I've been very busy as of late...but for some reason, I've also been bored. Usually, when you're busy, you're not bored - because, well, there's too much to do. In the past couple of days I've felt simultaneously busy and bored...with a few moments of being really excited. It's odd.

It's weird, I've been busy recently and unable to blog much, so I've sort of grown out of practice and don't have much to say.

I watched a bunch of movies recently, Miami Vice, Lady in the Water, and Devil Wears Prada, all of which I should be able to write about...and yet, I haven't.

I don't know. Maybe it'll pick up again.
Olmert on the War

A pretty fair explanation, I'd say.

Thursday, August 03, 2006