Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Movies Watched At Work

In Full:

Badlands - Top 5 movie of all time. Unbelievable.
The Creature in the Black Lagoon - Julie Adams is totally hot.
Motorcycle Diaries - Ok road movie.
Cobra Verde - Lesser know Kinski and Herzog. Still great.

In Part:

My Best Fiend - I can listen to Herzog all day.
Inn of 6th Happiness - Ingrid Bergman goes to China
Maggie and Annie - Amatuer Lesbian movie.
The Groove Room - Danish/British sex farce.
Secret Garden - spoiled British actors enact the British book about spoiled British children.
Blood Sisters - 80s horror chick flick.
Waterworld - totally underrated movie.
The Sign of the Beaver - Keith Carradine in an after school special
Gone Dark - Lauren Bacall and Claire Forlani - who knew?
The Flying Leatherheads - Nick Ray and John Wayne.
Who Slew Simon Thaddeus Mulberry Pew? - Short, in rhyme, a lot of fun and well shot. 1 room.
Celebrity Sighting

My best one ever today: Oprah Winfrey in the hallway of my new work place...

2nd Place: Lindsey Lohan at the Saved premiere

3rd Place: Kareem Abdul Jabar, Warren Moon, and Charles Haley in South shore lake Tahoe

Honorable mentions: Chelsea Clinton at my friend's wedding, Doogie Howser at a hotel in New Mexico, Sean and Robin Wright Penn in my local foodcourt, Keifer Sutherland at a strip club.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Belated Chinese New Year Resolutions

Okay, so that's mixing a lot of different traditions/etc, but this is America.

1. I will throw away trash/papers/etc as soon as I suspect they could go in the trash.

2. I will get rid of clothes I never wear.

3. I will floss my teeth twice a day (as opposed to when I feel like it)

4. I will return Netflix if I do not watch the DVD in three days.

That's a good enough start.
No Blogging On the First Day of Work

It might be a bit of a faux paus to blog at work anyway, so until I'm comfortable, it'll have to be after hours.

What did I do at work, you ask?

Watched The Motorcycle Diaries and Cobra Verde...just getting acquinted with the systems, etc.

My thoughts of the day on other related things:

Ouch. Doesn't bode well for Hillary. Guess she shouldn't have started running TWO YEARS before the election.

I forgot to make several comments during the Oscars last night: Al Gore = fatty and Forest Whittiker, although I'm not a huge fan, I appreciate his heartfelt speech.

That's it, really.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Live Oscar Blogging

Sandel won. Insane. I'm a convert. I'm now officially pro-peace.

Does Jack Nicholson have cancer?

Does Sound Mixing deserve an Oscar? Seriously.

I thought Alan Arkin died. Am I retarded or something?

Best Supporting Actor was a tough one. Marky Mark was awesome in Departed, but I thought it would be cool to see Eddie Murphy win. But then again, Arkin was incredible in Little Miss Sunshine. I can't complain.

Helen Mirren IS hot.

I'm surprised how much I'm enjoying Ellen. Bit with Scorcese was great.

Al Gore can't be President. He's not cool enough, no matter how many cool friends surround him. How exactly did the Oscars become "green approved." Does that mean they didn't serve the pre-drinks in Styrofoam cups? I wonder how many people flew to the event private jets...

Gosling gets to sit next to Meryl Streep. As Borat would say, "Niiiice."

Why do the words "Well, do ya, punk." keep showing up on screen?

Helen Mirren IS HOT!

They aren't screwing around with the music. You get boring, it's coming on. Good for them.

JHudson crying before she got to the mic. Jeezus.

Seinfeld got in one good line: "5 incredibly depressing movies."

Definition of painful: Clint showing signs of his age.

For Enrico I wish they just showed the entire cemetary scene from the Good, the Bad, the Ugly. Or at least had subtitles.

Going to Fatburger. Hence the gap in witty commentary.

Reese Witherspoon - wassup with that chin?

Helen Mirren IS TOTALLY HOT.

70s Movie Brats looking kinda old...

Good for Marty, although I never thought he needed an Oscar for validation.

Ellen did fine, if you ask me.
Sandel: Genius

Yeah, a USC short wins the academy award! I guess I should've done a thesis. :)

Upon further reflection, West Bank Story is indeed a message for our times. Let there be peace.
10 More Years

Is the army's plan to be in Iraq for 10 more years?

I think the way to analyse the situation is to ask ourselves - is Iraq worth it? Assume we are able to provide security and allow a democratic government to grow and eventually protect itself in 10 years will that be worth the cost in money and American lives? That is a debate worth having.
A Must Read For Aspiring Screenwriters

I don't know why I didn't link before, but I've added John August to my blogroll. He's got a ton of useful screenwriter and life information on his blog. Some good recent posts:

Life lessons from World of Warcraft.

On being a professional.

How to write dialog.

How to write a scene.

This is like gold for us, peoples....

A very interesting sounding career on a side of filmmaking we don't look at much from a production angle.

Friday, February 23, 2007

I Don't Know What's Come Over Me This Afternoon, But I'm On A Vincent Gallo Kick

I personally selected my favorite quotes from IMDB on Americans and Europeans:

"I'm not a very popular person. I was pushed to show the unfinished version of Brown Bunny in Cannes, against my judgement. And even though a lot of negative reaction to the film came from not setting up the presentation very well, I still felt responsible and disturbed. But Europeans are animals. Who cares?."

"I'm so in love with the United States. Not as a patriot. I'm in love with America like it's my first girlfriend. The geography, the people, the smell, the touch, the taste, the gas stations. I'm madly in love with America. Madly in love. And I was the guy that people used to say, "He's so European." I mean, I never felt like that. I don't relate to those monkeys. I just can't relate to them. I'm a super American--Captain America."

"I feel very happy that Bush is our president. One way that you can tell we have a good president, is by how much the French dislike him. The more the French hate him, the better he must be. And they hate this one."
What Can Be Done

Check out the full crew list on Brown Bunny.
"It's Like Being Married and Then Falling In Love"

For once, I agree with Arianna Huffington's analysis.

At least it's a field in which Hillary has some experience.
Zodiac Review

I agree with almost every word of this review, except the part about Ruffalo's "truncated" performance. I thought he was awesome and will be in contention for best actor.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Equality, Sheesh...

Wimbledon is patting itself on the back for upping women's cash prizes to the level of men.

My understanding is that women's tennis is more popular on TV than men's. They should get paid more.

Reading this interview with Tim Hardaway, it's refreshing to hear his honesty, even if I don't agree with him. Andrew Sullivan agrees.


Scoop, it was just the wrong choice of words. It came out of my mouth real crude and real bad and real ugly. And people think that that's the way I feel. That I hate [gay people], and I don't. I don't condone what they do, but I don't hate them. But that's how it came out.

And that's what it was, a hate crime on my part. But I was never brought up to hate anybody, you know that. But that's just the word and that's how we used it. You know when we got a whopping we'd be like, "I hate my moms" or "I hate my dad," and at the time you really didn't hate them, but that was the word you used. You know I can go into a restaurant and say, "I hate this food, I hate the chef, I don't even know why I came back to this restaurant." But I know I can't use the word like that, or let's say I'm not supposed to. People have come up to me and told me, "Tim, you can't say that you hate gay people because it's not the same term." But that's how I talk. That's the way I am.

This is not the mealy-mouthed apologies of Michael Richards.
Where's Oliver Stone?

Here's Oliver Stone's 9/11 movie.

Oh, I forgot, only the US government is involved with conspiracies.
Harry, The Nazi

Okay, so it's an old story, but Prince Harry is sorry for wearing a Nazi armband for a costume party. I dunno, I think that's about all Nazi armbands are useful for: costume parties.

But in seriousness, the man is going to Iraq. Good for him, I say. England should be proud.

Meanwhile, British troops are packing up because things appear to be calmer in Basra. That's a good thing - so why are Democrats complaining? Because that's what they do best.
No Shit

"One thing Sheikh Sattar keeps saying is he wants al-Anbar to be like Germany and Japan and South Korea were after their respective wars, with a long-term American presence helping ... put them back together," MacFarland said. "The negative example he cites is Vietnam. He says, yeah, so, Vietnam beat the Americans, and what did it get them? You know, 30 years later, they’re still living in poverty."

But people don't always know what's best for them.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

This Is Why He Gets Paid To Write


All over the non-Muslim world, we hear incessant demands that those who believe in the literal truth of the Quran be granted "respect." We are supposed to watch what we say about Islam, lest by any chance we be considered "offensive." A fair number of authors and academics in the West now have to live under police protection or endure prosecution in the courts for not observing this taboo with sufficient care. A stupid term—Islamophobia—has been put into circulation to try and suggest that a foul prejudice lurks behind any misgivings about Islam's infallible "message."

Well, this idiotic masochism has to be dropped. There may have been a handful of ugly incidents, provoked by lumpen elements, after certain episodes of Muslim terrorism. But no true secularist or even Christian has been involved in anything like the torching of a mosque. (The last time that such a thing did happen on any scale—in Bosnia—the United States and Britain intervened militarily to put a stop to it. We also overthrew the Taliban, which was slaughtering the Hazara Shiite minority in Afghanistan.) But where are the denunciations from centers of Sunni and Shiite authority of the daily murder and torture of Islamic co-religionists? Of the regular desecration of holy sites and holy books? Of the paranoid insults thrown so carelessly and callously by one Muslim group at another? This mounting ghastliness is a bit more worthy of condemnation, surely, than a few Danish cartoons or a false rumor about a profaned copy of the Quran in Guantanamo. The civilized world—yes I do mean to say that—should find its own voice and state firmly to Muslim leaders and citizens that respect is something to be earned and not demanded with menace. A short way of phrasing this would be to say, "See how the Muslims respect each other!"

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Things I Would Like To Do With Presidential Candidates and Former Presidents

1. Barak Obama - have a cigarette
2. George Bush - drink a beer
3. Hillary Clinton - eat cheese and crackers
4. Bill Clinton - go to a whorehouse
5. Al Gore - hang out with his family on Xmas
6. George Bush Sr. - play Risk
7. Ronald Reagon - shoot a movie
8. Howard Dean - go to a basketball game
9. Ralph Nader - drink tea
10. John Edward/John Kerry - smoke pot
11. John McCain - shoot guns
12. Rudy Guiliani - go to a party

more later
But That Doesn't Matter to the Base

Since Iraq was a bad gamble, does that make the surge a bad move?

In the world where Bush=Bad it does.

For clarification, I'd say Iraq was a decent bet that we still lost.
Whoa, Someone's Angry

James Webb on the consequences of not only leaving, but failing to support South Vietnam.

Monday, February 19, 2007

How Come?

How come the across the country from campuses to corporate america and in the hearts of most Americans did we oppose South African apartheid...and yet there is no equivalent attention or concern with the way women are treated in Islamic societies from Iran to Saudi Arabia to Pakistan to Somolia and the former Taliban regime? Where are the feminist organizations who do work opposing honor killings, genital mutilation, and so forth? Are they out there, but just unable to get their message out? How is this not the great liberal cause of our generation? How can liberals allow neoconservatives to be the only group with a plan - use American military might - to end these practices. Why aren't there other organized efforts to bring these injustices to an end so that people can have a choice of tactics would work better?

And why is there greater attention paid to Ayaan Hirsi Ali? She is to Muslim women what Nelsen Mandela was for South Africans and what Martin Luther King was for African Americans. And I bet not one of hundred americans know who she is.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

What Would Be Good For America

I wish Hillary wasn't backing down on her Iraq stance.

I think it would be good for America and the Democrats if the Democratic primary became about Iraq. If Obama runs on leaving Iraq by 2008 and Hillary runs on a plan to "win the peace," then the party can come to terms with itself. The Democrats need to decide and be clear about a strategy to win the terror war. If they want to play defense, fine, just come out and say it, but be willing to acknowledge the downside to such a strategy both politically and the strategically.

I think most, if not nearly all the Democrats are sick of Bush. But I don't think all of us want to pull out and wave the white flag. So it would be nice to be able to see where we stand - Obama on one side, Hillary on the other, and Edwards and whoever else taking strong, clear, distinct stances. It'd be good for the country.

I just hate this feeling I have about Hillary that she's caving to internal partisan pressure.
Passive Aggressive Legislation

It's a phenomenon slipping into legislature.

Mr. Murtha has a different idea. He would stop the surge by crudely hamstringing the ability of military commanders to deploy troops. In an interview carried Thursday by the Web site, Mr. Murtha said he would attach language to a war funding bill that would prohibit the redeployment of units that have been at home for less than a year, stop the extension of tours beyond 12 months, and prohibit units from shiLinkpping out if they do not train with all of their equipment. His aim, he made clear, is not to improve readiness but to "stop the surge." So why not straightforwardly strip the money out of the appropriations bill -- an action Congress is clearly empowered to take -- rather than try to micromanage the Army in a way that may be unconstitutional? Because, Mr. Murtha said, it will deflect accusations that he is trying to do what he is trying to do. "What we are saying will be very hard to find fault with," he said.
If he wasn't an ex-marine that could kick my ass, I'd call him a wuss for way he's going about doing this.

Good for the Senate.
Ulterior Motives

If the administration is guilty of more than incompetence as most anti-war folks would have us believe, they had some type of further ulterior motive - oil, imperialism, cleaning up after daddy, whatever...then will those same anti-war folks cop to the charge that they want us to lose in Iraq?

I think this is a serious question reasonable anti-war people need to ask themselves. And maybe more importantly, what are the consequences having such a POV.

Maybe it's just a matter of - who cares what I think - we're losing and making a blunder. But I'm not so sure.

Pretty damn good movie. Great cast. Some plot holes. Okay in a good thriller. Fincher makes the hairs on my neck rise. Music = awesome. Hurdy Gurdy Man.

Sorry, but it's true.

"To the Slow-Bleed Democrats, it's the Republicans' war. To an increasing number of what my radio pal Hugh Hewitt calls the White-Flag Republicans, it's Bush's war. To everyone else on the planet, it's America's war. And it will be America's defeat."

I must be getting old because I find fancy bar/clubs in Hollywood to be incredibly ridiculous. We try to go into Cinespace when there is no line and hardly any people in the bar and the lady says, "$20." They should've just said, "No. We don't let people come in and drink here." No DJ. No movie. It was ridiculous. These places would rather have no one in them drinking than have guys who didn't pay $20 to get in.

In a futile act of resistance, I showed her the top of my hand as if it were stamped. She laughed and said, "What?" I pointed to the top of my hand indicating I had already paid to get in. I'm not even sure if they had hand stamps and if they did, I didn't have one. She couldn't help but laugh at the stupidity behind the gesture, but still did not let me in. Oh well. Worth the effort.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Do You Know Where I Can Get A Federal Express Card?

Criminals are so stupid... But I'll take his members only jacket off him.
Insecure Is Right

On showering with gay dudes. Fact is, I'm uncomfortable showing with ANY dudes - gay or straight. I wasn't in a frat, don't go the public gym...I've had to do it a few times in my life and never enjoyed it.

I'm for all private showering.
Can I Get Another Amen?

On chillin' with gay friends. Ain't no thang but a chicken wang.
Left, Right, and Center

It's probably my favorite radio show. I like Matt Miller and Tony Blankley a lot. I even like Robert Scheer for the most part, although I disagree with him a lot. Arianna I find to be a good addition to the show because I enjoy how Tony Blankley responds to her.

Yesterday, they delved into territory I haven't heard before: outrageous comedy. I laughed out loud when they were talking about Barak Obama giving up smoking for his presidential run. First off, I didn't know Obama smoked. It kinda makes me like him more - less perfect, less of a goody two shoes - you know? As a side note, the thought crossed my mind that a President who smokes is going to give teenagers smokers one hell of a comeback to their parents. Then again, it also might make it less cool and could prevent on the fence teenagers from smoking.

But anyway, Tony Blankley talked about his own troubles with quitting smoking combined with the enormous media spotlight put on Presidential candidates. He pointed out that if Obama appears irritable, the national media will magnify it into a personality flaw (not dissimilar from the Howard Dean scream). Then Miller piped in about his experience quitting smoking. It was both surreal and incredibly real at the same time. Here we are on a serious political talk show talking about something very small and human and about essentially weakness, addiction, habits. I don't know, some might make fun of the frivolty, I found it laugh out loud funny.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Well, I Hate Islamic Fundamentalists

The whole Tim Hardaway "I hate gay people" comment is sparking some interesting stuff.

I can't say I agree with Mr. Hardaway. In fact I do not hate gay people at all. I love them. All of them. Well most of them. Shit, I don't know. I just know I don't hate them. I admit it would be weird to be on a soccer team full of gay people. Although I guess that's what gay people experience all the time when they are on a team full of straight people, so I should probably get over what might be the stupidist hypothetical I've ever conceived. I don't want to go to gay clubs. Is it okay to say that? Or gay bars. Although, I would go to gay bar if there were straight people there also. At least 20%.

Why do his comments matter? They're incredibly candid, that's why. I like this quote from a formerly gay NBA player.

"Finally, someone who is honest," he said. "It is ridiculous, absurd, petty, bigoted and shows a lack of empathy that is gargantuan and unfathomable. But it is honest. And it illustrates the problem better than any of the fuzzy language other people have used so far."

Do I think Hardaway should apologize or go to counseling or pay a fine? Not really. If he wants to, sure. Listening to Adam Corolla this am on the radio he had a laugh out loud comment after replaying Hardaway's apology. Corolla said,

"It sounded like the apology you give your sister after tearing apart her huggy bear in front of her face when your mom catches you and says 'you must apologize to your sister.'"

Hate is not good for much. But it exists. And I can say, without reservation, that I hate Islamic Fundamentalists. Not just terrorists. Anyone who supports imposing strict Sharia law on people. It means people who support or commit honor killings. It means people who think women ought to wear the veil. Maybe that's not PC or even right. But it's true. I hate the veil. I loathe it. I find it dehumanizing. I tolerate and respect the birkha. I don't like it. I prefer high heels and sundresses and long flowing hair. But I don't hate the birkha. It is humble and non-threatening. The veil, on the other hand, is disgusting and I hate it. I don't think we should ban it. But I still hate it.

I'm trying to think of other things I hate. Garden State. Not really. Never mind, I don't really hate Garden State. Damn, it's kinda hard to think of things to hate. I hate mold on cheese. But then again, not really hate. I just cut it off. Oh, oh...I hate the two guys in Germany who met over the internet and one guy agreed to let the other guy eat him. I hate those guys.

The freedom to hate.

"I'd much rather live in a free country where people are free to be bigots than a p.c. country where everyone is legally required to be nice. Hate is a permanent human condition. Trying to ban it is folly. What the gay rights movement should be about is simple public civil equality. Period. Let us marry, serve in the military and then spew whatever bile you want. Deal?"

Deal. Where do I sign?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I Buy It

A reasonable position on the torture issue. I've posed the ticking timb bomb scenario and I this is the most reasoned counterargument:
The difficulty with that is that that question poses a hypothetical which
in my experience, I never ran into a hypothetical like that. If you pose the
rectitude, or lack thereof, of torture based upon that hypothetical, you're
not really dealing in the real world. That's my answer to that.

The Vagina Monologues Caused 9/11

The left and their cultural decadance. Damn them. I can't imagine Conservatives doing anything stupider than trying to provoke a Culture war. That's one they're going to lose and lose big.

It's always seemed to me the WOT should be the liberals war. It's why I've never understood why the liberals shy away from it.
Has Anyone Seen Jurassic Park III?

I liked how Alex Payne and Jim Taylor of Sideways, Election, etc were writers on the movie. And Tea Leoni is in it.

Is this a hidden gem? Add it to Netflix.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Finally watched this film made by a group of friends one summer and enjoyed by Steven Soderburgh. Supposedly made for 7Gs it went on to acclaim at Sundance and made a decent amount of money at the box office and on DVD.

Let's see...what to started off really interesting, I liked how it jumped right into this world and the audience is forced to catch up - not unlike Miami Vice. Thought the visuals were really awesome. Particularly how the filmmaker used objects as frames-within the frame to point your eye towards details. Several examples - use of the garage door closing, use of the video camera filmming inside the machine, use of windows. The lighting was of course, minimal, but quite colorful and I thought looked quite good. I imagine they used mostly practicals and maybe some gels and probably got a good colorist before the dvd copy I watched.

Acting style was solid, bought the relationships. Enjoyed the movie being only 77 min - happy to rent a Netflix - wouldn't feel comfortable spending 17 bucks at the Arclight.

Movie pace is rather slow in the middle and gets quite confusing at the end. Dialog written and delivered well, but the story structure and the rules of the world and how the machine worked were confusing. Felt like I was missing tension because I found myself really just wanting to see how the puzzle came together at the end and didn't care too much what happened to the characters.

If I were rewriting the script, I would have simplified the act of going back and forward in time and made it clear how they were stopping multiple versions of themselves from running into one another. Then, one friend betrays the original plan, the other friend finds out and everything starts to unravel in an orderly fashion that makes sense. The movie ultimately should've been about the friends - not the puzzle. It wouldn't surprise me if they filmed basically the first draft of the script and didn't rewrite it at all.

Regardless, the movie had a lot going for it: Number One - they made it. Number Two - conceptually interesting. Number three - pretty good characters. Number four - strong visual choices.

Hey, that's enough for me to watch it. And Soderburgh to make the guys next movie.
Blame Students, Not Teachers

It's an interesting article pointing out that student performance isn't so much about teachers and class size, but how much effort students are willing to put into HW.

I sometimes think back on myself in HS and College and kind of want to kick myself for not putting in a little more effort. I was able to calculate in my head with my natural abilities + X (acceptable amount) of work would yield a 3.6-3.8 GPA. A lot more work would be required to get into the uber elite category and I didn't need to be valedictorian, I enjoyed my social life and played lots of sports and felt that it was good enough. There was deviation, semester to semester of course...but in the end, I landed in about that range. No teacher or parent could reasonably complain about those grades and for me, it didn't require sacrificing TV, social, sports, or anything else...

It wasn't until my junior/senior thesis in college when I started to realize the inherent satisfaction in doing something to the very best of my ability. I understood it in terms of sport - the idea of leaving it all out on the field...but the same notion didn't translate to school. School was a burden, sometimes cool, but mostly a burden - mostly work. But I began a gradual change when I was studying abroad and I wasn't having the big party everyone is supposed to have while abroad - it was cold and dreary in Cambridge and the classes were one on one with professors who seemed impressed with me and my fellow Americans writing ability and intellectual sophistication (I actually think we were a tad above the average British undergrad). I wasn't working hard for the grades - I did it because my social life was shit in England, everything closed at 11pm - and I didn't have anything else to do. So I ended up getting really good grades. In fact, the only B+ I got was from this annoying philosophy instructor who asked me what grade I would give myself and then gave me that grade. A stupid, telling event about both me and him.

My senior year in college was mostly back to my old habits until I wrote this thesis on Seinfeld and Irony. I had to work really hard because I changed my topic at the last minute and to prove I wasn't writing this joke of a Senior Thesis and was also spurred on by the fact that people sort of liked the topic and wanted to read "The Seinfeld Thesis." Anyhow, when it was finished, I was finished was like, "Goddamn, that's a pretty good paper," and felt an inherent satisfaction apart from the letter grade.

And then onto grad school and my first semester was pretty bad because there were a couple of teachers I just didn't like: Acting, Sound, and Screenwriting, and subsequently, I didn't work that hard. Somehow, I got my act together though and started concentrating more what I could get out of things and less on what I was being handed, and academically, it's been much more rewarding in and of itself. So for me, it took a really long time to realize something my parents were telling me in 6th grade...but how do you expect kids to gain wisdom?

Oh well, live and learn.
North Korea

I doubt NoKo will live up to any promise, but I think it's a good thing to try to strike a deal with them now and allow some sort of process to attempt to keep them in check. At the very least, tensions won't escalate for the time being - a good thing for the moment. Like the pimp at the beginning of Miami Vice, their day will come...but we've got bigger problems right now: Iran and Iraq.

I'm down with trying to make a deal with Iran as well, if they'd just help Iraq stabilize...I'd present the big carrot and big stick:

Option A) You keep messing with Iraq and developing nukes we 1) Seize funds from all mullahs 2) Actively fund and support all dissident movements in Iraq 3) Openly call for regime change 4) Terrorize their oil fields and plunge the Iranian economy


Option B) 1) Give up the quest for nukes 2) Help stabilize Iraq and you will get recognition from the UN, restored trade relations and recognition from the United States.
House Resolution

Well, I personally find the House resolution condemning the surge to be incredibly stupid from both a practical and political point of view. In the movie industry, this would be the equivalent of a producer coming onto set and telling the director he's putting the camera in the wrong place. It's basically Congress saying 20,000 troops is the wrong idea, when the general in charge of Iraq thinks its the right idea...and then not having the balls to exercise any of their own power (or just do their job) to stop it, by say, cutting off funding.

From a political point of view it is stupid as well. Say the surge works, the dems who signed the resolution are going to look like idiots for opposing it. Say the surge doesn't work, then the dems who signed the resolution are going to look like weenies for not doing what was in their power to do - cut off funding for the war. Either way, they lose, or at least don't win...

Meanwhile Sadr has left Iraq which seems to me a good thing. This analysis sums it up well.

So since we're losing...who again is winning over there?
Miami Vice Revisited

From Senses of Cinema:

"An immense step is taken here from Heat, which, despite the impression of resemblance between the cop Hanna and the gangster McCauley, protects and maintains intact a principle of alterity, a difference of nature vis à vis the Law that prevents Mann from framing them together. (3) Heat was a film on reflection, the mirror effect, the temptation of the Other; Miami Vice is a film on confusion, indistinction and the equivalence of opposites. The cop is no longer the reversed double of the drug dealer, but his distant echo, his replica, even if on his last legs, Michael Mann once again half opens the door onto a world (Heat, the classic police story, the Law and its underside) in the process of becoming extinct. In Miami Vice, infiltration does not constitute an infringement of the general Law of a global system that has resolved contradictions and confused positions. In this obscure indecipherable without limits, what one really is (a cop, a crook) no longer matters. The only thing that counts is the trace that one leaves in the system, the stamp that one leaves there: back in Colombia where they have come to settle their first mission as carriers, Sonny and Ricardo fly a plane filled with drugs that is hidden in the wake of an official plane. Two distinct signals appear on the air control screen, two circles that overlap briefly before merging; two different engines for the radar, a single image. What difference is there between the Law and its underside? None, “Just a ghost”, says one of the radar controllers. No matter the differences as soon as one discharges the same image."

Monday, February 12, 2007

I Have Confidence in the Japanese

If Al Queda sets up shop in Japan, I have a feeling the Japanese will know how to handle them. Just my guess. It's a rather undiverse country and the Japanese don't have a history of going light on their enemies. Plus, they make a hell of car, electronic systems, and game systems.
Enjoying Work?

I can't really say I've enjoyed much of my legal form company work. I like the office and the flexible hours, but the work is far from fun. Except today.

Writing descriptions of different branches of law and coming up with questions that website users might ask:

Disability Law -

Do I need to provide handicapped access to my office?
Can mentally disabled students attend public school?

Sports and Entertainment Law -

Can the NCAA suspend my basketball team's season?
How can I sue my friend for stealing my idea for a movie?

Elder Law-

Can I compel my mother in law to live in a home?

DUI Law -

Can I ride a bike drunk?
An Organization to Support

While drunk driving is obviously bad for society, I'm not convinced anti-drunk driving organizations are a good thing. But here's an organization devoted to fair drunk driving laws.

Me like.

Whoever thinks the Palestinians and Arabs are incompetent is fooling themselves. They know how to stop terrorism and have done so in the past - by marrying terrorists off.

It's an absolutely brilliant plan and I've been long talking about on this blog about the link between sexual oppression and lack of opportunity with Islamic Terrorism.

I've long hypothesized that Mohammed Atta had a boner when he flew in Tower 1. Of course I can't prove it, but there is without a doubt a misplaced sexual energy driving the willingness to commit these insane acts.
But Didn't You Support Preemptive War?

Sullivan criticises preemptive war after supporting it. Hmmm. Doesn't it seem like the time to offer up this criticism would've been during the debate when it mattered?

If Sullivan were to argue against himself, I'm guessing he would say, "Why should I listen to you now since you were obviously wrong before?" You seem to get it wrong only when it matters.

Just a thought.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

More On 30 Rock

I've now watched "The Black Tie" three times. It one of my favorite all time sitcom episodes - up there with Seinfeld's "The Contest" and some of the awesome Arrested Developments.

It is the first episode where Jenna is really good. Tracy Morgan has the funniest moment in the episode when he dances without his shirt in the background of a shot. Baldwin is his usual brilliant self. The Paul Reubens guest spot is amazing and Isabella Rossalini does fine. But in watching it the third time, what really makes the episode stand out is how endearing Tina Fey is during the episode. She's always been cute, but she takes it to a new level in this episode in how she deals with Jack's insouciance about their "date." But the way she loyally supports and even actively helps him lie to his ex-wife and how she tries to cheer him up by dancing - all of this is incredibly cute and touching. Also, her fluster when she thinks Jack is putting the moves on her...again really cute. She sort of comes across like a kid sister tagging along with the kids while they get in trouble during the summertime...

A list of good moments:

1. Lemon's line: "What's the difference between your mom and a washing machine..."
2. Lemon's cute smile when she responds to Jack about what she studied in college. "Theater tech."
3. Pouring water on each other's croches.
4. Baldwin's "boo ya."
5. Tracy Morgan throwing down Kenneth.
6. Baldwin apologizing to Lemon.
7. "I date socialites actresses, models..."
8. "It's time to celebrate our bodies...and our minds."
9. When I'm queen of Australia. -Austria
10. This is my live in girlfriend, Lemon.
11. "...because i'm so grotesque."
12. I've always reminded myself of Grace Kelly
13. Hello dear friends...welcome to my birthday party!
14. She's so smooth.
15. Standing does that even work?
16. Tina fey trying to get Jack to dance.

many more...this is growing boring.

17. I've been with beauty queens, pilate instructors, acrobats...
Building the Case For War

It seems to me Iran is doing a pretty good job of building the case for us. Democrats of course, are criticizing...

What was that quote I liked? "A liberal is too broad minded to take his own side in a quarrel."

I like that.

That the best working female director is...a man: Almodovar.

Volver is damn good movie. Loved the actress playing the sister.
Not What You Expected, Hunh?

You asked for it Mohamed Atta.
Eddie Murphy

On Inside the Actor's Studio. Jesus, thinking back on this guy's career, it's amazing all the shit he's done. The comedy plus the movies, plus the fact that he plays multiple roles in multiple movies and then to think of all the stages to his career. Insane. The dinner table bits from the Nutty Professor. Good God. I forgot how funny those parts were.

Thinking back...

1. Saturday Night Live - part of the famous sketch comedy team
2. Stand Up Comic - Delirious and Raw - becoming the next richard pryor
3. Coming to America - big time movie star playing multiple comedic roles
4. Beverly Hill Cop and 48 Hours - helped invent the action-comedy movie genre
5. Harlem Nights - movie director
6. then there seemed to be some down time until...
7. Nutty Professor where he sort of has a Coming to America-esque mini renaissance
8. then comes a bad period where he starts making all these crappy, family like films, Pluto Nash, Dr. Doolittle, etc and all the classic Eddie Murphy fans are thinking - what the hell is going on with this guy.
9. Then a weird little mini hit in Shrek
10. Dreamgirls and Oscar

So what he really needs now is to be in a Tarantino movie, like JT in PF.

The guy is amazingly still pretty young. Guess that's what happens when you're famous at 19.

He said a funny thing about being worried when he turned 30. He kept seeing 30 as this big moment in life to dread like "I'm not young anymore." But he said it was the complete opposite, it was like: this is the beginning. This is when I get to make up for all mistakes of my 20s.

I think the 30s are going to be good.
Would It Have Been Smart?

I remember the day of purple fingers a couple years ago when the world realized regular joe Iraqis were going to the polls to vote despite the warnings from terrorists and insurgents that killing would take place. There was a brief moment when Bill Mahar was saying, "Holy shit - was Bush right? Is this guy going to be remembered like Lincoln?"

Well, that moment has obviously past and a lot of people are talking about the big failures of the Bush administration to stop the chaos from growing in Iraq.

But maybe a better criticism would be - why did we not use that moment to tackle Iran and Syria in one fell swoop?

What if we openly called for democratic revolution in both countries and started to overtly fund the dissident groups - particularly in Iran - and just said look: there are two options for the future - democracy or theocracy. You're going to have to fight to get democracy, but we'll stand with anyone whose willing to do so.

Why didn't we try to parlay our winnings at that point? By striking at the source of Iraqi trouble - Iran - we would've maybe set the table for the reform we intended the whole time, a big change of thinking across the entire Middle East.

This too, would've seemed radical in the moment, but maybe it would've been a brilliant move. A fast and furious checkmate.

Saturday, February 10, 2007


So what is Iran really up to in Iraq? If you don't feel like listening to the whole podcast they are basically fomenting a Civil War in an attempt to neuter democratic reform in the region.

To that end, they are supporting both Shiia militias and Sunni extremists and actually have encouraged the slaughter of fellow Shiia. Superficially, I find this to be irrational, but it actually does make a bit of sense given that they've been slaughtering Shiia political dissidents within their own country for years.

Another article I read last week suggested Iran was trying to co-opt Sunni extremists to act as their agents. For example, trying to infiltrate Sunni groups and encourage attacks against the US troops instead of Shiia militias. Apparently, Iran has been trying to do this with Al Queda as well, by trying to sway them in a direction to benefit the Iranian regime.

It is not as if the US is unfamiliar with such practices. We use and support proxy groups all the time in our interests. It just appears that Iran is better at it - especially in their own neighborhood.
Fast Recovery

Yay! Ted Haggard has recovered from being a gay meth freak. It only took him three weeks.
I Can Fall In Love, Too

Look, I could see myself falling in love with Obama just like everyone else...I could probably even forgive a differing opinion on Iraq and the Terror War if other things weighed out and I trusted the guy' s judgement.

But make no mistake, the terror war is the number one issue in my book and if it's between Obama and Rudy or McCain he's going to need to demonstrate that he can point us in the right direction and not make stupid, short sighted compromises (eh, hem...Hillary).
That's Low

Roughing up a Holocaust survivor.
Forget Obama, Hillary, or Edwards

If this Petraeus is as good as everyone says he is and somehow manages to win this peace...he'll be President come 2012.

An old profile for the guy.

I'm not into saviors, but I am into leaders.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Punting 2007?

The question refers to the A's - after losing Zito and the Big Hurt - what chance do they have in 2007? Should they invest in the future? The big move to Fremont? This blog post puts it in good perspective and boils it down: can Crosby and Harden get healthy? These are the A's top two players and both have injury problems.

If it were any other team, I imagine they'd make it into a rebuilding year. But the Billy Beane A's never have a rebuilding year. Remember when they lost Mulder and Hudson? What did they do? Get past the first round - something they never were able to do with Mulder and Hudson...

Nope, the A's will be back gunning for the 90 wins and getting streaky in the playoffs. Evidence is that they just signed Shannon Stewart, a once good ballplayer (like the Big Hurt).

The big problem is Crosby's health and Chavez. Chavez is our franchise player, but his hitting numbers were better in his 2nd and 3rd year than they are these days. He just hasn't developed into a hitter the opponents fear. He is decent and a great field, a good leader and plays hurt. I like the guy. But we know by keeping Chavvy, we also need another big bat or two in the middle of the lineup (ie Bradley and the Big Hurt).

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Moral Argument

Hitchens has always been good at skewering those who try to pull the moral argument for staying out of Iraq. What is the phrase he used? "Morally idle." Yes, I think that explains passivity rather well.

"In other words, those who now deplore and decry the "civil war" (or the "civil wars") must, in order to be serious, admit that they would have deplored such an outcome just as much if it had not happened on America's watch or had (like Rwanda) been something that we could have pretended to watch as disinterested or—even worse—uninterested spectators."
Honesty and Smarts

It's amazingly clear when they come together isn't it.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Since When Does Being Hot Make One A Celebrity

CNNSI's photos of "Celebrities " at the Super Bowl. I'm not a celebrity fiend, nor hater, so I find it bizarre that know less than half of who these people are. There are tons of girls who are totally hot...but I've never heard of them.

Rather unimpressive if you ask me. Other than J-Lo, of course.
Those Crazy Astronauts

My favorite detail: she wore diapers so she didn't need to go to the bathroom. Very smart.
I Don't Get Rugby

But this is badass.
Starting to Make Sense

A VERY persuasive case for moving troops to Kurdistan and other nether regions of Iraq. But here's an slight counterargument: why not test the surge and then move back from a position of strength - rather than weakness.

Smart critics of the surge are saying it will cause Al Queda and the insurgency to temporarily retreat and hide only to come out another day. Good. We quell the violence and then move back (the whole goal anyway).

Supporters of this alternative plan put forward by Luttwak and Sullivan argue we should move back immediately.

But either way, the path out of Iraq is the same. At some point we'll withdraw to the sidelines, the only question is when. It's sort of like when do you cut off your kids? When they're 18, 22, 28, 50?

In any case, this entire endeavour looks like it's shaking up the region. I think that's a good thing.

UPDATE: To return to poker analogies, it's like letting the retarded players will small stacks battle it out against one another while we sit on the sidelines and take down easy pots.
Because Rooting For Your Team Isn't Fair

Why would we want to root for the US and Iraqi army to win a battle? After all, it isn't really being fair to the other side, now is it?

Monday, February 05, 2007

Understanding Lebanon

Michael Totten is a great writer on Lebanon. Here he interviews Toni Nissi, a Lebanese Christian interested in getting the international community to come in and destroy Hezbollah. Great stuff about Lebanon's history and present.

Interesting tidbit in here about James Baker. For those of you who were super excited to see Rumsfeld leave, this is what the "realists" stand for:
“They don’t trust the Americans, yes,” Toni said. “But they don’t believe that the American soldiers are coming here. Most Lebanese believe and know that in 1990 the United States handed the Syrians Lebanon on a plate of silver.”

Toni is referring here to Secretary of State James Baker who traded a green-light for Syrian domination of Lebanon in exchange for Syrian “help” in ousting Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. Most Americans have no idea this even happened, but Lebanese have never forgotten it. Hezbollah’s Christian allies in Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement in particular bang on this point again and again.

Liberals and Realists get angry because Bush won't "deal" with our enemies - Iran and Syria. But there is a cost to "dealing" with such regimes and with getting a UN consensus for the Iraq war. This would be the price we pay for trying to be popular and well liked.

I find it difficult to understand why so many people are smug about their criticism of Bush for not pulling a James Baker like move both prior to and after the Iraq War.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


One reason why we shouldn't lose hope.
Report on DGA Award Nominees

Each year Jeremy Kagan hosts a discussion of the directors nominated for the DGA award. Normally there is a great deal of overlap with the directors nominated for the Best Director Oscar. The big disappointment for me was that Paul Greengrass was not nominated for a DGA award. In his place was Bill Condin for Dreamgirls. (yes, that's a barfing noise).

Kagan, who is the head of the directing class at USC hosts the event primarily for members of the directors guild to talk about craft and process. It is one of the best events I've attended in Los Angeles. Kagan is a generous professor and invites students to attend these event on a standby status. This year, in addition to Condin, were Martin Scorsese for the Departed, Stephen Frears for the Queen, Alejandro Inarritu for Babel, and the directing pair of Little Miss Sunshine (too lazy for imdb).

The event was awesome. Frears and Scorsese were the highlight. Inarritu is great to listen to. Condin was a bore and the Little Miss Sunshine folks were way out of their league. Phil noticed very early on Scorsese nodding in agreement when Condin talked about the difficulty of shooting musical sequences. In his head, Scorsese was thinking, "yep, I shot New York, New York." Later on, Inarritu talked about the difficulty of shooting in the desert under intense heat...Scorsese was nodding again, "Yep, I shot Kundun." Scorsese has grown into such a friendly, affable older gentlemen who carries his status as the "greatest living filmmaker" with such humility. It makes one feel very comfortable.

So it was of course Frears, the only real contemporary of Scorsese on stage, with his own reasons for confidence in himself as a filmmaker, who makes the first joke of the day when Kagan asks him about set building and Frears explains the cheapness of the carpets he used in some of the scenes. He says, "it's not like we had the budget of the Departed."

Scorsese takes the jest well, nodding and smiling. Frears continues to subtly mock Kagan's questions - particularly about working with actors, in a dry, British way, making filmmaking seem like the most effortless endeavour known to man. The interesting thing to me was the how funny Frears was - which contrasts with his movie, the Queen, which although I didn't see, didn't strike me as being particularly funny.

As we move onto discussing locations and shooting schedule we get to the pair from Little Miss Sunshine who, oddly, didn't seem funny at all and in their first attempt at a joke or a poke pick on Scorsese as well saying, "Well, we only had 30 days to shoot, not like the Departed."

Scorsese sits there, affable and friendly and without a hint of malice (although it would have been mightily deserved) responded through the giggles of the crowd and panel, "I've made a movie in 30 days."

It's called Mean Streets motherfuckers!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Thank You, David Cronenberg

"As an artist, your responsibility is to be irresponsible. As soon as you talk about social or political responsibility, you've amputated the best limbs you've got as an artist. You are plugging into a very restrictive system that is going to push and mold you, and is going to make your art totally useless and ineffective."

The Onion on Scorcese.

Director Martin Scorsese, long praised as one of the greatest modern
American filmmakers for his works Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Last Temptation
Of Christ, and Goodfellas, is following up his recent string of critically
acclaimed triumphs with The Entitled, a three-hour, unabashed plea for a Best
Director Oscar that opens nationwide Friday.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Pot and Altman

An interesting read.

Money quote:
There are directors whose movies are just delivery systems for their self-confidence, in which self-confidence is really the thing that entertains, because it takes a bold confidence to successfully tell a stupid story, and for sure there are useful energies we suck from awful films that begin with the director’s amazing love of himself. The films of such directors are always the same, until they lose their confidence, and then their movies fail in every way—no fun for us, no money for them. Altman never told the same film twice.

To Altman we can apply Jean Giraudoux’s insight that only the mediocre are always at their best. But Giraudoux also said that the secret of success is sincerity, which contradicts what Oscar Wilde said about bad poetry being unfailingly sincere. But back to Pessoa: “Not sincerity in the absolute, but some sort of sincerity, is required in art, that it may be art.

Or Is It?

So there's this party tomorrow night for Woman of the Cinematic Arts. It costs either $6 or $20 to attend depending on what time you arrive. I've gotten in the habit of never attending events that cost money, but in this case am asked to make an exception because it's a good cause.

Or is it?

It seems to me, on a very crude analysis, the point of the group and party is a clever intersection of both fairness and self interest. It is organized by women who would benefit from the industry being more balanced in their favor.

As a man, the self-interest element is missing from this cause, so it really boils down to a question of fairness. Do I think the cause is worth $6 before 10pm versus my other options? It's a tough one.

One part of me has a tinge of resentment for all things like this - all forms of identity politics because a) it's really just self-interest disguised as fairness and relies on guilt and b) I've never been able to personally benefit from it. Gender politics and groups fall into the same category for me.

As an example: It is a statistical fact that girls get better grades than boys in school. There is a systemic discrepancy for whatever X, Y, and Z reasons....if we believe in "fairness," should we have a curve that boosts guys grades up? Maybe we should and I think the dirty little secret of college admissions is that we already do. But if these things were about fairness - why do identity groups always promote their own causes?

In the end these groups have such little impact and influence in the way the world works, that I don't really sweat it. If the party will be fun, I'll go. But I won't go pretending I think it's a good cause.

ps - Just watched 30 Rock. Excellent. Created by a female.
I Think I Applied For That Job

Google needs tweaking on it's book recommending engine.

That could've been me fixing the bug.
Taliban - Watch Out!

Today in the newspaper.
I Agree With This In Principle

Maybe I am a conservative, because I agree with Burke. Actually, any smart liberal or conservative shoud agree with Burke on a great many things.

"Burke ever held, and held rightly that it can seldom be right … to sacrifice a present benefit for a doubtful advantage in the future ... It is not wise to look too far ahead; our powers of prediction are slight, our command over results infinitesimal."

I guess it's all the details, however.
If I Were A Cynical, Stupid Liberal

I'd wonder why we should be listening to Zbig given that it was his idea to empower these Islamic fundamentalists in the first place.

Then again, I'm not a cynical stupid liberal.