Wednesday, April 30, 2008

More Ways to Save Money

1. Steal Office Supplies. Never spend money on pens, paper, printing, or anything you can get for free at the office or someone else’s office.

2. Go To Happy Hours. If you like to socialize, figure out places with good deals during the week. Nearly every day, at every time, in a city like LA there is some place with a super good deal. 2 for 1 at Renee's on Tuesday night. Modelo madness is $2 Modelo Especial on Wednesday all night. You can eat the half priced apps.

Watch out, however, for getting suckered into buying non-happy hour items after the happy hour is over or when you get drunk and decide you need a $12 Jameson. That's how they get 'cha.

3. Only buy food you'll eat. A lot of people buy food they would LIKE to eat - like big heads of broccoli or bananas in bulk with the anticipation they will eat those foods. But when you're hungry you end up snacking on Triscuits and Cheese. You let the veggies go bad and then you buy more veggies. Don’t buy it unless you know you’ll eat it. Or force yourself to eat what you buy. That’s probably even healthier.

4. Don’t Gamble or go to strip clubs. You’ll always eventually lose money gambling and strip clubs will suck all your cash away.

5. Cut your own hair or have some girl who kinda knows what she’s doing cut it.

6. Take home leftovers...or as I like to call them, bestovers. They always make a good lunch the next day. Always. No matter what.

7. Get rides to the airport, forget shuttles or taxis. To not be a mooch, offer rides in return.

8. Quit your gym membership and start running, doing sit ups, and pull ups instead.

9. Get rid of the landline. Since everyone pretty much has a cell phone, if you’re single, without a family, why do you need a landline? Get cable internet if you want it. Plus, when you move, you won’t need to change numbers.

10. Do regular maintenance. By this I mean on your car and your body. Get the oil changed (better yet – do it yourself), get your teeth cleaned, and get physicals. How does this save money, you ask? It doesn’ the short run. However, preventative car for all things are cheaper in the long run. Ask anyone who needs gum surgery, root canals, fillings, or skin graftings to their teeth. Costly and will set you back. If you go to regular appointments, you can’t bad habits early and know about potential problems in the future. All the same stuff with respect to blood pressure, cancerous moles, any and all physical health related things. Regarding the car, regular oil changes will make your car last 30% longer and cut down on maintenance costs, which can really set you back.

Clearly, I do not do all my cost saving things suggested in my two lists, but if I did, I'd save more money.
Movie Parlor!

The Experts.
Noodle Crazy

And speaking of things Korean, I've been thinking a lot about Noodles lately. Specifically, the Korean versions of cup-o-noodles, which are incredible for any blog readers who haven't tried them. Nong Shim is my favorite brand, but they discontinued the best version (red - came in a packet, like top ramen) and now only have a bowl, cup-o-noodle style, which isn't as good.

I tried Annie Chun's fancier cup of noodle kimchee flavor today and didn't like the thicker, more flour based noodle. I see a trip to Korea town or possibly just over to Sawtelle in the near future to scout out new brands.

The Reluctant Communist.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Good Point

Sullivan criticizes the right's reception to Obama.
Shaq Trade

With Phoenix looking bad in game 2 and 3 and on the brink of being out in the first round, everyone is criticizing the Shaq trade.

Such a tough call...if Phoenix wins game 1, the entire series and conversation is different. But there is certainly something different with this Phoenix team than the Phoenix team of the past couple years. They aren't quite as fun to watch and lost some of their team character where they'd punish other teams via fast offense. They would outrun ANY team in the league and they developed a discipline about overpowering teams with offense that seemed to subvert their obvious defensive liabilities.

With respect to Shaq, they got a huge presence in the middle, but a guy who can't play the old Phoenix style. So they have a down low, half court weapon, and an intimidating guy in the paint on defense.

The argument, of course, is they weren't winning the championship the old way, so they needed to try something different. The counter-argument is that they were a bad call away from winning the way they were and they panicked.

Who knows? They made the NBA more interesting and maybe themselves less so. In any case, the jury is still out, we'll see how they play tonight.

$10 a gallon. Holy shit! I'm getting that bike.

UPDATE: On the other hand, gas at these ridiculous prices would drive down consumption. I see several personal benefits to lower gas consumption (forget the environment). First, I would bike or walk to work more often and get in better shape. Two, I would drive my car less and presumably the car would last longer.

I've often wondered about the future presidents and authors and other famous people from our generation - how through email and websites, etc, we're going to have a remarkable amount of information about their personal lives, when they were young, etc. From that perspective, the information will be incredibly interesting and insightful.

But there is clearly a downside as well. Here is an article from Freakonomics about besmirching ourselves online.

This is a bit scary and certainly something I consider when writing my blog. I try not to advertise my blog - particularly to my workplace because I do worry about reactions. It's not that I'm ashamed of what I write, it's just once it's out there you have no control over the reception. And I know for fact people misread...A LOT...and sometimes I my writing isn't an accurate representation of my thoughts...because a blog - at least for me - is a draft, or open notebook, of thoughts.

Regarding other online name is plain and common - Greg Johnson. There are tons of us. I like this fact in an online world because it helps me hide within the morass of other Greg Johnson's who are out there online. I bet I don't even show up on Google pages - which is good!

I might need to get a PS3.

Sounds incredible.

On a side note, apparently there is a new MarioKart game on the Wii. games.

Monday, April 28, 2008

How To Save Money

MSN always has these lists like "How to Become a Millionaire By Saving," or "10 Things Not To Do on a First Date," or "How to Get A Raise."

With such catchy titles, I'm always inclined to click on them. Inevitably, like shitty popcorn movies, I finish reading feeling disappointed, cheap, and like I wasted my time. 99% of the time the advice is banal or obvious. In "How to become a Millionaire," they'll say things like "start a 401k." Uh, duh, no shit. I think the ideas should be a little more...I don't know...original? Thoughtful? Here is my MSN column - like many of their lists, mine is about how to save money.

1. Don't Tip. Fine, you have to tip 15% at a restaurant, but in all those optional tip places like Starbucks or any take out food place, don't tip. Never, ever tip. You will save all that change which will eventually add up to a decent amount of money.

2. Don't Drive. With gas prices so high, force your friends to drive. If they won't drive, don't go. Just sit at home.

3. Borrow Stuff. Instead of renting movies, buying music or dvds or books, borrow them from your friends. You should return them when you're done.

4. Don't Dryclean. Just iron your shirts...or don't even do that, just keep wearing them over and over. When they get totally disgusting, then maybe you dryclean, but don't do it as a habit.

5. Don't buy coffee or water. You should never pay for coffee or water because these are things you can get for free very easily. Most workplaces provide them. They are community goods. Do not expend any of your own resources on them.

6. Buy Clothes At Target. Dude. Target is so cheap and has a lot of semi-cool clothes, so if you just buy a bunch of stuff from there and integrate into your wardrobe, you get some new clothes for super cheap.

7. Sneak Liquor into the Bar. Carry a flask. Buy one drink with lots of ice and keep refilling it with your liquor. Or buy those little mini-bottles and carry them around in your pocket. Beer is harder because it takes up a lot more space and doesn't stay cold and is cheaper at the bar. If you want to be really cheap, bring in liquor and just ask for ice water, pound it, and fill your cup with vodka.

8. Buy Movie Passes. Buy movie passes from wherever is easiest for you to buy passes...through work, school, wherever. But, this is important, buy the passes to movie theaters where it is easy to sneak into multiple movies. Use your movie pass on a movie and then go see 2 or 3 for the price of the movie pass.

9. Read The Newspaper Online. No point in paying for something available for free.

10. Stay Out of All Debt. Credit Cards, Car Payments, Student Loans, Home Loans...these are all forms of debt. Many are unavoidable. Some are considered desirable investments (home loans) because of their long term value. But, in all of these cases, you are spending money to spend money. Even student loans, which are widely viewed as "good loans," you are accumulating interest. One of the "good things" about student loans is that they can be deferred and delayed and re-negotiated, etc, but all that time interest accumulates (unless you've got a no-interest deferment). When in debt, the time it takes to write this column is time spent going into more debt. This column costs me probably a $1 in student loans. All debt is costly.

And with respect to homes...I'd like to see a study between a person who rents vs. a person who owns and the difference in cost goes straight into the stock market. I suppose it depends on the real estate market and the stock market (and you need to have comparable living situations), but I suspect the stock market might be a smarter overall bet. I could be way wrong, though.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

People Are So F---ing Weird

Austria - a 73 year old man locks his daughter in the basement for 20+ years and has six children with her over time.
I Spoke Too Soon

Baby Mama is bad. Sure, Tina Fey is cute and lovable in the movie, but jeez, this movie is LAME. Beyond just being an average romantic comedy, re-using the same old boring jokes and structure, the humor is remarkably un-daring. Whereas in 30 Rock, the humor is wacky and fast and daring...the humor here is safe and plain and boring. Steve Martin is the funniest part of the movie playing a hippy dippy Richard Branson type running a Whole Foods chain. But this humor is caricature and one-note and is funny mostly because it relieves us from the plain-jane nature of the storytelling. This is basically an average film festival movie script with big stars instead of C and D list actors.

I hate movies where the preview takes all the good jokes and mashes them together - Baby Mama is an example of this.

A revealing ancedote: there is a preview for the new Austin Kuchter and Cameron Diaz movie and one of the jokes is Austin can't get into the bathroom and decides to pee in the sink. They same EXACT joke is in Baby Mama when Tina baby-proofs the house and Amy P decides to pee in the sink. Really? The same exact joke in two movies. Lame, lame, lame.
Something Is Going On

Al Queda is talking shit about Iran, Hamas, and other Islamicist groups publicly. The Taliban are getting betrayed for small sums in Afghanistan/Pakistan and the US State Department publicly announces tempered language for the War on Terror...we are no longer supposed to use the term jihad or mujahideen.

With rumors of a grand political settlement in Iraq, it smells like the US is working with Iran.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Honest Race Discussion

I don't know what's going on with me...but race keeps coming up in my posts. Here is a letter to Andrew Sullivan which candidly discusses upper middle class white prejudice. I hesitate to call it racism, because it doesn't bear resemblance to racism of exclusion, etc, but this is the type of thing that does exist and implicates the entire white community, liberal or conservative.

If I were the coach of the white team I would excoriate any parent or team member complaining about getting their ass kicked - particularly because of the race of the other team. I hate this both on a racial and on a competitive level. What kind of pussy complains about being outmatched in a sporting event? You start playing harder, tougher, better. We're teaching our kids to become pussies.

We wonder why the NBA is all black and European these days? Maybe it has to do with upper middle class white communities obsession with making everyone FEEL like a winner, having kids play sports against inferior opponents to give the perception of excellence, without actually being excellent. Disgusting.

I've seen this myself as an adult when I played on a co-ed indoor soccer team in San Francisco. *note - this is one of the reasons I am typically adverse to co-ed sports.

We were playing a game one night and I made a hard fair tackle on a guy. He wasn't a soccer player and wasn't good. So he started whining about a foul. I made fun of him for being an idiot and having no clue what he was talking about. The other team started to dislike me and take cheap shots at me. (which was incidentally pathetic because they were even incapable of dishing out good cheap shots). I didn't respond because it would've been like fighting a girl, but I called them out on it and continued to play hard.

After the game, an ugly, self-righteous girl from the other team came up to me and said, "You're a great player, but a really bad sport." I started laughing. She totally and completely didn't get it. There was nothing that could be explained to this team. See, playing hard and being good at the sport, to this other team, was unfair. They didn't understand that playing hard and playing fair are two totally exclusive concepts and that playing soft and playing unfair tend to get together moreso than the other way around. The ramifications of this attitude are too awful for me to makes the world all upside down.
But Can It Teach You Not To Be A Douche Bag?

Rich Dad Poor Dad dude says Monopoly taught him about money.
McCain: I Will Be Hamas' Worst Nightmare

Jeez. If the sonabitch keeps saying awesome things like this I might have to vote for him.
Can You Do That?

A Detroit judge rules black women cannot name their children certain names.

“I am simply tired of these ridiculous names black women are giving their children,” said U.S. Federal Judge Ryan Cabrera before rendering his decision. “Someone had to put a stop to it.”

This notions sounds completely ridiculous and unAmerican...the only thing more ridiculous of course, is the follow up:

“It’s so hard to keep coming up with something unique,” said Uneeqqi Jenkins, 22, an African-American mother of seven who survives on public assistance. Her children are named Daryl, Q’Antity, Uhlleejsha, Cray-Ig, Fellisittee, Tay’Sh’awn and Day’Shawndra.

UPDATE: Okay, I'm a total idiot. Looks like the Onion has some competition.

His ruling stemmed from a lawsuit brought by a 13-year-old girl whose mother created her name using Incan hieroglyphics.

“She said it would make me stand out,” said the girl, whose name can’t be reproduced by The Peoples News’ technology. “But it’s really just stupid.”

The National Association of Elementary School Teachers celebrated Cabrera’s decision.

“Oh my God, the first day of school you’d be standing there sweating, looking at the list of names wondering ‘How do I pronounce Q’J’Q’Sha.’?” said Joyce Harmon, NAEST spokeswoman. “Is this even English?”

The practice of giving black children outlandish names began in the 1960s, when blacks were getting in touch with their African roots, said historian Corlione Vest. But even he admits it got out of hand.

“I have a niece who’s six. I’m embarrassed to say I can’t even pronounce her name,” said Vest, a professor at Princeton University. “Whenever I want to talk to her, I just wait until she looks at me and then I wave her over.”

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tina Fey, Feminist

With significantly more women in college than men today, more or less equal job opportunities for younger women and men, and the country on the verge of electing a female president, the feminist movement can pretty much claim victory.

One area, however, where women continue to lag behind men is in the humor department. Women are less funny than men. I didn't do an empirical study, but anyone with half a brain knows this to be true, whether they choose to admit it or not. Feminists should take up this cause and prioritize it right behind the massive subjugation of women in the Muslim world.

The Ayan Hirsi Ali of comedy is Tina Fey. With Baby Mama coming out this weekend, she will probably have both the funniest movie and funniest TV show in America. Not only that...her humor is inclusive and not exclusive. She's like the Chris Paul of comedy, making the people around her funnier. See Tracy Jordan, Baldwin, Rachel Dratch, Amy whatever her last name is. These people aren't all that funny sans Fey, much like David West and Tyson Chandler aren't All Stars without Paul.

Doing her comedy thang probably helps young girls whose funny instincts get suppressed over time by social constraints. Or in any case, I'm sure it helps more than all the women empowerment groups, who seem mostly interested in getting their members jobs or other career-college-advantages vs. actually improving the lot of women overall.
Racial Attitudes in Harold and Kumar

The Harold and Kumar movies are concerned with race. Making a stoner movie with Asian protagonists is the first hint...and is confirmed in the way race is handled in the movies, as forethought as a opposed to an afterthought.

There's a weird attitude towards white people in the movie - most are portrayed as totally stupid, bumbling racists. They are also portrayed as powerful - ridiculously powerful. In this way, Harold and Kumar are influenced by blaxploitation movies whose antagonists are typically the all powerful "whitey." Of course, the difference between blaxploitation and Harold and Kumar is the black characters were living as a underclass, or at best, a working class, and still underprivileged group. Harold and Kumar are privileged and upper middle class.

There are also multiple racial dynamics going on. They treat black characters as scary...yet ultimately benevolent...suggesting anti-black sentiments cut across all racial (non-black) lines and are essentially unfounded, stupid stereotypes.

White racists on the other hand are continually confusing Indian for Arab, Indian/Chinese for Mexican, English speakers for non-English speakers, and so forth.

Other, non-black/white racial groups, such as Jews, Middle Easterners, etc are treated with general neutrality and as victims of negative racial stereotypes.

The most interesting choice in the movie is the portrayal of George Bush...a surprisingly funny, sympathetic, and unexpected twist towards the end of the movie.
Barry Bonds

And what happens to the A's if Rich Harden gets healthy and they sign Barry Bonds?

This is why I love the A's. They somehow managed to sign the Big Hurt, while Toronto pays his 8 mil salary. Ridiculous.

Billy Beane would be one hell of a Settlers of Catan player.
Ripping DeNiro and Pacino


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Harold and Kumar

Best parts: Neil Patrick Harris and GW Bush. Basically, the drug jokes.

Worst Parts: John Cho. Is this the funniest Asian guy they could find? Jeez. He just isn't very funny. Although, he did have a great gag in Kumar's flashback to collge...

Harold and Kumar is mostly gag humor mixed in with penis jokes and stoner/craving humor.

I've tried to outline humor types before...but more in genre. I think I'm going to try to break down joke-types. In an upcoming post.

I feel like I spent my entire day scheduling and rescheduling personal and for work meeting, etc, only to have all of them get rescheduled or canceled. What a waste of time.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Lost Energy

I'm more disappointed with Phoenix losing tonight than Obama.

The problem with Phoenix is the problem with Amare Stoudemire. The guy plays incredible sometimes, but you can almost always count on him to make several boneheaded plays down the stretch or get no-calls, or in the case of last year, a bad technical. I don't know why. He'll turn the ball over, he'll tap rather than grab a rebound and lose possession, he'll miss easy shots, he'll get mauled and the refs won't call a foul. He'll miss a free throw when making one makes it a one possession game. It happens a lot. But then again, he is capable of outplaying any power forward in the league and since Shaq came on, he averages nearly 30 a game. I wouldn't trade him for nearly anyone, and the clutch...I don't want him with the ball.

And yesterday, Tracy McGrady showed why he can't win playoff games. Down the stretch he's dishing off passes to Bobby Jackson and that Scalia dude when he's got fairly open shots. Gimme a break...Kobe chucks those shots, I don't understand why McGrady passes.

I still think Phoenix will win the series and I still think Obama will be the candidate, although both are wishful thinking.
Great Topic + Great Writer = Great Article

Why Aren't Women Funny + Chris Hitchens = Worth Reading.

I figured out why I have such a major crush on Tina Fey. She is genuinely funny.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Batting Order Experiments

Tony LaRussa is testing out hitting the pitcher 8th in the line-up to create a 9-1-2-3 "double lead off" strategy after the first time around in a batting order.

When I coached a camp baseball team one summer, I tried some line up experiments. My boldest and most successful was a game when we were missing several of our better hitters. Realistically, we only had about three hitters who could get hits and the rest were very likely to make an out unless the other team committed an error. Luckily, one of those good hitter was also a solid pitcher. I decided to bat the three best hitters 1-2-3 in the line-up to maximize their plate appearance and group them together to try to score runs one or two at a time when their "section" of the line-up came up. In a six inning game, I figured they'd get to hit three times each if they batted at the beginning of the order and would generate between 4-7 runs.

I was right and with a decent pitcher, we ended up winning 5-3 or something like that and all the RBIs came from the beginning of the line up.

*A side team won the championship that year, despite being hailed as the overwhelming underdogs when the season began. It was mostly because we had the best control pitcher in the league (walks kill you in LL). But the win came not out of coaching genius, but rather the result of a total fluke play.

In a tie game we were up in the top of the 6th with a fast, smart runner on third base and two outs. One of our youngest players (maybe 6) was up to bat and eligible to hit off a tee (the young kids who couldn't hit could hit from a tee, if they choose to). There was no way this kid could hit the pitch of a 10 year old - he could barely hold the bat. I offered up the tee and he said "no" he wanted to try to hit. No, no, I tried to explain, it was going to be tough for him...but he wouldn't have it.

What could I do? The kid refused and all we could do was let him hit. The pitch comes in and he swings at it...miles away, too slow. There is no way in hell this kid is going a) hit the ball or b) take a walk. I'm shaking my head as the cocky, stacked team is plotting their scoring binge in the bottom of the inning. The coach (who also plays catcher) goes out to the pitcher and tells him to pitch a ball b/c my kid is going to swing at anything.

So he does, he throws one in the dirt and sure enough the kid swings. But the ball gets past the coach and the alert baserunner sees his opportunity and steals home. We're up a run!

The coach throws his glove down in disgust with himself. Our team celebrates. The kid strikes out on the next pitch.

Bottom of the inning, somehow our center fielder catches a well hit fly ball by our first batter. I remember her, a good athletic girl named Kimber. The next couple hitters get on in a first and third situation and again the other coach tries to do a steal 2nd base and goad a throw. As the catcher, there's no way I'm throwing to 2nd, but I do a big fake throw and the runner at third takes off down the line towards me. Because I'm a lot faster than an 8 year old, I catch him and tag him out.

The next guy pops out and the game is over.

I'd like to coach baseball again.
It's Not Just the Candidates

V Postrel - one of my favs - writes about the stupid hypocrisy (Emphasize: stupid) of candidates complaining about high gas prices out of one side of their mouth and calling for reducing CO2 emissions out of the other side.

The math is real simple: to reduce gas consumption and emissions, you need to raise price to discourage consumers from "spending" CO2. Whether the price increase comes from extra taxes, carbon credits, or market factors, the result will be lowered consumption.

*Note: historically gas has been considered an inelastic good, ie a good where the price doesn't not effect demand. I imagine this is one of the reasons we have global warming. But I can tell you from a consumer perspective, the rapid increase in gas prices effects MY gas consumption - or at least makes me a little bit more aware of it. Furthermore, if gas prices tripled from their current price, it would completely change my consumption habit, so the notion of inelasticity must be tempered against the degree...
Get Your Cara Cara's

My sources tell me Cara Cara oranges are going out of season...I ate two today because my entire office and home are hooked.
Red Light Warning Signal

She failed the bar exam? I didn't know that.

I'm sure the bar exam is tough, but there are plenty of people who pass. I don't think passing the bar should be mandatory to be President, but if she can't practice law in DC...and she's a lawyer. It's just weird, actually. Because Hillary projects this aura of competence. But I know lots of people are able to project competence without actually being competent.

Worse than being boring and a go-getter, is Hillary a poseur?
3 Kings

Catching part of this movie on HBO. No one seems to bring this up - but this movie is basically a recipe for the Iraq War 2. I've heard it described as an anti-war movie. Couldn't be a more foolish description. This is a pro-war movie which advocates the US military removing Saddam from power. It couldn't be more explicit.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

NBA Playoffs

Watched a lot - too much - NBA playoffs this weekend. I think part of me has been needing a veg out weekend for a long time of those weekends where one literally "does nothing," watches too much tv, eats things one regularly doesn't eat, like milkshakes, and doesn't drive around town (which can easily happen in LA because there is so much to do all the time and so much distance to be covered). I did not fully accomplish a total veg out. I did see the new Al Pacino movie, spent too much money at Bed Bath and Beyond, and played soccer twice...but it was probably the right amount of vegging for a general busy-body like myself. One thing I did accomplish was a large intake of NBA playoff basketball and have some initial thoughts:

1. I cannot root for either the Nuggets or the Lakers. I dislike a majority of the players on the court when these two teams play. The Nuggets are absolutely awful and lazy on defense. It's almost gross. AI is the only guy I can root for on the floor. They gave up 128 points in a playoff game when you're supposed to raise your level of play. Jeezus.

2. The Suns are totally unlucky and will probably lose in the first round, although they are also capable of winning the entire thing.

3. Philadelphia plays hard and aggressive and despite not being a good scoring or free throw shooting team, has won me over with their style of play. I'd root for them, except I think the Pistons are the only one's in the East with chance to give the Celtics a series.

4. I'd like to see Washington give Cleveland a good series after talking all that trash. It would be boring to see LaBron woop up on them. At least with the trash talking it shows they are up to play.

5. I probably won't miss a game of the New Orleans - Dallas, Nuggets-Lakers, or Suns-Spurs.

6. The only teams in the East I'll pay attention to: Boston, Detroit, Philly.

7. The Lakers have the easiest path to the finals one could possibly conceive given the strength of the West. Missing Golden State in the first round - totally lucky. They'll beat the Nuggets in 5 or 6, play the Jazz, and then get the winner of Dallas-NO-Pho-Spurs, any one of which could give the Lakers a tough series.

8. Point Guard is replacing power forward and shooting guard as the tony position. Chris Paul, Steve Nash, Andre Miller, Deron Williams, Chauncy Billups all the unquestioned leaders of their teams.
Pope Calls for World Peace

Good suggestion, dude.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Conversation Between Al Pacino and His Agent about 88 Minutes

"'s Rich. What's happening?"


"Al, I got a project for ya."

"Oh yeah..."

"It's a thriller called 88 Minutes."

"Any good?"

"They're offering 8 mil up front and first dollar gross."

"Look Rich, I could do my version of Richard the Third in the park..."

"Al, we did the figures, we think you could clear 20 mil on this project."

No response.

"Al, you could own Richard the Third."

"I'm listening."

"You get to carry a gun."

"Go on."

"Wear a nice suit. Drive a Porsche."

"What's the plot?"

"Someone is trying to kill you and you have 88 minutes to live. Hence the title."


"I know. You were Michael Corleone, Serpico...I know...but bear with... There's about six hot actresses, most no-name up and comers. You play your cards right, you could easily bang 2-3 during production. Easily. I could tap one of these girls."

"Up and comers?"

"And Leelee Sobieski."

"I'd hit that."

"Now that's what I'm talking about, Al!"

"Asian girls."

"Excuse me."

"I've just been back from the Orient, Rich and I've caught a bit of what they call the Yellow Fever...

"So you want to cast an Asian girl as one of the hot actresses. Hold on. Let Asian..."

"Two Asian girls..."

"Two? Okay, I'll talk to Jon's Agent."


"Jon's Agent. Jon Avnet...the director."

"Isn't he a producer?"

"He's also a director. Did...uhhh...what's that Jessica Tandy...Fried Green Tomatoes."

"Fried Green Tomatoes."

"Yeah...I know."

"I liked that movie."

"Oh yeah, no, it's not bad...for what it was. He also said you could puff up your know how we talked about..."

"I'll want to have a goatee as well."

"Okay. I think that's reasonable."

"Dan Tana's for lunch everyday."

"No problem. Anything else?"

"Make sure there's a scene where I bang a hot girl in the makes it easier...on set, you know, rehearsal."

"Okay. Great. So you're in?"

"20 mil?"

"That's what we think."

"All right. I'm in."

"Great. I'll messenger you the script."

"Don't bother."
Stress Less

Worried about not earning enough money? This will mellow you out.
Good Point

From Left, Right, and Center: why is a poor person who votes Republican "voting against their own economic interest" when a rich person who votes Democrat considers themselves "enlightened?"

Aren't both simply choosing to vote for values instead of self interest?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Mandatory National Service

Anti-war folks want it because they think it'll make Iraq less popular. But I don't think it's a bad idea.
Look Out, Obama, McCain

Charles Barkley throwing his hat into politics.

This is like mixing one part Obama and one part McCain into a drink.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

1st Insightful Piece on Iraq in Awhile

A really insightful article on Iraq and how to understand the "war" it needs to be thought of as two separate wars:

1. The War against Saddam

2. The War against the Al Queda led insurgency.

Currently, we conflate the two wars, which leads to continual obfuscation of the issues at hand. Many argue War 1) was a mistake and hence war 2) is a continuation of the same mistake. But we are fighting two completely different sets of enemies and war 1) is over and has been over since Saddam was captured and his two sons killed.

Mistakes from war 1) certainly led to the conditions allowing war 2) to take place, but it doesn't make them the same war...just like mistakes at Versailles led to WWII and unresolved issues from the American Revolution led to the Civil War.
Emotional Spies

Songwriters are emotional spies.
Cass Sunstein

Is a very smart guy and has written a new book called Nudge. Here is an oped about Libertarian Paternalism.
I Don't Get Art

Maybe George Costanza's best line. Which is saying a lot.

Hat tip, Cindy.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

He's Right

Simmons in a long post about basketball, slips in some truth about our society.

112. Yao Ming
You know what's great about this country? If you have a sports column and write opinions like, "Yao is overrated" and "When he's out of the lineup, the Rockets are quicker and more effective defensively," you'll get a few angry e-mails from readers claiming you're just downing Yao because he's Chinese. I love where we're headed as a society. Let's all take a bow.

UPDATE: Basketball stuff - on the difference between Chris Paul and Kobe.

There's a difference between genuine affection (the way Paul and his teammates interact) and contrived affection (the way Kobe and his teammates interact), and over everything else, that's why Paul gets the No. 2 spot on my ballot. He's the heart and soul of the Hornets. You could never say that about Kobe; he's too detached, too cut-throat, too willing to roll his eyes and hold an angry stare for that extra second every time something goes wrong. (With Kobe, the underlying implication is he's on your side … as long as you're playing well. Anyone who has watched him in person during the past few years knows exactly what I mean.) In fact, the most interesting thing about Paul's MVP campaign (as well as the campaign of the No. 1 guy on this list) is how vociferously his teammates have been lobbying for him. They just love the guy. When Paul appeared on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" last week, his teammates came to the show and sat in the audience to support him. After the show, when Kimmel asked him to film a comedy bit and Paul agreed, his teammates tagged along and attended the shoot instead of hitting the town. They all left together. I thought that was interesting. These are the stories I want to hear about my MVP candidates.
Omelet Parlor

The first time I went, I didn't like the food much, but thought the coffee was great. Like most places on Main St, it was overpriced.

Yesterday, I feel asleep at 7pm and was up at 4am this morning. I went again at 6:15am, taking advantage of the 6am-7am 1/2 priced omlettees. I was hungry - I missed dinner - and this time round it tasted quite good. And the coffee was again amazing.

Total cost - $5.50 plus tip. Add it to the list of good things to do in LA.
People Are Strange

Some Cambodians
worship Pol-Pot's grave.

He killed nearly 1/4 of his own people.

People worship power. Sick.
DUI Outrage

The pendulum has swung too far in the other direction.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Hiding in Plain Sight

21st Century spying.
Different Cultures

Hollywood and Silicon Valley.
Charisma vs. Glamour

Interesting thoughts.
Bay Cities Update

While I did get a meatball sandwich yesterday, I have have a new staple from the best deli near my house and work - smoked turkey sandwich with the works. Sound boring? Not as sexy as the godmother, you say? It's no chicken parm, you say? True. You are right. But try eating Chicken parms and godmothers 3-4 times a week for four months.

I'm on a turkey kick. Simple, small, turkey sandwich. What makes it great is the break and peppers they put on when you order the works.

The meatball is my Sunday after soccer food. Whenever I play a hard soccer game I crave beef - burgers, meatball sandwiches, or steak. Don't know why. Guess I need protein.
Cara Cara Oranges

If you see them at the store, I suggest trying one. You'll thank me.
I'll Probably Still See It

88 Minutes gets totally panned.
Gimme a Break

Look, I read Nikki Finke, but 100 most influential people in the world?!? Come on. Hollywood has a way over inflated sense of itself.

UPDATE: Correction...Nikki Finke has a way overinflated sense of herself. Movies matter. They are shared community experiences and cultural reference points. In a global society, movies provide a shared understanding of story and values and character and provide a jumping off point for conversation. A short hand way of communicating with each other. To this extent, movies matter. People who write about the movie business don't matter that much. People who facilitate movies getting made don't matter that Hollywood...per an anonymous Hollywood insider, one can track the downfall of Michael Ovitz from the day he became more important than his clients. An important lesson to remember...

Who's got the best record in the AL?

I know it's early.
Blustering Power

I don't know if this makes me worry more or less about Iran.
Yeah, But Forgive Us If We Lose Our Patience

After all is said with Iraq, I don't think Iraqis can rightly argued America "abandoned" them a second time.

This link is an argument on HotAir that Democratic senators are in danger of pulling the same move as we did in 1991 by abandoning Iraqi liberals to get massacred by Saddam. If we leave again, they will be massacred again, this time by Islamic crazies and all the neighboring countries will make deals with the crazies because they see another American retreat.

But gimme a break. We're spending an outrageous amount of money over there and the Iraqis owe us something too. At some point, this cost is going to be unbearable and we need to see not just a minority, but a substantial portion of Iraqi society making strides towards a stable government which respects minority rights. Otherwise, it'll eventually become too risky and too costly, both in money and American lives. (Note - many argue it's long been this way).
Problem with the Blogosphere?

Will it ruin writing like David Samuels.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Tina Fey Moment of the Weekend

I go into Bay Cities around 5pm after my soccer game and one of the hispanic ladies (i'd guess guatemalan) who works at the hot food counter takes one look at me, smiles, and says "Large meatball."

"yes." I say.
Is Elitism Bad?

Critics of Obama charge he is an elitist.

So what if he is?

If the alternative is playing to the day-to-day whims of the populace, I'd take an elitist any day. After all, this is for the most powerful position on earth.
I Agree

Farve needs to shut his pie hole.

Most overrated sportsman of our generation. I blame closeted white supremacy.
Hmmmm. Tough One.

A truly fascinating campaign. I wish I were a grad student in American politics three years from now to write about the Obama-Clinton-McCain trifecta. I can't remember another national election where it felt like we had three similar, centrist, electable candidates. You can see Obama taking pop shots at both of them in this speech.

A couple of weird things here...Obama talking about bitterness. I don't like it. It seems inconsistent with his message. Then again, if it's what he's encountering out there, he should say it. But I don't like the idea of exploiting bitterness for political ends or using it to formulate policy. All very curious, this stuff...
Good Writing Tip

On symbolism...from Hemingway. Thanks, dude.
I'm Glad I'm A Dude

Plastic surgery...getting out of hand?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

90% of Directing is Casting

Or so goes the conventional wisdom. Not entirely true and I would offer up "Smart People," as a counter-example. The movie isn't very good, despite a really good cast. I mean, come on, I'd watch Thomas Hayden Church and Ellen Page reading a phone book together.

Dennis Quaid is normally a solid performer who generally picks good roles. Sarah Jessica Parker won't ruin a movie, particularly an indie movie, so...

What happened? Well, the script was weak, fer sure, but the directing was even weaker. He didn't seem to know how set up a joke or deliver emotional moments. Also, the SJP character didn't make any sense. A few good moments, the best being, Ellen Page's drunken slur to a girl, "What's it like to be stupid?" See...that's funny. Why couldn't the rest of the movie be that good?

It also just wasn't that smart...and that's gotta burn the worst.

ps - Celebrity Death Match - Ellen Page vs. Young Natalie Portman.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Return of a Classic Point Guard?

Watching C Paul play the Lakers...and being a big fan of Steve Nash these past couple years, maybe we're finally getting over the era of the 2-guard (post Jordan) and will see better point guards and hence, better team basketball.
I'm Afraid...I Was Right

30 Rock had a roll going last season and judging by the first episode since they got back...they lost it. Let's see if they can get it back.
Beer Tax

An outrage!

Hat tip, Jake.
Iverson - "Chris Paul for MVP"

I agree. I mean...Charlotte as the top team in the West!?!. Jesus. Who woulda thought? And I, like AI, am biased towards small players...and guys who can run, score, handle, and pass. Paul fits this better than AI, from what I've seen. AI isn't a great passer or defender. He's a GREAT scorer and good at steals, but not great at overall D. It's rare for a small guy to be good at overall D. I haven't see Paul play enough.
Big Cocktease

Rich Harden
has badass stuff, but is always frigging hurt.

Nevertheless, somehow the A's are in first place.

The A's are the only team I support who generally does better than they should.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Me Gusta Gus Van Sant

I think he'd be good for a book we're repping. In a sentence, why I like the guy:

"Unlike many gay filmmakers, Van Sant — who had long been openly gay — declined to use same-sex relationships as fodder for overtly political statements, although such relationships would frequently appear in his films."
Me Encanta Tina Fey

Hot, funny, cute, smart. Jeez.

New episode, tonight, right?

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Posting Will Be Slow

Going to my first bachelor party ever this weekend. I'll make up for it with stories upon my return.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

When Is It Over?

Awesome article from Slate on calculating when a basketball gave is over.

Hat tip, Andy.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

I Don't Like People That Much, In Particular Green Bay Fans

Maybe if you're reading my blog today you can tell I'm not in the best of moods. I blame sitting in traffic (oh yeah, I had to drive to Van Nuys to service my scooby).

But here are some cut and pasted words I agree with the Sports Guy about:

Q: The all-time interception leader who carouses, turns his back on friends, calls out grossly underpaid teammates for holding out and then holds his organization hostage himself is hanging it up to spend more time with the family? LOL. I'd mention the pill-popping, but then I'd be the hypocrite. I mean, who doesn't like a few extra Vicodin? But seriously, who else could do what Farve has done, negatively speaking, both on and off the field, and get away with it? I mean, its like the media took an oath of unconditional praise with this guy. I will never understand this completely. In a way, I admire him for it; for getting away with it. It's remarkable. I mean, how the hell did he pull it off? Really, I have to tip my hat to the man. See, and you thought this was an anti-Farve e-mail.
-- Jon Z., Los Angeles

SG: My God, there's rioting in the streets of Wisconsin right now! You know what's funny? Favre reached such a saintly status over the years I actually let out an audible gasp when I read that e-mail -- it's like Jon Z. was attacking Santa Claus or Dakota Fanning or something.

Speaking of Favre, he already has been replaced by Tyler Hansborough as the token "White Athlete That The Media Openly and Embarrassingly Fawns Over Because of His Work Ethic and Love For the Game." (Note: Steve Nash was the overwhelming favorite here until Hansborough too over during the tournament.) For anyone who doesn't think there's a racial component to this, you're crazy. Just look at David West of the Hornets -- like Hansborough, he's a self-made player and a staunch competitor who plays with an inordinate amount of passion, an undersized forward who routinely scores on bigger bodies, someone who extracted every ounce of his potential and made the most of it. Well, have you ever read a David West feature? Have you ever heard announcers raving about him to the point that you wondered if they were related to him? No and no. I just think it's a little, um, peculiar. We'll see if this changes during the NBA playoffs.

Larry Bird?
Good Tip

On character motivation from John August. I begrudgingly post this b/c August has yet to respond to my drunken rambling question I sent him a couple weeks ago.
Raped in the Ass

Luckily, I've never been raped in the ass. But I did just get a phone call from my Subaru mechanic informing me that in addition to my 30,000 mile tune up (cost: $500), I need new brake pads ($295), new gasket covers -??? ($200), and new valve covers-??? ($950).

What the fuck are these things and will they at least wear a condom?
The Depression of Student Films Screenings

Every time I attend a USC thesis film screening, a deep and difficult to describe depression sets in. There are several levels of this depression, I don't think I can articulate them all...

As an audience member, generally, there are one or two movies in a given screening I want to see, either because of the content or the filmmaker. During the rest, I feel like a hostage, forced, against my will to watch the other movies. Rarely are the films good. And by good - I simply mean, worth my time watching, since the screenings are free.

As a fellow student, I feel a mix of anger, guilt, shame, and envy. I get angry when someone makes a piece of shit movie, spending so much time and energy and money they generally don't have....I feel guilt about not being supportive of the effort and spirit of filmmaking....I feel shame for not making a big movie of my own and putting it out there....(but then I realize the 20+ grand I saved and the shame feels pretty good)...but then another shame lurks in...the 60,000 plus living expenses I spent during film school (only a small portion, I myself paid for...not to mention the opportunity cost. Yipes!)....and then envy should a movie be actually good and get praise and I think to myself - I could do that. Shit, I could probably do that better. And then the circle starts again because I realize everyone else thought the exact same thing when they got started...when the film was an idea and not a real thing.

And say the movie does get praise - and boy, are there different levels of praise. Maybe your peers like it and hold you in esteem. Maybe your parents and family like it and are glad to see you didn't make a stupid career choice. Maybe a few crappy festivals like it and let you in. Maybe USC likes it and gives you finishing funds or a DGA screening. Maybe some really good festival lets you in and gives you an award. Maybe an agent likes it and offers to read your script. Maybe, gasp, an esteemed filmmaker likes it and says "good job." Maybe the Oscars like it.

It all makes me want to puke. The fawning eyes, the praise, the temporary boost of confidence, the delusion of grandeur. The want (and perhaps, need) for glory and praise is all bit pathetic. Why do people need EVERYONE to love their work...

And it all comes at the expense of others, you know...because they make it competitive. "You wimp," I hear people saying in their minds...the world is competitive, if you can't take it, go to the USSR. I hate these people. I hate them deep down because they compete over what shouldn't be a competition. If they want a footrace or an arm wrestle or a 1 on 1 bball game, I'm game. But to make student films into a's like parents stroking sibling rivalry. Only disgusting people would do such a thing, and yet it pervades the DNA of student filmmaking at USC (and probably elsewhere). You have unbelievable idiotarians making prognostications on the first screening of 507 of who will "make it." As if they knew - or could possibly know - such a thing. And people keep doing it throughout school, changing their minds based upon what other people think, what the film festivals think, what the Oscars think, never pausing to think of anything beyonds rewards and "success" and all those other tokens of flair.

So you can see the cycle coming 'round again...anger, guilt, shame, envy...the same feelings, but bigger and more pervasive. They become metaphysical, epistemological, chronological, gubernatorial...

It all just makes me want to sing, "Black is the color of my true love's hair..."
Gone Skynet

James Cameron warned us.

Yesterday I got a LinkedIn invitation from a VERY mild acquaintance, someone I've met twice in my life, but who seemed pretty cool. I was surprised, but open, thinking to myself "I guess this is what LinkedIn is for, right?"

So I accept the invite and shoot a thank you response email. The response to the response, I will paste here -

"Thanks for the reply....I'm sorry though, I can't seem to remember who you are..?"


Through a back and forth dialog, we figured it out - Linked In has developed it's own consciousness and was trying to "LinkIn" members to each other.

I predict nuclear holocaust within the next 4-5 years.