Saturday, June 28, 2008

Sex with Trees

Since this started as an archive...dendrophilia. Good word.
You Got Game?

I'd love to play bball with Obama.
Going for the Jugular?

Would Obama dare move to right on abortion and oppose partial birth?

Could this be the grand compromise on the abortion issue, laying it to bed, silencing both the right and left, and tearing apart the Republican coalition establish by Reagan by stealing 1/2 of the evangelicals (and most of the young one's) out from under the GOP.

That would take balls.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Is North Korea disarming and offering transparency to their nuclear program a validation of Bush's 6-country talks and axis of evil speech?
Kids Are Everywhere!!!

It must be summer because I can't walk around Santa Monica without seeing kids everyone. This is very different than Silverlake.

My only question for Obama: do you bust out that lip bite at the club?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Roger Simon gives Joel Klein shit for neoconservative bashing.

Whatever one thinks about the neocons, they had virtually the only program, the only idea of how to right the world after 9/11. Conventional liberalism and conventional liberals had nothing to say. They still don’t.
Freaking Hippies!

The Supreme Court rules capital punishment is illegal for child rapists.
You and Me, Both Kanye

I'm most offended I've ever been.
Are Dogs Racist?

This past weekend I was at an old friend's wedding. The night before the wedding, I was hanging with a bunch of old buddies, catching up, and I recounted my recent dog-bite incident.

For the unitiated: I was at a BBQ and Andy's huge German Shepard, Truck, was in attendance. Truck was behaving quite well, lying down, seemingly at peace with the world. I went up to Truck - who I know - and said "Hi Truck." He leaped up, barking and biting, and got a few good nips in - nothing awful (no emergency room), but a fairly serious dog attack, nonetheless.

Since I've recounted the story many times, I make it very clear that the attack came out of nowhere. (note: many people who were at the BBQ or who I told the story afterwards ask me, "What did you do?" as if it were my fault somehow. These are the same people who think 9/11 was America's.)

So I made sure it was clear to my friends at the wedding: the attack was completely unprovoked.

One of my friends got real quiet and said:

"You know why it might have happened, man..."


"Dogs don't like Asian people."

"Bullshit, man. What are you talking about?"

"I know man, it sounds crazy. But I swear to God, I've heard this. Dogs tend to attack and freak out on Asian people more than others."

"Get the fuck outta here."

"Dude, I know it's fucked up, but I've heard it."

And then I thought about the other recent dog bite incident when Chuck's neighbors dogs attacked Cindy...who also happens to be Asian. And I thought about the racial make up of the party - no Asians.

"Wait a minute...I had another friend who got attacked by a dog a couple months ago...Asian also."

He started giggling.

I was completely indignant.

"That's really fucked up."

"I know."

I did a bit of research online and it seems like there is a bit of an urban myth out there that dogs do not like Asian people. (note, dogs also do not like Black people, but they like Blacks more than Asians - according to the myths).

Is this possible?

Clearly, dogs cannot be born racist. Nor do I suspect casual dog owners are training their dogs to be racist. And I don't suppose African dogs hate Black people or Asian dogs hate Asian people. But is it not possible that American dogs don't like the vibe of Asian-American people because something, somehow, is a little bit "different" than what they're used to?

For most of my life, I've had very good relationships with dogs. But, I was chased by a German Shepard when I was about 10 years old and was scared out of my wits. And now I've been bitten and attacked by a German Shepard. I'm only half Asian, so it is not a particularly high likelihood my Asian-ness has somehow been the the reason a few dogs don't like me.

And yet, this is the best explanation of the event thus far...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Can't Have Both Ways

Anti-war folks cited losing as a reason to leave Iraq from 2004-2006. Now that security gains are being made and the 10th (out of 18) province has been handed over to Iraqi security forces, does the anti-war crowd still think leaving is a good idea?

I suppose you could reverse argue pro-war people think we should add troops when we're losing and keep troops when we're winning. But then again, I don't think that's entirely true. I want troops home and can imagine in the next five years getting down to a level of forces similar to Germany, Japan, or Korea in Iraq.

And as a show of good faith, economics, and to show the world we're not interested in an Empire, it might be a good idea to move see some of the troops from Germany and Japan to Iraq - do we really need them there anymore?
Height of Stupidity

I heard on the radio yesterday day we're holding about 18 Chinese Muslims in Guantanamo Bay as enemy combatants. We are more or less treating them like Al Queda. Which is probably one of the dumbest things one can imagine if one knows anything about Al Queda - a predominately Egyptian and Saudi organization without much tolerance or use for Chinese Muslims.

Apparently, we agreed with the Chinese to include this small sect of Chinese Muslims as part of the WOT because the Chinese thought they were a terror organization - even though they've never once even said a negative word about the United States. This group is fiercely anti-communist and pro-United States and yet to get the Chinese to assist the WOT, we agreed to count them as terrorists. (ps- how exactly is China gonna help us against Al Queda?)

In any case, we've held them now going on seven years. We won't send them to China because they'll face political persecution. You mean like being locked up without charges? In any case, this seems to me so colossally stupid I don't think I can put words to it.

Say what you will about the suspension of habeas corpus for enemy combatants - I can see both sides of this. But the torture of prisoners and locking up non-Al Queda members to appease the Chinese. Jesus. How dumb are these guys in government? How come people are quitting their jobs. Do we have a bunch of rubes working these gigs?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

At Least One More Year

I've got at least one more solid year of being able to accurately talk shit about Kobe. I love it!

In hindsight, this series was a total ass-whupping. Without injuries, the Celtics are winning in 4 or 5 games. In even greater hindsight, can you say the Lakers beat a good team in the playoffs?

Nuggets were the worst in the West. Spurs were hobbled without Ginobli (imagine Lakers w/o Kobe). The Celtics were in good form and basically blew the Lakers out.

The Jazz were probably the best team they beat. The Jazz are tough...but come on...

I don't see the Lakers being able to beat the Hornets, Spurs at full strength, the Pistons, or the Celtics. I think with Yao, the Lakers are about even with the Rockets. I say they have a slight edge, but could easily lose to teams like the Suns, or Golden State. Unless, of course, Bynum is as good as all the Laker's fan hope he is.

I love talking shit!!!!!

PS - on my the-Lakers-should-trade-Kobe theory: imagine trading Kobe right now for one of these young point guards and change. The Lakers could have a core of the following:

Deron Williams/Chris Paul/Derrick Rose - Paul Gasol - Andrew Bynum - Lamar Odem

They might actually start playing like a team rather than Kobe and a bunch of underachievers.

Actually, this wouldn't work for several reasons - one - the Jazz or Hornets wouldn't make the trade, two - Derrick Rose won't develop for a little while and we might pass by Gasol's prime.

However, had the Laker's trade Kobe several years ago, as I said they ought to, they might've been able to get a Paul or a Williams plus a decent shooting guard or back up big man.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I Completely Agree

Movies are too long, in general. Look at the chart.

I do tend to agree w/ Ebert on this issue: no good movie is too long and no bad movie too short. However, most movies don't fall into the easy GOOD/BAD dichotomy. Most, for better or worse, are in between. As a trend, most people will tell you, and I tend to agree with them - movies are too expensive and too long.

The reason for cost increase: the studios and theater chains are trying to mask losing attendance by pumping up box office numbers. They do this by increasing ticket prices, assuming the marginal loss in attendance will be made up by the marginal increase in price raising.

*why I think this is stupid - you're not just losing one customer to one movie, you're losing one customer to LOTS of future movies. Once a potential movie-goers stops going to see a certain caliber of movie because of the cost, over the length of their lifetime, they are probably not seeing HUNDREDS of movies. Thus, it doesn't just affect one movie at the box office one weekend, but it affects the overall box office for a long time in the future. Movies lose market share to other activites.

The reason movies are too long: the balance of power between creative and business interests often swing back and forth. It is this tension which makes movies what they are. Many national cinemas died because "artistic" interests trumped business interests - see France (when is the last time anyone watched a movie made in France?). *Also see the state of Theater in America for a parallel example.

Business has generally trumped art in Hollywood since Irving Thalberg famously cut Eric Von Stroheims 9 hour cut of "Greed" into a 2 plus hour film. Although generally pooh-poohed by arty types, this is a good thing (who wants to bet the 9 hr version is totally unwatchable?). This is why we actually watch movies - I am not using the term "business" in the cynical sense.

But movies aren't just products churned from an assembly line, which is why we love them. We need creative people to come together and bring their experiences and talent to bear to make an enjoyable audience experience. Power in Hollywood today has shifted too far over to the stars - whether it be directors or actors. When the creative types get too much control, everyone thinks their making their Godfather or Citizen Kane and figures length = meaning.

Why are we in this situation? I think it has some to do with the corporatization of the movie business. Back in the day, studio heads answered to no one. They were movie people who were concerned with business. Today, studios are small, glamor sections of huge corporations. Studio heads answer to CEOs and boards and stockholders and ultimately, are highly empowered middle men who can be fired based upon the viccissitudes of the market. They are businessmen who like the glam of movies.

You would think this would yield to business concerns. But the opposite seems to happen. These business guys think the artistic types need free reign. They are afraid of hurting brand names like Lucas, Spielberg, and Tarantino and they mistakenly think great movies are made by giving artistic license, as opposed to setting up restrictions and creating artistic tensions. They try to cash in on existing brands and cynically think to themselves - the filmmaker will take the long term hit on a shitty movie, while we'll make the short term gain by cashing in on the box office.

**i've spent too much time on this entry, tbc.
I'm Actually Quite Nervous

I'd really like to see the Celtics win tonight and I'm quite nervous about it. I don't like their odds in a game 7.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Tacit Coordination

Examining how this concept applies globally. I think this concept is much more interesting on a local level, in particular, how it creates certain social efficiencies.

For instance - having a single place to meet - like Cheers or the Restaurant in Seinfeld. I realize these are TV sets and not real life, but having the "local spot," or spots is a really nice way to coordinate easy going social activities.
Charisma vs. Glamor

I think I posted on the topic before, but I do find it pretty interesting. Is Obama charismatic or glamorous. One is good, the other, potentially dangerous.

"Charisma is a personal quality that inspires followers to embrace the charismatic leader's agenda (an agenda that, in the original sense of the word charisma, is seen as divinely inspired.) Glamour, by contrast, encourages the audience to project its own yearnings onto the glamorous figure."
An Iraq Review and Did AQ Totally Blow It's Wad on 9/11

Victor David Hanson - a review of Iraq.

On a side note, I was listening to a radio program this weekend describing the Swiss authorities destroying advanced plans for a small sized nuclear devise confiscated way back in 2000 - long before 9/11. They were pretty sure the plans could have been sold/spread as part of the AQ Khan network to NoKo, Iraq, Iran, or anyone willing to pay for the information, including a terrorist organization.

In hindsight, maybe 50-100 years from now, it may seems like 9/11 was an enormous strategic blunder for Al Queda and the Islamicist movement, and although horrific, a wake up call for America that we were able to recover from.

I say this only because our efforts at non-proliferation were adequate at best prior to 9/11. Our failure to stop the Khan network revealed a frightening possibility. Imagine, in our slumber, had AQ been able to secure a nuclear devise. Or if Iran, Iraq , or the Taliban had their hands on one or a couple. We'd be dealing with a terrorist organization who hated our guts that also possessed a deterrent threat.

With Al Queda down in the dumps, it appears they may have blown their wad too soon, supporting the argument that autocratic organizations eventually collapse under their own stupidity.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Richard Price

Great interview on I really like listening this to this guy talk about writing, cities, screenwriting, and the business/practicalities of it all.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Strong Case

Against Empire...or whatever you want to call it.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Gas Prices

I didn't know this...but an interesting tidbit on rising gas prices now vs. the past.

"In the past, prices rose because of restricted supply; OPEC basically slowed production to jack up prices. This time, it is rising demand, because of American gas guzzlers, but also China and India.

A demand-led price rise is actually more bearable. If prices are rising because economies are growing, it means that economies have the vigor and flexibility to handle increased prices by improving productivity.

This is why we have been able to have oil prices quintuple and not face a global recession."

For Americans, it's also been the falling dollar.
1948 and Israel

An extensive article on the founding of Israel and whether there was an "original sin" of excluding Palestinians.
I'm Down!

Facts on the ground: Iraqi army is taking the lead and functioning. Sunnis trust Malaki for taking on the Shiia militias. Could the US bring home troops to pre-surge levels by election time? Or end of the year? By 2011 could we be down to 50-70,000 troops?

This is good news - left/right/black/white no matter which way you spin it.

Is the country ready to calm our asses down and talk reasonably and rationally about prospects for Iraq and our involvement? Will it even be up to us at all? Will the Iraqis dictate what happens henceforth?

Interesting discussion on the moral implications of debt.

And McCain having 100,000+ in credit card debt vs. Obama having no fiscal liabilities. Odd.

I think this is one of the most under discussed issues in America today - the erosion of fiscal discipline and the hugely negative affects it can have on an individual and society.
Ray Allen

And by the way - how good is this guy playing? Jesus. I don't think I've ever seen a guy transform like him. He's a guy who's lost a step physically - for sure. But he's become a really smart, clutch player and an incredible defender. He is almost a great role player - but a lot better than just that. Not to mention, his jump shot is thing of beauty. There is some intrinsic value to witnessing a Ray Allen three when it doesn't even touch rim, it just hits the bottom of the net.

The guy has totally won me over. He disappears at times, I suppose, but don't all players? That layup last night? Are you kidding me? How old is that guy? Where did that come from? Shouldn't his legs be tired? He played all 48 minutes last night. The more I write this, the more I can't get over it. Remember the rebound he got in the 4th quarter over 3 Lakers?1? Ray Allen - a jump shooter. 9 rebounds in the most intense finals game of the series. 9 boards?1?
Preemptive Tossing His Teammates Under the Bus?

Did you see Kobe at the press conference last night? A reporter asks, "what are you guys going to do tonight?"

Kobe says, "Whine. Whine a lot. A lot of whine. Beer. Shots. About 20 shots."

I mean the guy is like a mental case. He spurt out what he really thought and then tried to recover. He thinks his teammates are a bunch of whiny babies and expects it from them.

Maybe Kobe should ask for a trade to the Celtics next season.
Not Good Enough

It would be too easy to Kobe bash today. 17 points in a must-win game 4? Blowing a 24 point lead? A team leader doesn't let that happen. Thing is, Kobe isn't a leader, isn't a good teammate. What he needs is a mature veteran - or even a mature young player, like Chris Paul, just a mature player who can LEAD the team and he can be the "star" the guy who strikes fear into the other team every time he gets the ball. What Kobe CAN'T BE and is INCAPABLE of being is the leader and the star.

What he needs tactically - in this series - is a big man who can bang around in the paint and get easy buckets when the teams start playing that all out, hectic, throwing my life on the line defense. Because it's hard to make jumpers when you're being physically assaulted by the best athletes in the world playing their hearts out. Really hard. It's even harder to create your own shots. What would be nice is to have a player who can fill both roles - a mature vet, who can bang in the paint, score easy buckets, and toss a little fear into Ray Allen when he drives to the hoop and can actually block out KG. Hmmm...there used to be a guy on his team like that. I believe his name was Shaq.

But Shaq is older now and conceivably you could split these roles. A guy like Bynum might fill the tactical role of the big man/easy buckets. Maybe Dfish or someone else fills the veteran role. I don't know.

But I do know this - Kobe tossed Shaq under the bus and then tried to do the same for Bynum. Which is fairly dumb considering he needs a guy in that mold to beat good teams.

But here is another point I brought up awhile ago about Kobe's bad passing. He's an okay/mediocre passer. He doesn't make a lot of turnovers, but he makes slow passing decisions and rarely puts the ball in position for his teammates to make easy buckets. This is especially concerning because he's such a great individual offensive threat, that the defense tends to overconcentrate on him, thusly opening up lanes, etc for teammates. Why can't Kobe set up his teammates?

My favorite type of player is the Chris Paul - Magic Johnson style of bballer, the players who seem to understand exactly where everyone is on the court at all times. They see lanes no one else sees and are able to find their teammates. These guys are geniuses and obviously not all players have this type of intelligence. Kobe certainly doesn't. He is a man of pure will. He is all work, no play, interested in dominating his opponent. I think the man lacks a certain empathy. Which is why he thought No meant Yes when it really, truly meant NO, and why he doesn't see or notice how his teammates react to his tantrums and yelling, doesn't realize he's busting up the morale of his team when he backstabs everyone. And also why he doesn't know where they are going on slash plays before they do - and why he isn't a good passer, which is what they need when he's being covered well. He needs to dribble into and find positions which break down the team defense and find the open shooter or slasher and score when it's available.

My instinct says the Lakers have little to no chance of winning at this point. Yesterday's lost will prove too debilitating. I'd pick the Celtics to win game 5 right now. And if the Lakers won game 5, I'd pick the Celtics to win game 6. Game 7 - anything can happen. But to me, the Celtics just look like a better team. Their defense is ferocious and all the Lakers - including Kobe - were affected. They were simply overwhelmed when the pace and fury of the game reached the high level it did yesterday. Meanwhile, the Celtics have lots of guys they can lean on. And you saw this yesterday: Eddie House hitting a big shot, KG hitting a big shot from down low on the post, Ray Allen driving and scoring, Paul Pierce - their most clutch guy. I wouldn't be afraid of giving Powe the ball or Perkins or Posey. These guys can't take over a game, but all of them can hit a shot. Only Pierce can "take over," a game, a trait that seems to me totally overrated in today's NBA. We're witnessing a good team beating a good player. It's a team sport people! What the hell did you expect?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Whole Empire Question

It's trendy if you're a college freshman to bemoan the American Empire we're building around the world. I remember I did it!

Andrew Sullivan's been writing about it recently and as usual going a bit batty. But also, as usual, Andrew calms down and writes more rationally about it here.

My initial thought:

Why don't we remove/close a few of the bases in South Korea, Japan, or Germany to demonstrate - "Look if you guys are cool, we'll be cool." Because we should not be an imperial empire. I know no one in America wants that. Not even the so-called neoconservatives.

But then again, would this be foolish? Would it be perceived as weakness by a more autocratic Russia? Would it give NoKo an excuse to redevelop nukes? Would it make China pursue a more aggressive Taiwan strategy? The answers to these questions are: I don't know. Or...we don't know.

A couple things to think about: JFK thought by the late 1960s there would be 20+ nuclear powers. At the time it was Russia, US, China, Britain, and France. Today, the only countries to develop nukes post-JFK are Pakistan, India, and Israel (maybe Brazil, maybe Iran, maybe North Korea). Aggressive US presence in Asia helped stopped a possible nuke race in Asia and an aggressive US presence in the mid-East may help stop a nuke race there as well. I mean, imagine if the US disengages from the MidEast and Iran develops a nuke - which they probably will anyway. Won't Saudi Arabia *have* to develop a nuke in response? Won't Iraq as well? Would Egypt?

Is this beginning to sound like a nightmare to you as well?
Kobe's Witty Response

"Go Yankees."

Or not. Like most things Kobe, I don't find him funny. Not only that, I'm betting his publicist or someone who works for him came up with the response.

PS: In case it's not obvious, I LOVE Kobe Hatin.' Now I know the rush the crazy liberals feel about Bush Hatin.' It's actually quite fun to be irrationally angry at someone in the public eye.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Did Bush Lie

Matt Yglesias writes a short article on the Atlantic blog about the fundamental lie Bush "sort of" told about going into Iraq.

I will concede Bush and company prioritized the WMD argument as the legal reason for going to war. But for anyone who was paying attention to the discussion at the time, there were a lot of other reasons for going into Iraq being tossed around - moral reasons, political reasons, and strategic reasons. Bush chose to focus on the WMD argument - which I always thought was a mistake. But not a big enough mistake to discount all the other possible benefits to the region and the world of a removed Saddam Hussein. I hardly consider this a lie. It was a choice of argument to present which wasn't - in my opinion - the wisest, but the one they thought the most compelling.

I've been using my "going to lunch" example a lot lately in my arguments. When I choose what to each for lunch, it is for a variety of reasons:

1) It tastes good
2) It is healthy
3) I'm in the mood for it
4) It is cost effective
5) It is convenient

I got my Bay Cities turkey sandwich yesterday and when someone asks: "why did you get your bay cities turkey sandwich?"

I replied, "Because it tastes good and is healthy."

They say, "But the meatball sandwich also tastes good."

I say, "Yes, but the turkey is more healthy than the meatball. So I guess I got it because it was healthy."

And then, an anti-turkey sandwich person chimes in, "YOU LIAR. You really got the turkey sandwich because it was cheap and affordable!"

To which I say, "Well, that's true. But I wasn't really lying, exactly."

"No - you're a liar. You said you got it because it's healthy - it's not really even that healthy."

"Whoa, easy dude, I think a turkey sandwich is pretty healthy. But yeah, there were a lot of reasons to get a turkey sandwich. One was because it was *kinda* healthy, but another is because it tastes good, another because it's affordable, another because it's convenient and possible..."

"But you only said healthy. Which makes you a liar. You're just making all that other stuff to justify your decision afterwards!"

See what I mean?

The baco. Look at that picture. I'm going at some point this weekend.
More Kobe Bashing

Actually, this can't properly be called bashing. It is an observation from Curt Schilling, who was watching game 2 up close:

Kobe. This one stunned me a little bit. Who doesn’t know Kobe Bryant right? I only know what I have heard, starting awhile back with the entire Shaq debacle. I don’t really have an opinion one way or the other on or about him other than to know that people feel he might be one of the 4-5 greatest players to ever lace it up. What I do know is what I got to see up close and hear, was unexpected. From the first tip until about 4 minutes left in the game I saw and heard this guy bitch at his teammates. Every TO he came to the bench pissed, and a few of them he went to other guys and yelled about something they weren’t doing, or something they did wrong. No dialog about “hey let’s go, let’s get after it” or whatever. He spent the better part of 3.5 quarters pissed off and ranting at the non-execution or lack of, of his team. Then when they made what almost was a historic run in the 4th, during a TO, he got down on the floor and basically said ‘Let’s f’ing go, right now, right here” or something to that affect. I am not making this observation in a good or bad way, I have no idea how the guys in the NBA play or do things like this, but I thought it was a fascinating bit of insight for me to watch someone in another sport who is in the position of a team leader and how he interacted with his team and teammates. Watching the other 11 guys, every time out it was high fives and “Hey nice work, let’s get after it” or something to that affect. He walked off the floor, obligatory skin contact on the high five, and sat on the bench stone faced or pissed off, the whole game. Just weird to see another sport and how it all works. I would assume that’s his style and how he plays and what works for him because when I saw the leader board for scoring in the post season his name sat up top at 31+ a game, can’t argue with that. But as a fan I was watching the whole thing, Kobe, his teammates and then the after effects of conversations. He’d yell at someone, make a point, or send a message, turn and walk away, and more than once the person on the other end would roll eyes or give a ‘whatever dude’ look.

What do you need evidence of rape to not like this guy on a personal level? Oh, wait a second...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Other Interesting George Will Point

In talking about nation-building. He says (paraphrase) "look, every 4 years the media, political pundits and candidates plunge into New Hampshire to figure out how the state will vote in the primary season. This is a small state with simple demographics, generally heterogeneous, we dump all of our "expertise" and predictive powers into figuring out the outcome and every 4 years we're surprised by the voters."

He argues, if we can't "understand" New Hampshire, how do we expect to understand Iraq?

He's right. The world and people are just too damn complicated. And yet, when I continue to think about it, simply because we don't fully understand Iraq, doesn't mean we can't affect positive change for both them and us.
Weird Game

Paul Pierce scores like 4 points and the Celtics almost win? Huhn? Powe, the hero from game 2 was totally underused, KG was cold, and Rondo still can't shoot...yet, the Celtics almost won?

I'm beginning to think the Celts are a legitimately better team.

The big difference maker and I'm not sure whether the media will talk about it - was the Laker defense down the stretch. They actually played tough and good and were making it super difficult for the Celts to score in the last couple minutes. This is why the won the game.

The Celts on the other hand made a few tactical defensive mistakes. First, the double Kobe out at half court. Why? Let him come down past the three point line - then double team. Instead, they leave Sasha wide open for a 3. Then, the guy picks up his dribble in the paint and they don't double team him and force Ray Allen to deal with his jab move. Double team the guy when he comes inside the 3 point line...or if you single cover him, double team him when he picks up the dribble. It's simple. And the Celts just screwed up.

I suppose Lamar is due to have a good game one of these days and so the Laker's might take it to 6, but the way things are going, I just think the Celtics are much better right now. Even Doc Rivers coached well today - not being scared to leave House in the game because he was spreading the floor, keeping Cassell off the floor.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Back to the Chickenhawk

This weekend I reluctantly admitted my support of the Iraq war at a a girl. Hint to guys: this is a REALLY bad move in LA. Girls do not like it. But stupid as this sounds, it's not something I would ever lie about. I did support the Iraq war. And whether history shows the huge folly of that choice or the prescient wisdom (okay, snicker away liberals). The girl shot back, not thinking much...

"Well why ain't you there?"

"That's a good question."

I don't have a response. Well, at least not one to say in a bar. To a drunk girl. But clearly, the question bugs me because well, I made a short film about it once, I've written blog posts about it, and in somber, reflective times, I'll talk to friends about it.

At a bachelor party a couple months ago, a high school buddy of mine and I were sitting in a hot tub, drinking beers up in tahoe after a day of skiing. Could you get more a more ridiculous picture of yuppie-dom? At one point, the conversation danced towards Iraq and guys being there and this guy is conservative and I'm liberal, but that really doesn't matter - what matter more is just having known each other for a long time and he said something and I nodded because I agreed:

"It haunts me."

Not all the time. Not even most of the time. But sometimes. And just now, thinking about this weekend and reading some blog posts an old professor of mine wrote on the Huffington post chastising the Bush daughters for not serving, and feeling the banal of the everyday when you can get the feeling of "I just spent the whole day answering the phones - what am I doing with my life question." I don't know it got me thinking again. And I remembered this old exchange I had with Nate on the issue.

I went back and re-read it and agree with most all both he and I said, although we were disagreeing with each other.

The charge that you cannot support the war without serving - especially if you are able bodied and of age - is patently ridiculous. It is rooted in moral narcissism, the idea one cannot have an opinion without rigidly backing it up with behavior. One can support environmental reforms and still drive. One can support affirmative action and yet hire a non-minority for a job position. One support a Presidential candidate without giving all of their disposable income to their campaign. These are perfectly legitimate behaviors.

But at the same time, I think I am insensitive to the troops. I don't think about them all that much. I don't donate any of my time to help their cause. I don't do much of anything, although there are lots who've lost their lives or limbs. (side note: I'm also insensitive to the cops and all sorts of people who do dangerous jobs that protect me).

And maybe this is all part of my own narcissism and part of an endless cycle of self-justification, but the thought occurred to me: I should just make a damn good movie. 'Cause if I were a vet or a soldier, I wouldn't care if the dude who worked at In and Out supported the war or not, or whether he donated money to wounded vets, or whether he served or not. I'd just care if he made my burger well. So likewise, what I expect from a filmmaker is to make a goddamn fine movie. That's their job. That's my job. My job isn't to perfectly correlate my actions with my opinions - I'm not a Buddist Monk. My job is to see that good movies get made.

It's slow going. Obviously. But I still have a lot to learn.
Guess Who

John August answers several screenwriting questions on his blog today: two of them are from USC film production grads in my social circle.

Can anyone name them and the questions?

Watched Charlie Rose - George Will conversation. Man, it's cool to listen to these two guys speak. Will said a lot of interesting things, but the one that stuck out was his comment on the American nation - he said we are a remarkably healthy country, with an amazing ability to adjust and tinker with the status quo whether it be the economy, foreign policy, or any host of government or non-government bodies. But at the same time we are a hypochondriac country, always perceiving ourselves to be ill or near the end or about to collapse into the abyss.

The examples he gives: everyone thinks we're in recession, except that by definition, we're not. Our economy grew a small amount last quarter and by definition, a recession is when the GDP falls two quarters in a row. Yet, we're all in a huff about recession. It makes no sense.

Unemployment hits 5%, which is still under the post war average of 5.7%, and yet everyone is worried about unemployment.

Charlie Rose talked about all the books about America - comparing it to Rome - worrying about the rise of China and India and Rose laughs it off. 30 years ago they were all saying the same thing about Japan and Germany. There is some sort of weird impulse for enjoying doomsday predictions and the public for whatever reason, buys into it.

He also says interesting, albeit small amounts of information about Iraq, Iran, and the folly of nation-building. Well worth the watch.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Kobe Bashing

One of the great pleasures in being a sports fan is the legitimacy of having completely irrational and ridiculous points of view. Often it is manifested in the love of a home town team and a misguided sense of hope for the all elusive victory. But nearly as often, it is the hatred of another team, a rival, a team or person who seems to stand for everything you oppose and hate about the world.

This is why I like watching the Lakers lose. I can blame Kobe for everything. I can blame him when he doesn't score enough (He's no Michael Jordan); when he scores too much (He's no Magic Johnson); when his team loses it is his own personal fault. I enjoy pinning all the blame on him and am justified - as a basketball fan - in doing so.

Kobe is a weirdo. Sometimes he decides to "take over" and takes ridiculous shots when he's triple teamed or completely covered. And more than any other player I've watched, he makes those shots. He's the best well covered scorer I've ever seen. And yet, I still think a lot of those shots are plain dumb. He can't make them all. I'd guess he only makes 30-40% of them. They are by definition low percentage. But he's not quick enough and doesn't have a feel for where his teammates are to pass it around and find the open man. Other times it seems like he "decides" to involve his teammates - probably to get people off his back about being "selfish" - and then passes when he's relatively open or could get fouled. The guy is just weird. He's smug, humorless, seems to be angry at the world for no good reason. Sometimes he wants all the responsibility of running the team, other times he seems to shirk it, and it always seems like he does these things on his schedule, as opposed to what's best for everyone. He's almost like an idiot-savant, completely unaware of what the guy next to him is thinking or feeling, and thinks by sheer physical and mental will he can overcome all of it. Werner Herzog should do a documentary on him.

He is also a creep. What are with his post game compliments for Boston and how they played? YOU'RE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FINALS! It's like he's confused between Boston and his own team...treating them like friends and his own teammates like enemies. Can't you see it in his eyes rolling around when Lamar misses a layup or Radmanovic has the nerve to shoot a three.

Man, I love this crap.
Daily Life in Afghanistan

A cool photo series.

Saturday, June 07, 2008


Obama v. McCain on foreign policy.

I'll be waiting until November to hear their Iraq proposals. And we'll see how things are going in that country. One thing is for sure: I want to win so we can leave, not so we can stay.

Friday, June 06, 2008

One Reason I Don't Date More

It's kinda boring. Captured here.
A Good Day for Kobe Hating

What happened? According to the familiar narrative, in a close game, Kobe was supposed to take over the game - being the best player and all. Instead, he took overcompensating, ill advised, shots in the 4th quarter when he was tripled teamed or just really well covered. And then, Garnett-like, he started passing up decent shots to try to get his "teammates involved" down 6 or 8 points with two minutes left. MJ wouldn't have done that.

Oh, and then, Garnett (despite missing seemingly all his fourth quarter shots), slams home the monster dunk and makes two clutch possession saving hustle plays in the 4th quarter. I thought he was supposed to choke?

My point is: many of these sports narratives are stupid. Particularly the one's that emphasize individual greatness. Sure, sometimes the best player can take over a game. But a great team always beats a great player, save a few rare exceptions. We got misled because of Jordan and we think of instances like LaBron leading a shitty team past mediocre teams counts. We forget a great team can always figure out how to handle a great player.

Now, the Celtics might not be a great team...and the Laker's might be more than a great player. It still remains to be seen. Celtics look very strong at times, but they are just weird on the offensive end.

The way in which the Celtics won and make me realize Kobe's weakness: you can get into his head. Because he's a weird dude, he does weird stuff, and if you counter him with good old fashioned tough team defense and playing all around solid bball. He might go off, but he won't go off for four games.

Which brings up another issue - did the Lakers have an especially easy road to the Finals? To me, they didn't play the two most challenging teams in the West (actually 3 - they missed the Warriors in round 1): the Suns and the Hornets. They beat the Spurs - but were the Spurs done after their two series? Think about it - every game against the Suns and Hornets was mentally and physically challenging. The Lakers could dial it in against the Nuggest and Jazz at home. Then, they wipe the floor with a worn out Spurs team.

In theory, the same should apply to the Celtics, but if anything, the early playoff series seemed to toughen the Celts up. Stamina is not their problem. It's the crunch time experience playing with one another. So they seem to be hitting their stride.

Seeming like a good series.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Read It

If you live in LA, read ASK THE DUSK by John Fante. Just do it. Then we'll talk.
Traffic, Gas, Priuses

VPostrel write a logical retort to the dummy economics espoused by a LA Times Columnist. In fact, it's so good and concise, I'll repost the damn thing:

He starts by saying that "the more painful that things become at the pump, the more our political and business leaders will finally realize that they need to take steps, and soon, to wean us from our self-defeating oil jones." That's not how things actually work. In the real world, the more painful things become at the pump, the more drivers take steps to burn less gasoline, regardless of what political and business leaders do--and the more pressure political and business leaders are under to make those gas prices go down, so we won't have to change our driving behavior.

Like many people, Lazarus conflates his concerns about traffic congestion and gas prices. Both bumper-to-bumper traffic and $4.19-per-gallon make life unpleasant, and both have something to do with cars, but that doesn't mean fixing one problem will fix the other. Lazarus would like more fuel-efficient vehicles, which would address the expensive-gas problem; he just doesn't think we'll get them any time soon, because automakers "have to be dragged screaming and kicking into the future." But when the fuel-efficient future arrives, he'll discover that better gas mileage means more crowded roads. The more miles per gallon (or dollar) you get, the more you're willing to drive. The best thing for L.A. traffic is expensive gasoline, which is why I caught myself doing 75 mph coming back from downtown last Thursday afternoon.

Caught an episode last night. Took me awhile to get into the tone. But I like it quite a bit. Mary Louise Parker is awesome. Her eyes wander all over...never really looking directly at people, and then boom: her eyes. Very interesting. I'm buying season 1.
Kobe Hatin'

It's gonna be hard to watch the Finals in public because I'm in FULL ON KOBE HATIN' mode. I'd buy a Kobe Hatin' teeshirt, if they sold them. Bill Simmons reminds in his column today how much this guy sucks as a person.

Remember: this is a guy who threw most of his teammates under the bus when he got a chance, a guy Phil Jackson quit the Lakers over and openly lambasted in his book, a guy who raped a women...RAPED! Do we forget that? He bought her off...but is there any doubt that the guy raped her?

Kobe is everything that sucks about modern society and the proof is in the fact that I'm actually rooting for a team from BOSTON! I HATE BOSTON and all their sports fans. and yet I'm going to root for them because Kobe disgusts me. This is like the Iran-Iraq war and we're stuck rooting for Saddam Hussein...except instead of being weakass countries w/ shitty weapons...actually this is more like the Eastern Front of WWII, with the Soviets facing off against the Nazis and we're rooting for Ruskies.

I am looking forward to the games, although the goddamn timeouts at the end of the game makes them almost unwatchable. I know this is anti-American, but the NBA needs to take a cue from soccer matches - they reward you for paying attention to details and if you miss it, you miss it. Too bad, shoulda been paying attention. The NBA is borrowing the ugly from soccer - the flop - they may as well borrow the good: limited substitutions and no timeouts (or more reasonably - much fewer timeouts). If you can't get an inbound, you shouldn't be allowed to call a timeout. Wouldn't that make the end of the game a lot more exciting?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Not Sexy Anymore

Being 50 and mouthing off about politics, China, Tibet, and bad karma. Remember Sharon, you're famous because you opened wide for Mike Douglas in a sexy slasher pic. Just because everyone used to nod and listen (note: because there was a possibility of getting in your pants), doesn't mean we were actually interested. Sorry, it's the truth.

The Minneola aka Tangelo

A citrus fruit, a hybrid of tangerine and grapefruit. Discovered initially at the farmer's market...found a good variety currently being sold at Wild Oats for only $1.50 per pound. They must be in season...when I first tasted it my description was "it's like an orange and a lemon had a baby!" It's sweet, yet sour. Very nice, as Borat would say.
You Either Love Me or Hate Me!!!

Was Tarantino always a blowhard or is he simply becoming one?

Does he realize that 90% of people don't give two shits? Is he still competing with his video store geek friends?
My Vote

There's pretty much only one way Obama can lose my vote: cater to the far anti-war left on Iraq.

If progress continues - or even just continues at the current pace - with sectarian violence down, the Iraqi government improving, and fewer US casualties, I'd like see Obama come out and discuss how to capitalize on these gains and get out vs. going on with his "Iraq was a mistake" narrative.

If he is as good as a politician as I suspect, he'll figure out somehow to take advantage. If not, well, McCain's a warrior and we're still in a fight.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


I'm hooked on using google - gmail, blogger, calendar, docs (don't use that much) and basically theorized on a web item I'd use only to find out it already exists - google reader.

But as for their politics, they are annoying and hypocritical.

Stick to what you know - or rather - what you're good at. Always good advise. I think.
Game 7

Applying Hillary Clinton logic to the NBA playoffs...the Pistons ought to be playing a game 7 against the Celtics. Very clever and very funny.
Die Yuppie Scum

Intellectually, I'm not a fan of Banana Republic. But goddamn, they make a fine pair of khaki pants and I'm not afraid to say it. They're comfy, sturdy, have big pockets. And they aren't unreasonably priced.