Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Reason Not To Vote For Palin

She may be exciting and refreshing. She may have tremendous amounts of integrity and be a unique politician in her unwillingness to abandon her principals. But let's face it - if she's in favor of teaching creationism in schools, she's a full-on idiot and that trumps the other virtues when talking about running the country.

I want to see her answer this creationism question in the debate. To me, this would be a deal breaker. Not because I particularly care about the issue, but because her position would be reflective of a tremendously dumb person.

Whatever one can say about the man, McCain does not make safe choices. My question: what's so great about safe choices?
Vlad Putin

Do you think Vlad Putin is just licking his chops at the thought of dealing with Palin the PTA President?

Note: See, isn't this a clever political choice by McCain? You almost can't criticize Palin without being "misogynistic."

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Am I Dull or Late?

Google Maps has a traffic function. Crazy.
Biden and Obama: Anti-Man?

Dr. Helen, aka Mrs. Instapundit writes about Biden and Obama's anti-man political positions.

I hear snickers.

Everyone seems to think women are key to this election.

Side item, on man issues - I listen to Tom Leykis sometimes on my way home from work. I always to think the guy was a huge douche-bag. And to a certain degree, he is a douche-bag. But he's big and popular with men and comes on 97.1 which is the station my car is usually on after work because I used to listen to Stern and now listen to Corolla. I get caught up listening to him sometimes, although I often find myself angrily switching the channel.

In an epiphany the other day about all these men calling in and complaining about women and calling Leykis "dad" and all of his advice about how to bang women without spending any money on them and how to break up, etc, etc. is basically one big male therapy session. These dudes out there, listening to their stories they tell Leykis, if you just barely scratch underneath the surface of the male-bravado, have incredible pain and hurt. It's actually quite sad at times and a reflection of something going on with the male-psyche in this country that a guy like Lykis, who isn't particularly insightful or even what I would call "a good dude," can get such a huge demographic merely talking about issues men care about on the air.

Friday, August 29, 2008

For Better or Worse

I'm growing more and more fascinated by the details coming out in this election. Maybe it's just a reflection of me getting older, but the actual dynamics are fascinating. The Obama-Hillary primary was the most interesting primary I can remember. I think I was a little out of it when Clinton got elected - I suppose I was only 14 years old, so how much could I expect to know? But the theme that seems to be coming out - for better or worse - and is solidified by McCain's VP choice - a new generation is taking over.

I don't know the technical years of the Baby Boomers vs. Generation X, but the entire frame of debate is shifting and no longer is dominated by the Baby Boomer character. This is a Generation X debate. Sure, the Boomers are very much still relevant, will hold positions of power, and wield incredible economic influence. But another Generation has been thrust into the spotlight because of an overwhelming fatigue with the contentious nature of the Vietnam/Civil Rights/Watergate/Reagan dynamics which have defined politics for so long now...

At some point - probably with Vietnam - the Greatest Generation realized their time had passed. The world had entered a different age - an age of nuclear weapons, third world revolutions, distrust of authority at home. I'm sure it didn't make sense to a generation who lived through the Depression and World War 2 - fighting for food and jobs and later fascism in massive land wars requiring incredible human sacrifice.

It seems to me we're at another shift. The world got different and it doesn't fit into the traditional right/left box anymore. Old forces try to fit and squeeze it into the old narratives of anti-war Vietnam or trickle down economics or Civil Rights. But those issues, while not dead, are exhausted and newer issues have surfaced (or resurfaced) depending on how you want to describe them.

This new era, I think, will not be defined in Manichean terms. Our politics and world, in the past 50 years or so, largely fit into this box. Foreign relations were defined by the Cold War - an epic taking of sides to avoid possible nuclear annihilation. Politics and policy positions were defined as Pro or Con. Democrat or Republican. Red and Blue. Pro-war, Anti-war. This is how the debate has been framed, issues discussed. But the world no longer can be accurately defined in those terms. They were useful for a certain time, but the framing devise simply doesn't work anymore. It leads to heads banging against the wall in frustration, like an insoluble math equation without adding proper variables to both sides of an equation.

What will characterize this new world is asymmetry. People, states, business, government will be in constant flux trying to seize small pieces of the pie from thousands of other actors in various spheres. Big lumbering organizations will be targets of smaller, defter organizations, which themselves will be targeted internally and externally by other organizations looking to leverage themselves with or against the current. Incredible new tools will be wielded and appropriated for non-intended use to further the interests of big and small groups of people and states.

We've seen it already in business, in war, in sports, it's all around us all the time.

Maybe it's always been this way, but the past felt more like a system of patronage vs a system of asymmetry. Patronage in that smaller actors sucked up to larger actors to get a piece of the pie. In foreign relations, small nations sucked up to superpowers. In the workplace, you sucked up to your bosses for work and promotions. In business, you sucked up to the big pockets to get funded.

Now it all seems like managing chaos. Trial and Error. Leveraging assets in different ways than they were intended. A couple of examples off the top of my head:

AOL bought Time Warner. This ended up failing and falling apart, but how in the hell did an internet business with no-profit purchase one of the largest media organizations in the world?

The Oakland A's. In the late 90s and early 2000s the A's won more regular season games than any other team in baseball except the New York Yankees, despite having one of the lowest payrolls and in an era where the distribution of payrolls for big market teams vs small market teams increased mightily.

Al Queda, an organization of a couple of 1000 men living in caves declared war against the US and haven't yet been officially defeated.

And it's all still happening right now. The US military is being used as back up police to help the Arabs defeat their terrorist plotters. Our military wasn't designed for this. Yet, they're being adaptive to the threats we face.

*Going to have to continue this post at another time.
Very Clever - Great Election

McCain pulled a very deft move today nominating a free-thinking moderate woman governor from Alaska as his running mate. I remember reading about Sarah Palin a couple months ago as a longshot VP candidate for whichever Republican was running. She is very good looking - a former Ms. Alaska, I think.

Obviously, this counters his age (as Biden counters Obama's age), will capture enthusiasm from women voters - in particular moderate women voters and possibly some of the 18 million ex-Hillary supporters.

It also gets headlines and steals some thunder from Obama's big speech last night. Now, regardless who wins the election, will make history - either the first female VP or the first African American president.

I like the Biden choice for Obama and I like the Palin choice for McCain. It demonstrates something I suspected about both of the candidates: Obama makes careful, calculated, mature decisions. McCain is freewheeling, loose, and little kooky. I like both styles for different things and I think this election, for me, comes down to style and timing and who I think fits the nation better at this moment.

Unlike Derbyshire, I like both of these candidates. A lot. It's a testament to the balancing nature of our political system that the 04 election was so weak candidate-wise that we should have such impressive candidates in this 08 election.

Imagine, however, for a moment McCain wins and then topples over from a heart attack a couple weeks later. Sarah Palin is President of the United States?!? Are you kidding me? It sounds like a plot from a movie. Speaking of which...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Types of Political Thinkers

Americans have a variety of ways they think about politics. In my observations, here are some types. I'm interested in others...

Partisan: A Partisan sides with his/her party. He/she believe the opposite party is wrong about all the major issues. In a general sense, they believe politics is a grand compromise which involves taking specific positions on specific issues in order to promote the long term agenda of the party - which is a preferable agenda to the other party.

Opposites/Enemies: Partisans on the opposite side; Idealogues - they perceive Idealogues as stupid and disloyal.

Idealogue: Although idealogue often gets used derisively, I'm trying to use it descriptively (because I can't think of a better term). An Idealogue believes in certain political "truths." The truths stem from political ideology or philosophical ideology. An idealogue votes with a candidate or party who most represents the set of "truths" he/she believes in. Idealogues will switch parties or candidates if they feel their core beliefs are better represented elsewhere.

Opposites/Enemies: Idealogues on other sides

Pragmatist: A pragmatist is an issue-based thinker. Pragmatists do not prioritize party or ideology, but examine "what works." A pragmatist looks at a particular policy or position and weights the pros and cons on a kind of balance sheet and votes based on a basically a tally of issues/policies.

Opposite/Enemy: Radicals

Radical: A radical thinks the system is the problem. He/she conflates all the issues, parties, and ideologies as different expressions of a singular problem. Voting or any form of normalized politics itself is suspicious. Generally, radicals do not have coherent suggestions for improvements...their goal is often political expression itself. Historically, this is why many artists are political radicals because expression is at the core of their being, or set of choices.

Opposite/Enemy: Everyone

Self-Interested: Again, can't think of a non-derisive term for it. But many citizens will simply participate in politics so far as it helps them individual or a group they value. Union members will often vote in their self-interest, for a candidate that will help protect their jobs, etc. Businessmen will vote and support candidates who keep their taxes reasonable, etc. This category should not be confused with the idea of "enlightened self-interest," in which all the other categories could conceivably fall. I'm talking, narrow, dollars and cents, self-interest.

Opposite/Enemy: Whoever votes against their interest.


A Partisan is basically a Pragmatist whose entered into a big, long-term, binding contract. A Radical is an angry or frustrated Idealogue. Self-Interested voters are cynical pragmatists.

Just read another old Derbyshire post about what a horrible election we face. This man might kick my ass.

See, I like this election. I like Obama and McCain. But maybe electing a President shouldn't be the same criteria as looking for a friend. So who gives a flying fucking shit whether I like them or not. Regardless, he makes two good points - one about the role of government and two - about about cost. Money, money, money. It's all about the money.

Point 1: US Government is Not A Human Being

But then, as John McCain says: “America’s greatest moral failure has been, throughout our existence, perhaps we have not devoted ourselves to causes greater than our self-interest.” Except, of course, that nations are supposed to devote themselves to their self-interest, and to nothing else. That’s what sane people want their nation to do. That’s what all the other nations of the world do do.

As individual human beings, of course, all but a small minority of us routinely devote ourselves to “causes greater than our self-interest.” We gladly yield up our time, our money, and occasionally our very lives, on behalf of such causes — family, union, professional association, church, political party, neighborhood softball league, nation. Those of us who have deep religious convictions often go way beyond the norm, helping strangers in foreign lands. All good acts, all noble acts … by individual human beings.

A government, however, is not a human being. This rather elementary point of ontology seems to have escaped all three principals in Saturday’s gathering. Governments don’t go to the bathroom; governments don’t date; governments don’t catch cold. As a human being, John McCain is free to give up time and money to causes above his personal self-interest, and would be right to feel pleased with himself for having done so. As chief executive of our federal government, however, during his working hours he should attend to America’s national self-interest, AND TO NOTHING ELSE AT ALL.

Cost: Iraq Has Cost Us $7000 Each

Even if I wanted either of them, I do not believe, as both candidates apparently do, that our country has the nigh-infinite fiscal resources required to fund their lunatic world-saving schemes. The effort to rid Iraq of evil has cost us working stiffs a trillion dollars so far; say $7,000 a head. Population-wise, the world has 260 Iraqs. So I’m in for two million bucks? John, hate to tell ya, but I don’t have that kind of money. And this is the “conservative” candidate!

Since Bush lowered taxes, we're paying for this through loans from the Chinese. So tack on some interest to that $7000. Every day we're there, tack on a few more bucks to the principal. Iraq needs to flow back some of their oil revenue our way. We ought ta get some of that scrilla back, bitches.

John Derbyshire thinks we're too optimistic.

He claims pessimism is for conservatives and foolish optimism for liberals.

I disagree. Optimism and Pessimism, it seems to me, are separate beasts from political ideology. The Neocons are essentially optimist conservatives. The Moveon crowd are pessimistic liberals. Traditional conservatives, like Derbyshire and Newt Gingrich, are pessimists. Liberals like Obama and Ted Kennedy are optimist.

But I do agree, there are times for both, and now certainly does feel like a time for pessimism. And that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Political Poon-Tang

Every couple years it comes up - some well respected politician gets caught with his pants down banging someone other than his wife. Most recently, John Edwards fell victim to it.

The reasons for this repeated cycle are obvious. Most of these politicians are nerds growing up. Poon-tang is hard to come by. Eventually, they find success in public life and suddenly, women become available to them. What man could possibly resist? It would take a fanatic.

The irony is these early marriages help a young politicians career. I imagine the stability, encouragement, and respectability helps one get elected. No one is voting for some single dude in his mid-30s who spends his nights waiting in line to get into clubs and trying to pick up younger chicks. No, they vote for the nerdy dude who did well in law school and spends his nights reading up on community issues rather than chasing tail. I would.

But then you hit your 40s and you see your wife who's probably nice and sweet and good, but let's face it - is about a 5 in the looks department. When you were 23 and you met, you were only a 5 also, so you took the plunge. But now you've got 7s and 8s fawning over you and suddenly you realize: shit, I sold my stock when it was low. I should of held onto to Apple during the lean years, I'd be rich right now.

Obama must be troubled by this. The guy could get tons of poon right now. Michelle seems nice, but come on fellas, she ain't all that...and so either the guy's gotta be in love or have incredible discipline. Or else we're in for another scandal.
How Bad Can He Be?

Obama's favorite movie is the Godfather. That's enough to convince me he's not some closeted socialist softie or an Islamicist in wolf's clothing. This is a man I can do business with.

UPDATE: I copped this from Hillary Clinton's facebook page:

When I was much younger, The Wizard of Oz was my favorite movie. I just loved imagining myself being there with Dorothy and being part of that great adventure she had. Probably when I was in college and law school, Casablanca. I watched it I don't know how many times. It was always so much fun. By the time we watched it over and over again, we were actually reciting the dialogue. And I suppose in the last years, Out of Africa. I love Meryl Streep and Robert Redford. Those are my favorite movies.


And from McCains:

Movies: Viva Zapata, Letters From Iwo Jima, Some Like It Hot
Favorite Books: For Whom the Bell Tolls
Favorite TV Shows: 24, Seinfeld

And now, Obama's:

Favorite Movies:
Casablanca, Godfather I & II, Lawrence of Arabia and
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Favorite Books:
Song of Solomon (Toni Morrison), Moby Dick,
Shakespeare's Tragedies, Parting the Waters, Gilead (Robinson), Self-Reliance (Emerson), The Bible, Lincoln's Collected Writings
Favorite TV Shows: Sportscenter

God, all this sort of explains it all.

Hillary's selections are the selections of a nerd. Wizard of Oz. Out of Africa. Gimme a break. What's worse, however, is her long-winded explanation of it. Just write your three favorite movie, dummy.

McCain's choices are reflective of a total conundrum. It's as if he purposely picked things he thought other people wouldn't expect he'd like. Or maybe he's just like that. A guy with goofy, eclectic tastes. I mean the guy lists Seinfeld as his favorite show. John McCain, tortured war prisoner and warrior. I can just picture himself laughing his ass off watching Seinfeld reruns and it makes me love the old bastard. He's practically caricatured in Seinfeld with the Elaine's father character...a Hemingway-esque writer. Which brings up his favorite book...For Whom The Bell Tolls. That makes perfect sense.

And then, Some Like It Hot...? This guy is a goofball.

Obama's movie and book choice are reflective of a very sophisticated guy. He likes epic work. He likes grandiose gestures. I worry about the lack of humor. I don't trust people who don't get humor. But then again, I love the Godfather. I suppose I like the Sportscenter choice. It is the choice of a man. A man who likes to be caught up on everything at the end of the night when the kids and wife have gone to bed. To get his mind off the daily grind. The guy will take the job seriously. McCain is a little off his rocker. He might get a goofy idea that he and Russ Feingold should dress up as Islamic Women and invade Pakistan to grab Osama Bin Laden. Then again, the plan might work.
Right/Left Right/Wrong

I'll cop to Andrew Sullivan making a very smart point about the perils of Bush's and McCain's foreign policy plans here.

But if you're reasonable, you also must admit that had Barak Obama and other anti-war folks had their way in 2005-2006, we'd be in MUCH worse shape than we are as a result of the surge.

So while it's now wise to now temper the language of "victory," with respect to the Iraq War, it's also probably wise to temper the language of defeat and blunder, etc.

No one has been right about this thing all along. And going for the binary descriptions - pro-war/anti-war, victory/defeat, win/surrender won't lead us out of divisiveness, it'll just plunge us into it further and further.
House Bunny Perspective

I realize this movie will not delight EVERYONE. But in comparison to the Judd Apatow comedies - which according to popularity are the most hip/cutting edge these days - House Bunny measures up. I much prefer it to Pineapple Express, Superbad, or Knocked Up. I suppose 40 Year Old Virgin still deserves props - but how much of that is due to Steve Carell's everyman genius?

No movies are doing better comedy these days than 30 Rock or the Office.
US Military Bases

A neat interactive map of where our troops are stationed around the world. Surely some of this data is inaccurate, as the military would keep certain info classified. Most obviously, the number of troops in Pakistan. It would be crazy for us only to have 36 troops total.

Also, what's up with places where there are 2 or 3 US troops. Who are those people?
Socially Conscious

In thinking more about it, the notion of socially conscious films has been around for a long time. When I was younger we called them something different: LAME.
Funny Females

There is something in the culture going on...I can smell it. No, it isn't that come November, there will be an African American in the White House. It was inevitable, given America's history, and how God seems to enjoy irony, such a day would someday come. But by no means was it certain - or even predictable - that women would suddenly become the tip top cutting edge of comedy in America.

If you haven't guessed it yet - I just saw House Bunny. It was funny. I cried laughing in one scene. And it wasn't just Anna Faris. Emma Stone is freaking hilarious.

This is not the Elaine in Seinfeld phenomenon. Elaine was a very funny female character. But any Seinfeld aficionado knows they had incredible trouble writing for Elaine and basically copped Jerry and George storylines and just gave them to Elaine. No, Elaine was a female Jerry/George amalgam...incredibly well acted by Julia Louise Dreyfus, don't get me wrong, but she was female comic relief in an essentially male show.

House Bunny is different. This is a girls movie. It fails sometimes - it is not great - but like early Adam Sandler movies, if you allow yourself to get sucked it my some silly laughs, eventually it'll catch you and the weirdness takes over. It isn't quite the female Revenge of the Nerds, but it's in the ballpark.

For anyone who knows me or reads the blog, you need not hear any more praise of 30 Rock, the best show on television, also driven by a female creator.

So what you have this year - in 2008 - is the funniest movie and the funniest TV show both created by females. Talk about socially conscious. I for one expected to see a female president long before this...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Socially Conscious

I read an artist statement today which said they were socially conscious filmmakers.

I wish I had the courage and ability to punch the socially conscious filmmaker in the face.

The term means nothing. Do people realize it? It is purposely vacuous so the user can substitute different meanings into the word, based upon what is momentarily convenient, and worse, to sound morally superior.

I read different definitions on the web. I guess the overall idea is that socially conscious business is more concerned with doing good for the world than making a profit. Oops. I just puked on myself a little bit from writing that. Sorry. I can't delve into the all the issues here. I will instead quote someone else who said, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions."

I can only speak for film because sadly, it is becoming the only subject I know anything about. What is a socially conscious film, I ask? It must be a film that deals with moral questions as opposed to simple entertainments. Or can it also be a film that deals with underrepresented minority groups? Or a film that deals with an important social issue like education or the environment or the war?

A Frontline Account

Michael Totten gives some great front line reporting on the Georgia-Russian war.

Some crazy stuff in here about how Russia gamed the international system to their advantage. Also, the power of a few words...

They lived in a failed state, then there was the Rose Revolution – it wasn't perfect but, damn, now there's electricity, there's jobs, roads have been fixed – and what the Georgians have had drummed into them is that Georgia is now a constitutional state, a state of law and order. And everybody here knows that Ossetia is a gangster's smuggler's paradise. The whole world knows it, but here they know it particularly well. The peacekeepers had a military objective, and the first rule of warfare when you're talking to the media is not to reveal to your enemy what you're going to do. So they weren't going to blather into a microphone and say well, actually, I'm trying to go through Tskhinvali in order to stop the Russians. So what did he say instead? I'm here to restore constitutional order in South Ossetia. And that's it. With that, Georgia lost the propaganda war and the world believes Saakashvili started it. And the rest of the know.”

In Hollywood, you write some bad lines and we don't get a writing assignment or get edited. In politics, you say the wrong thing at the wrong time and history is altered in your disfavor.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Fine with Me, Dude

Maliki calls for US troops out by 2011. Is this a long term plot for revenge against the Sunnis?


I hope Saddam appreciates irony. Think of it. He pretended to hold WMDs because he feared Iranian revenge for his brutal treatment of Shiia. But precisely because he successfully feigned possession of WMDs, the United States took him down. History is very funny like that.
Beating Terrorists Militarily

Many argue that fighting terrorists only helps fill the terrorist ranks with eager recruits. To a certain degree this is true. But lest we forget, fighting terrorists also trains our military and spy services how to beat the terrorists.

Israel's campaigns against Palestinian groups and our campaigns against AQI and AQ central have generated some insight.

The terrorists have a nearly inexhaustible supply of gunmen and suicide bombers from the hundreds of pro-terror religious schools in Pakistan. Plenty of cash is available from contributions and criminal activities (particularly working for the heroin gangs in Afghanistan). But leadership cannot be bought, nor can you hire technical people to work the high risk (and high death rate) border areas. You have to develop your own leaders and technical people. And if the enemy kills off those leaders and techies too rapidly, the terror operations will collapse.

I'm not afraid of the gunman. But I am afraid of the people who can organize the gunmen and lead them in missions. We don't need to worry about the hundreds of half-retarded thugs who make it to the training camps. We need to worry about killing the future Mohammed Atta's before they can organize effective attacks against us.
Key to Good Blogs

A theory of what differentiates good from bad blogs. Theory can apply to any creative pursuit.

I don't know if it's true or what creative people tell themselves to convince themselves of some control over it. I suppose it doesn't really matter.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Fancy Bfast Makes A Comeback

I'm a huge fan of breakfast and not a huge fan of this list is a mixed bag for me...sort of like Margo at the Wedding, a film by a director I hate, shot by the only DP I'd go to see a movie for.
This City Deserves A Better Class of Criminal

An article complaining about the mediocre villains of recent movies and tv.

I agree that all this post-modern bullshit explaining the villains motives and trying to create sympathy sucks for the movie experience. I will add, however, my favorite type of villains are the ones you are initially attracted to and grow to hate. Best example off the top of my head is John Huston in Chinatown.

The article is talking about comic book stories, but I actually think the thesis applies better to action and thriller movies.
In Praise of Melancholy

A nice essay deriding happiness as the end-all, be-all goal of this life.
Conservatives in Hollywood

Not so fast. My reaction to any published list of Hollywood conservatives is always the same:

"Oh yeah...I forgot about that guy."

"Who is that?"

30 Rock summed it up perfectly in the episode when Baldwin tries to get celebrities to do a Republican ad.
Chinese Artifice

I don't quite get the American outrage over Chinese artifice during the Olympics. Most of these things Hollywood does on an everyday basis and we call it entertainment. TV does it as well.

Other than the censorship, is this really all that morally offensive?
Being in LA

Can't help but wonder which celebrity females I'd be compatible with.

See - this is a good use of the internet.

Turns out I'm super hot with Mariah Carey and Kate Winslet. Wouldn't have expected that.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

As If I Needed Another Reason

Employers checking out Facebook profiles of potential employees.

I'm this close to canceling my LinkedIn profile because it does absolutely nothing for me. I don't update it. The only time I ever log in is when people invite me to join and I just accept. What the hell is the point. I stopped using Goodreads after I got verbally assaulted and accused of trying sabotage a pre-published book that sucked. I hate this new internet-dating-reality-tv-style-culture we've descended into, where a person is what they can represent or be sold-as for entertainment purposes rather than the how things used to be - people had a reputation based upon things they did and people who knew them. Now, people are their facebook profiles first. Too much goddamn info.

The irony of me writing this on a blog is not lost on me...for some reason, I find a blog more private than facebook. A blog is like a memoir or an op-ed and is controlled by the author. I view it as an ongoing conversation, a record of thoughts, a sketchbook of ideas. Facebook and LinkedIn are giving up control to their interactive system and your image is no longer yours. It's the internet version of reality tv, which entertains through humiliation of others. You're there for the entertainment of others - so they can waste time screwing around accumulating points in a vast and superficial universe of meaningless connections.
Great Idea

Providing playing cards to Prisoners with details about missing peoples, unsolved crimes, etc. Prisoners read the cards and provide any information they may know. This is a highly imaginative, simple, and dare I say, beautiful, information system.
Can A Democrat Vote For McCain and Not Be A Racist?

Sure. You think the WOT is the primary issue and McCain will handle it better than Obama because of experience and his record.

You believe fiscal policy is a wash between parties and other big democratic issues like abortion, healthcare, education, and environment are tertiary to the WOT...

You don't believe McCain is beholden to the kooks on the right, whereas Obama might be to the kooks on the left.

I guess the question is better phrased - can you be a Democrat with this set of beliefs?
Really, Dude?

I'm a fan of Ender's Game. But this is just unhinged.
One Point

I very much disagree with Steele on one point: if Obama is a sub-par President, it will be a step back culturally. The implication being, if Obama is an inept President, it will reflect poorly on black ability. Absurd. Completely and totally absurd. It should be dismissed out of hand.

Since when is a man not just a man? If a woman does a bad job directing a film, it doesn't mean all women are bad directors. This kind of thinking is a sick combination of guilt by association and presumes an individual is firstly characterized by their race or gender. If a person decides to let their gender, race, or sexual orientation be the forefront of their character - that's their choice - but it doesn't mean everyone does, should, or must.
Just A Few Quotes From Steele

On Obama:

Many Americans want to believe that there are people on whom race sits very lightly, people whose very hybridism suggests the possibility of transcending race.

But Barack Obama is not such a person. His books show a man nothing less than driven by a determination to be black, as if blackness were more a specific achievement than a birthright. This drive puts Obama at odds with his own political persona. Much of the excitement that surrounds him comes from the perception that he is only lightly tethered to race. Yet the very arc of his life–from Hawaii to the South Side of Chicago–has been shaped by an often conscious resolve to “belong” irrefutably to the black identity.

On White Guilt:

After World War II, revolutions across the globe, from India to Algeria and from Indonesia to the American civil rights revolution, defeated the authority inherent in white supremacy, if not the idea itself. And this defeat exacted a price: the West was left stigmatized by its sins. Today, the white West–like Germany after the Nazi defeat–lives in a kind of secular penitence in which the slightest echo of past sins brings down withering condemnation. There is now a cloud over white skin where there once was unquestioned authority.

I call this white guilt not because it is a guilt of conscience but because people stigmatized with moral crimes–here racism and imperialism–lack moral authority and so act guiltily whether they feel guilt or not.

They struggle, above all else, to dissociate themselves from the past sins they are stigmatized with. When they behave in ways that invoke the memory of those sins, they must labor to prove that they have not relapsed into their group’s former sinfulness. So when America–the greatest embodiment of Western power–goes to war in Third World Iraq, it must also labor to dissociate that action from the great Western sin of imperialism. Thus, in Iraq we are in two wars, one against an insurgency and another against the past–two fronts, two victories to win, one military, the other a victory of dissociation.

On the election and how Obama's cultural vs. political relevance:

So it has to be acknowledged that, on the level of cultural and historical symbolism, an Obama presidency might nudge the culture forward a bit -- presuming of course that he would be at least a competent president. (A less-than-competent black president would likely be a step backwards.) It would be a good thing were blacks to be more open to the power of individual responsibility. And it would surely help us all if whites were less cowed by the political correctness on black issues that protects their racial innocence at the expense of the very principles that made America great. We Americans are hungry for such a cultural shift.

This, no doubt, is what Barack Obama means by "change." He promises to reconfigure our exhausted cultural arrangement.

But here lies his essential contradiction: His campaign is more cultural than political. He sells himself more as a cultural breakthrough than as a candidate for office. To be a projection screen for the cultural aspirations of both blacks and whites one must be an invisible man politically. Real world politics, in their mundanity, interrupt cultural projections. And so Mr. Obama's political invisibility -- a charm that can only derive from a lack of deep political convictions -- may well serve his cultural appeal, but it also makes him something of a political mess.

Already he has flip-flopped on campaign financing, wire-tapping, gun control, faith-based initiatives, and the terms of withdrawal from Iraq. Those enamored of his cultural potential may say these reversals are an indication of thoughtfulness, or even open-mindedness. But could it be that this is a man who trusted so much in his cultural appeal that the struggles of principle and conscience never seemed quite real to him? His flip-flops belie an almost existential callowness toward principle, as if the very idea of permanent truth is passé, a form of bad taste.

John McCain is simply a man of considerable character, poor guy. He is utterly bereft of cultural cachet. Against an animating message of cultural "change," he is retrogression itself. Worse, Mr. Obama's trick is to take politics off the table by moving so politically close to his opponent that only culture is left to separate them. And, unencumbered as he is by deep attachment to principle, he can be both far-left and center-right. He can steal much of Mr. McCain's territory.


Good Lord, just read a Shelby Steele piece because writing that bit about Obama in the entry prompted me to look it up and make sure I got it right.

This is the best piece on race and America I've read in a long time. It is actually profound, if you ask me.

I don't know if his answers are right, but his diagnosis is brilliant.
Why Do the Interns Do That?

We have interns at my office. New one's every semester. And each semester/summer the female interns brings cookies towards the end of their time here. It's now happened four times. Why do they do that?

It always makes me feel a little bad, a little guilty, like we should be giving them gifts or something. Why do they bring us cookies? They are coming in, working for free, we should be making them cookies. They don't need to do that. The guy interns are also sometimes similarly generous, leaving food, etc. Before I was here, apparently one guy intern decided to make smoothies and made these disgusting blended strawberry drink no one would drink, except the other assistant who gulped it down to be polite.

I don't get why they all do this.
Russia - Can We Chill Out?

A plea to chill over the Russia-Georgia thing.

Here's the deal: Russia may be autocratic and not share our democratic impulses. They like to be feared, wealthy, and strong. Fine. I don't see an inherent conflict between us and the Russians. Nor do I see one with the Chinese - another illiberal society. These are people we are compatible with - maybe not simpatico - but at least can live with, so long as both sides mind their own business.

On the other hand, we have the toxic mix of Arab Nationalists and Islamic Fundamentalists, who are flip sides of the same coin in the Arab-Muslim world. These people do not like us and worse, aren't really rational about it. They are dangerous and the only extent to which we do not clash with them is that they have very limited power.

In the article, it says that ex-President Nixon proposed in 1991-1993, we should have done everything in our power to bring Russia into the West. I don't disagree, in hindsight. I can tell, however, that no one wanted to listen to Nixon because, well, he's Nixon. Americans, I think, too often are ready to toss those who've made mistakes wholeheartedly to the wolves and too gleefully enjoy disregarding everything they say, do, or have done. I still think this was the biggest flaw in liberal opposition to the Iraq War - liberals never wanted to deal with the issues - they're position was mostly "Bush is wrong, he is untrustworthy, and therefore, this whole think reeks."

I can hear the liberal response already - "Well, WE were right! There were no WMDs. Bush lied, Bush WAS wrong."

How far do we expect to get with this approach? Not far, I don't think. It will lead to what Shelby Steele predicts will happen with Obama - that he will become a tragic figure. Liberals think this guy is a Godsend, that whatever he does is good and right and to oppose him is a reflection of either racism or conservatism, both of which fit somewhere along the evil-scale in between nazism and big corporations. So to support Obama is to support what is good. But this is foolishness - Obama is a politician and will make compromises because that's what politicians do. And his supporters, who project their hopes and dreams on him (which is what McCain was getting at with his comparisons to celebrities) will ultimately feel disappointed and betrayed as soon as they learn, in the words of Apollo Creed's father, "He's a man. Not a machine. He's a man."

Anyhow, I heard someone describe Russia as Mexico with Nukes. Look up the demographics. Is it wrong? Plus, why can't we just let the Europeans deal with it? The EU is bigger than the US in economic weight and Russia is in their backyard and they didn't support us when we needed them in Iraq. Explain to me why it is in our interest to do the heavy lifting with the Russians?
And then what is there

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Dark Knight - IMAX

Felt like I needed to see this on IMAX to see all the hullabaloo. Indeed, the cityscape shots on IMAX are incredible. When the opening shot comes up, the crowd literally gasped. I was one of them. The image was clearer, with more resolution, and more size/scope than any of us were used to. Good God, I thought, there is something to this IMAX crap...

Yet, when you get into the movie, it's just the movie. There are later cityscape shots on IMAX and shots with characters in large spaces with IMAX, but by that time the WOW factor was gone. We're just in the movie and I can't say I necessarily enjoyed the movie any more as a piece in IMAX than I did on 35mm.

The back and forth between IMAX and 35mm felt continuous and I suspect the layperson would barely notice. The IMAX, to me, worked well to expand the frame in the cityscape shots, but wasn't used to improve any scene work. I imagine Tati or Renoir could use it with more visual aplomb.

I saw the IMAX at the Bridge. It cost $15. I got a Ben and Jerry's ice cream before the film - my first ice cream from an ice cream shop in awhile. $3.29 for a small cup. I must be getting old because I thought ice cream cost $2. It won't be long before I'm lecturing to bored kids about how I used to get a Coke for a nickel.

On a second viewing, I was struck with the very obvious political reading of Batman. This was basically a Straussion-Neoconservative take on present American society, especially the end, which in the mythologizing of Harvey Dent and "rewarding the faith" of the people, is the "noble lie" Strauss suggests is needed for a healthy society.

Strauss worried about nihilism being the ultimate end result to Western Liberal society, a nihilism which arises out of egalitarian and relativism, when a society and people begins to view itself as no better or no worse than than other societies or other people.

Mix up Strauss and the Neoconservatives with the Islamic Terrorists, mildly temper it with critiques from traditional conservatives and leftist internationalists and you basically get our War on Terror...and The Dark Knight, which in the end, can be read as an apologia for the WOT and how it's been waged.

This film can be read as an explicit endorsement of Bush's WOT policies. First, we are just to provoke bad guys and we should expect their reaction - "bring it on." Second, when the bag guys fight back and get all crazy and even turn to worse guys, we should, in words of Michael Caine "endure," or in the words of GW "surge." Third, in order to win, we should absolutely be willing to cross moral and ethical lines to achieve the goal - wiretap, etc. Lastly, when some of our heroes resort to torture and intimidation and go waaaay overboard, we should lie about it and sweep it under the rug, in order to preserve the myth of goodness.

This is textbook - I don't see another possible political reading of the film - and could be observed and written by a college sophomore.

What strikes me, however, is the contrast between the obvious popularity of the Dark Knight and obvious unpopularity of Bush's WOT policies. Do people not care about the politics and ethos of movies? Are they merely entranced by Heath's depiction of the Joker/Terrorist?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

California and Torture

California takes steps to prevent Californians from participating in "enhanced interrogation."

The ticking bomb scenario aside, we can't be torturing people. And killing them in captivity.

It baffles me how this happened. Who are these people who thought it all right?

If these were orders, they aren't to be obeyed. And if they weren't ordered, they are to be punished.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Propaganda, Truth, and Censorship

"The Path to 9/11" was a docudrama about the build up to 9/11 that screened a couple years ago on ABC. I watched part of it and thought it was pretty good. Especially given the budget of 500,000 and that it was a TV movie. I liked it better than say, Hotel Rwanda, a political film which got a lot of traction.

At the time, the Clinton's called the film "a right wing hatchet job," and convinced the network to cut some scenes before screening the film. They didn't like how the film presented their administration as being partially responsible for not dealing with the Bin Laden threat prior to 9/11. Given that the movie was about the build up to 9/11, I think it's pretty obvious that the Clinton administration would come out looking not very good...considering, well, that thye failed to stop the growth of Al Queda.

I have long personally advocated a "pass" mentality given to our political leaders prior to 9/11 because the public at large had little reason to think a couple of kooks in caves could harness such damage. I don't give the same pass to our intelligence services, who are supposed to be tracking this stuff. And I do think Bush should have fired George Tenant rather than giving him a medal.

But with respect to the TV movie...

I am alarmed by the notion of political leaders stepping in to censor material. Granted, this wasn't an official act of government censorship, but clearly, the Clinton's were using their heavyweight power and threat of political or social retaliation to prevent a movie from being seen the way creators wanted to depict it. How would we have felt if Richard Nixon's cronies asked Oliver Stone to censor his portrayal of the ex-President? Or the Kennedy family stepping in on JFK? There are countless numbers of examples that seem ripe for such tampering.

The Clinton's argue 9/11 was too important an event to depict inaccurately and to create scenes that didn't occur in the name of dramatic license. Actually, I'm giving them more credit than they deserve...I think they argue that "The Path to 9/11" borders on right wing propaganda.

So here's the question - what is a greater ill - propaganda or censorship? And what was "Path to 9/11?"

Propaganda is the attempt to influence the audience to a specific point of view of the propagandist. Normally, it is associated with a political or religious point of view. This differs from advertising, which is propaganda to purchase consumer goods. It also differs from art, which aspires to finding beauty or truth.

Do the creators think they are creating propaganda? Do propagandists think they are creating propaganda? I highly doubt it. I imagine they think they are trying to depict a truth - either emotional or otherwise.

Okay...leaving work early, tbc...
Secretary of State Clooney

I like Clooney, but reports that he is advising Obama:

"The paper also claimed the actor is informally advising the candidate on Middle East issues, including advocating unconditional withdrawal from Iraq should Obama win office."

Uhhh. Shouldn't he just stick to raising money for the man?

UPDATE: Okay, so Clooney denies it. Fair enough. I blame the retarded press for the moment.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Well, No Shit

If Georgia had Islamic-Nationalist tendencies, the US response would be much different.

Of course. Because Islamicists are not our friends.

In fairness to the Chinese, the girl they hired to lip-sync is very cute. Well done, Zang Yimou! Good casting.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Mata Hari

It's always good to hear when we catch a terrorist. It sounds like she's smart and crazy, which unfortunately for us, is a good combination for a terrorist.

Towards the end of the article it mentions our intel on Al Queda has gone down significantly, which I take as a bad sign. Of course, if we were getting good intel, I would lie about it and say we don't have any. If I were in the spy business.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Lincoln Corridor Food Options Part I

I've nicknamed Lincoln street from the corner of Wilshire in Santa Monica to Marina Del Ray the Lincoln corridor. I've never said this to anyone, I just think it to myself in my head. Perhaps I should simply call it "Lincoln St.," but I feel as though it is more than just a street, that it has a distinct vibe to the commercial establishments along it.

Now first, let me be frank - most of the food options on the Lincoln corridor are disgusting. There tons of places I will never eat along this corridor. Nonetheless, there are also a lot of cheap spots and I like to eat cheap.

I will start at the corner on Lincoln and Wilshire and move South.

Baja Fresh - Most people know Baja Fresh. I think it's gotten worse in the past couple years to the point where I almost consider it fast food. That said, they have an incredible molejito (I am sure this is spelled wrong) salsa that you need to ask for from behind the counter. It's dark red and chunky and if it were served in a fancy Mexican restaurant I would say it's one of the best salsa's in the city. I like bean and cheese burritos with guacamole and when I go to Baja Fresh that's what I order. I get the burrito with chips and salsa and it costs with tax $5.35 and I'm totally and completely filled up for lunch. This is one of the only full lunch meals I know of anymore that costs only $5.

Lucy's - the original Lucy's is a small sandwich shack run by Korean ladies behind the copy store where I get copies. They have an incredibly large menu for a tiny sandwich place, full of salads, wraps, sandwiches, along with a nice breakfast menu - burrito, sandwiches, etc. They've opened another branch of Lucy's right nearby on Lincoln, serving basically the same stuff. It's a bit overpriced for very simple, home-made style food. But it's good and relatively healthy and the ingredients are always fresh. I usually get the tuna melt.

Arby's - I've eaten at Arby's two times in the five years I've lived in LA. I do not like it. But when I go, I get some sort of cheese-steak sandwich and a diet pepsi (yes, they serve pepsi, which is one of the reasons I went the first time). It's there, and I've eaten there, so I figure I need to mention it.

Bay Cities - basically my favorite sandwich shop in LA. I hear rumors about other good ones, and East Side Deli in Echo Park makes a mean meatball and sausage sandwich, but for overall quality and consistency and variety, nothing beats Bay Cities. The classic sandwich at Bay Cities is the Godmother, a mix of good Italian meats fixed with peppers, lettuce, tomatoes (the works, basically) fixed on Bay Cities near perfect Filone bread which they make in house. The cheap cousin of the Godmother is called the Poor Boy, which is basically the Godmother, but made with cheaper Italian meats - a lower quality salami, bologna instead of mortadella, ham rather than prosciutto, you get the picture. But you can get a Poor Boy sandwich for under $5 and it'll fill you up. So let me add that my under $5 lunch list - the Poor Boy is a very decent option. Moving on...the Meatball sandwich is amazing. Very simple - Meatball with shredded parmesan. The Chicken Parm is basically the same, except there is melted mozzarella on the chicken parm and they add parmesan and peppers as well. Another good meal is the Chicken Parm or Meatball "dinner," which is a small bed of pasta with a meatball or a piece of chicken parm and a dinner roll - basically half a piece of sandwich bread.

The menu is huge, so in the interest of time, I will leave with my current favorite Bay Cities sandwich - Roast Turkey with Havarti with the works. Hunh? You say? A turkey sandwich? That sounds like the most boring thing in the world. But no...if you are familiar with bay cities, you are familiar with the works, a spattering mess of spicy Italian peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, mustard, mayo all mixed with the sandwich meat and cheese to make the most lovely, messy combination. Now, my argument against the Godmother is that as a sandwich, it is too overwhelming to eat with the works. There are too many different spices on the sandwich and it ends up canceling each other out. You can't have so many different Italian meats on a single sandwich with peppers. That's like drinking a coke mixed with a pepsi. Why would anyone do that? Now, I'm stating my case too harshly, because I eat the Godmother occasionally, and it is a pretty awesome sandwich, don't get me wrong. However, on an everyday basis, the Godmother is a bit much - like a super hot, high maintenance girl. She is incredible the first time you see her and the first time you hang - tons of fun and full of confidence. But after hanging out some more, you realize, you can't ever be easy going and comfortable with her just sitting on the couch watching Seinfeld reruns. You see? The Turkey with the works is just spicy enough to keep it interesting, but comfortable enough to eat while watching Seinfeld reruns. It makes total sense to me.

Tommy's Burgers. I don't get Tommy's. I know it has a ton of LA fans, but don't count me one of them. The meat is weird. Fine...I like the idea of messy chili on everything and it's an affordable meal. But I feel sick after I eat Tommy's and don't think it can be honestly put in the same league as In and Out or Fat Burger, even.

The Sushi Place with 50% off. I went here once with Phil and it was a below average sushi place. I think we're all quite spoiled with Sushi, since it seems to me there are a lot of good sushi places out there. It doesn't seem right to eat "bad" sushi. And to be fair, it isn't bad sushi, just a little below average...but again, what's the point in going to a little below average Sushi?

Ameci's - Do not go here. It is gross and disgusting. It is cheap Italian food. A much better dish is boiling up some pasta tossing olive oil, salt, pepper, and a little parm cheese on it.

My House.

To be continued.

I'm late to Creative Screenwriting podcasts, but just listening to one right now about the writer of "Cloverfield" got his first job in Hollywood. He makes some good points, but one practical piece about being an assistant or PA or whatever grunt level job you start with in Hollywood that sticks -

He says - there is absolutely no correlation between someone who gets coffee well and who is a good writer. However, if you can't do the grunt work - getting coffee, scheduling, rolling calls, etc, people will perceive you as incompetent and won't believe you can be a good writer - even if they intellectually know it to be false. But more than that - if you help them - by doing a good job, etc - they in turn will want to help you. On the vice versa, if you do a bad job at the grunt level work, they won't want to help you and to be frank, you need allies to get work in this town.

Interesting piece of advice.
We Need to Exploit This More

It turns out that Al Queda, in addition to being evil, is also retarded.

UPDATE: Gotta watch my usage of retard. Although Tropic Thunder can probably survive "dozens" of protesters, that's publicmusings entire readership!
Well, That's An Interesting Take

An agency that deals with ugly models.

Did you get the memo? I guess ugly is the new hot.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Too Much Too Soon

Yes, Miley Cyrus is going through too much too soon. I agree with these ladies on CNN.
One Reason Not To Dope

A former East German Olympian speaks out.

That would suck.
Georgia and Russia

I haven't written anything on this, mostly because I know nothing. But this Strategy Page article seems to sum up what happened pretty objectively.

This does not seem like an obvious bad guys vs. good guys situation, so I'll temper any blowhard remarks.
Demographic Inversion

Great article about American cities and how city centers are being revamped by middle class folks moving back.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Not Good

Colleges are reporting lots more students asking for financial aid this year.

That's what happens when the costs are out of control and the economy isn't good.

Friday, August 08, 2008


The Japanese are crazy geniuses. I just made the most incredible ramen treat. I've to describe the process, I'm so impressed.

1. Fold back half the lid on a big rectangle sized plastic bowl.

2. Remove all packets. Put in veggie pack. Cover veggie and noodles with hot water for 3 minutes.

3. After three minutes on the other side of the pack you open a little "drain tab." Pour the water out of the drain tab, which holds the noodles and veggies in place.

4. Add the other packets and stir.


See it's shit like this that made me support the Iraq war. 70 years ago Japan was as evil as there was on the planet, vying at the top with Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia. These people were CRAZY - worshiping an Emperor, willing to commit suicide attacks, invading and committing mass acts of torture on their neighbors. They vehemently hated the United States.

But now, they can make the most unbelievable ramen packs. The simple design is so elegant. And they are one of our greatest allies. They don't pose a threat to anyone. I mean - they're pretty fucking awesome. They make the goddamn Playstation and the Prius, man. And sushi.

I think to myself - if our relationship was so hopeless with Japan at one time - why can't our relationship with Iraq or Arabs in general be like that one day? These people are not stupid - 9/11 proved they are people capable of executing a simple and brilliant plan. Just instead of being destructive, why couldn't it be constructive - like the ramen pack. I think it's because of guys like Saddam controlling the Arab countries and making it one big sick funhouse of horrors. I thought, you get rid of him, and don't act like total asses, and in time, we'll see Arab ramen noodles and other cool inventions.

But I don't know. Especially now.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Persuasive Technology

For all the facebook fans out there. I'm very skeptical of this stuff.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Cool Stuff

Cool WW1 maps and history and stuff.
Wine Terror

Well, it makes more sense to me than Islamic Terrorism.

I don't often read Maureen Dowd (manhater), but she's awfully clever at identifying male vulnerability. Here she wacks the entire old guard as being jealous of Obama:

Just as Bill Clinton looks at Obama and sees his own oblivion, so does Jesse Jackson. As Shelby Steele wrote in The Wall Street Journal, Jackson and his generation of civil rights leaders “made keeping whites ‘on the hook’ the most sacred article of the post-’60s black identity,” equality pursued by manipulating white guilt.

Now John McCain is pea-green with envy. That’s the only explanation for why a man who prides himself on honor, a man who vowed not to take the low road in the campaign, having been mugged by W. and Rove in South Carolina in 2000, is engaging in a festival of juvenilia.

And by the I the only one who loves everything McCain's mom says:

Even his own mother, the magical 96-year-old Roberta McCain, let slip that she thought the Paris Hilton-Britney Spears ad was “kinda stupid.”
I'm With Obama On This One

To the extent camps are operating in Pakistan, we should have carte blanche to go in and fuck them up.

The Pakistani's can't have it both ways - they can't argue the territory is ungovernable and then also claim it as sovereign territory.

At the same time, I recognize the challenge of being a lot of militants and we are in constant risk of creating more with a big footprint. Plus, Pakistan is technically our ally in the WOT.

Thus, our primary goal must be to alienate Al Queda. That is, the most anti-American element of the Taliban-Afghani insurgency. Can we separate Al Queda from the Taliban? Would that be in our interest?
See more Paris Hilton videos at Funny or Die

I don't disagree with her.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Nanny State Watch

The Onion weighs in on LA fast food.

I never quite understand where people stand on these issues. For instance, to perpetuate a stereotype, this might offend a conservative who has concerns about nanny-statism because he'll be damned if the state tells people how to behave.

And yet, these same conservatives used to argue against the Central government imposing it's will against the state and local government...the two obvious cases are 1) a historical one - slavery, followed by desegregation, when the state's were claiming sovereignty while denying rights to their citizens, and 2) abortion where states want to make their own rules in defiance of federal law.

In short, who cares what a local municipality does? Should anyone care if someone says - we won't eat fast food in my house? So why can't a local municipality make health decisions for it's citizens? If the citizens are unhappy, they can vote people out of office and clamor for a change in the law.

Certain towns and states all have weird liquor laws, cigarette laws, driving laws, marijuana laws...I don't see why this is so much different. I can just picture California in ten years - all healthy fast food, legalized pot, and everyone driving electric vehicles. It doesn't sound like hell to me.
Just Ebb and Flow, Man

Everyone is asking why the big race is so close.

Personally, this feels similar to the question - why the Lakers are so close during the 2nd quarter of game six of the finals.

There is a natural movement towards parity during a game or an election...the leading team starts playing less hard and the behind team knows it needs to up the energy not to get blown out. Plus, the refs, fans, and press all want a tighter race and so it feels close...but my bet is still that come November, we'll be crowning the Celtics champs. And it won't be close.

Monday, August 04, 2008

F-the Fan Boys

I've heard a few buzz reports about these crazy Batman fans writing threats to movie reviewers.

Is this is a new thing? I don't know. I just know people are starting to talk about it. F those freaking losers. Who takes movies that seriously?
Elliot Gould

Nice article about the man.


"That easygoing quality is perhaps best showcased in the films Mr. Gould made with Mr. Altman. The partnership did not begin smoothly. Mr. Gould and his “MASH” co-star Donald Sutherland found Mr. Altman’s improvisatory method off-putting and wanted him fired. “Sutherland and I both took ourselves a little too seriously,” Mr. Gould said. “But luckily I came around. Bob opened everything up for me.”"

Hat tip, Mel.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

More Bromance

Stepbrothers is basically a bromance movie. A few super funny moments. Overall, just an average Will Ferrell movie.

Swing Vote had some really lame moments and a somewhat lame premise if you say it aloud. But overall, because it's heart was in the right place and I don't take it too seroiusly, I forgive the many mistakes. I like Costner, but he isn't naturally funny, which is a problem in the first half of the movie where he's supposed to be the source of humor.

Rewatched it the other night when I was in the mood for some old fashioned filmmaking. Wasn't as great as I remembered it. I was left thinking - what was the nature of their Paris relationship. Did they shag or not?

But there is some great dialog and the elegant plot structure is a movie pleasure I sometimes forget about. It reminded me of why Seinfeld was so wasn't just the ironic POV and the brilliance of the four characters and their dynamic...but each episode had brilliant structure and the story lines "all tied together" in the end. The pleasure an audience gets from such tidiness is similar to the feel of a well-constructed song. You feel emotional satisfaction when watching...but underneath, the nuts and bolts is basically good engineering.
Pineapple Express

I don't know where I read that the Buddy movie is a genre subset of the love story. Pineapple Express disproves this theory. It is a bromance - a true romantic comedy about two dudes falling in platonic love for one another. It is also a stoner-action movie. Does this sound bad? It is.

An old fashioned buddy movie isn't really a love story. Normally, in a buddy film, the plot involves two buddies teaming up to bring down some sort of bad guy or to pull off some type of scheme. There is an outside antagonist. In a love story, the antagonist is generally the love interest.

In any case, there are two subgenres of Hollywood films developing right now - the bromance and the action-movie spoof. Superbad and Pineapple Express are the best examples of the bromance, where basically man-adolescents are stuck in a perpetual teenage-dom and seek love/intimacy with their best dude friend. These themes are uninteresting to me.

Action-movie spoofs like Pineapple Express and Hot Fuzz are made supposedly by filmmakers who love 80s action comedies. Yet, these spoofs, to me, fundamentally misunderstand 80s action comedies. Those movies had real menace. The bad guys were real characters and real bad. And the good guys were competent. There is actually a seriousness in the films that these spoofs do not really lampoon and makes me think the filmmakers don't understand the genre. They don't work as as true action comedies and they don't work as spoofs in the way Austin Powers lampoons James Bond.
Funny, That's How I Feel

An interview with T-Bone Pickens.

"Would you ever vote for a Democratic candidate? No. I wouldn’t. I’m a Republican. I don’t want to go to heaven and have to face my family up there and tell them I voted for a Democrat."

I sort of feel the same way about being a Democrat.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Wise Man

I saw an interview with Kevin Nealon the other day...really it was an ad for Weeds, but the interviewer asked him whether he thought pot should be legal.

"Only for medical and entertainment purposes. Seriously, if you use pot for anything else, it can be really dangerous."