Monday, June 29, 2009

US Soccer Thoughts

US was up 2-0 at halftime against Brazil in the Confederations Cup on Sunday. In the first few minutes of the second half, Brazil scored a quick goal - it was a nice play, but ultimately a lucky goal. From there, it was just a matter of time before Brazil won the game. They completely owned possession, had many scoring opportunities and had it gone to overtime, surely would have won. The US played with heart, but ultimately, they are a much inferior team and will lose 9 out of 10 times to a team like Brazil. Maybe even 19 out of 20.

To put it into perspective, Landon Donovan is the best player on the US team and arguably the best field player in US soccer history. Donovan may start on the Brazilian team, but certainly would not be amongst their top players. In Germany, he is considered a bust, having tried to play professionally three times (although part of this has to do with home-sickness). In a sports illustrated article last week, they pointed out the US has not had a field player start for any of the top clubs in England, Italy, Spain, or Germany. We are simply not even close to putting together a world class team.

Let's put it another way. In terms of basketball, there are several foreign players amongst the NBA elite - Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker, Manu Ginolbi, Yao Ming, Hedo Turkoglu...I'm sure I'm missing some others. I don't think Landon Donovan - or any US soccer player - can be considered as good as say, Luis Scola on an NBA team. Donovan is probably equivalent to Shawn Marion, a good, respectable player who occasionally drops 20, but is not a guy you really fear on the field.

Soccer is a lot like basketball. On a given night, an inferior team can win. In soccer, goals are so rare a team can get a counter-attack or a set piece goal and hold down the fort and beat a superior team. In basketball, a shooting team can get hot or just play with a lot of intensity and win. We see it in the NCAA tournament every single year. In a single game, anything can happen. Which is what makes these soccer tournaments like world cup and european cup, etc, so exciting. The one and done aspect of it. But let's not confuse the US beating Spain and playing Brazil tough as ushering in a new era of soccer. We are still a long ways off and it's not clear to me we'll ever match the top countries in soccer. It's a cultural thing - it doesn't have to do with the physical skills or the effort or the money or anything like that. We have all those things. In Brazil, right now, it is lunchtime and the kids on the playground are juggling the soccer ball and showing off one on one skills to one another and fooling around. They are cheering for beautiful moves and clever, creative passes or touches or whatever. The US kids are playing football or basketball or maybe some are playing soccer, but they don't cheer for beautiful moves or great touches - they don't quite get it - they wouldn't know what to look for. Basketball is still an apt comparison - in the inner city - the kids are looking for jukes and awesome dunks and no look passes and get street cred for coming up with these things. I don't see that happening in the US - never on the scale as in Brazil or Argentina or Italy or England and so while we have many talented players with energy, dedication, and character - all the things one needs to succeed at anything in life - the cultural passion and communal, grassroots love for the game simply cannot be imported. Maybe it will spring up somewhere at some time organically and unexpectedly, but for now, it just doesn't seem to be here.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Slow Blogging

Will be out of town this week and blogging will be slow.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


The US beat Spain 2-0
. This is why I can't follow soccer. The games are in the middle of the day. Who has time to pay attention? And who imagined the US beating Spain? Are you kidding me? It ruins what could of been an awesome final - Spain v. Brazil. Yes, you are picking up on my closet anti-Americanism when it comes to soccer. Our team and the way we play stinks. I've never liked it. Nonetheless, congrats are in order. Spain is generally regarded as the top team in the world right now and well, the US is not even close.
Hopefully A Joke

Oscars expanding best pic nomination to 10 movies.

It seemed to me they have trouble making five films worthy of nomination each year.
Haters, Come Forward

Pinkberry offers free new flavors on friday.
Inish Scull

I love this damn book:

The tragedy of man is not death or epidemic or lust or rage or fitful jealousy," he said loudly - his voice tended to rise while declaiming unpleasant facts.

"No sir, the tragedy of man is boredom, sir - boredom!" the Captain said. "A man can only do a given thing so many times with freshness and spirit - then, no matter what it is, it becomes like an office task. I enjoy cards and whoring, but even cards and whoring can grow boresome. You tup your wife a thousand times and that becomes an office task, too."

What a great set up to a character off to do a fool's errand to, in his words, "keep tasting the salt."
Good Point

On indy movie making. Hat tip, Naveen.

“The real problem with the indie business isn’t quality, but discipline. We have a generation of filmmakers who feel entitled to make personal films… and a generation of executives who’ve been willing to essentially use specialty films as a loss-leader to launch their division or win awards. If people in the indie world want to start making money again, they have to start treating their investment like a truly precious natural resource, not like Monopoly money. Discipline is not antithetical to art.”

And by the way, he means financial discipline, not artistic discipline.

August adds: "I wouldn’t make another indie the way I did The Nines. I’d figure out how I was going to make money before figuring out how to get money."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


What a deal! I just bought Comanche Moon in hardback from Amazon for $4 (including shipping). Very good condition, used amazon prime. New the book costs $28. My best purchases of late have been used hardcopy books - THE WAR WITHIN by Woodward, STORY by McKee, and now COMANCHE MOON by McMurtry for a grand total of $8. That is less than I paid for TWILIGHT on Kindle. That's right. I said it. I bought Twilight.

I owe a review from THE WAR WITHIN. Just haven't had the time.
Badass Chicks

These chicks are badass. Take off the headscarves and pick up a rock! You go, girl.

Monday, June 22, 2009

So Sad, So True

Thank you, the onion: Man Who Thought He Was On Date Actually Just At Work-Related Get-Together
Bleak Outlook on World Economy

Have we figured out the bad assets issue yet
? And by the way, there are tons of cool properties for lease or for sale in Santa Monica. I wish I had a lot of dough.
Nevermind the Optimism

I'm just reminded, there will never be peace in the Middle East:

It's not just the Palestinians who have problems with violence religious extremists. In the past few weeks, conservative Jews (Haredi) have rioted in Jerusalem, in opposition to the government allowing cars to park near Haredi neighborhoods on Saturday (the Sabbath). To the north, Arab Christian and Druze (a Moslem sect considered heretical by most Moslems) mobs clashed over a YouTube video the Druze believed showed disrespect for one of their religious leaders. In both cases, there were injuries to police and rioters, and some property damage. Such violence is common in the region, even in Israel.

Even if the Ayatollah's came down in Iran, other fanatics would fill in their shoes. They fight over nothing over there. They fight over patches of dirt and posters of religious leaders. All we can hope for are the least radical to be in control. I fear peace in the Middle East, because it'll probably only happen after a massacre or genocide.
I Don't Doubt It

Al Queda promises to use Pakistan's nukes against the US - should they get their hands on one.

My only solace is that I fell like there is a 50/50 chance they'll end up blowing themselves up if they get their hands on one.
Impressive Turn Out

Over 100% in some cities
in Iran.

This is potentially huge.

Threatswatch and al-Arabiya are reporting Rafsanjani proposed abolishing the Supreme Leader position in Iran (is this why his daughter was kidnapped?).

Likewise, Al Sistani is being included in meetings with Iranian Clerics because:

Sistani's appeal does not end at the Iraqi border, as Iranians increasingly observe his leadership with interest and fondness. Some are "intrigued by the more freewheeling experiment in Shi'ite empowerment taking place across the border in Iraq," which is fundamentally different in approach than the Iranian theocratic brand of dictated observance and obedience. The Boston Globe's Anne Barnard reports that within Tehran's own central bazaar, "an increasing number of merchants are sending their religious donations, a 20 percent tithe expected from all who can spare it, to Iraq's most senior Shi'ite cleric."

If that didn't quite sink in, go read that paragraph again. many Iranian merchants have been sending their 20% tithes to Sistani, not Khamenei. Since at least 2007.

No one is crazy enough to suggest it yet, but I'll just go ahead...are the current events in Iran partially triggered by the events in Iraq? And by events, I mean a relatively moderate ruling Shiia government (I say relatively moderate in comparison to Iran's more hardline Shiia government). This linkage of Al Sistani to the Qom Ayatollah's would indicate such and is the first evidence of linkage.

I hope we are on the crux of something new in the Middle East - a more moderate Shiia face in Iran coupled with a Jewish-Moderate Sunni alliance (Sunnis fear Shiia more than Jews). Let the moderate Sunnis handle the crazy Sunnis (Hamas/Al Queda) and let the moderate Shiia moderate the crazy Shiia (Hezbollah) and perhaps the empowered Shiia scare the Sunni enough to make peace with the Jews. Wallah. Wonderful.
Companies Helping Iranian Government

Seimans and Nokia selling equipment that allows the Iranian government to silence the protesters.
Never Thought Of It That Way

On laughter.

For your race, in its poverty, has unquestionably one really effective weapon — laughter. Power, money, persuasion, supplication, persecution — these can lift at a colossal humbug—push it a little—weaken it a little, century by century; but only laughter can blow it to rags and atoms at a blast. Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand. You are always fussing and fighting with your other weapons. Do you ever use that one? No; you leave it lying rusting. As a race, do you ever use it at all? No; you lack sense and the courage," - Satan, in Mark Twain's "The Mysterious Stranger."
They Should Talk to Me

Amy Pascal isn't happy with the Moneyball script and pulled production days before shooting.

Send it to me, guys, I'll do a pass. I guarantee I know more about the A's than anyone else working on the production.

80% of job losses
during this recession are suffered by men because the brunt of the job losses are in manufacturing and construction.

The only thing I know is that a lot of unemployed men - particularly young men - never leads anywhere good. See the Middle East.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Lonesome Dove

After getting into the Comanche Moon mini-series, I picked up Lonesome Dove again. I'm 200 pages in. I can't stop reading. Interesting tidbit - McMurty developed the idea originally as a screenplay, but John Wayne dropped out and he reworked it into a novel. It later won the Pulitzer Prize.
Ugh: Whatever Works

Larry David in a Woody Allen film with Harris Savides shooting. Enough said. I'm there. If a film student did exactly what Allen does in the first five minutes of the film, they'd be mercilessly criticized and probably hung if it were after the first year. Larry David basically lectures to the camera for five minutes about what a miserable lot the human race is and it goes on and on to the point of nausea. From there, it gets better, there are a few good jokes, but overall, it felt a bit like the humor at a family holiday dinner where you laughing mostly out of obligation rather than pure joy. Plus, the entire premise of the movie was one big cliche - David takes in a young stupid hottie, they fall in love, her conservative parents come to town to find her and end up turning into liberal, bohemian New Yorkers and giving up their stupid, country, god-believing ways. From the cinematical:

Stuffy conservatives! If they only knew that finding and embracing happiness was more important than adhering to intolerant beliefs – and judging those who don't conform accordingly – the world would be one big, joyous Manhattan loft party populated by free-love hipsters! What's obnoxious about Allen's stereotype-mining reversals aren't the politics (though some will surely object) but their unimaginative moldiness.

I'll always love Woody Allen, but this is one worth skipping.
Industry Talk

A very interesting statistical analysis of the spec script market.
Too Skinny

A study in Japan indicates skinny people live shorter than chubby people.

I don't understand what a bmi of less than 18.5 looks like. I imagine it's pretty damn skinny, though.
Iran Thoughts

Pretty good article about the two basic approaches America could take with the events in the past couple weeks.

I wonder - why did the Ayatollah's go for such a big lie? If they had cooked the elections just slightly in Ahmadinejad favor would all of this unfolded? I doubt it. I mean - wouldn't the rational response in a close election be, "Well, I guess it was close and Ahmadinejad probably won." By skewing the votes so massively, they made it all too obvious. I guess subtly isn't religious fundamentalists strong suit.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Now, this is not a bad idea.

The basic insight is that it's quite expensive to perform, for example, legal services in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington DC, or other urban centers where the big firms cluster. The cost of real estate and the cost of living are many times higher than -- to pick an example at random -- Ord, Nebraska. What if a lawyer passed the New York bar, moved to Ord, did work remotely for New York City clients, and made as much discretionary income despite charging a third as much for his services. Obviously this wouldn't work for all legal services -- court room appearances, most obviously -- but it sure would work for some.

On Baseball

Attended my first baseball game of the year last night - Dodgers-A's and it was a good one. A's lost, but it was a classic kind of game - back and forth, low-scoring, good defense, clever base-running. My favorite moment of the game -

The A's have this new guy Rajai Davis playing center field and hitting 8th. I've seen him play a couple times and like how he plays. At the plate, he takes good cuts and last night he made an incredibly smart baserunning play (the easiest way to impress me as a ballplayer). He's on first base and Nomar lobs a pinch hit single into left field. Davis runs hard towards third base and doesn't really slow down. Nomar takes an aggressive turn at first base to maybe stretch into a double. Pierre sort of lazily lobs the ball towards second. Meanwhile, Davis sees this and just takes off towards home. The ball gets to the second baseman who tries to quickly throw home, but the play isn't even close. That tied the game at the time. Very alert play. Don't see plays like that too often. Anyhow, I like this guy.

And then Bill Simmons writes about the golden era of baseball, which happened to coincide with my biggest period of childhood fandom and the dominant team in the league was the Oakland A's - getting to the World Series three years in a row but only winning once.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Do It, Google!

Will Google change their logo to support the Iranian protesters. I thought they were into doing good.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Want A Home?

Move to Detroit...someone got a place for $100.
Congrats to Kate Moore

Is the winner of the National Texting Championship.

I am a slow texter and would've been creamed.
Iran Update

Forbes predicts more bloodshed as the Iranian government takes steps towards isolating the protesters from the rest of the world.

Al Jazeera reports Obama as saying -

"It's important to understand that although there is amazing ferment taking place in Iran, the difference between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi in terms of their actual policies may not be as great as has been advertised," Obama told CNBC news.

"Either way we were going to be dealing with an Iranian regime that has historically been hostile to the United States, that has caused some problems in the neighbourhood and has been pursuing nuclear weapons," Obama said.

Is this just Obama wisely staying two steps behind?
Greg's Pick of the Week: Comanche Moon, the Mini-Series

I can't remember if I wrote about this on the blog the first time I watched it. But I watched it again. As a student of cinema, I find this CBS mini-series fascinating. The craft is bad. The screenwriting bad (even tho it's Larry McMurty and Dianna Ossana). Filmmmaking bad. They've got good actors - Steve Zahn, Val Kilmer, Elizabeth Banks, Linda Cardellini, Wes Studi - but the directing is poor so you have a bunch of crappy actors in between them and I suspect the director fails to get or use the best takes.

BUT, the series is eminently watchable because the characters are so rich and exceptional.

I've heard Denby and AO Scott talk about a great performance carrying bad screenwriting. And I think we all know a lot of movies where a performance is so exceptional, it makes the movie itself watchable or even good. Well, there is no such performance or any such craft in Comanche Moon the CBS Mini-Series. But simply because the conception of the characters and their epic struggles are so rich and fascinating, the series is watchable and quite enjoyable, if you ask me. I'll probably watch it again at some point.

PS - this is the third part of the Lonesome Dove series. The second part chronologically.
Just Weird

Last night after a soccer game I was driving home down Rose and this little one-light scooter was riding really close behind me. I kept looking back because the light was annoying me in my rearview. I yelled out to myself, "Get off my ass!"

I get to Lincoln and am making a right. The scooter pulls up going straight, so it's right next to me. I look over. An innocent enough looking girl. Riding a Vespa. With a helmet. I'm thinking, "You drive too close, lady, gonna get smashed one day." She looks back at me, probably thinking, "You drive too slow, pussy."

So I turn right and head home. And then, a half minute later, I notice the little blinking single light behind me again. WTF. Riding too close. You were going straight, I thought. Now, I'm like, "Get off my ass, bitch!"

I turn left into Raymond - to my home and then what happens? She turns left! I pull over. Now I'm thinking - did I drop something? Is this girl going to stab me? But she pulls past and drives along Raymond up the hill. I sit in my car looking up the hill, half expecting the little light to come back down. But it doesn't. So what do I do? I drive around the corner and park in a different spot. I don't want this girl keying my car. Call me paranoid.

This is LA.
Los Angeles

Why is Los Angeles the best place in the world? This is why:

After my soccer game last Sunday, I decide to hang out and watch the beginning of the next game. Part of me wants to scout this team I'd really like to beat one day - however unlikely. Part of me just likes sitting out in the sun relaxing after a hard game. Part of me wants to watch this guy who I played one year in college with play a little bit (very good player - on the team I want to beat). Behind me, two dudes are sitting, talking, and catching up. I can't help but overhear their conversation, it's right in my ear, after all. They are talking about working on film shoots, different kinds of film stocks and cameras, and getting hired on jobs, etc, etc. I'm rolling my eyes. Actors. Typical LA actors.

But as the conversation goes on and they discuss the relative merits of the Red camera and 8mm and wonder aloud how in the world the movies they are working on are going to make money...suddenly the discussion turns towards actors with HIV and how worrisome the whole situation is. One guy told a story about his friend who was "new to the industry" and is all freaked out about the HIV thing. And then suddenly, I realize - holy shit, these guys are porn stars.

This is LA.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Guy Once Told Me...

"...a day will come when they're killing Ayatollah's in Tehran...and I'll be there...with a baseball bat."

His dad was stolen from his family for three months and returned looking like (his words) a holocaust victim.

Similar sentiment here.
Top Ten

How you know the economy stinks.

Number 8: Too many gators.

Turns out the owner of Savoie's Alligator Farm in Louisiana, home to 100,000 designer-handbags-in-waiting, hasn't sold a single skin to the likes of Louis Vuitton this year. Even worse: The farmers are trying to keep the hides they have stockpiled from spoiling. Only ones not complaining are the gators.

And Speaking of Henry Miller

I wanted to double check the quote. The full quote is:

The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.

Well done, man.

And Miller echoes some of my thoughts on Obama:

No man is great enough or wise enough for any of us to surrender our destiny to. The only way in which anyone can lead us is to restore to us the belief in our own guidance.


One has to be a lowbrow, a bit of a murderer, to be a politician, ready and willing to see people sacrificed, slaughtered, for the sake of an idea, whether a good one or a bad one.

Some others for good measure:

(For the sell out) The man who looks for security, even in the mind, is like a man who would chop off his limbs in order to have artificial ones which will give him no pain or trouble.

(For the liberals) The man who is forever disturbed about the condition of humanity either has no problems of his own or has refused to face them.

(For the readers of Public Musings) The great work must inevitably be obscure, except to the very few, to those who like the author himself are initiated into the mysteries. Communication then is secondary: it is perpetuation which is important. For this only one good reader is necessary.

(For the Mullahs) Whatever needs to be maintained through force is doomed.

Amen, bro.
Is Booze Good For You?

According to this article, it's too hard to tell.

Study after study suggests that alcohol in moderation may promote heart health and even ward off diabetes and dementia. The evidence is so plentiful that some experts consider moderate drinking — about one drink a day for women, about two for men — a central component of a healthy lifestyle.

But what if it’s all a big mistake?

For some scientists, the question will not go away. No study, these critics say, has ever proved a causal relationship between moderate drinking and lower risk of death — only that the two often go together. It may be that moderate drinking is just something healthy people tend to do, not something that makes people healthy.

Who cares? I don't drink because it's healthy, I drink because it's awesome. All this health crap is starting to annoy me. Who wants to live a long life without cheese, booze, and bacon. As Henry Miller says, "life is meant to be lived."

Damn straight.
You Don't Need to Tell Me

Everyone an author.

Everybody wants to say something. But it is slowly growing upon the world that everybody has not got something to say.

I am on the front lines of this, being both a blogger (great example of where there is more writing than readers) and working at a literary agency which literally gets in tons of books not worth the paper they are printed upon. A curious situation, indeed.
Images - Wow

Hat tip, Robyn. These images of the protests are amazing and emotional.
More Iran

The seven demands printed by protesters yesterday.

Number 1 is - Dismissal of Khamenei for not being a fair leader.

This a big deal. They are not advocating a new form of government - but they are advocating the dismissal of the Supreme Leader, who, as far as I understand is an anointed religious position, sort of a Pope who happens to have veto power of the state as well.

And a guide to cyber-war support of the protesters. This is all a foreign language to me, but clearly the internet is a tool being used by both sides to control/disseminate information.

Nice detail:

(T)he State Department apparently asked Twitter to delay their scheduled downtime to help out the protesters. A very nice move, especially considering the lukewarm support the Obama administration has voiced elsewhere.
Iran Coverage

Andrew Sullivan has tons of great Iran coverage. Apparently, he has been the subject of cyberattacks. It is also clear Twitter became an organizing tool of the protesters/Moussavi supporters that the ruling regime was unable to shut down - as they have done with other media, satellites, etc.

Lastly, the most encouraging element here is the widespread consensus WITHIN Iran that the elections were a fraud. This is a lie the regime will have trouble living down.

What do we do in the wake of these developments? Tough call. Let them sort it out is a rational response. But what happens when the regime starts widespread killing? Would it go there? Do we get big bags of guns ready to hand out just in case?
We Can All Agree

Left and Right blogosphere consensus - "Visceral detestation of the Islamic Republic regime in Iran is all but universal."

Monday, June 15, 2009

I'll Give Kobe Credit For One Thing

He is a great subject to write about.
Blasting the Lakers

In the LA Times. Hat tip, Naveen.

As civic pride dictates in these things, of course, everyone is supposed to be a Lakers lover now, giddy and overcome with affection for their heroes, but excuse me if I sit this one out.

At the risk of being blasted as a hater, so much anger out there and everything in sports today taken to the extreme, a victory doesn't suddenly make unlikable athletes likable.

It has never been about winning and losing here, as much as the way athletes and coaches go about their business, so no time now to fake it.

The Lakers were good, all right, and gritty when they had to be, Kobe brilliant as almost always, while Trevor and Lamar added spice to the championship mix.

But winning it all makes them no more appealing, Kobe still over the top absurd in his mood swings, Pau still carrying on like someone swiped his rattle, Phil so above it all it's surprising he doesn't demand to be carried off the court like Cleopatra.

It certain corners of the world, where soccer rules, there is an attitude towards the game not born of winning vs. losing, but whether the game was played beautifully. It is why in Brazil, soccer is called "the beautiful game." It is not enough to win. You must win playing beautifully. This can be easily written off as a bit of fru-fru nonsense and many Americans are wont to do so. But there is something else in the point and it is not just some odd outgrowth of Brazil's unique relationship to soccer. In Barcelona, they insist on only signing players of a certain style. To them, soccer is about resistance to the Fascist Spanish state and in order to resist - Catalan style - you must play democratically. You must play with grace, style, and flair. You must show pizazz, creativity, in a sense, play like a free person would.

I bring this up because basketball and soccer are the most closely related sports. The footwork, spacing, movement is all very similar. Yes, there is the difference of using your feet vs. making a basket, but the underlying spacing is very similar. It is a coincidence Hakeem Olajuwon grew up playing soccer and having the best footwork we've seen on a big man? Is it a coincidence Steve Nash plays indoor soccer during the offseason? I think not.

The reason Los Angeles does not love this team is because they are not lovable. They are unsympathetic characters, if you want to put it in movie terms. They play like a dream team of petty dictators and thugs. They are the Axis. Freedom loving people all around the world should unite against them. This is 1940 and France has surrendered. It is a dark and unhappy day.

Call me a hater. Maybe I am. But if one has any soul and experience, one must hate certain things. If you don't - what can you possibly stand for? For instance, if you don't hate Islamic Fascists, something is wrong with you. Either you don't care, don't know, or are so deluded into a morally relativistic world view, you've lost every ability to make distinction. If you don't hate dealing with bureaucracy, your life has become so petty and boring, you might as well give up. If you don't hate facebook, you are a stalker weirdo. And if you don't hate the Lakers, you are no fan of the beautiful game.
Is This For Real?

I'm just reposting.

"Life has come to a halt. There were at least 2-3M in the streets today. I've never seen such anger. We are not going let this go. They've closed all the universities (during final exams) and have started a purge. Many of our professors are missing and student organizers are moving constantly to avoid detainment. The police is just watching and the army has declared neutrality. The violence is 100% caused by the BASIJ and thugs who are roaming the streets. They seem to be targeting girls, swinging with clubs and chains. Its disgusting but we are protected by numbers. Get the word out-- the more of us stand together, the safer each individual will be. The reports of the university attacks yesterday are true. We don't know how many were hurt or killed."

Things never change until they do.
Two Coups This Weekend

First, the Ayatollah's stole the Iranian elections and second, the Lakers stole the NBA championships from the rightful owners - anyone other than the Lakers.

In an aftergame celebration, the Lakers parted ways (because they hate each other) and did the following:

Phil Jackson had tantric sex with Jerry Buss's daughter.

Lamar Odom indulged in a few boxes of fudge followed by a bag of gummy worms.

Jordan Farmer tried to hit up UCLA and get laid before students left for the summer.

Sasha Vujacic went home to Serbia and murdered some Croats for sport.

Kobe Bryant tried to talk Trevor Ariza into going on the prowl for attractive female hotel employees and having their way with them. Ariza went along but did not rape anyone and felt bad about the whole night.

Pau Gasol and a few eurotrash buddies tried to get into Skye Bar and was denied entrance, to which he said, "But I'm Pau Gasol," with a fish-face.

Derick Fisher went home to take a bubble bath.

Luke Walton ate an awkward dinner with his parents and listened to his dad analyze the entire series.

Andrew Bynum had to sit out of the post game celebration because of foul trouble.

Hatley - I have your $30 and it'll have poop stains on it.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

If Bill Simmons and Malcolm Gladwell Can Do It, So Can Naveen and Greg


You know what's most annoying about Game 4 (other than the Magic blowing it)...? It's that the Lakers are a totally beatable team. They're not this imposing monolith like the Jordan Bulls, or even the "Lake Show" Lakers from earlier this decade. They're a very good team, but wholly beatable because they have exploitable flaws. Ugh, it's frustrating.

Regarding the Magic: it sucks that they lost, but they deserved it. You can't literally get ALL of the free throw calls in the fourth quarter, and then miss eight freebies in a close game. You can't. Then, you have the audacity to turn the ball over, what, fifteen times? Yeah, that's the Magic stupidity I feared would rear its head for the Finals (and frankly, I thought this was going to happen in the Conference Finals). Had the Magic won, it would have been one of those "dodged a bullet" victories... Victories that you approve of only because it's a victory and not because of anything particularly compelling done on the part of the victors except to get lucky. But, they fucked up. Reap what you sow.

Back to the Lakers. We'll see if Bynum becomes anything more than just a black Darko Milicic. I think he's Black Darko, but if he isn't -- if he actually improves and becomes a reliable, and perhaps, an imposing force inside -- then I think the Lakers will have extended their window for championships a year or two longer. But if not, I can see this team being taken out... but I think only a hard-nosed East team can do it. There isn't anybody out West that can threaten them right now, aside from Houston. But the Rockets are always going to be banged-up and I think Artest's instability will get to him.

Lakers... what a bunch of fucking rapists.

Greg Response:

Last night was incredibly annoying. It turned what could of become a good series into a lame series. No way Orlando can win three games in a row. They have moments when their offense looks good, but then other moments when it just grinds to a halt. Obviously the free throws ruined them last night. But also the 3rd quarter offensive
letdown. I mean the Lakers aren't a good defensive team. They can turn it on for a few moments, but they aren't putting the clamps down.

Also, Rashard Lewis cannot score off the dribble. He really should be able to. And the Magic still haven't figured out their point guard. Nelson made a few good passes, but he also turned the ball over a couple stupid times and didn't seem like a scoring threat. aaron brooks absolutely ruined the lakers. this is a match-up teams need to
exploit. I don't see how any half decent pg in the nba can't score 15 on fisher every night. and fisher making that 3 at the end of the game? he'll basically make that 1/4 of the time, so that's going to's bad luck that it happened at that moment. but it was also stupid of nelson to let him take a 3...i mean, make him take it to the hole. no way he's making a runner over howard.

kobe? jesus, that guy played the worst 4th quarter i can imagine. hucking up shots and losing the ball like crazy. the man shot 33% for the game. how do the lakers not use gasol more? ridiculous.

i like pietrus - i like how hard he plays and how he can get baskets. didn't like the cheap play on gasol at the end of the game, but you know - the man was frustrated and wanted to win. which is a forgivable sin. phil was saying he should be suspended for a game. what kind of pussy society have we become when a man can't shove another man in a heated moment? it ain't personal, no one is getting hurt, just two dude going at it...i mean - you're going to let gasol slam down a dunk in your eye to top off an annoying victory? fuck that shit. it was still cheap, tho.


Yeah, I pretty much agree with everything you just said regarding this series. The late hit on Gasol doesn't bother me. Is it cheap? Yes. But this is nothing compared to the late 80s/early 90s. The league has had its nuts cut off since the Palace Brawl of 2004 that they over-react to everything. And Phil's wrong: there's no way in hell Pietrus should be suspended for any game. Give him a flagrant (I suppose) and get it over with. Honestly, it should have been a double technical + the and-one for Gasol and that's it. But whatever.

I like Pietrus as well, but he did fall asleep on defense a couple times, and most annoyingly, there was one or two plays when he sort of loafed back on defense. If I were a coach, that would piss me off to no end. Jameer Nelson should not have been playing in crunch time. The guy isn't ready to come back. What the hell was wrong with Alston? I thought he was playing well in the first half... did I miss something?

Oh well... this series is over in Game 5. Such a pity.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Chaz Bono

In the future, will it be important to name your child a gender neutral child in case they want to change their gender later? That way, they won't need to officially change their name after they changed their gender. They can keep the same email address, etc.
Profoundly Sad

An account by a poor Iranian women during the election rallies.

These days and nights, I constantly take out my armband, and again ask a posh boy to wrap a new green band for me and again the scent of his perfume lives on my wrist for two days. These nights are the only nights that we are not clowned because of our poverty.

Read the whole thing.
Black Swans and the Unknown Unknowns

Catching up on Left, Right, and Center during my commute, my favorite guy on the show, Tony Blankley praised the reaction of the Federal Government last fall and this spring, saying the moves made first by the Bush Administration and later, the Obama Administration, helped stave off a total collapse of the world economy. He pointed out he will probably disagree with how the Obama administration decides to administer the ownership of GM and new regulations to the financial markets, but that the initial reaction to crisis, was successful.

This praise echoes similar claims made by Dick Cheney in recently defending the Bush Administrations anti-terror policies, which he claims saved the lives of thousands, if not, hundreds of thousands Americans.

How can we possibly evaluate these claims?

We can't. Remember Y2K? Did we stave off crisis or was the crisis overstated in the first place? Was the credit market seizure overstated or did we prevent disaster? Was the Islamic Terrorist threat overplayed post-9/11 or did we stem the a tide of attacks? Very confusing questions, I'm sure they will be debated for years to come.

With respect to the financial mess, basically, all we did was take out loans. Did we prevent disaster or kick disaster down the road? It seems clear that if we keep spending at this rate we will hit a point where we cannot reasonably expect to pay the interest on the debt. That constitutes total breakdown, if you ask me. It's the same as not being able to pay the monthly minimum on the credit card or the mortgage. Bankruptcy, basically. Even getting in that vicinity is terrifying. I guess what we all need to face is that we're in major, major hock and one day are gonna owe all this money. When times are good, taxes are going up, up, up. When the boomers retire, we're all going to be paying extra social security or the boomers are getting screwed. The rich are going to pay a lot and the only question is to what degree the middle and lower classes are also going to contribute. A lot, also, methinks.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Male Mating Patterns

In cities where women outnumber men (i.e. good odds), men in their 20s tend to play the field longer, but the trend reverses for men in their 30s - they tend to go for marriage. Interesting.

One would think men in their 30s would continue to play the field so long as their odds remained good, right? Apparently not.

In general, what men tend to do (taking falling in love out of the equation) is evaluate themselves like stocks. If they feel like their price hasn't peaked, why sell? Most men in their 20s probably feel as though they are going to be making more money and be able to land better girls if they hold out longer, so they do. But men in their 30s might see themselves as peaking and realize if they don't cash out now, they're going to have to sell later at a lower price.

I have evidence for my claim - NBA Basketball players. I'm always shocked to hear these guys that are 23-27 years old and and married. I think, "Dude, are you kidding me? You can party it up all you want - why settle down? You're a young dude." But under my theory of peak stock an NBA player correctly calculates that he is peaking WHEN he is an NBA player. He isn't going up in value when he retires at 33. Or when he's getting old at 31 and his legs are going. He knows "this is it, man, I ain't getting better poon than the poon I'm getting right now." And you know what? He's right.

I think this theory could also be tested on the balding population. If a dude notices his hair is going, is he more likely try and settle down quickly? In one Seinfeld episode, this exact scenario occurs. Elaine's boyfried, a head shaver, discovers he is going bald when he can't grow back his hair and immediately asks Elaine to marry him. She considers it. (Note - There is a subset of the balding population, however, who will overcome the bald-as-unattractive meme by becoming a total Zidane-style badass and not give a shit. Like how Biggy could make fat cool. Male self-stock evaluation has many aspects and is a balance - looks, money, reputation, etc).

This is also why girls yell at their boyfriends who break up with them, "You'll never find anyone as good as me!" They don't appeal to love or companionship or any of that crap. They appeal to guys self stock evaluation.

Not that this system isn't flawed. A man with low self worth is going to misvalue his own stock. Likewise, a man with delusions of grandeur is going to miscalculate his future value. Also, a man may find himself in an interesting scenario. He may land a girl out of his league - the Turtle-Meadow Soprano scenario - and even though his stock may not have yet peaked, he would correctly calculate that even when his stock does peak, he is not going to top Meadow. In this scenario, the wise move is to sell preemptively. Likewise, a man could be on his downswing and past his peak, but the girls he can get at the moment land are below his current value. He is getting low-balled. Like how the stock market bottomed out earlier this year. GE stock was a damaged stock with all sorts of exposure in the financial sector. It dropped all the way to 6 bucks. But even if you're in you're twilight, it doesn't mean you need to sell in desperation. So a man may have peaked, but that doesn't mean he's going to sell at .50 cents on the dollar.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

A Theory on the Kobe-Face

Kobe and I are roughly the same age. I am actually a couple months older than him. I've played competitive team sports my entire life. The longest hiatus was the beginning of film school where for about 1.5 years I only played sparingly. But other than that, since age 5, I have been on a sports team. Recently, I too can feel myself making facial expressions on the field that are different and new. It doesn't really make sense, and I didn't realize it at first, but I am now aware of these slightly different facial expressions. Mine are not a psycho-rapist underbite like Kobe, but they are different than I can remember making before.

And I know what they are. AGE. They are father time showing himsself. I feel it in subtle ways on the field. The bounce in my legs is not what it used to be. In the last couple years, I know I lost a step speed wise. But there's something else - bounce. I should be in pretty damn good shape given I've been playing twice a week the entire year plus running, biking, jogging, and hiking as well. But my legs aren't perky. They are heavy and they often hurt. Hurt in ways they didn't before. Before, they felt like they were recovering and tired. Now they sometimes feel like jeans that got too thin and have a hole. There is no recovering those jeans. They are done.

I can still play. I'm a much smarter player today than even five years ago. I know positions and spacing much better. I have good vision from around the field. I recognize what other players want to do quicker and counter it with smart positioning as opposed to before when I'd basically try to use my speed and quickness to advantage. But all that doesn't change the fact that my legs are working against me on those difficult full field runs. And I know Kobe feels the same when driving to the basket. His legs are screaming at him - no mas. I don't care how great a shape the man is in. Legs have an odometer, like a car, like a pair of jeans, like anything. Wear and tear. And that's what the stupid underbite is - even if Kobe doesn't know it yet - it's his insides coming out and saying: FUCK YOU ASSHOLE. Quit doing this to yourself.

DIFFERENT ISSUE: Tonight's game. I only saw the last few minutes. Again, Kobe gets bailed out by the refs when he lunges into Howard who plays damn fine defense on the play. He get two free throws and misses. Then he gets the ball stolen (because he's too damn predictable), then he hucks up and clanks a three. If you ask me - that's 0 for 4 when it matters. Add it to his 25% shooting percentage when the game is on the line. Anyone who calls Kobe the best closer in bball is an idiot.

Finally the Magic figure out their best line up at the end of the game - Alston, Turk, Lewis, Howard, Pietrus. This is their best 5 and they actually match up pretty well with the Lakers best 5 - Fisher/Alston (adv. Alston), Kobe/Pietrus (adv. Kobe), Odom/Lewis (adv. wash), Turk/Ariza (adv. Turk), Howard/Gasol (adv. wash). The Lakers really only have an advantage with Kobe vs. Pietrus and even that can be minimized if Howard plays good help defense. You could argue Odom is capable of outplaying Lewis, which is true, but you could also argue Howard is capable of outplaying Gasol. (although both those cases, the opposite is also true, ie Lewis can outplay Odom - he did in game 2 and Gasol can outplay Howard - he did in game 1 and 2).

But there's another way to look at this game, the Magic shot 63%, the best shooting percentage EVER in the NBA finals and only win by 4 points. Not a good sign for the Magic. Although, you could look at the finals another way and call game 1 a fluke and say the Magic weren't ready. And you could say the Magic should of won the last 2 games and maybe are actually the better team. I don't know. I guess it remains to be seen.
I Too Am Proud of My Sexuality

A great CNN headline. Some American Idol contestant is proud of his sexuality. Great, man. Good job. I'm also proud of my brown hair and my ethnic make up and my AB blood type. I worked very hard for these things.
The Hangover and How It Got Made

Art imitates life. Or should I say, silly broad comedy imitates life?

I haven't seen it yet, but it's supposed to be good. But the inside story is pretty interesting and revealing about how comedies like this get made here and now.

One of the funniest blog posts I've read in awhile.

Melissa Browning, 34, is another funemployed L.A. single who has found new meaning in prostitution. After losing her job as a program coordinator for a non-profit Feng Shui education group in late March, Browning decided to go on a three-week interstate highway trek through the truckstops of central Arkansas with two friends, earning up to $30 per night while sleeping in tent-like yurts.

"I used to be so absorbed in the details of work, but prostitution has allowed me to come out of my shell," Browning said. "Now it's just so much easier for me approach new people, in idling semis, at 2 am. It's just gives you such a positive pro-active outlook. I guess that's why it's called pro-stitution."

Go hipsters!
Hamas Matchmakers

There are many sides to Hamas - not only are they an Islamic Terrorist organization, but they also are a dating service. Be forewarded:

Sensitive singles should be warned, though. Hard as it may be to believe, Hamas can be somewhat shallow, tactless and kinda racist in its selection process, particularly for those not “pretty by Gaza standards.”

“If we see a girl that appears to match (a man), but she’s not physically what he wants, I’ll call him and say, ‘Well, she’s pretty, but she’s dark.’ Or ’she’s short, but she’s white.’ We encourage them to be a bit more realistic,” [Tayseer matchmaker Nisrin] Khalil said.

It's tough to find that special someone, even in terrorist safe havens.

Is 30 Rock just a re-boot of the Muppets?

A case for plagiarism.
Yum - Heart Attack

Wow - this sounds good - an Asparagus, Bacon, and Egg sandwich.

The Atlantic is the best. They've added a business and a food section. Awesome.
On Iran

Some interesting things going on with the election in Iran. First, I heard on NPR this morning, election time is the one time when open criticism of the government is allowed. Second, an Iranian expert interviewed in the Atlantic talks about how the Supreme Leader seems to be worried something is adrift in his country.

Presumably Khamenei knows something about his own country, and he worries that the regime is vulnerable. Let us hope he is correct.

If I Were the Lakers...

I'd come out guns blazing in game 3 and try to silence all the naysayers like myself and crush the Magic's spirit. They are certainly the more talented team. If Kobe is indeed the "closer" (whatever that means?) everyone claims to be...this is a good test.
Don't Blow 'Em Up Yet, Billy

The A's won 7 straight. We are are one of the most consistently slow starting teams in baseball year in and year out. At some point, we're supposed to get Justin Duchscherer back. And the young pitching will get better. Combined with the relatively weak AL West, let's play out the season. If we lose Holliday at the end, take the draft picks, don't dump the salary.
A Tad Unfair

I would hate someone to scour all my writing for evidence of mediocrity. They would find plenty. Then again, I'm a hollywood assistant and not a nominee to the Supreme Court.

But the real issue, again, is this:

To be sure, Sotomayor’s hackneyed identity politics, so ably skewered by other NR writers, is the most troubling part of her speech. In denouncing the lack of adequate Hispanic representation on the federal bench, she uses the crudest possible test for alleged discrimination against Hispanics. The numbers of Latino judges “are grossly below our proportion of the population,” she writes, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the relevant benchmark for judicial representation is — at a bare minimum — the proportion of Hispanics among law-school graduates. (The real benchmark, of course, should be the proportion of Hispanics graduating at the top of their class.) The lack of proportional Hispanic representation on the bench — defined by population numbers — Sotomayor writes, demonstrates the “real and continuing need” for ethnic-based advocacy groups to pressure the Senate for “equality in the justice system.” Such a deliberately blind understanding of hiring and qualifications bodes very poorly for future Supreme Court precedent on matters of race.

Like I said, I'd prefer process for nominating a Supreme Justice to be about a consideration of the best legal minds and a solid examination of character, as opposed to casting it like a Bennaton billboard.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Bail Out Calls

Last night's game was one of the worst officiated NBA games I can remember watching. During the 4th quarter stretch when Kobe decides he needs to prove himself a hero and makes a series of ridiculous, uncoordinated drives through the lane against 1-2-3 Magic defenders, forces up a stupid shot, and gets a whistle, I just about want to throw my television. Talk about rewarding bad behavior. What is going on? He just lunges towards the basket, initiates contact and the whistle blows and Kobe's on the line for free throws. He had 6 free throws in the fourth quarter on 3 plays that were not fouls. Incredible!

Derick Fisher did the same thing in OT, just plows his shoulder into Turkulu and gets a foul. The man isn't even trying to make a basket.

All said, the game didn't get decided by these calls. It could of gone either way, but Howard did shit on offense, the Magic have no point guard, and JJ Reddick sucks complete ass and doesn't belong on an NBA court. He's supposed to be a 3 point shooter? Ariza hits more 3's than Reddick. Did you see Odom reject his layup? Play that clip over. An NBA player takes that under the hoop to protect against the block and slams a reverse dunk. Reddick flicks up a layup like a high school girl and Odom clubs the ball against the backboard. Get the hell off the court and take Derick Fisher with you. I thought this was the NBA finals, not a washed up Euro-trash league.

PS. Bill Simmons has a pretty good stat for Kobe-philes:

Important note: Kobe's reputation as a "killer" at the end of games remains overblown. The site just posted a study of game-winning shots from the last five-plus seasons (regular seasons and playoffs since the 2003-04 season) that revealed Kobe was shooting 14-for-56 (25 percent) with one assist and five turnovers, and made 12 of 15 free throws. So let's say that was 70 possessions total, including Sunday night. ... He only had one assist in nearly six years??? That's why Orlando quadruple-teamed him in that spot. Kobe is a phenomenal streak shooter, and he has a real talent for catching fire with a lead and closing games out ... but you can stop him in one-shot situations simply because he's his own worst enemy. He wants to be a hero, he's shooting it, and that's that.

Another interesting Kobe fact I learned today at work - and this pretty much explains it all - Kobe didn't play on a team until high school. He grew up in Italy practicing by himself after his father's practice. Is this true? I don't have confirmation, but it completely explains his bizarro relationship with teammates. Simmons mentions this in his column, but one of the oddest Kobe moments in the game, he jumps up to take a contested jumper from about 22ft (big surprise, right?) and Shannon Brown runs in to crash the offensive rebound, but Kobe decides as he's coming down to flick it outside to Brown and tosses it straight out of bounds. He starts waving his arms and hands, gesturing to Brown like he's some sort of idiot for thinking Kobe was going to shoot that shot...which 99 out of a 100 times, he does. It was such a strange reaction, once again demonstrating Kobe really has no clue what's going on in anyone else's head but his own.

And although the Laker's won last night, I got quite a bit of enjoyment from Hedo's block on Kobe at the end of the game. Kobe whining because he didn't get a call even thought the replay showed the strip was completely clean and the subsequent smashing of his chair and then getting totally beat on the back pick (which I called - but for Howard, not Lee). Man, that would've been a cool ending.
Half A Good Article

On what stimulus spending means.

Look, stimulus spending can’t work, because of one of three things happens:

1. That extra spending means extra taxes which means the whole thing is a wash. (Government spending having some “multiplier” effect unknown to consumer or business spending is a big, fat lie.)

2. That extra spending means extra debt, which drives up interest rates, which chokes off growth.

3. That extra spending means extra money being printed, which means inflation which means any growth is illusory.

The rest of the article veers a bit off course, but these points remain solid. On NPR this morning, there was a discussion on the banks and how banks basically operate on "confidence," and that taking bailout money makes it seem as though the banks are bad or insolvent and therefore, some are reluctant to take it (even if they need it).

This got me thinking about confidence. I mean, this whole way of thinking about banking (or anything for that matter) is completely ridiculous. It should not be about "perception" or "confidence," it should be about results and clear books and transparency. Instead, we use terms like "confidence" and "perception" and then we act surprised when it turns out we were entrusting our money with "confidence" men.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

A Story Well Worth Reading

VDH on Obama vs. the Universe.

Look, I realize I criticize Obama a lot on this blog and it would be a fair thing to say - why did you vote for the guy? The thing is, I don't think McCain would have been better. McCain was nutty. Is nutty. And my criticism's of Obama, I think, apply more broadly to the loopy thing liberalism has become.
You Get What You Wish For

Mark Steryn on American decline.
Like General Motors, America is "too big to fail." So it won't, not immediately. It will linger on in a twilight existence, sclerotic and ineffectual, declining unto a kind of societal dementia, unable to keep pace with what's happening and with an ever more tenuous grip on its own past, but able on occasion to throw out impressive words albeit strung together without much meaning: empower, peace, justice, prosperity – just to take one windy gust from the president's Cairo speech.

There's better phrase-making in the current issue of Foreign Affairs, in a coinage of Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Committee on Foreign Relations. The president emeritus is a sober, judicious paragon of torpidly conventional wisdom. Nevertheless, musing on American decline, he writes, "The country's economy, infrastructure, public schools and political system have been allowed to deteriorate. The result has been diminished economic strength, a less-vital democracy, and a mediocrity of spirit." That last is the one to watch: A great power can survive a lot of things, but not "a mediocrity of spirit." A wealthy nation living on the accumulated cultural capital of a glorious past can dodge its rendezvous with fate, but only for a while. That sound you heard in Cairo is the tingy ping of a hollow superpower.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Ugly. Very Ugly.

Report on how more bankrupcy's are caused by medical costs...turns out to be a massive misrepresentation.


Friday, June 05, 2009

On Manliness

One of my favorite topics. The interview isn't particularly interesting, nor does it make me want to read the book. But a few excerpts are worth noting:

Moral integrity is still fundamental. Whether you win or lose a fortune, you should still keep your honor. In fact, men need to stand up to today’s moral relativism and belch. Right now we’re in a society that seems to think it’s okay to demonize our corporate leaders, instead of calling out the few bad apples. If we instead held them all up to an old-fashioned code of honor we’d be better off; after all, doing so would punish the charlatans and thereby separate them from the true icons of industry. We’d then, by default, exemplify the good eggs. Indeed, thinking of CEOs as all bad is a relativistic idea; it’s also fundamentally untrue. The same goes for our politicians. They’re not all morally corrupt. This is why I put so many codes of honor in this book. We have to live by a code of honor before we can demand others do. Then when we step into the voting booth, we shouldn’t vote for someone who didn’t pay their taxes. I’m not saying we should then vote for a candidate we’re ideologically at odds with, just that we shouldn’t support the so-called “lesser of two evils.”

And worth thinking about as we make movies:

Anti-heroes often try to fight for justice, but they don’t believe right and wrong can be truly understood or can be moral absolutes. So they fight in a dark world where everything is relative, and they become tragic, because they don’t really believe in a code of honor, a black-and-white basis for right and wrong. The wounded vets I spoke with had done things that past cultures would have given them parades for while celebrating them as good examples; instead, they often somehow feel guilty for giving their all, though they often don’t know why.
Rule Breaking 2

My email to Bill Simmons just now:

Say the improbable happens and the Lakers manage to lose the Finals. What are the odds Kobe murders someone in the off season? Or commits a felony of some type?

Gimme some realistic odds and I'm making this bet.
Rule Breaking

Okay, a brief blog about work, but this will not get me in trouble. We get lots of inquiry letters about representing screenplays. These go right into the trash because we don't have enough time or resources to read the actual submissions from co-agents or work of existing clients. Sad, but true. A disproportionate about of these submissions fall into one of four categories:

1. Comedy about Hollywood or making movies
2. Thriller with some sort of conspiracy
3. Gay romance
4. Obscure/unimportant historical story

One of my few fellow facebook holdouts caved the other day because she discovered she was missing social activities and knowledge by not participating on the online social networking site. She would run into old friends and be like "Oh, did you hear so-and-so got engaged?" And get the response, "Ya. I've known for two weeks, it's on facebook." Or she would run into a friend who would say, "Oh, we missed you at so-and-so's party." And she'd say "What party?" "Oh, it was on facebook."

And so she caved and joined to be a part of the online stalking community.

Well, something similar happened to me yesterday when Phil said "Are you going to so-and-so's crawfish boil?"

I was out of the loop.

However, unlike my week willed friend, I will not cave to vicissitudes of social gatherings. I will sit in my apartment and drink wine and listen to records and read books and the rest of the world can play with their status updates all they want. Will I turn into the unibomber? I hope not.

I've set aside my $30 I've lost betting against the Lakers.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Great Idea

Make Medicare work how we imagine a single-payer health system to work. When they get it to work efficiently, roll it out to the whole country. If they can't get it work more efficiently than the private healthcare system, keep the current one in place.
Big Surprise

Expect tax hikes.
Another Myth

Why would anyone expect America can do anything about an Israeli-Palestinian peace.

You want to talk about hubris? American arrogance? The height of such arrogance is the assumption that we can do something about this issue. How often have we tried to engage the Palestinians and Israelis with the same result? Call me cynical or hopeless...but are you 'effing kidding? We've tried to help resolve this thing from the beginning, tried countless different tactics. The only thing we haven't done is betrayed our friends and helped dismantle the Israeli state. Which would be a bad idea.
Great Deal

On one of those flip cameras. Only $50.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Unhealthy Addition

Getting hooked on the badass cappuccino's downstairs at Profetta. They are a total rip off at $3.50 for a 5 oz drink. But they are damn good. Perfect size. I wish they were cheaper.
How To Win In Sports

Simple. Put you best players on the court, let them figure out the style. Make adjustments as you see fit.

It's working for the Magic.
Suicides at Gitmo

Am I an asshole for not feeling awful about this?
Real Change

Is something brewing in Iran?

"Change" per Obama basically meant extra spending on stimulating the economy and closing Guantanamo. What else? Smoother speeches? A different face in office? I suppose those things matter a little bit. What would change in Iran mean? know...getting rid of the religious fanatics in power and turning it over to moderates. Ceasing to develop a nuke. No longer threatening their neighbors, stop financially supporting Hezbollah and Hamas. Freedom from tyranny and secret police for Iranian citizens. You know...real, actual, change.

Let's hope.
Didn't He Get the Memo?

Osama slams America. Did someone forget to tell him the world likes America again because of Obama Baraka.
Gingrich Apologies

Are the Republicans heeding Peggy's advice to play grown up?
LA Stories

I would like to read some analysis about how Los Angeles is portrayed in television, movies, and books. I must say, I am a huge fan of setting things in LA. Perhaps just because I live here, but there is a lot to be said about this town. Last night I was reminded of a brilliant LA depiction in Seinfeld in the two-parter episode about when Kramer moves out to LA. Kramer's delusion about how great things are going in LA are hilarious and close to home -

(this section is cut and paste and paraphrase)

"I met a girl."

"She was murdered."

"Yeah, but still."

"Things are great. A lot is happening. I'm a player."

"You've been arrested as a serial killer."

"Oh...THAT? I'll be out in a couple hours."

There are obviously a lot of filmmakers and writers and other artists who explore LA. Steve Martin has this whole subset of his work that is basically about LA - Shopgirl, LA Story, LA is like a side project for him. anyhow, in a subject somewhat related....the other day I'm driving down 3rd Street over near the Grove and I stop at a light. I look on the corner and see a dude that I recognize. I can't quite place him. "Did he go to USC?" I thinking. Then all of a sudden it hits me - it's Tim Riggins! I wish I was in a crazier mood, I would've rolled down my window and yelled, "YOU'RE A COWARD, RIGGINS!" one of my favorite moments when Jason Street tries to find him from a wheelchair.
Big Surprise

A fake Phil Specter tweeter.

These identity crooks are such losers.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Genius. One thing to learn from Messi's genius - the simplicity of each specific move. But overall, the complexity is unbelievable.

Instead of the policy focus on getting people into hybrids to improve the miles per gallon gap, a much more efficient way to reduce overall emissions would be to focus on the extreme fuel guzzlers and getting them to switch to more moderate fuel guzzlers.

This is a hard concept for us to get our brains around. Richard B. Larrick and Jack B. Soll, reporting in Science (gated) found that only 1 percent of college students studied correctly perceived that an improvement from 14 to 24 m.p.g. saves considerably more fuel than an improvement from 24 to 46.

To give our brains a break, we might adopt a better way to look at fuel efficiency, aided by the manipulation of a mathematical tool in use in the Indus Valley almost 5,000 years ago — the unglamorous fraction.

The trick is one that even fourth-graders can master: invert the fraction. Let’s consider not miles per gallon but gallons per mile (or, to make the numbers prettier, gallons per hundred miles). By this metric, we get an unclouded picture: the Prius uses 2.17 gallons per hundred miles, the RAV4 uses 4.17, and the Range Rover uses 7.14.

But who are we kidding on some level. Cars are, and always will be, a vanity good. The reason people buy Prius' is because what they think it says about them. Likewise about Range Rovers. People do not buy cars to improve the environment or lower their impact on the environment. They buy cars like they buy anything else - a cost/benefit analysis. Will this get me laid vs. can I afford it vs. will it do the job of transporting me of where I need to go.
Trader Joe's On My Shit List

Is there a more overrated grocery store than Trader Joe's? This place is good for about four items: cheap/good cheese, super cheap wine, cheap water crackers, and single serve frozen dishes.

The good cheese isn't consistent. I can tell when the market is oversaturated, Trader Joe's gets the leftovers of Saint Andres brie or this one triple cream brie or various other high quality cheeses. Not all Trader Joe's cheese is high quality at a cheap price. But there are some. Sure, you can get 2 buck chuck and a few other cheap wines.

But the meat at Trader Joe's sucks and isn't even cheap. Yesterday, to continue my pork tenderloin tear, I got a pre-marinated loin from Trader Joe's and fired up the barby. First off, I thought it cost $5.99 and thought - what an incredible deal. It turns out it was $5.99 a pound and cost $9 for the whole loin. I got two tenderloins from Bob's Market for $15 - so those were cheaper. Granted, they were not marinated, so I had to do it myself. But anyhow, I cook it up and taste it. GROSS! It tasted like pork jerky. They put so much salt on this loin it was almost uneatable. The meat was tough. I couldn't believe it. I can get a great loin for cheaper at Bob's down the street than Trader Joe's.

Grocery stores work like this - they offer a few items at a better rate than their competition. Only a few items. They count on getting you in the store because of these items. Then, they figure correctly, you do not want to make multiple grocery store trips and will overpay for their other higher-margin items to avoid the time and travel costs it takes to go to another store.

All stores work this exact same way, whether it's Albertsons or Trader Joes or Bob's or Whole Foods. They try to sell it different, but it's all the same. Trader Joe's offers cheese, generic pasta, wine and snacks for cheap and tries to make up the margin on meat, veggies, etc, which they sell in smaller portions/less quality at higher rates. Albertsons offers things like soda, meat, veggies, and brand name grocery goods like cereal, spices, etc all at competitive prices. They try to make back their money on beer, liquor, high quality/gourmet items, and other non-sale items. Whole Foods offers higher quality produce at marginally higher prices and all other "high quality" stuff at completely ridiculous are-you-kidding me prices. And I'm no longer convinced the quality is there. Bob's meat counter is incredible. Good prices, Great Quality, but everything else is overpriced like most small grocery stores. There is no solution this for the smart customer. It will never be worth making 2-3 trips to different stores for different items. You are stuck overpaying or under buying.
Aesthetics of Instapundit

Instapundit is still my number one blog. I read it almost every day. Glenn is gone right now and have guest bloggers and I still read it as my number one blog. Why? It must be something about the aesthetic. Because I know the guest bloggers and don't read them unless they're on Instapundit. Odd isn't it?

Monday, June 01, 2009

Sounds Interesting

Psychiatry: The Science of Lies
Are You 'Effing Kidding Me?

Who knows the whole story, but here we have an anecdote of a middle class dude, a salesman, trying to make a living, going into bankruptcy because his wife had a medical problem related to her pregnancy. Is that what it means to be middle class in America now? One medical emergency and you're bankrupt?
I Agree With Dick Cheney

On his gay marriage position.

Cheney is more progressive than Obama on this issue.
Bad Advice, Big Surprise

At the end of film school when everyone is looking for jobs, the only widely accepted conventional wisdom everyone seemed to buy into was "Don't work for a big agency." I took this advice. An entertainment temp agency wanted to send me on an interview to CAA, I said, "No, thanks." I don't want to work at a big agency. "Why not?" The guy asked me. I said, "I'm a writer and I need time to write." He pointed around to everyone in the office and said, "We're all freaking writers!" My second response, "Well, I had friends who worked at them and they didn't have good employment experiences." "Wimps." he said. "Asshole," I'm thinking.

In hindsight, however, I think the film school "accepted wisdom" was wrong. Why?

Because people do not MAKE A LIVING making movies because they have promising talent and are good, solid, ethical people. People who earn a living making movies have either "access to power" or "leverage." Access to power means either a star or studio is willing to take a bet on your proven ability. "Leverage" means you possess something more than one person wants, ie the rights to a script, multiple acting job offers, a saleable finished movie. Of course there are tons of minor steps that operate underneath these assumptions - basically an interwoven web of relationships that facilitate access and/or leverage. A team of people need to get behind a script to give it "value," and likewise a team of people need to get behind someone to give them "access."

If you have any of these things or the beginnings of any of these things, great! Go for it. But if you don't - and most people right out of film school don't, why not try to find them? Why not build relationships with people who do have access to power or people with leverage. And there is no quicker or more central place to find these things in Hollywood than for a big agency.

That is not to say I regret my choices or my current situation. Nor is it to say, everyone ought to do this (obviously, the culture at these places is not for everyone), nor is it to say it is a guaranteed path to any type of success, nor is it to say it will make you a better writer or producer or filmmaker or whatever you wanted to coming to film school in the first place. I do not wish I spent the last 2 years at CAA. However, I wish some of my peers/friends did go off and work at these places because it would increase their "access." And on the path to making a living making movies - access is a tool you're gonna need, just like you need to know how to create tension in a script and compose a shot and cut a scene.

My basic point is this - there are multiple reasons people go to USC - learn to make movies, find good collaborators, and make connections. Working at a big agency can lead to finding good collaborators (hint - everyone there wants to make movies) and make connections. And it doesn't cost $30 grand in tuition. They'll actually pay YOU! So why is it the conventional wisdom points so directly in the opposite direction? It makes zero sense. I think the major reason is that everyone looks at the filmmakers they adore and aspire to be and do not see CAA Assistant on their resume. Of course, if they checked, very few would say USC film school, either. So what's with the selective logic? Help me, folks, I'm trying to figure out why we're working against our own interests.
I Work Hard and Play Hard, But I'm Also Sarcastic; I'm Spontaneous and Don't Like to Play Games

17 cliches to avoid on internet dating sites.

I got an idea: how about just avoid internet dating sites?
No More Predictions

I'm not making any predictions for the NBA Finals. If the Lakers win, I'll pay off Hatley and go back to my old rule of no sports betting, which along with no blogging about work, and no sleeping with prostitutes, are my only steadfast/unbreakable rules for life.

I'm just going to sit back and enjoy rooting for Superman over the Black Mamba. (internal thought: Goodness, gracious, how can anyone root for someone dumb enough to nickname himself the Black Mamba?)

With respect to the two series...first, the Cavs played absolutely awful basketball. An ESPN article cites the ugly truth: the Cavs weren't that good. Their 3-6 record against elite teams this season was the key stat. They were a consistent team who won games they should win and lost tough games against good opponents (note - the only other team you could argue does the same is Boston). I still thought they had a good chance to win it all, simply because I did not realize how good Orlando turned out to be.

And regarding Denver - first, the Lakers played well this series. No doubt. Kobe played the best basketball I've seen him play in recent memory. So there. Gasol decided to step up in games 5 and 6. And guess what? They won! Chauncey Billups had an AWFUL series, especially in games 5 and 6. Did Jackson figure something out or did Chauncey just not play well? I'm talking dumb turnovers, etc.

I learned this week why I am a fan and not a sports analyst. My opinions are biased and influenced by personality factors and ugly uniforms and sectarian hatred of certain sports cities and weird little factors that have no bearing the cold hard facts that Kobe is a rapist and will never win without Shaq.