Friday, June 29, 2012


Film:  The Avengers

The birth of the uncool.  Somehow, this movie is the 3rd highest grossing film of all time and yet, no one talks about it.  It was as if the whole thing was just one big giant preview and marketing campaign. Think about this - 30% of the box office for the entire year thus far is the Avengers.  And yet, I've yet to hear one single conversation about the film.  To this day, if you are simply out and about you will hear the words "oh...that was like that episode in Seinfeld."  With respect to the Avengers people will say "oh did you see it?"  And another will answer "yeah."  And that's all anyone has to say.  Perhaps if they are a teenage boy they'll say "it was awesome."  Sure, I guess it was awesome.

Can someone tell me what the aliens were trying to accomplish?  Why did they just start attacking office workers in downtown Manhattan?  If I were an alien trying to take over earth, that seems like a pointless strategy.  Do these office workers pose some sort of existential threat to the aliens?  Why not just land and walk around in the middle of the street.  It isn't like the office workers are going to fight you.  And if they did, you could shoot them with your super high tech guns.  But why just wantonly destroy buildings?  Because the CGI is at a good price point?  Seriously.
Good Analysis

Of the Roberts decision.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Film:  The Collector by William Wyler

Great example of a small movie.  Terrence Stamp is damn good.  A bit long and slow in pacing, as was the style back then.  Highly recommended as a good old fashioned psychological thriller that doesn't feel cheap.  Maybe one of the first movies like this.  Nods to it in Silence of the Lambs.  Bears similarity to Misery, without the humor.  Based on a book by John Fowles, a writer I'd be interested in checking out.  Also, one of Wyler's last films to direct.  I need to revisit him and John Huston and some of the other great classical era directors.
Euro 2012:  Italy 2 - Germany 1

This game reminded me of 1998 France defeating Brazil in the World Cup final.  Everyone thought Germany was the better team coming in, but on the field Italy was just better.  It wasn't like they got lucky, they are just sneaky good.  They got better chances, had a few moments of brilliance, and exposed the weakness in the German defense.  How fun is Pirlo to watch?  The guy is like Chris Paul the way he leads his team.  When he raises his hands, wanting the ball, the other Italians give him it immediately.

They could beat Spain.

The Supreme Cour upholds Obamacare, barely.  They cite Congresses right to tax people without insurance.

I've tried following this thing a little bit and don't understand the impact.  As far as I can tell, the changes to the current system are:

1.  Kids are under their parents until 26
2.  Insurance companies cannot deny for pre-existing conditions
3.  Everyone who can afford it, must buy health insurance or face a fine

I don't see how this changes much.  The issue with healthcare is the ridiculous cost.  I fail to see how forcing a few more people into the pool helps with the cost.  Spreading out the cost would work if the expenses were stagnant, but they aren't stagnant nor transparent.  I imagine the costs increase of covering everybody will ultimately fall on the rich and upper middle class in some way or another.

Good analysis here at the Atlantic.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Euro 2012:  Spain v. Portugal

Portugal is playing a brilliant game so far.  Overplaying the passing lanes, allowing Spain to go over the top, and it is totally disrupting the Spanish style of possession.  Trusting Spain can't win balls in the air 1 v. 1 up top or w/ speed on through balls.  Working so far.  Spain is amazing, though and still is getting chances.  But Nani is dominating his side and when Ronaldo gets the ball, the whole world stops and watches.

I'm starting to really like Ronaldo.  His cocky fury is much more attractive than Kobe simply because he backs it up.  Kobe is an annoying volume shooter.  Ronaldo makes the correct soccer play almost the entire time - even when it means taking on 3 guys because he can actually do it and be dangerous doing it.  He is a superior player to many, very, very good players with whom he shares the field.  He has skill in the air, on either foot, has touch, speed, and is strong.  He is so clearly the LeBron James meets Kobe Bryant of soccer and perhaps the only thing more unbelievable is the fact he isn't the best player in the world, that somehow God decided to make Messi.

The ref is terrible.

UPDATE:  Into overtime now.  How good is Iniesta?  Jesus.  Portugal either needs a moment of brilliance from Ronaldo or PKs.  Teams are wearing down.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Zimmerman Passed A Lie Detector

Maybe he used the George Constanza method.  "It isn't a lie, if YOU believe it."
Woody's True Genius

Might be his productivity as opposed to any single work.  He is Lou Gehrig, not Mickey Mantle.
Getting Older, Getting Better?

One advantage of playing sports into a later age is the deterioration.  I am slower than I used to be and cannot rely upon my speed and quickness the way I used to.  It has forced me to adapt to playing against younger, better players.  One thing I now do on defense rather than just blindly try and "shut down" or "challenge" my opposing player is to outthink him as well.  I watch the guy and see "what he wants to do."  Most players have something they want to do.  Basically, they want to go left or go right, or get around you.  Robben on the Netherlands is a good example.  You know he just wants to cut in and make a diagonal run.  I would now simply back off Robben two steps and angle my body to force him to go right.  He could easily do so, but it would be out of his comfort zone.  He would go right and I'd let him try and get a right footed cross or go left and I would tackle him.

If a big guy wants to pin me on defense, I don't let him.  I back away and don't play him tight.  I just try and throw off his balance.  Then I mix it up.  It is psychological.

Necessity is the mother of invention.
Winner Take All Society

The grumblings will eventually start, if they haven't already - LeBron won the championship by stacking the deck.  This is why people were so upset with the Miami trade.  It offended their sense of "fair play."  What people and the media don't get - it's partially their own fault.  All you hear, ad nauseum, is that they only thing that matters is rings.  You're nothing unless you have a ring.  What's more, you can't even enter the discussion of greatness unless you get 4, 5, 6 rings like Jordan.  Such thinking is ludicrous, of course.  Winning rings depends on tons of uncontrollable factors - teammates, injuries, competition, luck, David Stern fixing games.  Our value systems, however, are so out of whack when it comes to competition and sports and how we treat these athletes in the public eye.  It smacks of little man syndrome, a cultural-wide Napoleonic complex.  When did we become so obsessed with winning at the exclusion of all else?  And not just winning - greatness.  Look at how we celebrate - Kobe Bryant - an unloveable, borderline sociopathic rapist, betrayer, bad teammate, who coasted on Shaq and Gasol's shoulders while trying to steal all the credit for himself.  This is who we celebrate?  Why?  Because he has 5 rings?

I'm going to come out and say it - why do we give a shit about rings?  My high school baseball coach was obsessed with winning pennants in our league.  Unsurprisingly, like many people who obsess about such things, he had never won.  He gave a speech about winning and got us meathead high school baseball players excited - "when you win, it's something no one can ever take away from you." While I was there and part of the team we won the league 4 years in a row.  Guess how much this effects my life?  Zero.  Zilch.  This did not boost my confidence or make me a better person.  It did not help me succeed in life.   And basically no one from that team, with all their dreams, went on to play at a high level of baseball.  In fact, I might have been smarter to play soccer more full time.  I might have been able to play at a tiny bit of a higher level than I achieved - maybe D1 instead of D3.  Maybe our D3 team gets to the tournament one year if I'm a little better.  My soccer team never won a championship while I was in high school -- but our competition was the high school equivalent of Spain's national team.  Of course we didn't win!  Does that make the experience less?  Of course not.  In fact, it makes it better.  It was awesome to get to compete against good players.

Of course LeBron stacked the deck.  It is the only way to even come close to meeting the expectations of the chattering class.

Here is something to think about...we are becoming more and more a nation of cheaters, or if not overt cheaters, people who stack the deck, just like LeBron.  We see others do it and it deflates our sense of decency and morality and yet we participate in it during our own lives.

Our financial elite rig the market to their benefit and treat the average investor like a suckers.  High school students take expensive test prep courses to game SAT scores in their favor.  Baseball players used PEDs to improve their chances at winning.  Politicians manufacture half-truths to get elected.

We get what we pay for, I guess.

Film:  The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

It's good.  The first half is really good.  Then it gets saccharine and obvious, but clearly satisfying for a mass audience.  Much better than The Help.  The first sequence is a clinic in good old fashioned dream-factory ensemble character establishment and then getting them all together - great shot.  A lock for an Oscar nomination.

Monday, June 25, 2012


Film:  Hangover 2

I watched 4 scenes.  Flat from the get go.  A good example of why movies fall fail on a very technical, craft, writing level -- no action.  Each scene is just people talking with zero objective.  In one, Ed Helms and Bradley Cooper are in Ed Helms dentist office and there is activity, ie he is giving him a teeth cleaning, but no action.  Neither one wants anything in the scene.  It is pure exposition.  You cannot call Bradley Cooper wanting a hit of nitrous an objective.  He barely tries and I don't believe him anyway.  Then he steals the prescription pad as a coda, but this joke doesn't work.  Is the idea that Bradley Cooper wants drugs?  But then why is Bradley Cooper getting a tooth cleaning from his friend?  It makes no sense.  There are other ways to achieve this objective, if it were truly his objective. The blocking is terrible - because there is nothing to do.
No Such Thing As "Having It All"

A good response to the ludicrous, overwritten cover story on the Atlantic this week.  I particularly like the following examples as to why people cannot "have it all."
Imagine if this article had been written by a kindergartner: "But I want to go to my gymnastics class and I want to go Rosie's birthday party and they're both on Saturday morning!" rails the 5-year-old journalist. "Why can't girls have it all? This is so unfair! Somebody has to make it possible for socially ambitious girls like me to be at gymnastics and Rosie's party! The solution is to accommodate me by moving Rosie's party or the time of my gymnastics class. I want justice, because no girl should ever have to feel trapped like this!"
and this:
Would a man be taken seriously if he wrote a 15,000-word article stating that he's entitled to both marriage and the freedom to have sex with any woman he wants? Or would he be told to grow up and get real?
I'm reminded of the Seinfeld episode when Banya puzzles with Jerry whether to eat their second meal at Mendy's or try a new place. Jerry grows annoyed and says "I get it. You go to Mendy's and it'll be good, but the same. If you go somewhere else, it'll be different, but maybe not as good. It's a risk, I GET IT!

 Speaking of Seinfeld, this is a very funny article.
Pretty Funny

Woody Allen's new film - My Wife Doesn't Know As Much About Jazz as This Beautiful Italian Prostitute.

Why is oil both a good and bad investment?  If prices go up, your stock goes up.  If prices go down, you save money at the pump.  I suppose you can call oil a hedge.  A stabilizing investment.

Film:  Heat with director commentary

Despite seeing this film over 10x, I never watched the director commentary on the later DVD reissue.  Fascinating stuff.  I think critics of this film cite the over plotting and Al Pacino playing it "too big."  I don't see it.  Pacino's over-the-top scenes are played purposeful, to throw his CI's and other rats off.  They are strategic from a character standpoint.  As for the over plotting, this film pre-dates The Wire and other realistic novel-dramas we are now accustomed to watching on TV and is interested in building the same type of fully realized world.

Someone in film school called this a "beautiful, flawed film," to me, damning it by faint praise.  I believe the film grows in stature with time and I personally prefer watching it to The Godfather, which is probably the best film of all time.  And also, just to be a prick, I think Thief is a better movie than Taxi Driver.

UPDATE:  Think about the ridiculous number of actors in the film who are principally known for other things (now or then) as either stars or huge character actors.

Al Pacino - Michael Corleone
Robert DeNiro - Travis Bickle
Val Kilmer - Iceman, Jim Morrison
Tom Sizemore - common character actor
Ashley Judd - star of a series of female thrillers
Tom Noonan - The Tooth Fairy and other serial killers and creeps
Ted Levine - Buffalo Bill
Bud Cort - Harold and Maude
Jon Voight - Joe Buck
Wes Studi - any Indian Chief in any modern movie
Dennis Haysbert - the President in 24
William Fincher - common character actor
Mykelti Williamson - Limehouse on Justified
Amy Brenneman - Private Practice
Natalie Portman - child actor turned Oscar winner
Hank Azaria - Bart Simpson
Danny Trejo - B movie star via Robert Rodriguez
Henry Rollins - musician, radio program host
Tone Loc - musician
Jeremy Piven - Ari Gold

That's 20, not even counting Diane Venora.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

I Love the A's

Fantastic Grantland article about the A's, post Moneyball.  My biggest sadness about not living in the Bay Area, aside from seeing my family less, is not being able to follow the A's.  I know I could get MLB pass or whatever people do to follow baseball, but it simply isn't as fun without living in the city. I read about the A's, but living the Bay Area, there is a different quality to it.  You get into conversations with people about the team.  Which players they like.  Who is looking good.  You go to games on Wednesday night and spend less money than going to a movie, taking the Bart over directly from the city.  Someone you know stumbles upon a skybox and you get invited to join.  You go to a bar to catch up with friends and the game is on in the background.  Your friend has a Sunday afternoon barbecue and puts the game on the TV and you watch the new relief pitcher try and close a game.  It is effortless to follow.

I can't follow the A's in LA beyond just reading about them.  It is too much work.  No one else gives two shits.  No one cares about Josh Reddick and Yoenis Cespedes make a half decent middle of the order.  Or, if the A's had money and were able to keep three of their best young pitchers this year, they might actually be competing for the AL West or the wildcard.

I was an A's fan as soon as I started understanding baseball.  This is a bit strange since most folks from where I live are Giant's fans.  I asked my dad why and he had no idea.  I just started liking the A's.  The heart wants what the heart wants.  This was the Mike Davis A's, a very mediocre team after Rickey Henderson went to the Yankees for 4 years.  There is no explanation for it.  Soon came the Bash Brothers and Rickey's return and I was set for life, basically.  After that era - the LaRussa era - there was a dry spell and then Billy Beane and Moneyball and Hudson, Zito, Mulder, Giambi, and Tejada.

These A's might get to .500 this year.  Somehow, the team, the organization, always overperforms.  They are the 3rd most successful franchise of all time behind the Yanks and the St. Louis Cardinals.  People don't know this.  There is something special about the A's.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


A full description of what happened on the night of Trayvon Martin shooting.  A hell of a lot different than was reported when it initially happened.  Will any of those who rushed to judgement apologize or change their behavior in the future?  I doubt it.  Especially because they choose the narrative first and try to wiggle stories into it.
Euro 2012:  Spain 2, France 0

What was France supposed to do?  Disappointing they benched several of their most exciting players - Nasri, Evra in favor of playing a more conservative game.  But perhaps in doing so, they kept themselves in it and hoped for a bit of luck.  Did they have 1 shot on goal the entire game?  Pretty unimpressive from a team with that much talent up top.  Spain just forces you to play a strange way.  Remarkable how confident they look with only a 1-0 lead.

Ramos and Alonso in the back are under appreciated when discussing Spain.  They are super solid in the back.  Just a great team, not much more else to say.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Euro 2012:  Germany vs. Greece

This is a ridiculous game.  Germany is so much better.  Greece is terrible.  I dislike their style - slide tackling all over the place.  I suppose it is all they can do being outmatched as they are.  But I still find it irritating to watch.

I was rooting for Miami in this series for some reason.  I'm glad they won.  I grew annoyed with the grief the public laid upon LeBron and glee with which people wanted to see him fail.
I Don't Normally Do This

And post articles I have not read in full, but this one is about how women are out achieving men in America today.  I've known this to be anecdotally the case for years - the majority of my bosses have been women and my female friends, relatives, etc, for the most part, achieve just as high or higher success than my male equivalents.

I somehow doubt feminists and women in general will cry as loud for "equality" when they are the one's in the drivers seat.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Chattering Class

Ah, yes, my wikipedia entry of the day - the chattering class.

a politically active, socially concerned and highly educated section of the "metropolitan middle class," especially those with political, media, and academic connections. the term has "connotations of idleness, of useless talk, that the noun 'chatter' does. [...] These people don't amount to much — they like to hear themselves talk."
In America, they watch Girls and read the New York Times.

Film:  Ondine

Neil Jordan's version of E.T.  Well, that's my definition anyway.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Game 4

Wow.  I just caught the end of that game.  Westbrook 43 points.  James out with cramps.  Chalmers scoring 25 points.  Well, if Miami was to win the series, they'd have to get a game changing performance from Chalmers or Battier or Haslem at some point, I guess tonight was the night.  Couldn't believe Westbrook having such a brilliant game and then a colossally stupid play towards the end fouling Chalmers when the shot clock was at 3.  I guess OKC's youth has been revealed in this series.

Harden is not playing well and it is killing OKC.  They are getting stuffy at the end of games, trying too hard just to give the ball to Durant.
Parenting and Prestige

Is it less fun and less prestigious to parent these days?  Is it a problem?

Monday, June 18, 2012


Book:  In The Garden of Beasts:  Love, Terror, and An American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larsen

It's good to read history and non-fiction once in awhile.  In particular, the period before and during World War 2 makes one appreciate the problems of today.  This was the story of the American ambassador to Germany in 1933-1934 when Hitler was first in power and his attempts to navigate the madness of early Nazi Germany.  Crazy time.

Good Ideas

A new book diagnoses the failure of America's meritocracy.  Some proposed solutions by the article writer:

  • Write simpler regulations. Complexity advantages the people at the top, who are always best positioned to exploit its vagaries. As Kevin Drum once put it, "Dumb, blunt rules are the only kind that can work in the playpen of modern finance. We simply don't understand the world well enough to pretend that we can regulate things in minute detail, and we sure as hell don't have regulators who are either smart enough or can move fast enough to stay ahead of the rocket scientists trying to outwit them. That's not just impossible in practice, it's pretty much impossible even in theory. It's just plain impossible. But dumb-as-rocks rules about capital requirements and trading limits and collateral requirements and term structures? Yeah, that can work."
  • End the War on Drugs, the most extreme example of rich and poor being punished differently for the same behavior.
  • One way elites "pull up the ladder" is through credentialism. So how about doing away with the many unnecessary professional licensing laws that disproportionately hurt the economic prospects of the poor?
  • Tax test prep courses, and use the proceeds to subsidize test prep for anyone eligible for free school lunch.
  • Move the Supreme Court to Omaha, Nebraska, or Salt Lake City, Utah, or Portland, Oregon. And transition to an e-Congress, so that House members spend more time in their districts, being required to cast votes from among the people they represent. One way to decrease the social distance between elites and citizens is to better disperse the elites among the people.
  • Stop subsidizing college tuition. Instead, take the total sum spent on that enterprise and divide it equally each year among all graduating high school seniors, who can use it for more education, trade school, or more professional development as they see fit. 
  • Stop subsidizing mortgages.
  • Privately funded media does a great job covering rich people culture. Why should NPR do the same? Publicly radio and television ought to be given a mandate to cover, serve and seek programming feedback from the lower reaches of American earners and the long term unemployed.
Home Ownership

Are high rates of home ownership a good sign for a country?

Film:  Sanctum

The Australian 3D film executive produced by James Cameron about cave divers.  I watched on HBO and so didn't get to experience the 3D.  As for acting caliber, story, etc, we are talking about a tv movie here.  But there are some gnarly parts of the film and they must've at least done some filming in actual caves.  In any case, I appreciate an adventure film like this over the faux-intellectual Your Sister's Sister kind of nonsense.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


A surreal video by Obama's ex-law professor pleading with progressives to not vote for Obama in 2012.

Film:  The Usual Suspects

Started watching last night, got sucked in and finished in the morning.  Effortless movie to watch.  Doesn't get talked about as much as it used to.  Still the best movie for the main creative forces behind it - Singer, McQuarrie, etc.  In hindsight and with more film education, movie is not as powerful or as well crafted as I remember it, but there is a smooth functioning narrative, great ensemble of characters, and a well constructed mystery at the core of the movie.  A pleasurable re-watch on a Sunday morning.

Friday, June 15, 2012


Film:  Your Sister's Sister

Can I have my money back?  God, $15 for this type of film plus $6 popcorn should be criminalized.  I'm such a sucker.  I just couldn't stand to see Snow White and the Huntsmen again and this was playing at the same time.  I figured - how bad can it be?  These kind of mumblecore films are so contemptuous of story and so incredibly self indulgent, in pains me to think or talk about them.  I thought maybe Rosmarie DeWitt (one of my favorite actresses) could be watchable for 90 minutes.  But, when you have to suffer through characters doing nonsensical things, it just bores one to death.  This is a films that generates drama through characters withholding information from one another for no reason.  Why is Duplass spying on DeWitt when he arrives?  Why do they lie about sleeping with one another.  Really - what is the big deal?  In the end, everyone finds out anyway and then they'll apologize to one another.  That's what these films always end up being about - apologizing.  Come to think about it, so do Curb Your Enthusiasm episodes.  All this improv ends up in the same place.
Euro 2012:  England 3 - Sweden 2

My favorite game so far in the tournament.  Not terribly great soccer, but competitive, almost old fashioned, like a game from 20 years ago.  I don't understand why England doesn't play Chamberlin and Walcott all the time...maybe they are afraid of what afflicts the Dutch.  Who knows.  But obviously, Walcott comes on, scores a goal and then assists another.  Both pretty amazing, borderline lucky style of goals.  More instinct than design.

If you didn't see it - this game was back and forth.  England went up 1-0 before half.  Then Sweden comes out and scores 2 to go up 2-1 and it looks like England is going to collapse.  They sub Walcott and he scores a long distance goal.  Then England goes ahead for good.  Fun game.
Oh...Soccer Fans...

Worry of more Russia-Poland fan brawls.
Euro 2012:  Ukraine v. France

I turned this on at the right time.  2nd half begins.  France scores two nice goals.  They are dangerous.  Shots of Ukrainian women in the stands - oh boy.  Me wants to go there.

On the unprecedented amount of information collected.

But Facebook might eventually be able to guess what people want or don't want even before they realize it.
I believe Big Brother did the same.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Good Idea For Arts Schools

Film school ought to adopt this - income contingent loans - where colleges are invested in their students via equity rather than debt.

Of course, this would put the schools out of business, but no one wants to actually hear that.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Don't Be A Writer

So says a writer.  I wish she'd said something a couple years ago.

Hat tip, Naveen.  Man, talking about Prometheus is more fun than the movie itself.  Prometheus as a participatory sport.  Hilarity.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

NBA Finals:  OKC Wins Game 1

Boy, this is one of the best match ups in recent memory.  I don't even know who to root for.  I just want to watch close games.  The stakes are huge.  Miami wins and it totally validates the Big 3 and meets the basic expectations of coming together.  Losing in the finals their first year together and then buckling down and winning in their 2nd year...all things would be on schedule.  If OKC wins?  A new dynasty is born right in front of our eyes.  The pressure would weigh heavy on Miami.  Dfish has 6 rings.  The Western Conference would be worried sick.

What I noticed in Game 1?  The match ups are favoring OKC.  Why is Battier guarding Durant so much?  Miami will lose if Battier guards Durant the majority of the time.  He is too slow, too short, and can do nothing to disrupt the guy.  The only time Miami was actually winning the game was when Battier and Chalmers were hitting 3s at a 50% clip.  I don't see it continuing for a full game, much less the series.

Wade and James played well, although James didn't shoot well.  I imagine that'll change at home a little bit.  Bosh concerns me.  The guy is probably injured and wasn't getting into the tussle when Miami needed to get rebounds and loose balls.  OKC beat them at the 50/50 balls tonight.

I don't like the Westbrook-Wade match up if I'm Miami.  Wade played well tonight, but given his performances during the playoffs, Westbrook is going to be too athletic for him, I think.  Still, Wade can probably play him to a draw for at least 4 games and outplay him in 1 or 2.

How can Miami win?  James can have a monster game (1 or 2).  Wade can have a monster game (1, if lucky).  Bosh can go for 20/10 (1, if lucky).  Or the other players, Battier, Chalmers, Haslem whoever can put together a full game like they played in the 1st quarter (1, if lucky).  Don't know if it'll happen before OKC wins 4.

I'm very happy if I'm OKC.  They didn't even get much from Harden tonight and they still won handily (especially considering the 1st quarter deficit).  I was wary last year of the Westbrook-Durant combo.  They looked off sync and like Westbrook didn't get it...I've totally come around.  I think they work great together now.  Durant is a smoother, more confident outside shooter than before and this opens up lots of lanes for Westbrook to use his slashing ability and strength to get to the basket.  Plus, Westbrook improved his jumper and is making better overall decisions.

My favorite moments of the game - James takes Durant off the dribble one point, driving right past him all the way to the hoop and scores and gets fouled.  There was a shot of Durant shaking his head that was like - holy shit - that dude is a beast.  My other two favorite moments of the game were when James blocked out a guy so well, the rebound hit the ground and another time he blocked someone out from under the basket and pushed them all the way back to the free throw line.

LeBron, I think, is the best all around basketball player I've ever seen.  I suppose he doesn't have the scoring chops and hasn't yet displayed the mental fortitude of great champions, but if I'm playing 5 on 5 and I get first pick and there's LeBron, Jordan, Magic, Bird, Kobe, Shaq, Duncan, Hakeem, all the great players I've seen think I'm taking LeBron 1st.  Is that ridiculous?

I have no predictions, but after seeing them play, it looked like OKC has the match up advantages.  If I'm Miami I consider trying something else - LeBron on Durant more, or even LeBron on Westbrook.  I don't know.  LeBron was working super hard for his points tonight and OKC has to be happy with that.  They can throw Durant on him and taunt him to make outside shot or Sefologia (sp?) if they want to buckle down.  Good options.
More on Plunging Wealth

American have as much wealth today as in 1990.  Talk about stagnation!

Man, these geniuses like the Clintons, Greenspan, Bernanke really got some explaining to do.
Tough Call

Sometimes I like to think I wouldn't prostitute myself out.  But $110 million?  A lot of scrilla.
The Everything Bagel

Listening to Good Food the other day on NPR and some famous restaurateur claimed he invented the everything bagel as a teenager.  He worked at a bagel shop and would do all the sprinkling of poppy seed, onion, garlic, etc onto the bagels, but about 75% of the sprinkle stuff was wasted in the pan below.  So in an attempt at thrift, he used the throwaway mix to make an "everything" bagel.  It is my favorite bagel.  I like stories like this.

Film:  Snow White and the Huntsman

See the problem with choosing style over substance, idea over story, and hip trends over the timeless truth's is you end up with films like this.  I suppose it isn't that bad...but it's one of those films when you leave the theater, you just feel eehhh.

And the style and world feels like a simple Game of Thrones rip off, without nearly the complexity of character.  My favorite parts were seeing the CGI Dwarves played by Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, and a host of other cool aging British vets.  Their improv was the best dialog written in the movie.

Ultimately, this will make a lot of money and I imagine be quite forgettable, like many of the movies of the summer.

Monday, June 11, 2012

How Did I Stumble Upon This?

An weird interview with David Foster Wallace and Charlie Rose from 1997.  Oh, I know, I was reading about David Webb Peoples and DFW says in this interview when Charlie asks him about writing screenplays, he said it didn't really interest him unless he could do it like Peoples.  Anyhow, I like this little bit about what DFW will do after getting a fellowship for a year:
I will -- if past -- if past experience holds true, I will probably write an hour a day and spend eight hours a day biting my knuckle and worrying about not writing.
Nice to know he suffers like the rest of us.  Although I guess it doesn't totally bode well because he later killed himself, too.
Euro 2012:  England 1, France 1 / Netherlands 0, Denmark 1

Many of these games I unfortunately won't be able to watch live due to work and not wanting to be a total jerk off.

I watched the first half of each of these games.  Both scores remained the same.  Netherlands looked to be the better team, but missed opportunities and were a bit soft in the back.  Denmark played smart.  Netherlands, I hope will make it through, because their front 5 guys are fun to watch play.

France has some skilled players in the front - Nasri, Ribery, and a few other guys, but they all seem in the same mold - small, flair players.  It looks to me like they could use a stronger presence up front - a Gomez, or a Rooney, or a Zidane.  It works for Spain because they have 8 guys like this, but if you only have 3, you can't play the style of Spain and wear the opponent down.

I love Welbeck for England.  Guy has some superior athletic ability.  Not rooting for England like I have in the past.  Getting tired of the Gerrard, Terry, Lampard group and their general tightening up on the big stage.

Median household net worth dropped 33% from 2007-2010.

Film:  Prometheus

Do the screenwriters get paid half their salary if only half the movie makes any sense?  Should customers get 50% of the ticket price back?  What happened?  This movie made about as much sense as Tree of Life.

To dismiss it, however, would be a bit too easy.  There was some super cool visual shit and actually found the 3D to be used really well.  Something about the dark palette, the big exteriors, and cave stuff (Ridley smartly used Cave of Forgotten Dreams as a template more than Avatar).  I can't say I regret seeing the movie, but was among the many in the theater trying to piece together w-t-f the story was and what the characters were trying to accomplish.  I'll need to go re-watch the original just to remember how simple storytelling works so much better.

UPDATE:  Here is a really accurate review summing up the problems nicely.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


TV Pilot:  The Following

I wrote a pretty good bit about this show, but I'm deciding not to publish because it technically hasn't aired yet and I'm sure it's possible to get in trouble for something like this.  I'll save the post for when it comes out in the fall.

Euro Report: Italy 1, Spain 1

Spain played lackluster and Italy took advantage.  Spain did not attack enough, even though their side is the more talented.  They possessed, but did not dominate with possession.  Italy, as can be expected, had tight defense in the box.  Torres could have scored several goals in the end to notch a victory, but Italy too, had some opportunities.  Overall, a very fun game to watch, I thought.  Spain looked a little slow at times - Italy seemed to beat them to the ball on 50/50s.

Buffon made a very clever 1 on 1 stop against Torres, where he just guessed Torres would try and dribble him right and was correct.  I'm sure neither team is too disappointed, as they both will still have the opportunity to advance to the next round.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Euro Report:  Germany 1, Portugal 0

Not a terribly exciting or well played game.  I was thinking this German team might pose the greatest threat to Spain - young, skilled, dangerous - and they still might.  But I was unimpressed with their overall attack and especially with Gomez until he scored the goal.  It was a nice header.  They got the result.  Ronaldo is fun to watch and root against.  Kobe fans would love Ronaldo.  He's like Kobe, but better.  When he was getting the ball around the box, 3 German were guarding him.  And he made some plays.  There were several balls he played to his teammates who could have finished.  And like Kobe, you can tell he is eternally disappointed by his teammates failures.

Ozil is my favorite player to watch.  He is so smooth and plays these balls that are works of art.
Minority Studies

The trap of minority studies.
as they walked through the school gates they were not met by people intent on luring them into Irish or Italian Studies programs whose purpose was to keep them in a state of permanent resentment over past wrongs at the hands of either Europeans or establishment America. Instead, they could give their full attention to learning. They took courses that informed them about their new land’s folkways and history, which gave them both the ability and the confidence needed to grasp the opportunities it offered them.
Then again, didn't Obama major in something like this?

Friday, June 08, 2012

The Canary

Porn is sort of the canary in the coal mine for entertainment and apparently the internet is killing the porn star.
It’s an open secret in the porn world that many female performers are supplementing their income by “hooking on the side”…For many female performers nowadays, the movies are merely a sideline, a kind of advertising for their real business of prostitution.
Not exactly encouraging for the screenwriter who does not have as marketable skill set.

Americans need to take more vacation.

I agree.  I've never been impressed by the output of people who work ungodly hours.  And technology isn't helping.

Book:  The Lonely Men by Louis L'Amour

I became interested in this writer during my trip to North Carolina.  In a pawn shop there was a box with literally hundreds of used L'Amour books.  I couldn't believe this guy had written so many books.  Maybe it is my own ignorance, or a geographical thing, because I can't remember anyone every mentioning or talking about L'Amour books to me.

So when I got back home, I stopped by my local used book stores and bought one by the title.  The titles are great.  They all like "Law of the Desert is Born," "May There be a Road, "The Lonely Men," "Ride the Dark Trail," this kind of stuff.

He is not a good writer.  As much as I wanted to enjoy a book about men on a mission titled "The Lonely Men," I had to stop reading.  I mean, there isn't much of a point.  Larry McMurtry blows the guy out of the water and after reading the entire Lonesome Dove series, it's tough to go to something like this and get much enjoyment out of it.
I Support Quitting

In the case of Eastern European soccer fans yelling racist taunts.

The players should walk off the field if this occurs.  The tribalism and racism in soccer refuses to die.  It's not like we recently crossed the color barrier or something in the sport and fans need to come around.  This is the resurfacing of ugly, reactionary impulses, and in the recent past was used as inspiration to genocide in Yugoslavia.  Especially in Europe right now, where the economic collapse is threatening social stability, there should be zero tolerance for this type of extreme behavior, especially in a publicly accepted forum.  If fans cannot regulate the "few bad apples" and instead become hotbeds of racism, the players should walk off the field together.

I'm reading In The Garden of Beasts.  It is about Nazi Germany during the period of 1933-1934.  The behavior of ordinary German's is so repulsive and disgusting, it literally makes me dislike German people of today -- that in their blood -- they could accept such day to day petty meanness.  Many American individuals in Germany at the time were beaten up by "bad apples" when they refused to heil hitler.  They said they were rouge young punks or overzealous storm troopers. Any attempt at finding justice was laughed off and spun and dismissed.  Slowly, the Americans who refused to heil would leave Germany, the ones who begrudgingly did it, stayed.  Small things.  Everyone knows the rest of the story.

Thursday, June 07, 2012


Rondo's hobby is roller skating.

Book:  The Catcher in the Rye

Haven't read since high school.  Fun, easy read.  More is made of this book than is probably warranted, but I suppose American culture needs something to hang our hat on, and there are worse choices.  My favorite quote in the book is a quote within the book "The mark of an immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of a mature man is that he wants live humbly for one."  And then the pervert who says it makes a weird move on Holden.  Not bad stuff.
Is Panic Becoming Rational

Are we heading down a dark path?
OKC Is Good, Really Good

Durant is as good or better as expected.  Harden is just a straight baller, clutch, ballsy, good decision maker, easily the best 6 man in the world.  Westbrook is still a wildcard, but less so than in previous years.

They plowed by the Spurs and the Spurs were no joke.  They weren't athletic, but they were good.  It seems like they may have peaked a tad early.  Or, another way to look at it, they played a super weakened Clippers team and an inferior Utah team which made them look better than they were.  But still, in those first two games, they were working the Thunder.  But the Thunder are so good, they improved right before our eyes during the series.

Funny tid bit on Inside the NBA last night - Barkley mentioned all the teams who were hesitant about drafting Durant because he could bench press only 125lbs during his workout were now regretting it.  Durant had a funny retort "basketball don't weight that much."  True dat.
Fresh Air Podcast Re: Canne

Excellent podcast about Canne, but also about movies in general, how critics are feeling, what Canne represents in the world of cinema, and how a disappointing year can still be invigorating.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Money Quote From Gladwell-Simmons

On Kobe:
Kobe's ideal teammate is a ball boy. 
Best thing Gladwell's ever written.  And that's saying a lot.

I'd watch a reality show of this guy.
Asked what fuels him, Garnett said: "The competition, the naysayers, the owners who talk too much. The people who don't think a 36-year-old can do what I do. I take a lot of pride in my craft, I work really hard at my craft everyday, and I'm a true professional." 
"Go to bed boo-boo."

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Crowd Sourcing

One wonders why Clive Barker would need to re-write.  Why not let the masses speak and perfect the script themselves?

A response to his burger and fry/fat people tax.

He might as well tax poor people to discourage poverty while he's at it.
Good Point

Do women have the right to expect chivalry from men?  Instapundit says:

Chivalry, after all, was a system that involved expected behavior from women, too.
No There There

Facebook's unpopularity grows because of it's stock price drop.

The oddest result to come out of the poll, although it may be the most telling, is that nearly half of the respondents now have less favorable opinion of Facebook than they used to simply because the IPO has been such a disappointment. Even thought the declining share price and frustrating technical troubles had zero affect on most Americans (or even the average investor) simply giving off the impression of a bumbling, unpopular company can change the customer's perception of it.
I suppose that can happen when your business is perception/religion/way of life, as opposed to a product.

Monday, June 04, 2012


TV:  Game of Thrones Season 2 Finale

I didn't care for the zombies - the magic elements are not for me.  One of the reasons I liked Season 1 so much was the lack of supernatural crap.  But I'm still incredibly excited about all the character stuff.  I went back last night and watched some season 1 scenes.  Some lingering questions from way back when:

1.  What happened to Barristan Selmy - supposedly one of the best knights in the kingdom - the guy who Joffery fired and tried to pay off, who rejected the offer and tossed off all his gear and left?

2.  What happened to Ned Stark's man who he sent after Gregor Clegane in Season 1?  This, remember, was one of the reason Stark was short on muscle when all the shit goes down.

3.  What is Varys the Spider up to?  I just re-watched the scene when Arya overhears him talking to a "foreigner" about Danerys and Drogo and seemingly plotting the return of the Targaryens.  Is that is overall goal?  Why?

I particularly liked the detail about the King of Quarth having nothing in his safe.  Good choice.

I want to see another Tywin/Tyrion scene.  What is Tywin's deal?  What does he want?  Does he know about Jamie and Cersi?  He must - and that is strange.

I went back and watched for when Bron was introduced in season 1 because I only remembered him from when he kills the knight and frees Tyrion.  But he was introduced in the bar when Catlyn Stark takes Tyrion hostage - he is the one who offers up Tyrion his room for money and then he goes along with them on the road.
Very Interesting

On why quitters win.
At the heart of strategic thinking is the ability to focus on one strategy while consciously quitting the pursuit of others. Choosing what we want to do is easy. It's choosing what else we want to do that we are nonetheless going to quit doing that is the hard part—to build the school by stripping funding from the hospital; to develop this product while shutting down production of that one. As David Packard (of Hewlett-Packard fame) once said “more companies die from overeating than starvation.” The same truth applies to our careers and personal lives.
I also particularly like their observation about RSVPing:
University of Michigan psychologist Georges Potworowski has discovered that people who score low on many of these same traits are also more prone to indecisiveness. For example, let’s imagine your friend Paul is having a party. Paul’s more indecisive friends (not you, of course) probably won’t RSVP because they are afraid that the second they respond “yes,” Peter or Mary will announce an even cooler party on the same day (the horror!). But they don’t want to respond “no” either, since Paul’s party might turn out to be the cat’s meow after all. But really, who cares? Although failing to RSVP like I often do might send extra conscientious people like my wife to an early grave due to unmitigated frustration, in the grand scheme of things it isn’t a big deal, is it? No, if all we are talking about is a cocktail party with unconditionally loving friends. But the inability to make what Harvard ethics professor, Joseph Badaracco calls “right vs. right” decisions can be a fatal strategic flaw. An otherwise talented manager who can’t bring himself to focus on one customer segment at the expense of others (but what if they want to buy, too!?!) winds up taking his team in circles, and his career into a rut.

Sunday, June 03, 2012


Not the vampire books, but of Western civilization.  Pretty glum.
That’s to say, the unsustainable “bubble” is not student debt or subprime mortgages or anything else. The bubble is us, and the assumptions of entitlement. Too many citizens of advanced Western democracies live a life they have not earned, and are not willing to earn.


TV Movie:  Game Change

By no means great, I still kind of enjoyed it.  It was a total Sarah Palin hit job, I mean they really try to make her look bad.  But do they?  Among the things she is accused of not knowing:  What the Fed is; a single Supreme Court case; Who fought in World War 2; whether Saddam Hussein attacked us on 9/11.  These were the bad-dum-de-dum moments of the movie when we were supposed to be like "holy fucking shit, can you believe someone this stupid was almost the Vice President of the United States?"

But let's think about the assumptions underlying this premise.  Is a vital qualification of being President or Vice President the equivalent of scoring well on an AP Government test?  It would seem so -- after all everyone watching HBO and all the political operatives that populate the movie are just so-fucking-smart, I'm sure they all could beat Sarah Palin at trivial pursuit and if they studied really hard, could brush up on their American government knowledge.  So what happens when all these geniuses run the country?  Only the biggest recession since the Great Depression.  Only the 9/11 attacks.  Only the war in Iraq and going back a little further, the war in Vietnam.  The decade long war in Afghanistan with no clear victory in sight.  The Pakistani's making nuclear weapons and housing Bin Laden.  The North Koreans developing nukes.  The Iranians trying to.  Only the stock market turning into a massive pyramid scheme.  Only student loan debt crippling the next generation of young Americans.  Only the housing market bubble.  And all of this without a single internal rival, a single existential threat, and our economy and military being by far the biggest on the entire planet.

I think a lot of Americans are confused by things.  I think they think to themselves - I'm not the brightest person in the world, but it sure seems like these quick thinking fast talkers like Hillary Clinton and Lawrence Summers and Barack Obama, and all their ivy league folks with their AP test scores and advanced degrees - they really must know what they are doing.  They are the folks who ought to run the country.  And so they let them and then what happens?  All the connected people get rich and get a golden parachute when they screw up.  And all the stupid, public school, unconnected regular folks who just try to mind their own business and be good citizens and gets their kids through school and pay their mortgage get their 401ks ravaged, they can't afford college, they get stagnant wages at work, their send their kids to war, and so they get frustrated and think - maybe they're getting bamboozled.  They can't quite put their fingers on it, or how, but they see what clothes these people wear, how they talk about the world, and how their concerns don't seem to be the same.  These people don't spend their time memorizing who the President of Georgia is, or how the Fed's quantitative easing works, or the history of Ayman Al Zawahiri.  They know their saving accounts get no interest, they know Putin looks and acts like a thug, and they know some nutjobs from halfway across the world flew planes into the World Trade Center.

It doesn't surprise me someone like Palin holds a folksy appeal.  And look, I'm not defending her idiocy.  I'm not fan of idiots and I don't think she knows very much.  But I would like to point out, these other folks - the alternatives - the Hillary Clintons and Lawrence Summers and all these "the best and the brightest" -- they don't really know all that much either.  Sure, they know Marbury vs. Madison and Brown vs. the Board of Education.  They know the different between Arabs and Persians (maybe).  They might even know some interesting stuff in history about the Mexican-American war, or the how the Bank of the United States was formed, or details of Sherman's march through the South.  But they don't know as much as they'd like us all to think they know.  They don't know how to fix the economy.  They don't know how to win the wars we're in.  They don't know how to stop the crazies from getting nukes and they don't know how the middle class can be strong and confident again and where the jobs will come from.

And so where do they get this smug confidence?  Where do they get the presumption that they - and people with similar backgrounds to they - should be the ones to rule?  Where does it say the people who score the best on AP Tests are the best decision makers?  The most fair?  The most just?  The most wise?  Why is so supposed to be so pathetic that Palin manages to simply remember her lines for the debate - as opposed to memorizing the the different schools of thought in American foreign policy or memorizing entire dissenting opinions written by Felix Frankfurter?

As to the movie - Ed Harris was very good as John McCain.

Saturday, June 02, 2012


Film:  Moonrise Kingdom

A pedophilic version of Badlands.

The craft is amazing, but the attitude...I mean this has got to be Sandusky's favorite movie of the year, right?
Kobe - A Retort

Many people still think Kobe Bryant is the best player in basketball.  But let's do a little thought experiment.  Of the teams left, ie the best four teams in the league (basically), what would Kobe do in lieu of their top player(s)?

Miami.  It should be obvious, if Kobe and LeBron swapped positions in Miami, the Heat would not be as good as presently constructed.  Therefore, LeBron is a better and more valuable player than Kobe.  If you applied the vice versa and imagined the Lakers with LeBron instead of Kobe?  NBA champs, no question.

A more interesting question - imagine Miami with Kobe rather than Wade.  Or the Lakers with Wade rather than Kobe.  To be honest, I think it is basically a toss up.  Therefore, Wade and Kobe are about of equal value.  Wade is younger, but Kobe is healthier.

Boston.  Imagine Kobe on Boston instead of Pierce.  Are they a better team?  This is actually a really tough question.  Kobe is probably a better all around player than Pierce at this point, but there is something Pierce gives to Boston -- you kind of can't imagine the team without him.  He is the soul.  So I'm not sure they are better with Kobe.  Are the Lakers better with Pierce?  Let me say this - they'd probably get bounced in the second round by a team like OKC in about 5-6 games.

Kobe for Ray Allen makes Boston better.  We can safely say Kobe is better than Ray-Ray.  Kobe for Rondo or Garnett does not make Boston better, but that is because of position, not really skill or bball talent, so it is probably an inappropriate form of analysis...

OKC.  No way Kobe makes OKC better if you swapped him for Durant.  Durant on the Lakers.  True Laker fans just creamed their pants.  Durant is better than Kobe.

Kobe for Westbrook is actually an interesting question.  Kobe is a better player today than Westbrook, but I think Westbrook fits for OKC and doesn't make them better.  Another positional conundrum - it almost doesn't quite make sense.

Spurs.  You wouldn't swap Kobe for Parker or Duncan at this point.  It would make the Spurs worse.  Kobe for Manu straight up would be interesting, but it would throw off the entire Spurs chemistry.  Kobe wouldn't work there - not how he plays now.  He simply would not improve their team if it required any major subtraction.  Which sort of makes my point about Kobe - how he is a difficult teammate and player to build around.

So here is my conclusion.  Durant and LeBron are head and shoulders above Kobe in terms of value to their team.  They are the two elite players (perhaps throw in Dwight Howard when he isn't injured), who any team would take for any single player.  They are blue chips.  Chris Paul isn't quite there, as much as I love the guy.  Because you throw in Durant, LeBron, and Dwight and your team is a threat to go to the finals.  Period.

The players who their team would not obviously trade for Kobe or at the very least, it would be about a wash:  Pierce, Wade, Westbrook, Parker, Duncan, Ginobli

Therefore, I put Kobe in terms of NBA value in this second group and clearly not in the first group.  But of all the second group guys, the only one who gets continually put in the first group is Kobe.  Duncan belonged in the first group for many years, but the guy is 36 for chrissake.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Garnett Matters

In today's game the Celtics are +27 when he is in the game.

Note:  Another one of those incredible Rondo plays in the 3rd quarter.  James is trying to start a break, has a wide open Wade streaking down the court.  Rondo is really the last man back, he glances over his shoulder and sees Wade's angle and just guesses the moment James will try and lead him and steps right into the passing lane and makes the steal.  A really incredible play.

Is it just me or is Klosterman a really douche-y writer?
If football's ever-rising popularity was directly tied to its ever-increasing violence, something might collapse upon itself: Either the controversy would fade over time, or it would become a terminal anchor on its expansion. But that's not how it's unfolding. These two worlds will never collide. They'll just continue to intensify, each in its own vacuum. This column can run today, or it can run in 2022. The future is the present is the future.
Really? Someone at their office needs to be mocking this guy for writing shit that makes no sense.
I've Noticed

Hating on millennials.

And ps - I said this about Social Network, the movie, when it came out.

UPDATE:  A video rant on the stupidity of youth and how it is unhealthy for society.  I'm in the movie biz, so yeah, I've noticed.
How To Be Happy

A short little video.  His basic advice, although he doesn't put it this way, is to lower expectations.  Which, incidentally, is the theme of my yet to be written movie entitled "Ugly Chicks."
Good, Because It's True

2 Women, 2 Years apart.
Sounds Interesting

How knock-offs spur invention...and how stand up comedy practices reflect it.
I Sympathize with Mary-Kate Olsen

She claims guys her own age are immature.  They probably watch and behave like the guys in Girls - who can blame her?
Interesting Spin

Higher unemployment might reflect economic optimism.
Recently, the Fed attributed the nearly 1 percentage point fall in the unemployment rate since August 2011 with the decline in labor force participation. Today's news that the rate rose reflected a glimmer of positive news: More unemployed people are returning to the job hunt, suggesting economic optimism. what you're saying is...I don't even think this needs analysis.  I feel like one just needs to go read Orwell again.  Do these numbers and statistics have any meaning or are they all just tools to spin?
Ugly Employment Figures

See here.  The other factor no one talks about is job security.  I would guess at least half of the people I know, in LA at least, don't have what I would consider basic job security.  That is to say, they are vulnerable for unemployment in the next 1-6 months due to job-to-job contract renewals, freelance lifestyle, companies in bad shape, or underpayment/low wages (also called underemployment).

People talk about the psychological aspects to unemployment - especially long term unemployment - it would not surprise me to find similar problems with poor job security.  It makes things like buying big purchases and family planning difficult.