Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Number 2

Forbes ranked all the colleges in the country.  Stanford #1, Princeton #3, Harvard #8.  All the usual suspects.  Pomona College?  Ranked #2.  Damn.  Not that rankings matter.  But still, damn.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Shame, Addiction, Narcissism

On Weiner.

Last night, I was listening to the Left, Right, and Center podcast regarding Weiner.  I've never laughed so hard in the car.  For some reason, just trying to talk about the story itself gives me so much delight.  Not because I relish the fall of any particular man, but just the fundamental details of the story are some comic and tragic.  His name, for chrissake.  My actor friend pointed out is straight out of Restoration Comedy, where characters were often named by vices or traits.

And as the article points out -- when the flaw in a man's character causes his own downfall -- it makes the story tragic (in the Greek sense).  Ahh...really just a brilliant media story if nothing else.

Midnight Run

Any ode to Midnight Run is bound to be awesome.

Something That Can't Go On Forever, Won't

This is true and in the case of big law firms, they may be right.

But on the flipside, I'm very wary of big proclamations about the future.  The ozone layer, global warming, peak oil, nuclear war, the end of the movie studios, etc, etc.  I think people tend to underestimate how much the world is in constant flux and change.  We tend to allow emotional feelings such as general anxiety about the future or distrust of a particular political group to unduly influence how we feel about the future.

When big events happen (ie Black Swan events), they happen all at once and usually are not predicted. Afterwards, we look at the events and it seems obvious we should have seen it coming, but we hardly ever do.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Moviegoers

We discuss The Way, Way Back.
The End

Even Porsche is abandoning the manual transmission.

I'm not even a crazy driving enthusiast, but damn, I like driving a manual.

I know it isn't convenient.  Most people cannot drive my car (not that I need them to 99% of the time).  I know it is not as smooth to ride in the passenger or backseat in a manual.  I even know the new technology claims to shift better than any human can.  Still, as this article points out, "driving isn’t about putting down the fastest time. It’s about having the most fun."

Automation is good for a lot of things, just not everything.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Safe Not So Safe

When Law is no longer the safe bet.

"You know what this is?  The world's smallest violin playing just for the lawyers."  -Mr. Pink

Coda:  just re-watched the Reservoir Dogs scene.  Love the end "never mind what you would normally do, just cough in your buck like everyone else."  The film is a comedy of manners.  A heist movie without a heist.  Still memorable.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


This Trayvon Martin story just keeps going and going.  Now Zimmerman comes out of hiding to rescue a family from a flipped SUV.  This was on the back of news that Martin was suspended from school three times prior to shooting, was caught with stolen jewelry, and supposedly punched a bus driver.  I'm guessing Zimmerman hired a publicist.

Zimmerman should start wearing a cape and become a real life superhero.  Seems like the only fitting thing to do after this circus.

Logging Restaurants

Last two nights have been great eating...a Koreatown find:  Beverly Soon Tofu.  I know Tofu soup doesn't sound like the most delicious of meals, but this place does it terrifically.  And if you are a fan of Korean food in general, literally everything we ate at this place was good.  On a cold day in LA, a bowl of the tofu kimchi soup with pork.  Mmmmm.

The Palm.  Never been before, but for a splurge dinner during Dine LA - holy crap - what a meal.  I wouldn't go on a regular basis.  Super expensive.  Super huge portions.  But the dine LA deal - $45 bucks for a fixed price meal -- caesar salad, filet mignon, green beans, mash potatoes, a flowerless chocolate cake for dessert -- worth it.  Everything was good.  They know how to make a caeser (rare these days), know how to cook a steak, and my companion thought it was the best flowerless chocolate cake she'd ever tried.  The Palm is old school, like Dan Tana or Musso and Frank.  You go here to feast.


Helping the students who don't need financial aid.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Best Pitcher in the American League

40 years old.  300lbs.  Coming off a 50 game PED suspension.  Only throws fastballs at about 90mph.  13-3 with 2.52 era.  One thing baseball has that other sports doesn't -- stories like these.

Quiet Deflation

Of Social Media.  The venture capital is drying up.  There goes the profit!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Why Were Eddie Murphy Vehicles So Good?

I've been thinking about "The Heat" because I thought it was quite bad (and gets worse the more I think about it), and yet everyone I talk to seems to like i.  I think it boils down to whether you like Melissa McCarthy or not.  I'm not a fan, I realized.  I hate her self-pitying attempts at emotion.  She can play gross out funny, but that's it.  My favorite role for her is the side character in Bridesmaids because she is simply comic relief.

The Heat is an engine for McCarthy.  Many Hollywood film are simply engines to watch stars we like.  I think back to all the great Eddie Murphy movies from 1982-Harlem Nights: 48 Hours, Trading Places,  The Golden Child, Beverly Hills Cop, and Coming to America.

From a business perspective, these were all Eddie Murphy vehicles.  Sure, in the first two they paired him with someone - Nolte and Aykroyd - just like they did with McCarthy with Bullock.  And maybe I just like Eddie Murphy better than Melissa McCarthy, but I think there is a qualitative difference in all of those movies versus The Heat (except perhaps Golden Child) above and beyond the difference between Murphy and McCarthy.  The scripts were downright good.  I dunno, it feels like times have changed.


My child is gifted.  He's also 29, unemployed, and living in my basement.

This letter is like conservative catnip.  I almost cannot believe it is real.
 2) You greatly exaggerate the importance of “chores.” Also, the idea that a kid should be forced to “get a job” is abhorrent. My son was very gifted so we gave him all the tools to succeed academically. This meant we didn’t turn him into slave labor and we certainly didn’t tell him he needed to go work behind a cash register. He concentrated on his school work, and we did our job as parents and financially supported him. 
 3) It’s easy to mock a “30 year old who lives with is parents.” My son is almost 29 and he’s been home with us since he graduated. Unfortunately the job market isn’t the greatest (maybe you hadn’t heard) and I’m not going to let him starve on the street. He has a college education, it’s pointless for him to be out working in a retail store or some other menial job. I will be here for him until he is able to get the job he deserves.

Friday, July 19, 2013

How To End Global Warming

A real simple plan to end global warming - a carbon tax.

And then you rebate the money back to people via an income tax discount.

I could easily be talked into scrapping the entire IRS code and replacing it with a simple progressive income tax a second grader could understand and then complement it with various consumption taxes to "nudge" certain society-wide benefits like lowering carbon emissions.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Mission Creep

When everything is terrorism.

Yes.  This is a huge problem.  We've suddenly let any crime or foolish threat become labeled "terrorism."  Even the Boston Bombing, which was legitimately terrorism is getting blown way out of proportion by calling it "a weapon of mass destruction."  Total mission creep.

I think we made a major mistake in framing this as a "war on terrorism," as opposed to a war on Islamic Fundamentalism -- or perhaps even a war against Sunni Fundamentalism or Salafists or even just Al Queda the organization.  Of course, we needed to do this framing because of politically correct language and our fear to lump all Muslims together.  Never mind that it is completely accurate and exactly what was going on.  Forgot the truth.  Forget the fact that these people concerned with political correctness reveal their utter ignorance in defining the problem this way in the first place.  They are the one's lumping Muslims together.  They are the one's who think everyone is incapable of distinguishing. So dumb.

Monday, July 15, 2013


I spoke with a college buddy last night on the phone.  We connect every three months or so.  Then, this morning I get a LinkedIn invite from him.  I know he didn't initiate, nor I.  I write screenplays he is a doctor.  There is no need for a LinkedIn connection.  So my question is this:  coincidence or does LinkedIn somehow have access to AT&T information or our cell phone conversation?  It seems to me a pretty big coincidence that the day after we spoke (out of speaking every 90 days or so), LinkedIn would see fit to for us to become friends.

I dunno.  Am I being paranoid?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Intern Error

The funny (and racist) practical joke regarding the Asian pilot names was the result of intern error.


I'm not sure the solution to this problem, but in case it isn't obvious, technology has rendered the need for a lot fewer employees in low margin businesses like news, movies, government gigs, etc.  But technology cannot yet answer the phone and fact check, etc, and these jobs are falling to interns.  These internships ARE NOT educational.  They build job skills, yes, but they are not educational.  We used to have an employment system which trained people on the job.  In Hollywood, companies use interns to do menial work and in exchange they learn some basic skill sets that are useful for securing low paid assistant jobs.  This is not educational, in my opinion.  I learn soccer skills by playing pick up, but I don't consider this educational.  Someone can learn to work a cash register -- but that isn't educational -- it is a technical skill.  My point is this:  interns are being ripped off in multiple ways.  They are being ripped off by the companies who use them to perform menial tasks.  They are being even more ripped off by the schools who take their parents money (or worse, borrowed loans) for credit.  This is a huge scandal.

There is a culture in Hollywood and government jobs to do summer or school internships.  In truth, no one designing these programs are trying to manipulate any one given individual.  The companies and places who hire interns don't have the money to employ a full time person.  But the problem is - jobs in these industries are highly skilled and someone needs to learn how to do them.  But there is not enough money out there to train people on the job.  The intern-assistant road is a the work around.  In some ways, it works.  It weeds out people.  But if you ask me, it is a highly immoral system.  If anything, I could see them retaining summer internships, but no intern on the planet should need to pay school tuition.

I hope the Federal intern case will change things.

This was not a coherent post.


Film:  The Way, Way Back

An enjoyable, easy going Friday night at the movies.  Not profound, but got a few laughs in.  Podcast coming soon.

Friday, July 12, 2013


The Town.  A book about DC, where people "come to do good and end up doing well."

Everyone sells out.  Why is this so?

Thursday, July 11, 2013


TV:  The Bridge

I had higher hopes.  The device of a ticking bomb was used in what is supposed to be a gritty crime thriller.  Hacky.  You got to be wary of giving these villains super powers and see them as the heroes of their own stories and not just foils for the protagonists.

I Don't Like to Travel

The story of how Louie CK got David Lynch to play Jack Dall.

Season 3 wasn't great, except for the 3-parter.  It almost could have been a great movie in itself.

Respecting Other Cultures

When other cultures ask for "respect," often this is the type of thing they mean:

Saudi Arabian princess arrested on suspicion of holding maids captive in Irvine.

It's actually called slavery.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


TV:  Ray Donovan Pilot

If I had Showtime, I'd watch the show, but I won't subscribe in order to watch it.  Make sense?  Obviously influenced by classic LA private eye stories -- should be right up my alley -- but they make it a bit too pop for my sensibility.  Also, there was some stuff that didn't make much sense.  Also, what is the deal with references?  They have Elliot Gould losing his mind and wading out in the ocean as this obvious reference to The Long Goodbye and the Sterling Hayden character.  But why?  What is the point of references in movies/shows anyway?  Is it supposed to engender favoritism by people who are able to pick up on the references?  It doesn't do much for me.  Smacks of English majors jerking themselves off.

Still, fun, guy stuff in here.  Jon Voigt's small performance is damn good.  And I like Liev Schreiber - just not totally on board with the character.  Maybe it deserves HBO patience.


Film:  16 Blocks

Mos Def ended his acting career with this performance.  Someone should do a film festival screening of former A-list directors doing taut action movies in their later years.  This one was by Richard Donner.  You could add Walter Hill's Bullet to the Head, Taylor Hackford's Parker, and there are probably more I'm not thinking of at the moment.

How means testing for colleges drive prices up for everyone.

One of my big problems with "progressives" and liberals in general is they always try and tinker with systems that work perfectly well.  The whole idea of public universities is a great (and progressive idea) where taxpayers subsidize tuition for everyone.  Therefore, everyone gets the benefit (ie the opportunity to attend such university) and the more general societal benefits of a good university system and educated population.

But I guess this wasn't good enough.  Inequality still exists, so someone gets it in their heads that we can further improve the system by making public universities cheaper for some than others.  Bad idea.

The liberal drive to constantly improve and make better the promise of America is genuine, but it often causes people to needlessly tinker and fix what is not broken.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Reading Fiction Is Good For You

So says science.


Welcome to the 21st century.
Of course, the big question is what Kobe Bryant will say about Howard's departure. He "unfollowed" Howard on Twitter the day of Howard's decision, a statement all its own.
We've become so lame.

The Moviegoers Return

And we review Man of Steel.


Film:  Mildred Pierce

On DVD.  Damn, Joan Crawford was hot.  I enjoyed the film, but didn't love it.  Refreshing to see a real movie, though, that at the very least, aspires to be about something (don't spoil your kids) as opposed to the recent treks to the theater which have been generic and disappointing.


Film:  The Heat

Eh.  A few chuckles, but ultimately a very forgettable film.  Another movie that is exactly what you'd expect with a super generic story.  I suppose if you really enjoy Melissa McCarthy, it is a good vehicle for her.

Thursday, July 04, 2013


Film:  White House Down

It is exactly what you think - Die Hard in the White House directed by the guy who made Independence Day.  I thought the writer would have been a tad more ashamed of the Die Hard plot rip offs, given the the very scenario of the movie was a rip off, but he just goes for it full throttle and unapologetically.

I can't help but think the political correct folks have done a disservice to the movies.  The only bad guys allowed in American action films seem to be old, disgruntled white men.

Oh well, had to see it because The Heat was sold out.  Again, I feel ripped off by the movies.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

I Think He Might Be Right

On how to get your kids to do well in school and life.
If you want your kids to be like the rich/smart kids, then emulate what the rich/smart families do. Talk to the kids, and treat ever interaction like an educational opportunity. 
 and then, this:
Charles Murray in his Coming Apart points out that rich white people tend to be married, go to church, invest in educating their children, believe in the work ethic, and in general embody all the old American virtues that built this nation. But, he points out, they no longer preach what they practice. And the result is that the gap between rich and poor, between well off and poverty, grows greater. Those who don’t practice the old virtues descend further diwn in comparison to those who do; but no one notices that, or if they notice it they don’t say anything. It’s as if we are keeping The Protestant ethic as a secret.


John Rawls on why baseball is the best game.

He makes a few good points and the tension in a big time playoff or World Series game is something to behold.  One thing that baseball does not possess, however, that football, soccer, and basketball all have is the synching up of movement and passes and teamwork that really elevates the watching experience. Teammates work in conjunction with one another in the other sports, whereas, for the most part, baseball is a sport of individual plays.  Yes, there is some throwing to each other involved and moving runners over, etc, but that pales in the comparison to the passing or team defense in basketball and soccer and the obvious synched up nature of football plays.


Los Angeles' Douchiest Neighborhoods.

I have never lived in one of these places, although I've been very close.

Blogging Problems

Having trouble posting the way I like to.

Every time Google/Blogger adjust the blogging settings, I hate it.  My impression of these internet companies -- a bunch of losers with nothing to do always tinkering with crap that doesn't need tinkering with.  Assholes.