Saturday, December 27, 2014


One of the great pleasures of the holidays, for me, is board games. In regular life, they seem ridiculous and a childish waste of time. But is it okay to waste time on Christmas vacation and to spend time with family inside the house. Add this to my mother asking me to clean out the board game closet and I find Risk sitting in the living room table beckoning. A game got me hooked. So much so, I've turned to free Risk games online.

Risk, when you get good at it, reminds me how geography matters. In our virtual world, we can easily forget this. What are some of the most sought after territories on the Risk board? The Middle East and the Ukraine. Surprised? Look at where they are. Ukraine is the gateway between Europe and Asia, crucially important and strategic. If you hold Ukraine, you don't need to waste resources protecting your entire Asian border. The Middle East is between African, Asian, and Europe. My brother and I invaded each other between The Middle East and Afghanistan back and forth, numerous times. I feel like our foreign policy establishment and military ought to play Risk weekly.
Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

An appreciation of John Milius.
It is the mid-1980s. There is a party at the house of screenwriter Paul Schrader. Milius, who wrote Dirty Harry and Apocalypse Now and directed Conan the Barbarian and Red Dawn, is there when Pauline Kael arrives. Kael is the liberal New Yorker film critic. To her, a Milius film is only slightly better than a slime mold. Milius has had some wine. He has an intermediary tell Kael that he would like a “conference” with her.  
A message comes back: Kael wants to know if Milius, who in meetings with executives was fond of displaying pistols, is armed. 
 “Tell her I’m not armed,” Milius says. “But I myself am a weapon.”

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Racism In Academia

Several professors are suing their former employers for racial discrimination. Although I know nothing of these cases, I suspect the larger issue is the winner-take-all value of a tenured professorship and the denial of tenure leaving these folks without options.
Independent Theaters

This is the best moment for independent movie theaters and independent film in a long time. They are showing The Interview, and demonstrating clearly why they are different from those governed by corporate values. Amen.


Film: Selma

I was not a fan of this film, although the second half is stronger than the first. There are emotional moments, but I wonder if watching a MLK speech on youtube would be equally emotional. Much of the storytelling is not particularly well done. The transitions were non-existent at times, and I was often confused where we were and what was going on. Sloppy, I'd call it.

The thing that stood out to me - in a bad way - was the missing Coretta Scott King character. She was like a blank stare of nothingness. I had no idea what was going on in her head. And it seemed like the movie thought she was an important character. The irony is that we get this type of non-character from a female director doing the MLK character. And if we asked her, I think she'd say the critical relationship is between King and her, but who knows....

Anyhow, I'm incredibly surprised the movie is getting acclaim.
Hipsters Since...

I know someone who's been eating avocado toast since the 1980s. This person is my grandmother. I know another who's been using a single cup coffee serving since the 1960s. This person is my mother.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Cultural Suicide

Digital storage will not last.

I'm no tech master, but I know when CDs were first selling, everyone said they'd last forever. Hardly any of my old CDs will even play anymore. And that hasn't even been very long.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Friday, December 19, 2014


Film: Fistful of Dollars

Film print. New Bev. Never seen before. Obviously not as good as The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, but still, quite a bit of fun. Music really enhances these films. The type of movie that makes you want to make movies. Hollywood hasn't produced one of those in years.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Did He Do It?

To me, this is the only interesting question of Serial. The legal questions, simply put, are not interesting. We all know the criminal justice system is deeply flawed. Just like we know, income inequality is getting worse, Islamic terrorism is a problem, Hollywood is producing shitty movies, public schools are lousy in poor areas, and we should all be saving more money for retirement. Big fucking whoop, is what I say. I'd like these things to be fixed, but like most people, one can only do so much. I'm personally working on the Hollywood producing shitty movies problem. I trust others are working on the others.

And the question of whether he did it is simple: is Jay lying?

The only detail I found interesting in the finale was Jay's coworker talking about the days after the murder when Jay was telling him basically what he told police, that Adnan did it and he helped bury the body. This is interesting, because he would've been saying this story BEFORE any police coaching. To me, this adds some credence to the story.

Serial - The End

Well, of course it was unsatisfying. What do we now know that we didn't after the first episode? Basically, trivia.

(Total side note: went to a Seinfeld trivia night the other night and was reminded why I dislike trivia nights so much -- people know way too much useless crap. I find it depressing. Whereas home games of Trivial Pursuit can occasionally be fun, these public trivia-wonk folks creep me out. Look, I know way too much about Seinfeld and felt like an ignoramus around these trivia people. What is wrong with them? How can anyone spend so much time memorizing pointless crap?)

Which brings me back to Serial. I guess I don't have any profound thoughts that haven't been aired elsewhere. I find the storytelling to be round about and often based upon premises I fundamentally disagree with. I don't think we got the information presented in the podcast the same way the detectives, judge, and jury got the information. I find it relevant the detectives were 100% convinced they got the right guy, the jury only deliberated for 2 hours, and the judge seemed mighty convinced as well. I feel like the entire podcast was sort of like an extensive NFL replay. And Sarah K was, like a desperate, pathetic football fan, always looking for any type of evidence to poke a hole in the prosecutions case (and overturn the call her way). She SO BADLY wanted the conviction to be wrong, but she couldn't find it. In the end, the only thing she could fall back upon was that if she was in the jury (which she wasn't, nor was she presented the evidence in the way the jury was presented the evidence), she would've voted to acquit. And look, maybe I would've too, because by no means am I 100% (based upon only listening to the podcast) that he is guilty.

But I still think he did it.

And that is the question that interests me coming out of the podcast. I do not come away with a sickening feeling about our justice system. I come away with one feeling: I really want to know what happened. And to me, the angle she never explored but which I think would provide answers, is an analysis into Adnan's family. I want to know about the father. And I want to know about the mother. I want to know why there is one brother who does not talk to the rest of the family. I want to know if there was abuse in the house. I want to know if the father ever assaulted anyone. I want to know why the father has fallen into a weird, deep funk and never talks. I want to know if Adnan ever got suspended from school as a youngster for violence.

I realize none of these things are relevant to the court case, but I still want to know. Because I suspect the answer to the question of why this seemingly good kid probably murdered a girl in cold blood lies therein.

OTHER MAJOR SIDE NOTE: Why I think he did it. 1) No reason not to buy the basic timeline, thus making the serial killer angle seem far fetched. 2) Jay was involved because he knew about the car 3) It seems more likely to me that Jay's basic story is correct than the alternative, which is that Jay successfully framed Adnan for some unmotivated murder and managed to fool detectives, judge, and jury, AND Adnan simultaneously had no alibi or recollection of the day it happened. 4) Adnan comes across to me a schmoozer and liar. I know that is not grounds to convict a person...however, Koenig and others use the exact opposite-logic to suggest his innocence. They believe he is a good, decent person. Adnan, to me, seems like a vain, arrogant, nincompoop, who talks around issues rather than facing them head on. I became convinced of this when he tried to exonerate himself by explaining how it was impossible for him to drive to Best Buy by a certain time. Koenig cites the fact that Adnan has been a model prisoner since the incident. Well, Jay hasn't been convicted of other crimes, I don't think. If he were the murderer, or somehow involved more, doesn't it seem likely he would've displayed more such insane behavior since this incident? Furthermore, it's not like OJ killed anyone else anyhow. Adnan's model behavior, in other words, proves nothing to me.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Theater chains cancel "The Interview" en masse.

I'd quit if I worked at any of those places. Shameful.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Film: Into the Woods

Sleep inducing. Realizing I'm not a fan of Sondheim adaptations into movies...


An interesting piece on Lena Dunham and rape culture.
The only rape culture preying on impressionable, confused, young women, such as Jackie from Rolling Stone’s discredited story, is the culture created by Dunham, Lady Gaga, Rolling Stone and an industry far more interested in pushing a political narrative into the mainstream than punishing specific attackers. The details become phased out. Evidence becomes inconsequential and the narrative then becomes a moral fable, to be followed, believed and adhered to on broken knee without any bounds to truth, no different than an HBO sitcom or a pop song. Accusers are to automatically be believed without merit, because they then join the ranks and grow the movement. It becomes a crusade. Claiming to be raped becomes much more glamorous and acceptable than surviving and punishing an actual rapist. It becomes cool and then becomes a necessity to fit in.
I have a big problem with all these public accusations. I simply don't know what to make of them. Are they to be taken seriously? Are they to be believed? What am I to think? Maybe I'm missing something, but if someone is raped, it is a serious crime. And when a serious crime occurs, it should be reported to the police. Look, I understand it could be hard to prove and perhaps the judicial system, flawed as it is, won't offer justice. But at least file a fucking report. I mean, how can you be a victim of a serious crime, know the person who committed the crime is out there and probably will do it again, and simply stay mute? It makes no freaking sense.

Side note: James Franco and Seth Rogen are canceling their press tour. Pussies. I still think Salman Rushdie made a gigantic mistake by going into hiding all those years ago. It taught the fundamentalists that we Westerners can be scared. When you reward behavior, you get more of it. So every time someone pusses out, they are encouraging these things to happen to others. And look, I recognize I'm saying this from behind the safety of a keyboard and blog and if I had children, etc, etc, I'm not out there on the front lines either. But I sure as hell wish people would behave with a little more bravery. I sure as hell wish Salman Rushdie, rather than going into hiding, told the Islamic Thugs he'd be happily living in New York and carrying a .45 automatic if anyone of them wanted to come have words with him. I mean, the reason we have these freedoms to publish books and movies and people like Lena Dunham, Seth Rogen, and James Franco are multi-millionaires for doing their schtick is because some brave people in the past and the present stood up and fought for freedom, for the right to free speech and expression, for women to be treated equal and to have equal opportunity. And every day someone stands up to murders and rapists in courts and testifies against them to try and make their communities better.

Lena Dunham, instead, pockets this info until now and keeps it all hush-hush, while, if we believe her, she probably allowed this rapist to go around raping others because she didn't feel like reporting it. I just don't get it...

Hacking Solutions

There's actually a super simple solution to the fear of hacking: de-digitalization.

The movie business could easily function without digitalizing the crown jewels. After all, it did for over 100 years.

I think we put too much faith into these IT folks. In my experience, the IT crowd always talks a bigger game than they can actually accomplish. What are the crown jewels for movie studios?

1. Contracts
2. Footage, rough cuts, and final cuts
3. Scripts

None of these things MUST be online. Let the hackers have the emails. Even the ID theft...I fail to see what exactly can be done with this information other than someone coming up with fake identities and making fake credit cards, etc.

I don't know about other businesses, but if I were the US Gov, I'd seriously think about housing design stuff for major weapons systems on PAPER in a secure location vs. letting it exist in cyberspace.
Killing With Kindness

Andrew Luck is known for complimenting other players on the field.
Several players told the newspaper that, whether intentional or not, Luck's good-guy act has gotten in their heads.
What's the famous quote? Something like "A genius is a man who can be most like himself."

Monday, December 15, 2014


Idea: The Chiefs should line up Jamaal Charles as a wide receiver occasionally. I basically think in all sports, your style should be dictated by your talent and your goal ought to be to get your most effective players on the field. On offense, the order of Chiefs talent is:

1. Jamaal Charles
2. Travis Kelce
3. DeAnthony Thomas
4. Dwyane Bowe
5. Knile Davis
6. Jason Avnant
7. Anthony Fasano

Their other receivers are too crappy to mention. I'd like up 2 tight ends or 3 backs, sometimes with only one wideout...also, I'd sometimes line up Charles as a receiver and get he and Davis in the game at the same time. I'd also line up Kelce as a receiver sometimes, like the Saints do with Graham. They need to figure out something to mix up their offense because they are really good at 80% of the game, but can't quite beat the better teams without some more diversity on their offensive plays.

CTE is Super Real

Video series on GQ called Casualties of the Gridiron.

Football sure is fun to play and watch, but this concussion thing is bad...

...How motherfreaking Rodger Goodell is getting paid 44 million bucks a year and the NFL isn't working on some sort of health policies for the former players is borderline criminal.
They Made Me Write About Lena Dunham

It turns out Girls is a serialized horror movie—more gruesome, frightening, grim, dark, and disturbing than anything that’s ever occurred to Stephen King. 
The young people in Girls are miserable, peevish, depressed, hate their bodies, themselves, their life, and each other. They occupy apartments with the size and charm of the janitor’s closet, shared by The Abominable Roommate. They dress in clothing from the flophouse lost-and-found and are groomed with a hacksaw and gravel rake. They are tattooed all over with things that don’t even look like things the way a anchor or a mermaid or a heart inscribed “Mom” does, and they’re only a few years older than my daughters.
Pretty much.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Kobe Not Even Close to Jordan

According to stats.

Frankly, I don't see why we Kobe Bryant is more comparable to Manu Ginobili.

They play similar positions, have similar skill sets on offense, and don't play much defense. Both are successful only playing with dominating big men. Basically, the main difference is that Kobe flings up way more bad shots and Manu in his later career came off the bench.


Film: A Most Violent Year

Disappointing. I think Armond White is correct and Hollywood needs a dramaturge. What happened to the Producer? These auteurist projects are wastes of good costumes and acting and lust cinematography because the drama is dull and confusing. As I'm watching the film, I yell out, this story is nothing but inciting incidents! The drama never starts. The characters never take any action.


Calling out Lena Dunham as a liar.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Film: Foxcatcher

This is a bad year for "prestige" movies. Inherent Vice is the worst one, but Birdman and Foxcatcher are tied for 2nd for terribleness. I'm surprised at how little these films have to say about...anything...really. Foxcatcher offers no insight to the crime the film ends with. It happens almost randomly. There seems to be something about "America" going on in the film -- it certainly comes up a lot in conversations and is both too on the nose and without any substance. Can we conclude anything other than Steve Carrell is a weirdo with too much money? Cannot everyone in the film see it? How is this reflective of America? Other problems: very little happens throughout the film. There is little warmth save for what Ruffalo can bring. The actors were committed, so it seems, but what they are committed to, feels very slight and utterly depressing. For a much better treatment of similar material, I suggest Warrior.
The Voice of A Generation

Lena Dunham: never mind the truth, it is about my feelings.

If Lena Dunham is the voice of a generation, I worry very much about that generation.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014


TMZ releases a video of Sio Moore and Kaepernick talking shit to one another in the tunnel at halftime.

On Cowherd yesterday, Dilfer and Cowherd were talking about how Kap is a broken man and how he used to be such a fun loving, nice, smart kid. Dilfer thought he needed a Mike Holmgren type coach who would hug him and nurture him. I never saw it. I always felt like the media and some people in the football world looked at him through rose-tinted glasses. The guy never once has displayed the ability to read defenses or succeed consistently in the pocket. And while he did run well, the Niners running game as a whole suffered right from the beginning of when he played because he never audibles at the line (as you see Peyton, Brady, Brees, and yes, Alex Smith do) into a hand off because he spots the defensive mismatch.

Kaepernick reminds me of Matt Barnes, personality-wise. Both guys are mixed race and raised in predominantly white areas. Both have a lot of tattoos and see themselves as "tough" guys, and get into needless scrapes because they have chips on their shoulder for some reason. They aren't tough in the way Anquan Boldin is tough or Justin Smith is tough. Those guys are unspoken tough guys. You don't see them getting in fights because no one wants to fight them. They are tough, without having chips on their shoulders. Kap and Barnes aren't even tough in the way Steve Smith is tough. Smith is feisty and has a Napoleonic complex and is an instigator. Kap and Barnes are punks. They are petty. They overreact to slights by the other players. They feel the need to overcompensate and prove their toughness.

Matt Barnes is a competitor and has been a productive player on some teams, but he is more like a bench player. You would not want Matt Barnes as the face of your franchise. And this is the problem with Kap. He has the make up of a football player, but maybe not a quarterback. He isn't a leader. How in the world is your quarterback getting into a halftime shit-talk with a rookie linebacker on the 1-11 Raiders? That is pure stupidity and immaturity. You can say all you want about Kap being a nice kid, etc, etc, he just isn't a QB or a leader.

Saturday, December 06, 2014


Film: American Sniper

A strange film. I did not enjoy any of the flashbacks or domestic stuff, but enjoyed the war fighting sequences. The end was incredibly bizarre.

What's the last really good film made by Clint? Gran Torino was okay, but I think you need to go back to Million Dollar Baby.

Still, Unforgiven.
Calling My Short

NFL world turning on Kaepernick.
TheSidelineReview's John Middlekauff asked NFL executives and scouts if they'd rather have Kaepernick or Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, and surprisingly, all of them picked Carr. The belief is that Carr has lasting and growing skills as a pocket passer while Kaepernick's inconsistency as a thrower is a permanent problem.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

I Was Wrong

Jesus. They have a video of the cops in New York strangling the guy. Disgusting. Manslaughter if not murder. A total outrage. The guy clearly was not a threat.

Reading a little bit about this NYC police case...and the cop strangling the guy...I think the smartest argument, the argument to get the most people on your side to reduce police brutality, violence, and murder, would not to focus on race. Race makes people stop listening. And most people believe we are headed in the right direction regarding race relations in this country. I just saw a group of black comics last night and to a person, most of them made racial jokes about how they don't experience racism the way their ancestors did. One lady joked that she was glad she was born in the 80s, because if she was around in the 60s, she wouldn't have made it. She couldn't handle the police dogs and fire hoses and would've preferred to make sandwiches for the marchers. Another guy talked about how his mother was racist against white people because they treated her like shit. He was like, "I get along with white people, they put me on a TV show." Point being, EVERYONE can get behind the problem of police using excessive force unnecessarily. We all relate to police excess and power mania. And perhaps, just perhaps, this not only happens to be the polically smart movie, it might also be the truer narrative as well.

Film: The Duellists

Is this Ridley Scott's first movie? Harvey Keitel and Keith Carradine both play soldiers in the French army during Napoleonic times who fight in a series of duels. The movie isn't great, but it is gorgeous, the entire thing lit like a Vermeer painting. Would be great to see in a theater on a 35mm print.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Trailers Better Than Movies

Just watched the Inherent Vice trailer and it is excellent. It reminds me of the trailer for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

Both films are convoluted and suffer from the excesses of auteur filmmakers. In rewatching Tinker Tailor, I realized a problem with the story adaptation from a movie perspective -- there was no plotting reversals. The story is a straight ahead linear narrative and deals more with the history of the characters, a history of a generation of spies, old friendships, old lovers, and ghosts from the past. It works in literature, but films are unable to explore history in the same way. Films need more gigantic movements in plot and story because the inward emotion of history and literature cannot be conveyed outwardly -- even by good actors. Tinker Tailor needed a red herring. Tinker Tailor needed a major midpoint reveal. It would've helped clarify the film.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Can I Get an Amen

The first good article on affirmative action I've read in years.

Film: The Gambler, 2014 remake

I enjoyed the film, although I suspect it will not be terribly well received overall. I guess in some ways, I'm just a sucker for men-in-crisis films and will watch anything with cool one-liners, cars, and underground gambling dens. But let's put it this way -- I'd way rather watch this again than two other significant big budget indies of recent note: Birdman or Inherent Vice. And in some respects, I think I enjoy a movie like this a bit more than Nightcrawler, although Nightcrawler is a better movie.

The cons of the movie: characters like the jerk off sound of their own voices waaay too much. The movie rips the entire plot from the original The Gambler and then pusses out at the end with two significant changes.

Pros: Supporting cast is incredible.

Book: Ask the Dust by John Fante

A re-read and for me, does the best job of capturing what it feels like to live in Los Angeles of any piece of art.

The end of the penultimate chapter "I went for a walk through the streets. My God, here I was again, roaming the town. I looked at the faces around me, and I knew mine was like theirs. Faces with the blood drained away, tight faces, worried, lost. Faces like flowers torn from their roots and stuffed into a pretty vase, the colors draining fast. I had to get away from that town."

If you haven't felt that, you haven't lived here.
A Good Time Waster

Economic concepts in Seinfeld.

Admits to being wrong about Kaepernick. He says "a lot of people were fooled."

Eh hem. Not me.

It will be interesting to see when Harbaugh leaves the Niners and the Niners cut Kaepernick, will he pick him up on the cheap. I highly doubt it. Harbaugh realized he made a mistake by tying his fortunes to Kap and ever since, there has been drama with the front office.

I don't think anyone believes Alex Smith is elite, but it was foolish to think "you can't win a Super Bowl with Alex Smith." First of all, the Super Bowl or bust line of thinking is for fools. Smart people focus on the process and a set of values and the results follow. Dumb people focus on the results first and try to take short cuts. And look at the Niners now. Perhaps Kap had that higher upside potential. But I believed Smith had earned the right to compete for a Super Bowl with the Niner team they had assembled. This was not Harbaugh's team -- it was a team Harbaugh took over with tremendous talent that was underperforming. He had elite players all over the place - Justin Smith, Navarro Bowman, Patrick Willis, Frank Gore, a loaded O-line, Vernon Davis, and an experienced QB who taught himself how to win football games when he had the right tools. In 2012, the Niners were the best team in the league and managed to lose against an inferior Ravens team because they got out gamed planned by a more experienced coach and neither Harbaugh nor Kaepernick were ready. I think Smith would've been more ready.