Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Will To Outrage

A rather good article.
The reaction to the cartoon, however, was indicative of what one might call the will to outrage. This will precedes any object to which it might attach, and many people wait as if in ambush for something to feel angry about, pouncing on it with leopard-like joy (the leopard, so I was told in Africa, is particularly dangerous, for it kills for pleasure and not only for food).

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Speaking of the American Soul

I've written in the past a bit about the driverless car and how the enthusiasm for such machines reflects the infantilization of American adults. I'd argue the huge popularity and critical praise for the new Star Wars reflects the same thing. But here's an even more conspicuous sign: adult coloring book parties. 
Yoga, Zumba and CrossFit weren’t enough to calm us down. Angry Birds and Candy Crush Saga may have helped for a while, but they are part of the electronic-device world, with its upsetting emails and Facebook rants. So, seeking solace in a scary world, some adults are heading back to kindergarten.
Soon, they'll be selling tickets for adults to head back into the womb.


Film: The Revenant

A very serious film. VERY SERIOUS. I don't think there was a single joke in the film. Nor an ounce of anything resembling wit. But who has time for such frivolities when making SERIOUS ART.

All that said, I still kinda liked it because if a film has guns, snow, bears, and men trying to kill one another, I'm basically pre-programmed to enjoy it, even if it's a humorless, naive attempt at trying to convey something wrong with the American soul.

Monday, December 28, 2015


Films: Joy, The Big Short

Joy was quite good and maybe even excellent. I skipped in and out of The Big Short because it felt like a lecture from a dumbass.
America, 2016

Dog poop found outside a black cultural center turns out not to be hate crime, but the work of a seeing eye dog. A must read. Hat tip, Viner.

My favorite part is the conclusion:
Your life is going to suck once you leave college and have to get a real job. And one day you're going to be sitting at your desk thinking, "Why was I such a goddamn loser in college? I should have been having the time of my life and instead I was busy writing about fake hate poop."  
Second piece of advice, I'm a double Vandy alum. If you think Vandy sucks then your life is going to suck beyond belief once you leave campus. Seriously. You have no idea of the hell that is coming your way. Right now all you have to do is go to class for 15 hours a week. You can eat and sleep as much as you want. You have abundant sex partners. People are incredibly nice to you. The grading scale is cake. You live in a country club bubble where there's always a pick-up basketball, soccer or ultimate frisbee game going on, alcohol is easy to find, parties are plentiful. And you're still bitching? You're in for a world of hurt, kids.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


Film: Star Wars The Force Awakens

If I'm to understand the film correctly, if fricking R2-D2 would've just woken up, all that destruction could've been avoided.

But seriously, the first hour or so was entertaining (not good), and then the last hour was the exact same plot as the first Star Wars. I'm trying to figure out the proper analogy, and I'm debating whether it was like going to a Rolling Stones concert in 2015 where they play their greatest hits, seeing a Rolling Stones cover band in 2015 play their greatest hits, or watching a Rolling Stones cover band play their own original music.

I also want to point out to anyone who thinks I'm a bitter hater, there was a significant part in the film where a character is sticking his hand out toward another character's head and trying very hard to extract information from inside that head. The other character is trying very hard not to let this person extract information from her head. I imagine if this was written in some type of spec script or shot in a student film, the moment would garner jeers and laughter. I feel it important to point this out this occurred in what will be the highest grossing film of all time. And then it makes me ponder whether there is any cultural relevance to that honor.

Update: Found this review, which is considerably better put that mine.

Saturday, December 19, 2015


TV: Fargo season 2

End of the season was disappointing. The whole Homzi betrayal storyline didn't work for me.

Film: Diary of a Teenage Girl

For my money, this was considerably better and more honest and realistic than anything Lena Dunham's ever made. I quite enjoyed it, despite this type of film not really being my cup of tea. Felt almost European. Also, I laughed a number of times.

Monday, December 14, 2015


Film: Jobs

Surprised I enjoyed this one as much as I did. Although, I found the ending terrible and over saccharine. Perhaps because I saw it on DVD vs. the theater. It is entirely possible Sorkin plays better on the small screen.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

An Outrage

On our failure in Afghanistan.

I know scant about our military except that for "the most powerful in the world," we sure seem to have trouble winning wars.

Saturday, December 12, 2015


Dinesh D'Souza eviscerates an Amherst social justice advocate.

He persuasively points out several things: On the issue of conquest and ill gotten wealth from the past, he suggests we have two options to deal with this:

1. Equal rights and protection under the law, which is the point of the Civil Rights Movement and basically says, "stop the unfairness" going forward.

2. Rectifying past wrongs. Doing a calculus of history and figuring out who stole what from whom and trying to redistribute.

The social justice warrior advocates number 2 and D'Souza asks the kid a few questions:

1. Are you a product of privilege? Kids says yes.

2. What have you done to give up that privileges for others? The kid says he tutored other kids in high school.

D'Souza asks why he doesn't give up his position at Amherst for a disadvantaged, unprivileged person? The kid hems and haws and D'Souza goes in for the kill. He says, "Amherst IS privilege." And all the social justice warriors want to take other people's privilege and hand it out to others, but they won't give up their own.

And he's absolutely right, which makes clear why their positions are unpersuasive.

Sunday, November 29, 2015


Book: A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by GRRM

A ton of fun for those who like to nerd out on Game of Thrones. The first story is by far the best. But the others are quite good, too. Martin is a terrific storyteller.

Film: Bridge of Spies

I still need to watch the third act, but the first half of the movie is a courtroom drama. Who wants a courtroom drama? I was looking for a spy movie. There's yet to be any intrigue and I'm waiting for a big twist. I guess I should finish the movie before writing about it, but this is a slow, plodding story, more befitting a BBC miniseries than a Spielberg movie. The big U2 crash sequence was cinematically awesome, but I felt no emotion because the character was a nothing to me. It could've just as well happened off screen and it wouldn't have made much difference.

Saturday, November 28, 2015


Medical marijuana legalization leads to more overall consumption, including amongst youngsters.

I don't think this is a good thing.

Friday, November 27, 2015


Film: Creed

Why oh why did I get suckered into this one? I knew it wouldn't be good...just knew it...but thought the idea was so great that perhaps the movie could overcome a not very good writer/director. The old axiom remains unbroken that a good filmmaker can make a bad movie, but a bad filmmaker cannot make a good movie. And I don't mean Ryan Coogler is an awful director - he can use the camera and show flashes of talent. I just think he doesn't have much dramatic sense for story or drama and like in Fruitvale Station, Creed has a number of nonsensical dramatic elements peppered throughout. A quick list:

1. The girlfriend stomping off in anger when she finds out Michael B Jordan is Apollo Creed's son.

2. Rocky lying about his cancer and MJ finding a brochure about it in his pocket.

3. MJ running through the streets with bikers chasing after him

In fact, the movie could almost do entirely without the love story or the Rocky having cancer because neither of these elements amount to anything dramatic whatsoever.

Other thoughts:

1. I don't find Michael B. Jordan very compelling. Still his best role to date is Vince in Friday Night Lights as part of a TV ensemble.

2. The first fight scene was better shot than the last fight scene.

3. Opening scene/set up was terrific.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

NFL Team Design

I've written about this before, but if you're an NFL team without an elite quarterback, isn't a pretty good model for success to build around your defense and run game and underpay the QB position? It worked for Seattle under Wilson. Ever since they needed to pay Wilson, they've become considerably less dominant. I think there is an inefficiency to be exploited here, with selling high on non-elite QBs.

Gabbert is a better QB than Kaepernick.

Mathieu is a smart player.
Hipster Thanksgiving


Film: Carol

From a formal perspective, the film is made perfectly. Haynes is in total, absolute control of his material. And after seeing the film, it makes me wonder if that's a good thing. Maybe there ought to be a little more life and messiness in movies than technique, technique, technique. Which brings me to Blanchett. Blue Jasmine was the perfect role for her and I can't say I like her much in other things. I don't gravitate to her screen presence. She's like a poor, Australian Meryl Streep. Great technique and completely unlovable.  Rooney Mara is good.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Gender Discrimination

Female TV biz Assistant files lawsuit for gender discrimination. Several thoughts:

1. It doesn't appear she provides any evidence of discrimination, gender or otherwise.

2. Don't see how not being promoted constitutes discrimination.

3. Strikes me as utterly ridiculous Deadline publishes an anonymous article about a supposedly serious topic. If someone isn't serious enough to stick their name on it, the accusations shouldn't be taken seriously.

4. If there are 1000 people who want executive jobs, and 100 jobs, there are going to be a lot of sour grapes.

5. This sounds like sour grapes.

6. There are a lot of people in her similar position and the majority of them will not make it into the executive ranks (or rise very high in them).
The Warriors

16-0, a new record. And this, a year after they won the NBA championship. One narrative going around the sports world that I find completely foolish is the Warriors were "lucky" both last year and this year because they suffered no significant injuries. Beyond the fact one could say the exact same thing about any given championship team (weren't the Pats lucky for that interception in the Super Bowl? Weren't the Lakers lucky Kendrick Perkins was hurt in the last Lakers-Celtics finals?), there is another reason the Warriors don't get hurt much: depth and age.

Should we consider it unlucky if a team relies on an older than 35 superstar and that superstar gets injured (Lakers, Mavs?) Gimme a break. This is a design flaw, not bad luck. Plus, the Warriors are incredibly deep. Even if you took away their transcendent star, Curry, they'd still be better than 85% of the other NBA teams and can win on any given night without Curry going crazy.

The Warriors are so good, they blow most teams out by the 4th quarter and don't need to work hard in order to finish games. This is one reason why they don't suffer injuries. I mean, look at what the Cavs needed to do in order to win two games against the Warriors last year -- Dellavedova went to the hospital after playing the game of his life. They won that game, but in no way is that sustainable over the course of a 7 game series, which is why they lost.

Also, Steph Curry went through the offseason and clearly practiced and improved his game, a year after an MVP season. In contrast, James Harden came into the season out of shape. Will it be luck should Harden get injured and Curry remain healthy?

Now...all that said, I think there is a way to beat the Warriors from a tactical standpoint. Everyone talks about their invincible small ball line up. Horse shit. Everyone can be beat. Remember a few years ago when dumbass sports commentators were saying the read-option was impossible to stop? How long did it take NFL coaches to come up with an effective counter? Half a season?

Here's how I'd beat the Warriors:

1. Frustrate Draymond Green. He is the lifeblood of the team. I would frustrate him on both offense and defense best I could. Throw a bigger, longer guy on him defensively. Pound him down low. So, if I'm the Clippers, I'm putting Jordan on him defensively and offensively, I making him guard Griffin.

2. Cover Curry one-on-one and contest his 3s. The Dellavedova tactic. What's hard for the Clippers is that they throw Paul on Curry and he needs to expend so much energy on the defensive end, it ends up hurting him late in the game. In the last game, Paul played out of his mind, but come the 4th quarter, he was ineffective. No doubt this had something to do with the amount of energy he expended early on both offensively and defensively, especially after coming back from injury. Ideally, a team has pitbull defender like Patrick Beverly or Dellavedova who can harass Curry all night defensively without being a crucial offensive component. The problem with Paul is that he needs to play both roles and no one can reasonably expect to do this (save maybe Westbrook who is a physical beast).

3. Force Klay, Iggy, Barnes, etc to make decisions. If you just give these guys open lay ups and threes they'll make 'em. This happens when you double Curry. That's why you need to cover Curry one-on-one and when these guys have the ball, play tough one-on-one defense and make them make plays.

4. Post up and rebound. Nothing is more frustrating in basketball than when you can't get a rebound. If the Warriors go small, counter with a post game. One problem is that tons of teams these days can't post up, which is ridiculous. How has DeAndre Jordan not figured out to catch the ball with his back to the basket and make a move and a 5-foot shot? Remember how the Lakers crushed the Celtics in game 7 with Gasol and Bynum getting the ball down low and pounding the offensive rebounds? The Warriors are able to rebound when you take 3s and midrange shots because the rebounds bounce off those type shots and whoever is around - guard, forward, center - can catch the ball. But if you're taking shots inside 10 feet, the rebounds fall closer to the basket and taller guys can just reach over and grab them. It'll be interesting to watch the Spurs-Warriors in a 7-game series. If I were the Spurs, I'd throw Aldridge and Duncan out there to counter the Warriors small ball line up and literally post up one or the other every single possession. The other one pounds the offensive rebounds. Surround with a couple 3 point shooters and see how the Warriors defend. Imagine Harrison Barnes trying to cover Duncan 5-10 feet from the basket. Yeah, right.

Also, I think teams way overreact to Curry getting hot. If the guy gets hot, just keep playing tough. Maybe switch new legs onto him. The Clippers problem is that their perimeter defenders basically all suck. Crawford, Reddick, and Rivers are useless defenders thus putting too much pressure on Paul. Maybe not all teams have guys have the right personnel, but I'd throw a pitbull type if you have one and possibly longer defenders, like a LeBron, to mess with him. If the Clippers ever want to beat the Warriors, they might need Paul to commit to defending Curry and defer some ball handling elsewhere to save Paul for the 4th quarter. They could use Bledsoe.

If you decide you must double Curry at all times, you have already lost the game. I would throw occasional doubles at him at the time and place of the defenses choosing. I would not react to him "getting hot." I would switch it up so he would not know when or why it was coming.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Kaepernick... on season ending IR and obviously done for in San Francisco. So if the Chiefs make the playoffs without Jamal Charles, does anyone want to revisit the Kaepernick vs. Smith debate? I sure do.

And I don't want to say I told you so, but I definitely told you so.

Film: Sicario

A disappointment. Way too obvious in its bleakness. I found the story quite boring, actually. Have these people (and I mean the characters in the film) seen No Country for Old Men? Does the awfulness of the cartels escape anyone who doesn't read the news? I felt like the movie borrowed for Cormac and Bigelow and didn't add anything to what we've already seen about the world of powerful criminals and serious military men. And it totally lacked humor.
Sounds About Right

CNN reporter on the different reactions to the latest Paris attack and the Charlie Hebdo attack.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


I actually think this is a brilliant idea to de-congest Los Angeles: building tons of tunnels around the city for cars in congested areas. A tunnel from downtown to Santa Monica would totally free up the 10 freeway. In fact, I trumpeted the idea in this blog maybe 8 years ago.

I skimmed the LA Curbed critique which says the idea is bonkers because a) It's big b) it will be met with resistance 3) fossil fuels

Well, I think Americans and Angelinos are capable of big projects if they make sense. And this makes sense. LA is a driving city. It seems to me way more absurd to think we would transform a 65 year history of being a driving city by building a subway or streetcars. How many people in LA would actually live near a subway stop? It's not an answer. Tunnels and faster buses if you ask me. I like the Metro, but it will always be a limited option here.

A de-congested Los Angeles with more land to build homes because of quicker, easier access around the city might make LA the best city in the world. As for the fossil fuels - telecommute.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Bad People

BLM invade Dartmouth Library and shout down and confront other students peacefully studying with verbal assaults.

Eloquent and Brilliant

This is the women who should be running for President.

The "peaceful majority" of Muslims are irrelevant. As were the peaceful majority of Germans under Nazism, the peaceful majority of Japanese under their Imperial government, the peaceful majority of Russians under Stalin, etc, etc. Why our politicians and actual leaders can't speak this way is beyond me.

And she ends it nicely, "we need to put political correctness where it belongs: into the garbage."
Re-Evaluation of the Chiefs

I thought the KC Chiefs were done this year when they lost consecutive games to the Bears and Vikings to become 1-5. But let's look back and analyze the games in light beating the first place Broncos, the Bronco QB situation falling apart, and the Vikings and Bears suddenly revealing themselves to be playoff contenders.

1. Houston - W -  KC was up 27-0 at halftime and looked like a Super Bowl contender. A bad sign was the final score only being 27-20.

2. Denver - L - KC was ahead by 14 and then totally fell apart and lost on the Jamal Charles fumble.

3. Green Bay - L - they lost to Green Bay in Lambeau without their best corner. No shame.

4. Cincy - L - to arguably the best team in football

At this point, they should've been 2-2, but instead were 1-3 to three undefeated teams. Not the end of the world.

5. Chicago - L - blew the game against the Bears when their best player (Charles) gets injured. This result sort of ruled the Chiefs out of the playoffs, but now, the Bears are looking a lot better than everyone thought.

6. Minnesota - L - sent them to 1-5, but now Minnesota is looking like they might be good enough to win their division.

This 1-5 stretch, while bad, now tends to look like an incredibly tough schedule. Then,

7. Steelers - W - sure, all they did was beat Landry Jones, but still, the Steelers aren't bad.

8. Detroit - W - embarrassed them

9. Denver - W - embarrassed them and ruined Peyton's night

Now they're 4-5 with an easier stretch of schedule. They have the Raiders twice and if they can win those games (not easy), they have a good shot at the playoffs. But then again, every time you get your hopes up with the Chiefs, you are bound to be let down.

Friday, November 13, 2015


It sucks.

I am confident we can defeat the Islamic Fascists by destroying their safe havens. Some will scurry off to caves, some will try and live on social media, but these attacks happen with the Islamicists hold territory. Without territory, the Islamicists will lose momentum and eventually wither and die in the caves. I am not impressed with this attack. The news touts it as some type of amazing feat to hit three targets at once. Game of Thrones shoots episodes on three continents at once. If running around with guns and doing a few suicide attacks is the best these guys can muster, we are facing a weak opponent who should be not too difficult to crush if only we have the will.

9/11 happened when Al Queda was free to gather, train, and exchange ideas in Afghanistan. Now that ISIS controls major areas of territory in Iraq and Syria, it should come as no surprise they borrowed a page from Al Queda's playbook and launched an attack against the West.

And BTW, I don't know if it is confirmed these killers trained in Iraq and Syria, but I'd bet the house they did.

I'll say a couple of things that are not politically correct and somewhat inconsistent:

1. France should have stood with us in effort to remove Saddam Hussein. France opposing the coalition divided the Western civilized world, a divide the Islamicists and Russians have exploited to their advantage.

2. Nevertheless, I saw "we" when discussing the French because I am quite fond of the people and country even if they are highly mockable.

3. It is possible the wisest (and certainly cheapest in the medium term) strategy would've been to leave Saddam and Assad in power and passively support their regimes with the calculation that the devil you know is preferable to the devil you don't.

4. What the French and the Western Left in general failed to grasp post-9/11 was that Islamicists are an enemy that need to be defeated unconditionally. The Left considers Islamicists impossible to defeat, some sort of inevitable force in a part of the world they do not care to understand, and are deeply suspicious of actions that can be taken to defeat them. The Left views Islamicists as inconvenient and that the big enemy is still Capitalism, Republicans, Conservatives, whatever-you-fill-in-the-blank. This is a common mindset of losers and contributes to the deep divisions in the Western world about how to confront this menace.

5. We had the Iraq War won in 2011 despite it being much harder than originally promised. The wise move would've been to leave US military in Iraq and commit to keeping it stable as we did in Germany and Korea. Instead, Obama pulled out all the troops to fulfill a campaign promise because a large number of Americans were tired of the war and many rooted for its failure. I mistakenly supported this move because I got beaten down by the stories of "the longest running war in American history," and the idea that "we can't keep the troops there forever." Dumb logic.

6. I speculate this doesn't have to do with the refugee crisis, but if it does, I imagine European countries will no longer welcome anyone from Syria.


When oil prices fall, the news reports it as "oh no, oil is down, your stocks are hurting." When oil is up, the news reports as "oh no, gas prices are up and your pocketbook is hurting."
A More Reasonable Take

From Tyler Cowen on the university stuff. His best point:
4. My personal preference is to see controversial ideas discussed and debated openly on campuses,more so than is currently the case. Those ideas are going to be out there anyway, so let’s have universities contribute to shaping the broader social discourse. For instance imagine that more advanced forms of genetic engineering someday become possible, and parents can selectively abort an embryo with a higher chance of being gay. Do we really want to be in a position where universities have shied away from discussing this issue for decades? I say no, realizing that in the meantime some peoples’ feelings will indeed have ended up being hurt. If you are gay, and sitting in a classroom discussion of this topic, or maybe you just have a gay friend — whatever — I doubt if there is a fully comfortable way for this discussion to proceed. Yet the rest of the world is going to be talking about this, the internet above all, and making the university a “safe space” won’t make the broader world one, if anything the contrary.
Signs of a Fascist

1. Humorlessness

2. Sensitive

3. Easily "Offended"

4. Destructive (ie, wants people to be fired, put in jail, moved, hurt, etc.)

5. Bad Taste in Art

6. Not Well Read

7. No Sense of Irony

8. Makes Demands

9. Dislikes Halloween

10. Uses Big Words with Confusing or No Meanings

11. Has Not Read the Constitution Carefully, Nor Plans To

12. Does Not Believe in Freedom of Speech

13. Does Not Build Things

14. Prone to Crying

15. Is Not Fun to Be Around

16. Thinks of Self as a Victim

17. Cannot Distinguish Between the Private Realm and the Public Realm

18. Unable to Distinguish Between the World of Adults and World of Children

19. Cannot Separate the Art from the Artist

Report Hurtful Speech

University of Missouri students scared to talk because they can be disciplined for hurtful speech.

If I were a taxpayer, I'd vote to defund the University until they abide by the First Amendment (which is a right vs. being not being offended, which is not a right).

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Thought Police Have Arrived

How long before these campus activists start burning books?

Just saw at Claremont McKenna College, a dean retired because students were mad about other students Halloween costumes. These kids have gone crazy and this is not going to end well.
Again, No Free Speech

A tenured professor fired for an op-ed about the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

As far as I can tell, these protestors can only take scalps.

If you ask me, I think this is all about economic anxieties with a dash of attachment parenting and grievance politics. It won't lead anywhere good.
A Plague of Racial Hoaxes

Why are there a plague of racial hoaxes on campuses across America? I know why...I'm asking rhetorically...

...the first time this happened about 7-8 years ago at Claremont McKenna College and I took note because I went to the school next door. I know the place. There isn't an ounce of racism or homophobia there. So when a professor's car was vandalized with homosexual slurs, it sounded incredibly out of character and difficult to believe. And then it turned out to be a lie. The professor herself vandalized the car to make a point. Ah ha.

So read the above article and explain this:

IF structural racism is such a big problem, then why...why oh these folks feel the need to make these hoaxes? Shouldn't there be ample evidence of structural racism without the hoaxes?

The reason why these hoaxes happen is because we reward this behavior. We reward victimization. We give it attention and it serves the agenda of the social justice warriors who yearn to tear down any institution of power they can get their hands on.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

And Weirder...

A Missouri professor refuses to cancel class and an exam. And then quits.

This is hysteria. Students are afraid of the KKK. When is the last time the KKK did anything? This is madness and I hope people recognize it.
And It Gets More Bizarre

The hunger strike student is from a family worth over $20 million.

Not exactly cut from the same cloth as Vietnamese monks or Rosa Parks are these folks?

Like I said, they don't believe in free speech or the first amendment. The protestors are literally shouting "hehe, yo yo, reporters got to go." These people are insane, stupid, and dangerous. They are afraid of being exposed for what they are: neofascists.

And if the democratic party doesn't clearly distance themselves from protests and ideology like this, I'm out.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Coddled College Students, Privilege, etc.

Several years ago my new roommate brought over a friend on a Friday evening and a group of us got into a casual discussion of Obamacare. I was skeptical and didn't think the new bill would work. I guess the jury is still out, but with the rate increases coming this next year, the super high deductibles, and various unions, etc lobbying for aspects of the bill to be overturned, I think there's a pretty good chance I'll turn out to be right.

In any case, this friend of my roommate was young and during the argument got completely hysterical, cried, and called me privileged. Well, how can I respond?

Afterwards, I apologized to my roommate for letting the argument escalate. I don't like making people cry, and especially in my own house. But I thought back to that incident just now in the wake of the hysterical Yale student losing it on her dorm master and in the wake of the University of Missouri stuff and am changing my opinion.

I was right and she was wrong.

I was expressing an opinion and taking a reasoned, passioned position based upon logic and understanding of the world. She hijacked the conversation and made it about her unhinged emotions. And I think this was the first time I noticed a change from my generation to whatever we call this group that Lena Dunham and her ilk belong to. My first impression was that perhaps I took things too far, but now I realize something is seriously wrong with these kids.

They don't believe in free speech. They cannot tolerate disagreement. They meltdown when their immature an ignorant "beliefs" are questioned. They have no understanding of war, history, economics, or basic elements of how the world functions. Their argument always goes to the same thing: privilege. Anyone who disagrees with their dumbshit positions is simply arguing from a position of privilege and therefore incapable of being right or even have a point.

I'm calling bullshit because the fact is, all of us are privileged. THEY are privileged.

This guy who goes on a hunger strike for the injustices at U. of Missouri...are we going to take this seriously? What person in their right mind thinks college is an unsafe place for minority students? If U. of Missouri was so bad, aren't there literally hundreds of other schools he could attend? If it were so terrible, why is he there? Is there no where in America safe for students of color? Why do all those students attend this racist school in the first place? None of it makes any sense.
Gotta Go With The Hot Hand

Niners going with Gabbert again.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Is Nothing Sacred?

The PC police, who strangely, are students at Yale, are now attacking Halloween costumes. Specifically, they want a "school master" to step down for arguing they ought to let people dress how they want in the name of free expression. I guess it makes it pretty impossible to concentrate on schoolwork knowing someone else is wearing an offensive costume on Halloween. Jesus Christ, what's next?

Hey, if these folks don't believe in the First Amendment, there's a constitutional process to get it overturned.

Saturday, November 07, 2015


Restaurants: Providence and Belcampo Meat Company

Providence is probably the best restaurant I've ever been to. A truly special place. Fixed price menu. We got the most simple, four-five courser and it was still incredibly filling. Not cheap, but well worth it for a special occasion. They made a great gin martini as well.

Belcampo Meat Company might be the best cheeseburger in a town with a number of great cheeseburgers. My three favorites used to be: In and Out, Five Guys, and Father's Office. Now, my two favorites are Plan Check and Belcampo Meat Company.

Movies: Trainwreck and Bone Tomahawk

Trainwreck is the best movie Judd Apatow has directed. Like most of his movies, it went on too long for my taste and got needlessly sappy. But the first hour is great. I'd heard through the grapevine LeBron was good, but I thought he was a bit of a torpedo in the film. John Cena was the standout small performance.

Bone Tomahawk takes awhile to get going, but was quite gripping by the end. Great bad guys. But overall, the directing was unimpressive. The frame felt empty and too often static. The casting was okay. Still, I enjoyed it. Glad for the change of pace. Thought -- for those who talk about no difference between film and digital, I offer up this movie as a discussion point. I don't know this for a fact, but I imagine they shot digitally because the sunlight was too blown out throughout the film. Film would've looked considerably better on all the exteriors even without much DP expertise.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Friday, October 30, 2015


Film: Nameless Gangster

Quite a good, nearly great Korean gangster movie. The Korean movies I've seen tend to have great acting and do a spectacular job of creating flawed characters.

TV: Fargo

I am enjoying the new season, but significantly less than the first season. The story is way too sprawling and without a center. Still, some of the details are quite fun, and I'll like to see how it comes together, but I'm highly skeptical it will in a satisfying way. Better storytelling expands from a small seed. Season 1 did it well. Also, the lead actors are no where near the level of Martin Freeman and Billy Bob. The side characters are still really good, though.

Book: A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by GRRM

The first novella of the book - The Hedge Knight was terrific. I looked it up and Martin wrote it in 1998. Man, the guy was on a roll back then when he published this story along with the first three Game of Thrones books. Martin is an incredible storyteller and continually surprises the reader. I'm really quite in awe of the guy.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Driverless Cars

Three counterintuitive scenarios. I am not particularly optimistic on driverless cars. Primarily, I can't see myself using one. Secondarily, I can't picture the broad application of their use and how it would inherently make a city operate better. Thirdly, I don't get excited about technologies that enfeeble human beings. I consider driving a learnable skill and I don't see how de-skilling people is inherently a good thing. Are we to suppose freeing people up from driving will make all of us much more productive? I think it'll make us watch more TV.

Lastly, what is the problem driverless cars are supposed to solve? Traffic? Now, I think traffic is one of the largest solvable urban problems and the person who can fix it should win a Nobel Prize. But I think a better solution than driverless cars is a more flexible workplace utilizing the internet. And this seems to be happening to some extent already although I haven't noticed a noticeable downtick in traffic in LA. If anything, I've noticed an uptick in traffic in the Bay Area, a region known for being open to working from home.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

It Will "Deliver"

My prediction on the new Star Wars is that it'll "deliver." Not inspire, not wow, not be memorable, but simply "deliver." Do I know what this means? Only sort of. It'll get people in their seats. It won't bomb. People will have to admit, "it's good." But I highly doubt it will be special in any way and it'll be kinda like being introduced to the Rolling Stones through the Hot Rocks double album. Which, by the way, I was, as a teenager.

Daniel Jeremiah's pre draft write up was spot on.

"He could develop into an athletic #2 QB, but I don't see him as an NFL starter."

Indeed. I wish the Niners had kept Smith as a starter and if things weren't going well on offense, they could slip in Kap as a change of pace option. Would've been an incredible set up. I think teams overthink the idea of the of the "starting QB" and needing that clear cut leader. It works great if you have a Brady, a Manning, a Brees, but in the absence of having one of those guys, you can't try and fit guys who don't meet the profile into the role. Make the role suit the player. Alex Smith isn't like one of those elite guys, but give the guy a run game and a defense, and he can win you games, including playoff games. And it'd be nice to have Kap off the bench, thrown in a couple of sequences with his legs and his big arm to throw off the defense. I mean, look at the value of the bench in bball and soccer and baseball? Why doesn't a football borrow from those sports if your personnel could make it work?

Friday, October 23, 2015

Sounds Very Good

"Winter Is Coming," written by Gary Kasparov.

I'm coming to think opening up trade, etc with Russia and China, moreso than making them more like us, could end up making us more like them.

My friend sent me a short doc called Million Dollar Shack about the housing prices in the Bay Area and all the Chinese money gobbling up Silicon Valley real estate because basically, people can't own land in China (70 year leases). Indeed the world is flat, but that might not turn out to be a good thing.

Then again, people could also just move.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

You Can't Say That!

Gender pay gap amongst lawyers.
We find clear evidence of a gender gap in annual performance with respect to both measures. Male lawyers bill ten percent more hours and bring in more than twice the new client revenue than do female lawyers. We demonstrate that the differential impact across genders in the presence of young children and differences in aspirations to become a law firm partner account for a large share of the difference in performance. they're saying having kids make fathers want to earn more money and women want to stay home and care for kids? I was under the impression thinking this made you sexist.

Monday, October 19, 2015


In 2001, I visited Venezuela. It was a terrific country and people, although parts were plagued by massive poverty. In 2002, Chavez came to power and there  people who were optimistic about his efforts to make a more equal society, despite the fact that communism has immiserated every single country where it's been tried.

Read this for what Venezuela is like today. A tragedy and the result of making dumb choices.

Sunday, October 18, 2015


Median salary LA - $55,000

Median home price - $546,000 (mortgage + taxes) roughly equal $2700 per month or $32,400

Something isn't even close to adding up.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Monday, October 05, 2015

How Women Think

There are literally not enough single men out there.

In reading this, what it more accurately means to say, is there aren't enough single men of sufficient status for single women out there. Which of course, will always be the case. I'd suggest tapping the 20 million men from China who have 0 percent chance of finding a mate since the demographics are skewed due to the 1-child policy. But no self-respecting college educated American women would actually consider these men...and that's not racist, but instead a matter of "attraction."

And then this:
And my argument is that the old discrimination [against women] obscured a fundamental biological truth: Girls' brains mature at a faster rate than boys' brains, girls mature [faster] socially and intellectually. They're about a year ahead of boys. When it comes to actual schoolwork, girls do their homework better, girls are more organized, they're less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, they don't get put in jail [at the same rates]. So I think girls have a developmental advantage when it comes to college preparation.
Notice when women do better at school, the reasons are biological, but women are underrepresented in math, science, entertainment, etc, there are misogynistic structures discriminating against them.

Let's just say I'm listening to the world's smallest violin.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Republican Debate

Finally got to watch the CNN debate. Highly entertaining. Trump cracks me up. Fiorina handles herself well, as does Carson. Of the "politicians," I was most impressed this time around with Rubio. Actually thought Rand Paul was better this time, too.

Kaepernick line today:

9 for 19, 67 yards, 4 ints, 0 TD

Highest paid player on the team. 15 mil a year. Where's all the voices who thought the Alex Smith dumpage was a good idea now? I haven't even watched these last two games, but they sound atrocious. I love how last week the news on Kap is that the offense got going in the 2nd half...meanwhile the score is 43-18.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

PC Police

Are making America a lousy place to live and are the reason why blowhards like Donald Trump are so popular.

The old sticks and stones may break my bones but names can never hurt me IS the solution to "microaggressions." That's it. Game over. Shut the fuck up.

Friday, September 11, 2015


TV: The Knick, season 1

I did not like the final two episodes. Entirely too bleak for my taste and devolved into what I would call a typical druggie narrative. Perhaps inevitable because of the Thackery character, but it was entirely familiar and made the show way less interesting to me than the initial exploration into surgery. In fact, I'm not much intrigued by the 2nd season at all.

I was particularly disappointed in how the Edwards-Cornelia abortion bit was played. It revealed pure pandering to an upper middle class white liberal audience and made the characters mouthpieces for political points of view versus real people. Upon finding out Cornelia intended to abort the child, Edwards was hurt and disappointed by the racial element. This seemed entirely ridiculous for the Edwards character, who would fully understand the implications to Cornelia (an engaged women) to having a mix raced child at the time. And at the same time, he expressed no opposition to abortion on a spiritual level. It seems to me his character would have religious objections to the practice. Later, he cannot go through the procedure because it was his child, but not because it was a child. This is a ridiculous position to take. It makes his emotional priorities about himself as a victim versus himself in relation to a larger, spiritual existence, or about the unborn child, or even about Cornelia and the fact it is her body and she is the one who stands to lose everything. An entirely problematic section, if you ask me. I won't even go into the vast numbers of dead infants in the show, which hit a tipping point for me.

Earlier in the season, there was a fantastic subtle moment about race when Edwards, Thackery, and Herman performed some clutch maneuver and were bonding in the aftermath and Herman offered Thackery a drink and neglected Edwards. The bottle was out of focus in the foreground and Edwards in focus in the background, realizing he was not going to be offered a drink because the men did not want to share the bottle with him. But that was the one good moment. Too often, Edwards was the magical negro.


Is the Syrian refugee crisis Obama's fault? He can no, of course. But is it the result of the United States not playing a leadership role in the Middle East? Is it related to squandering the stabilization we had achieved in Iraq post surge? Or, can we also blame this on Bush?

We are damned if we do, damned if we don't in the Middle East and the Liberals who were vehemently against the Iraq war didn't acknowledge this point. Now, we see the cost of inaction.

Thursday, September 10, 2015


Film: Jurassic World

Better than I thought. The character work is terrible, but the visual wit of the dinosaurs and gadgetry was fun.

TV: Hard Knocks - Houston Texans

I came away really liking their team and coach.

Angry About The Wrong Things

I'd say that sums up Black Lives Matter pretty well.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Cord Cutting

I finally figured out Mr. Robot and Seinfeld re-runs aren't worth $100 a month. And ESPN is terrible now.

Thursday, September 03, 2015


TV: Six Feet Under Pilot

Turned it off after 20 minutes. Strange this show ever got lumped with the great HBO dramas. I imagine this and American Beauty will fall in stature over time (I suppose they already have).


TV: Hard Knocks, e. 1-4

Love this show. And more than in other seasons, this one makes me really like the Texans. I mean, Watt, Wilfork, Hopkins, EZ, Charles Johnson, all these guys are incredibly likable characters. I like O'Brien, too. Only guy who comes across as a douche is Ryan Mallett. I felt bad for the receiver who got cut, but you just look at the guy physically compared to the other NFL players and I'm thinking to myself: no shot in hell. I'll be curious to see how the team does. My only request: more Clowney.


Wednesday, September 02, 2015

She Can't Do That

A county clerk does not have the right to ignore laws that violate her conscience. She has the right to quit her clerk job, but she doesn't get to decide policy. If there's one thing that bugs me more than an overzealous court assessing the political winds and choosing a popular side, it would be an obstinate government bureaucrat believing she gets to dictate local policy based on her religious convictions. Get her out of there.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015


Film: The Gift

Pretty good, but not great. One jump out of your seat moment, but the set up a bit slow going and not particularly original characterization.

TV: The Knick e. 1-4

Incredible. Terrific show on numerous levels from the writing, acting, score. Shot in a fascinating way. One incredibly weird fight scene I didn't think worked.

Film: Heat

Obviously a re-watch. Love this movie partially for the narrative imperfections.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Driverless Cars

I'm skeptical on numerous levels.
Technologies have an unerring tendency never to perform as their initial architects envisaged. But there is a more fundamental reason to stop and think: when all these claims are examined, they reveal one worrying underlying common assumption – namely, that human error and weakness are the real problems that need fixing.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Canceling ESPN

I'm thinking of dropping ESPN completely. I already let go of Insider. They lose their two best commentators, Simmons and Cowherd, and they keep suspending people left and right. The quality of the programming is down and sports have becoming incredibly over-covered.

Monday, August 24, 2015


Peggy Hubbard's video.

Black Lives Matter focuses on police brutality above and beyond a more pernicious cultural problem: violent crime. I wonder if police brutality should be viewed as a symptom more than a cause of violence.
No Tricks

With the Fed keeping interest rates so low for so long, what tools do they have left to "boost" the economy? Not as many. And with the markets tanking right now, should policy makers be nervous?


A market correct was long overdue. Hopefully, this pullback is simply a correction rather than a plunge, because if there is a plunge, I'm not sure whether the government has many tricks up their sleeve to stabilize the markets.

Just on a personal note, I hope this swoon puts a damper on the housing prices, which are totally ridiculous.

Book: Forty Lashes Less One by Elmore Leonard

Hat tip, Viner. A great little read. End sequence amazing. Apparently, QT wanted to make it as a movie at one time.
All Lives Matter

Ben Carson is not wrong.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


TV: Show Me A Hero, e. 1 and John Adams, e. 1

Mini-series week!

I've been meaning to watch John Adams for years and somehow never get too into it. Yet, in watching it, the mini-series is quite good.

On the flip side, the first episode of Show Me A Hero was a bit disappointing. Felt like your standard docudrama with an undercurrent of finger wagging. Could title it, "Show Me A Lecture." I'm not sure if I'll stick with it. "Race" as a topic in contemporary American drama is nearly as boring as super hero films.

Monday, August 17, 2015


Film: Mission Impossible 5 and Straight Outta Compton

Both pretty enjoyable summer films -- maybe the two most enjoyable summer films this year. MI5 was too long, but worth it for the villain actor (Sean Harris) and some of the stunt work. Straight Outta Compton was quite good. Like most biopics, I enjoyed the first half better than the second.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Film: The Cooler, The Matador, Locke

Three movies about men at the end of their ropes. The Cooler is a shockingly good movie and the best of the lot. The Matador is really weird, but one of the most interesting Pierce Brosnan performances I'm aware of. Locke is a movie about one man in a car taking phone calls. I was tempted to turn it off, but stuck it out for the 85 minutes. It was a one man play and much of filmmaking, as far as I could tell, was just random shots to break up the monotony of looking at one guy. A very writerly piece and a reminder why the director is and should be king.

TV: Mr. Robot pilot

I wasn't a fan, especially considering all the ridiculous over praise. First off, hacking is lame. Second off, this whole anti-corporate, anti-debt ethos is old and trite and boring.

Sunday, August 09, 2015


TV: True Detective s.2 finale

There's nothing much to say. I watched it.
GOP Debates/Candidates/Hillary

How do I feel about Trump? Listen, the man is an egomaniac and a clown and cannot win the GOP nomination, much less the Presidency. But I like what he brings to the early election cycle: a bit of recklessness, a bit of showmanship, a bit of aggression, and the willingness to shake up the field. Commenters and pundits and people who find him crass, vulgar, etc, I think miss the point a bit. He creates competition, he makes others hone their political skills, he brings up issues that are not otherwise being talked about, and he engages people not traditionally involved with politics. I believe these to be all good things. The political class is calcified, in my opinion, and Trump is like adding some vinegar to help clean it up.

From what I've seen, my favorite candidate is Carly Fiorina. I watched her get interviewed by Chris Mathews this morning and she gave the best answer to the economy and tax code questions that I've heard from any candidate. She said the 75,000 page tax code out to be 3 pages. She said the overly complicated code benefits the rich and well connected because of their armies of lawyers and accountants. She wants to cut taxes and Wallace said, well, isn't that just trickle-down economics -- isn't that what Hillary Clinton is going to attack you about -- and Fiorina said, look, I lived in California for 12 years. And in every single state where progressives make policy, the gulf between rich and poor has grown. Their policies don't work. And man, she's not wrong. But can she last? I don't get the impression she gets much support from the GOP money people and will be crushed by Jeb Bush. I don't see why she isn't more mainstream -- but maybe she isn't very connected politically speaking.

Ron Paul - did not do well in the debate in my opinion. He comes across like Sideshow Bob from the Simpsons and has this arrogant smirk on his face. When one-on-one, however, he comes across much better.

Jeb Bush - seems to be the establishment candidate and more likable than his brother, but maybe not more lovable, if that makes sense. I got the impression a lot of people loved GW (and a lot hated), but Jeb maybe doesn't arouse passion in the same way.

Scott Walker - has a little bit of a sleepy eyed, unhealthy look I think. Also, is he short? I don't know. He doesn't convey Presidential, although his answers in the debate were pretty good. He might be too conservative for a mainstream election.

Marco Rubio - I think he comes off a little young, and maybe like a rookie and too boyish. I don't think his line about paying off student loans four years ago was endearing - at least not to me. I feel it makes him seem simply too young and frankly, unsuccessful.

John Kasich - I found him to have an endearing, coach-like, teacher-like demeanor. I did not know him before, but I doubt he will win over the GOP establishment.

Ben Carson - I enjoyed hearing him speak, but he seems like an incredible long shot and I can't imagine how long he will last.

Rick Perry - comes across as maybe not too intelligent, which is not a good thing.

Ted Cruz - he comes across as smarmy and perhaps untrustworthy to me, although I have no idea whether this is true or not. I actually think his biggest problem is visual - he seems like a bad guy in a cartoon.

Chris Christie - I'm not entirely sure what makes this guy a Republican, to be honest. Seems like a very okay candidate who I imagine Hillary would crush.

Mike Huckabee - Was more impressive in the past. He strikes me as having gotten a little weirder as he's gotten older.

My basic thoughts on Hillary: America knows who she is and does not love her. She's had a million swings at the plate, it seems, and does about average or even a little below average. She has a cult like aura around her, which makes her supporters see her with rose-tinted glasses and they do not grasp how unappealing she is to regular people. This makes her overconfident and can be partially to blame for her losing the candidacy last time around. I don't think she is a particularly good politician. How many elections has she won? One? As Senator to New York because those goobs are star fuckers. What is her signature anything? Being an "involved" first lady? I feel like when you dissect Hillary, her failures are more notable than her accomplishments:

1. As first lady: Hillarycare
2. As Senator: Her vote of support on the Iraq War
3. As Presidential Candidate: losing her lead to Obama
4. As SoS: Benghazi and email scandal

What are her accomplishments? Being a woman and being part of the Clinton machine? Knowing a lot of people? I sense her best accomplishment has been to stay politically relevant for a really long time. And I guess she is able to possess some type of aura of political power. Maybe because I'm in LA and far away from Washington, I see that like Varys the Spider sees it - a magic trick and a shadow on the wall. I just think there's a reason she's never been able to break through in the past, despite having numerous opportunities.

Friday, August 07, 2015

GOP Debate

Gotta admit, Trump makes this thing a whole lot more exciting. I mean, the guy is a clown, but he's forcing a number of issues onto the agenda I think are worth talking about. His basic premise that America doesn't win anymore is pretty spot on.

Monday, August 03, 2015


TV: True Detective s2 e7

I'm generally pretty good at following crime stuff, but I got utterly lost last night. What's the big deal with the diamond heist from 23 years ago? Who stole them? Who cares? I feel like we found out who killed Casper, but I honestly don't remember whether we met the character or who she is. And so whoever killed Casper isn't connected to the "bad guy" land stealing plot? Also, I totally visually forgot the Vinci PD boss and when he stepped through the shadows and said, "I hear you've been looking for me." I was like...Whaaa....who's this guy? Only later did I recall. I was happy to see Colin F get some poon tang from Rachel McAdams and wasn't the least bit surprised to see Taylor Kitch get killed.

Basically, the main plot can be properly understood as numerous, interweaving plots as it seems every single character (big small, and even unseen) has their own little story and move they're making. I'm finding this structure pretty unsatisfying because it leaves our main characters - the characters we are actually following - as perhaps the least interesting characters of all. They are ten steps behind everyone else and their backstories end up standing completely alone from the main story. I mean...the backstories are OK in and of themselves, but I don't see the connection with the actual story thematically or otherwise. I guess we have to wait for the conclusion. That said, I'd like to bitch about serial TV -- the makers of such TV will often say "wait until the end, don't review a book until it's finished, etc." Did I miss something here? If I wanted to read a book, I'd read a freaking book. TV is an episodic format and you really expect the audience to wait and hold out judgment on a piece until it is complete? I suppose you could make the argument a little better if a show were sold as a mini-series -- but this whole don't evaluate until it's done is preposterous.

Film: Southpaw

Pretty mediocre. I enjoyed Forest Whitaker parts, but a pretty rote boxing movie.

Friday, July 31, 2015


TV: Oz s.1e.2-4

Loving this show. Very theatrical. Uses numerous devices I don't care for - breaking 4th wall, flashbacks, but overall, I don't mind the artifice. The Wire owes a heavy debt to this show and I wonder why this isn't more talked about. Or maybe it was, but I wasn't paying attention.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


TV: Oz pilot

HBO Go! Turning this on was like stepping into a time warp. 4x3. Crappy production value. Strange breaking of the 4th wall narrator like character. But boy, by the end of the pilot, I was incredibly into it. I thought it was quite terrific and the detailed portrait of the different prison faction was incredibly thorough and realistic. Very impressive. I know the Wire was inspired by the show and you can see it. Also, quite a strange structure to the pilot with little to no interweaving of the main story arcs. Almost like they start with a B-story, run with it and then hand it off to an A-story. The characters overlap, but still, it was a nice contrast to the way most dramas are told these days with constant cutting back and forth. This is old fashioned stuff - just good acting and sharp, realistic writing. Some is stagey and almost play-like, but the show deals with big themes and questions. I'd wish HBO would return to this type of programming rather than its current obsession with prestige and massive production value.

Monday, July 27, 2015


Book: Chinaman's Chance by Ross Thomas

I was into the first half more than the second and the end wasn't particularly satisfying. Still, I like Thomas' style. His descriptions and prose are among my favorite of crime writers.

TV: True Detective s. 2. e. 6

That orgy scene was straaaange. What was up with the score? It felt like I was in a DePalma movie or something all of a sudden. The tone got real wonky for me in this episode. I found the Colin F and VV scene in the opening incredibly awkward and stiff and like the guys were talking in fake-deep Bain-esque voices. I was totally confused about the plan at the orgy. What exactly were they trying to accomplish? Also, why do the bad guys choose to do big time land deals at these massive orgy parties? Why bring important contracts to a social gathering where you will be soon having sex in public in front of all these people? Do rich people really do this? I'm trying to picture if I somehow became a billionaire real estate mogul, would a big public sex party with drugged up ladies appeal to me?

I actually think this was my least favorite episode of the season. I found the scene talking about the LA riots to be historically off. If I remember correctly, Beverly Hills was not a place where riots and looting were taking place. I feel like the stories are all over the place. They're chasing diamonds, they going under cover at sex orgy parties, they're investigating corruption, I can't even tell you how many murders and of who...., Frank's trying to find his money...I can go on and on. It feels like the stories are totally spiraling out of control to no apparent conclusion. I'm a little bummed and not really looking forward to the next two episodes now.

Friday, July 24, 2015


TV: True Detective s.2 e.5

Colin Farrell figures out what the audience knew the beginning: Frank tricked him. Still, the acting was incredible. Farrell is carrying the season like LeBron carried the Cavs in the finals.

My favorite LA detail was Frank moving to Glendale as a sign of his star falling. It looked like a nice neighborhood to me. But I wonder...isn't that a pretty long commute to Vernon? So then I looked it up and it turns out to only be 30 minutes down the 5. The move makes a lot of sense, especially for adopting because the schools in Glendale are decent.

Also, I liked the Lloyd Braun (from Seinfeld) cameo.

Sunday, July 19, 2015


Film: Back to the Future

My earliest "Oscar" memory was watching the event with my parents and telling my dad that the best picture contest was absurd because Back to the Future was clearly better than "Out of Africa" and frankly, all the other nominees. To this day, I can't say that I was wrong, although I see why adults don't quite respond to the film -- frankly, it's pretty cheesy in tone. But the formal aspects of the story construction are absolutely brilliant and I say it without any sort of irony. Also, the film is quite taboo -- way moreso than The Color Purple or Witness or Out of Africa -- when you boil down the story to idea that Marty must make sure his own mother doesn't fall in love with him. I mean, that is a crazy fucking idea! Preston Struges probably rolled over in his grave cursing Zemeckis and Gale for coming up with that one.

I've heard Nic Refn talk about how Pretty Women is one of the most subversive movies ever made because they couch an incredibly dark tale of a rich man falling in love with a prostitute into this made-for-everyone romantic comedy. But think how much more taboo and subversive the idea of Back to the Future is -- a kid traveling back in time must make sure his mother and father fall in love -- so he and his family can survive and it's for KIDS!

The other element of the film which works fantastically is the score -- is rousing and simply perfect in spots -- the moment when Marty is on his skateboard and walks over the car, causing Biff to crash into the manure truck was as good yesterday as the first time I saw it in 1985. Pure cinematic joy and by the standards of most effects today, relatively simple and entirely based upon character. The movie also clocks in at 2 full hours - long for a movie for kids - but the story has so much going for it and is so perfectly constructed, the 2 hours is fully earned.

To me, Back to the Future far surpasses any Pixar accomplishment.
Fallacy of Mood Affiliation

How did I miss this concept put forward by one of my favorite bloggers, Tyler Cowen?

I actually think this does a great to explain how critics and audiences talk about movies and television these days (and politics).

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


TV: True Detective s.2e.4

The freeze frame suggests, I think, a major time jump into the next episode. I only figured this by seeing the preview where Colin Farrell shaved his moustache. I could see the episode jumping to Taylor K having a baby, Farrell working for VV, and Rachel McAdams...who knows. I think this would be a cool and make sense from how the first season played out. Still...the storytelling is wonky this season.

Film: Force Majuere

One excellent moment and several other quite good ones. Overall, quite a decent movie, but not great.

Sunday, July 05, 2015


Film: Inside Out and Night Moves (Penn)

TV: Rectify, ep. 1

A strange double on the 4th of July, I'll be the first to admit. Inside Out was by the wife's request, obviously. What can I say? I can start off by saying I fell asleep. Then I awoke and watched most of the movie. I don't care for the aesthetics of Pixar animation. It doesn't do anything for me. I find it weird so many adults connect with it. Of course the movie is brilliantly constructed and makes what I guess is taken for a "complex" point, that sadness is a part of life and can lead to joy.

All I know is that when I got home I badly needed a cleanse. Rectify didn't do it, but Night Moves did.

Friday, July 03, 2015


Film: Me Earl and the Dying Girl

An occasionally decent film.

Random thoughts:

Sundance movies are incredibly formulaic.

Wes Anderson's dick must be sore from getting such a long filmmaking hand job

Best line of the movie, "Books...nice." I laughed out loud, but I don't think anyone else in the theater did.

Molly Shannon best side character, IMO.

Didn't buy he and Earl were actual friends.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Econ Getting Interesting

Is Kevin Love a better player on a bad team? And how it can apply to other situations. Very smart post.

Monday, June 29, 2015


Book: Yellow Dog Contract by Ross Thomas

Elmore Leonard has some competition. My qualms with these last two crime books I read - this one and Somebody Owes Me Money are the finales. The final resolutions doesn't entirely make sense, nor do they tie up the proceedings in a satisfactory way. I guess I'd like to read a book when the end makes the experience of reading the book greater than the sum of its parts. Still, lots of great lines in this one, particularly the descriptions of characters. This guy Ross Thomas must've been a real wise-ass in real life.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Gay Marriage Decision: Absurd

I support gay marriage and find the Supreme Court case utterly absurd. The decision is clearly political and not legal in nature. The Supreme Court has merely checked the winds and determined the country is "ready for gay marriage," as if they were running a movie studio and now know what the public wants and is ready for. Our system of laws was designed to be flexible and change with the times. We have a process designed to handle such changes, a process every 7th grader learns (or should learn) about turning a bill into a law. 30 plus states have already done this. Gay Marriage is winning as a political issue and the court has jumped onto the bandwagon and now will compel society to change at the rate the court deems acceptable. I'd hate to have a minority conviction these days in a country of 350 plus million where the courts decide the law based upon which way the political winds blow.

Saturday, June 27, 2015


Book: Somebody Owes Has My Money by Donald Westlake

Fun, but not as fun as the Parker novels. Also, didn't enjoy the mystery reveal at the end much. Felt like a bit of a cheat and I think Westlake knew it.

Film: Sound of Music

Quite enjoyed the movie more than I remember (from childhood). Did the sing-a-long at the Hollywood Bowl, which is a fairly remarkable event. The place gets packed and people get dressed up and participate with the movie in all sorts of strange, ritualistic ways, the meanings of which passed over my head. For instance, people hold up flash cards during certain songs and let off poppers during certain moments in the film.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Film: Don't Bother to Knock

Marilyn Monroe plays a suicidal nut. But other than that, and the cool title, this wasn't a standout noir to me.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Another One Bites the Dust

Video Journey's going out of business. Soon, all we'll have is the crap on Netflix streaming and many, many great movies will no longer be available. Welcome to the digital revolution, folks. We get the world we deserve, indeed. If you think we suck.

Sunday, June 21, 2015


Films: Ong-Bak, Stray Dog, The Raid (re-watch)

Had to return both of these before getting a chance to finish. Was really enjoying Ong-Bak in a campy JCVD sort of way. Good filmmaking, too. Lots of wide shots where you could see the actual stunts.

Stray Dog didn't capture my interest at all. Kurosawa movies in general rarely grab me. I think his work was more of the time vs. stand the test of it. I prefer Ozu for the big Japanese directors.

The Raid is quite good, except for the attempts at emotion.

TV: True Detective S.2 E.1, Hannibal S.3 E.1/2, Wayward Pines random episodes

TD was a bit of a rough start plot-wise and new cast-wise. Colin Farrell and Rachel McAdams can do no wrong, but poor old Tim Riggins is tough to watch with a straight face. Every word out of his mouth is Riggins. And VV is questionable... Got a little bit of the Luck (after the amazing pilot) feeling watching this one. The back room business nonsense is gonna drag. HBO mercy killed Luck under the guise of animal murder. It'll be interesting to see what cover story they come up with for TD if it continues on this path.

(Also note: last time, I checked, you can't just arrive at someone's house and beat their face with brass knuckles in front of their son without consequence. It would take exactly three minutes for that father to put together who Colin Ferrell was and about six minutes before he was fired and put up on criminal charges. I felt similarly about some scenes from TD 1 when Woody goes around poking his gun in people's faces and stupidly executes the pedophiles in the 4th episode... You gotta earn the ability to put the fear of God in people. For good reference, check out Nick Nolte in Q&A. There, you believe a cop can run around doing this stuff because he has angles on people and a willingness to murder. Here, these cops are doing it to near strangers and out of impulse. It just doesn't stand to reason.

Hannibal. The show the continues to be bonkers and I cannot believe it exists. On NBC!!!

Wayward Pines is not for me, although there is some interesting stuff. The mystery mini-series form has really worn me out. Top of the Lake, Broadchurch, and TD 1 were all terrific, albeit, the ends were almost always less satisfying than the journey. But there's so much of this stuff these days - The Fall, The Whispers, Under the Dome, Wayward Pines, The Killing, they all go on and on, and it gets pretty tiresome to watch hours and hours of TV that is withholding the "BIG REVEAL," which always turns out to be not all that interesting. (After all, if it were, it'd be revealed right away).

Friday, June 19, 2015

Monday, June 15, 2015


TV: Game of Thrones Finale Season 5

I did not enjoy this episode. Perhaps killing off two of my favorite characters has something to do with it, but also the way the deaths happened felt illogical and unsatisfying. In chronological order:

1. Stannis. I found very little satisfaction in Brianne's revenge. But more, the entire Stannis storyline was devoid of any twist whatsoever. He should've at the very least, seemed to benefit from the sacrifice of Shireen before plunging his army into total destruction. Also, they've played up Stannis as a great battlefield commander. The man outlasted a siege of Storm's End, unseated the Targaryens, defeated the Wildlings, and nearly took King's Landing. It seemed a bit strange to plunge his remaining forces into total destruction. Or was the battle meant to suggest that literally everyone on both sides was killed except for a few Bolton's at the end? That Stannis was miraculously able to mount a defense of foot vs. horse soldiers? Also, was Melisandre just totally wrong in her prophesies? Anyhow, none of this was answered very well and I suppose it is still possible he or Jon Snow are raised from the dead.

2. Jon Snow. Again, it felt an illogical time to mutiny against him. Why let all the Wildlings through only to turn on Jon Snow after? Now, can't the Wildlings destroy the Night's Watch, being on the other side of the Wall?

Anyhow, I hold out one or both of these characters is coming back. If not, it'd be pretty annoying.

Friday, June 12, 2015

I Don't See Why Not

She's transblack.

Our collective treatment and valuation of gender and race have become absurd.
Game Theory

How weird would it have been if the Cavs simply rested LeBron and Dellavedova last night? I suppose this would never happen for fear of psychologically breaking your team, but from a strategic standpoint, I wonder if it would make sense. Think about it: the Cavs are overmatched. They stole games 1 and 3 by, hustle, strategy, and monster efforts by LeBron. They were clearly burned out last night and knew GSW would be playing for their lives. Imagine a Game 5 dynamic with a rested LeBron? I know it sounds absurd, but I think there are ways overmatched teams can compete more effectively in long series and also "mess" with their opponents.

For instance, in baseball, when facing a team with a dominant number 1 starter, I would consider staggering my pitching rotation like this:

Team A #1 vs. Team B #4
Team A #2 vs. Team B #1
Team A #3 vs. Team B #2
Team A #4 vs. Team B #3

And especially, if you had strong 1-3 pitchers. One could almost imagine designing a team with three #2 type of guys rather than a 1, 2, and 3.
Game of Thrones End Game Theory

The other night I had an epiphany about how the show would end. Various forces including Daenerys, Tyrion, Jon Snow, and possibly Stannis, Bran, Sansa, Aria, and Jamie Lannister, will all battle the Night King with the Dragons and the using swords melted into the Iron Throne itself. The discovery that Valerian steel kills White Walkers will make the need for the steel great and where else can a significant amount be found other than the Iron Throne? Plus, the revolutionary aspect of Dany's journey suggests that the end of the show might usher in a new form of government to Westeros. The melting down of the Iron Throne would be symbolically rich end of the show. Also, I can see Jon Snow flying one of the other dragons, revealing himself to have Targaryen blood and perhaps also Bran, using his warg skillz. But those are just details.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Yes, This Is A Problem

Has ESPN just jumped the shark? I've been thinking this recently since I go to the site way less than I used to. First, they spun off Grantland. Then, they fired Simmons. And in the meanwhile, they started putting up video EVERYWHERE. You can't go to the site without your computer starting to talk in that annoying Sportscenter tone. Don't get me wrong -- I like Sportscenter -- on Sunday nights for football highlights, and just towards the end of the night in general. Not in the morning or during the day. I like newspaper articles. I like thoughts, recaps, not amped up wannabe jocks talking. Anyhow, ESPN has become - how can I put this - increasingly annoying.

And now - I go there to read about the NBA finals and what is the front cover story? Something about a 19-year old video gamer.


Did I just transport into a Robert Heinlein or Orson Scott Card novel?

Let me say this once and be done: playing video games is not a sport.

Maybe the nerds are mad everyone has taken over their play space (the internet) and the revenge is the cosmic punishment is comic book movies and video game tournaments. If so, I concede. The nerds can have the internet back and have their dungeons and dragons. But please...leave sports alone. Please. Please. Please.

Monday, June 08, 2015

NBA Finals

Could LeBron win the MVP even if the Cavs lose? This is a legitimate question. I mean, the stat line last night was ridiculous 39-16-11. But watching the game...I mean it seemed like the guy literally made every single offensive possession work for the Cavs. He was the point guard, shooting guard, power forward. I know he missed his last seven shots and again failed to score on the final possession. Does it matter? The man has turned into a monster. He doesn't seem to care about missing "clutch shots" now. He simply keeps going. It felt like LeBron willed his team to victory yesterday over a vastly superior opponent. The Cavs have taken on the identity of those gritty Detroit Pistons team, or even the Paul Pierce/KG Celtics. They were just grinding the Warriors into pulp last night. They figured out a way to make the series into a slug fest and I wonder if the Warriors can figure a way out of it. Dellavedova was a pest on Curry. I thought he did what I was thinking Patrick Beverly would've done to him had he been healthy. I like the strategy almost better than Kyre trying to match Curry on offense.

Before the series, a lot of LA talk radio was LeBron vs. Kobe. I don't remember Kobe ever putting together two games like LeBron just did. I don't remember Kobe losing his 2 and 3 and winning an NBA finals game on the road.

Side note: One point about LeBron vs. Kobe vs. Michael in the clutch. I realized something after watching these games that no one seems to mention with regard to clutchness at the end of games: endurance. Michael and Kobe are lean basketball players and probably less fatigued at the end of games relative to a guy of LeBron's size. In game one, he pulled up when he should've drove, a sure sign of fatigue. LeBron carries 30-50 extra pounds than Michael or Kobe and while that provides some advantages (posting, rebounding), it also provides some disadvantages: fatigue at the end of games. It could account for the perception LeBron is not as good at the end as those guys.

Film: Once Upon A Time in Anatolia, Ip Man

My exploration of Ceylan continues. Anatolia is good, albeit slow and not one I could recommend to many people, even lovers of Winter's Sleep.

Ip Man had great kung fu, but a soapy and lame script. It also happens to be the exact same story as Wong Kar Wai's The Grandmaster.

TV: Game of Thrones, ep. 8 and 9 season 5

The most action packed episodes of the season. I enjoyed both. People are disturbed by the Shireen death and I am too. But it is unquestionably good storytelling and of course, has antecedents in the bible - ie Abraham and Isaac story.

The most WTF moment for me was the Sons of the Harpy showing up and nearly ending Daenerys. Didn't the Harpies stop their insurrection upon the opening of the fighting pits? Weren't they controlled, or at least influenced, by the guy she married? Didn't marrying him put a stop to their insurgency? And then the go massacre a bunch of masters, including the dude she was going to marry, and nearly knock her off? I'm totally confused about who controls those guys and I've read the freaking books.

Also, the merging of Tyrion and Daenerys provides some strange moments. It's almost confusing whose POV we are with. Tyrion gets totally lost in the scene and his comments feel tacked on. Ending on him looking up at the dragon didn't carry the awe I think it was supposed to. Nevertheless, the episode was chock full of good stuff and has propulsiveness to where I'm excited about seeing what happens in the finale...

Thursday, June 04, 2015


Against Asian students in college admissions. Literal, actual racism in institutional practice and yet, I hear no Black, or Jewish voices standing up against this oppression. Makes me wonder if any of this equality of opportunity warriors believe any of their own schtick.

Thursday, May 28, 2015


Film: Welcome To Me

Wanted to like the film more than I did. Kristen Wiig picks weird roles.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Suicides in Palo Alto

A cluster of teen suicides at Palo Alto high schools in 2010 was followed this year by another four suicide victims from the wealthy and achievement-blessed Henry M. Gunn High School. Fifty-two of its 1,900 students were treated for suicide ideation this past school year.
Increasingly, Americans are looking to career achievements as the basis for "the good life." Anyone who reads novels or history ought to understand this to be foolish, but these people don't have time for that between SAT prep courses, reading self help books, and checking their bank balances.

Monday, May 18, 2015


TV: Game of Thrones, ep. 5 and Mad Men Finale

I'm a little worried about Game of Thrones. As I said last week, I think DD (as you'll see Benioff and Weiss referred to on nerd GOT forums) have done a terrific job of paring the books down to the show and with casting. But there is no proof, or even suggestion, they can come up with creative and artful ways to tell the stories and deliver the twists and turns of GRRM. Last night was full of this stuff. I dread watching the Arya stuff. The Sansa-Ramsey scene was brutal and a bit too much, if you ask me. I actually liked the fighting scene in Dorne, but those Sand Snakes physically don't match up. If there were ever an anti-feminist moment in the show, watching these little girls play fighting was it. Although, I liked the detail of Bronn getting cut. That might be lights out for Bronn for those who pay close attention and know Oberyn poisons his weapons. I'm just worried and feel like the pieces aren't adding up and the show is getting a little predictable - strange as that sounds - since they are actually veering off story-wise.

Mad Men. I haven't watched in years, but I thought it'd be fun to watch the finale. The show just isn't for me, but I do have a quibble with those who contend "this is the best show or TV or the best drama ever written." I don't see it. At all. It's soppy melodrama and John Hamm doesn't do emotional well. The scene with January Jones and John Hamm on the phone was pretty tough to stomach. Peggy realizing she is love reminded me of a cartoon fairy tale for children.

The best parts were Roger's quips and the one really good moment when Joan's beau leaves. In some respects, maybe Roger and Joan were always the best part of the show.

I totally didn't understand the Coke ending, but just read that supposedly Don came up with this iconic ad campaign. I thought the ending was that Don finds Buddism. I suppose the idea that he came up with the idea makes more sense, but was I supposed to give a flying shit about a 70s Coke campaign that seems dated and cheesy? Maybe ultimately that's the problem with the show: I don't give a flying shit about advertising campaigns.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Clippers Eulogy

Ultimately, I thought they played a little soft. Rockets came out with more energy and heart. In the end, they were down 10 with about 2 minutes left, there was a play where Blake got the ball at the top of the key wide open and rather than knock down the shot like he did all playoffs, he pivoted around for an eternity trying to find JJ Redick to get a contested 3 that he missed. Now, I'm sure they designed this play and felt they needed 3 at the time, but it just summed up how Griffin played in the 4th quarter all playoffs - hesitant, confused, tight. I don't know why...I guess the defense picks up, etc, but it would've been nice to see Blake rise above -- take the ball to the hoop, or make a play on defense, or get a big time offensive rebound...something...just make an important basketball play when his team really needed it. Is that so much to ask a star player? That said, I think Blake has an underrated weakness: height. He isn't very tall. And I think taller players, like Josh Smith, can give him trouble on both ends of the floor. On defense, if they are athletic enough, and come crunch time to put in the effort, Blake has trouble getting easy buckets around the basket, which is his bread and butter. And then, on the other end, he can get scored on and muscled around on the block. Sure, he has huge hops and quickness and during the game, make incredible scoring plays -- but as a power forward, he's a little short, and it shows up when the game's intensity is upped a notch.

But, in the end, the 1&2 seeds from the East and West are moving on. I don't see anyone beating Golden State 4 out of 7. They're too deep.

Film: Mad Max Fury Road

Balls to the wall action. Audience clapping. Tom Hardy is almost pre-language primal for the first 30 minutes of the film. The movie didn't deliver any profound emotion, but it was an awesome cinematic experience in IMAX 3D at the Mann's Chinese. One of my favorite "summer movies" in quite a long while.

Friday, May 15, 2015

First Nikki Finke and Now Bill Simmons

Simmons built Grantland and his corporate overlords took it from him in a nearly identical situation to Nikki Finke and Deadline. I say this only as a consumer and knowing nothing - nor much caring - about the behind the scenes. These sites were built by those two writers. If not for them, they plainly do not exist. And within 4-5 years (not a long time), these individual voices are pushed out in favor of more amenable, and less powerful people. As a reader, it saddens me, but I'll probably still visit each, just not enjoy either of them as much. But apparently whatever makes the money men's job easiest is the way it ought to be...

Thursday, May 14, 2015


Caught the 3rd quarter of Cavs-Bulls. Both teams looked atrocious. Made me think Memphis might be the 2nd best team in the NBA. Or maybe the Clippers.

The worst player in the playoffs is Pablo Prigioni. He is not an NBA basketball player. Seeing Austin Rivers squaring off with him is goodness...there must be bball players all over the world pulling out their hair.

Memphis-Golden State

Golden State overwhelmed Memphis yesterday. GS is a funny team. My impression is that they can easily blow you out, but if you keep the game close and physical, they are vulnerable. They can get jittery and frustrated when the shots aren't falling.

Without Tony Allen, Memphis only has three real ballers and one of them, Z-Bo is past his prime. Conley is injured, but effective, and Gasol is elite. Courtney Lee is okay. Jeff Green does not play to his potential. I find him very frustrating to watch. Yesterday they need him badly. They needed him to take the ball to the hoop and create offense. He tried, but kept missing at the basket. They need him, Conley, Lee, or someone to knock down the outside shots that become available when doubling Gasol and Z-Bo.

I like Memphis a lot, but their offense let them down yesterday and GS was hot enough.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Sports Thoughts...

1. Joe Montana never cheated.

2. Seemed like Memphis was getting hacked to pieces down low during the first half of game 4 and the refs simply weren't calling the fouls. I could hear Marc Gasol get slapped while watching TV and they didn't call it.

3. Jeff Green is totally unreliable and seems to shrink from the moment.

4. James Harden has a lot of trouble against the Clippers. I'm not sure why. Does Doc draw up some really good defense? Or is it just DeAndre Jordan makes it hard to finish at the basket.

5. ESPN firing Bill Simmons in the midst of NBA playoffs seems to be a vindictive and dumb move by both sides.

6. If I played in the NBA, I'd want to be on Memphis. I love how they play.

Monday, May 11, 2015


TV: Game of Thrones, S. 5, ep. 5

Great beginning, a few cool scenes, but I didn't love the episode. I'm a little worried with the showrunners veering off the books, whether they're going to be able to pull off the big narrative turns that make the seasons. Certainly one cannot expect another Red Wedding, but consider the Battle of the Blackwater, Ned getting his head chopped off, the capture of Jamie Lannister, or the Oberyn death -- these are huge, series defining moments. GMM has a few twists and turns laid out for season 5, and maybe he's shared with them ideas for the book 6, but those big world-shifts are GMM's storytelling. And while the showrunners have done a terrific job trimming the show to essentials and making the tone less nerdy, we've yet to see any evidence that they could pull off the sweeping narrative twists that are the bread and butter of the show.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Thank God For Armond White

I love this bite regarding the Avengers sequel:
Age of Ultron works only if you’re already in the Marvel cult. Just buy the ticket, barter your brain, and give up real movies.

Film: Ex Machina

Underwhelming. In fact, I felt sleepy during the film. Beautiful location. Cold movie. Decent technical research in the writing, but poor, predictable screenwriting for my taste. Very poor staging of scenes...a lot of two people talking. Felt nothing by the end. Do we need another dystopian sci-fi flick?