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.