12.28.2004

The War Against Christmas Is Not At An End!


Are those Christmas-hating "cosmopolitans" wishing us "Happy New Year" -- or "Happy Jew Year"?

I insinuate, you decide!

12.22.2004

Another deplorable battle in the war against Christmas

This guy's probably a little too kosher, if you get my drift.

12.20.2004

Isn't It Pretty To Think So

We'll walk in the light, beautiful light,
Come where the dewdrops of mercy are bright
Shine all around us by day and by night
Jesus the light of the world.


(From this.)

The Law of Reverse Caring (or, Goe, Little Pilot)


Tomorrow I get network notes on my pilot. This has been a fairly successful voyage so far because I have applied the Law of Reverse Caring: the project you pour your soul into is the one you can't sell, whereas the one where you're cold and professional, and/or you can't even tell if it's any good, has wonderful luck.

The reasons for this seem obvious to me: the thing you care about probably gains your affection because it's different, or it's what TV needs, etc. etc. The people you're selling to are not passionate about being different for difference's sake; and the odds are low that your assessment of what TV needs will coincide with the TV executives' assessment. (NOTE: this isn't pejorative. A lot of writers have bad ideas to fix TV.)

Whereas when you're cold and professional you're more or less on the same playing field as your client, not trying to "fix" the "mistakes" you perceive your client to be making. So the Law of Reverse Caring (actually more of a rule of thumb) is better for business, but perhaps bad for TV as a whole.

In any case after that the Family Delicious heads for points north and we'll go no more a-blogging this year. Happy merry and so forth.

12.18.2004

What is Alessandra Stanley trying to tell us about The New York Times?


No Rookie Now, 'Apprentice' Feeds on Office Tension:

"Even the show's firing ritual is somehow more plausible than people voting each other off islands. It reflects the musical chairs quality of corporate life: top management keeps taking away seats so that only people no one would ever want to work for or with are left."

Patriotism (older generation version)


In a year or so they're going to come for Richard Reeves:

"But I have watched the military closely, and like many reporters of my generation I believe that officers lie as a matter of course -- about death counts, about weapons testing, about torture. They see themselves under siege by naive outsiders, distrusting the press to the point of considering reporters the enemy. "

12.17.2004

Just when I thought there'd be no entries today


I saw this at Brad DeLong's, though it's from Marginal Revolution:

" If it is so good that articles are read, why not read another article instead of writing one? Surely not only your articles are worthy of being read.

Reading a good article is so much easier and quicker than writing one.

So you admit my point. You oversupply the writing of articles, relative to a general undersupply of the reading of articles. The same might be said of academia in general.

And surely, Glaucon, we should correct institutional failures, no?"


Now let's see what happens when we subsitute the word "poem" for "article". The argument still holds!

12.16.2004

Real Networks sucks

I inadvertently have two RealPlayer accounts. I was on hole for 40+ minutes trying to cancel one, never got through. They play bad hold music interrupted every five seconds -- clearly, to get you to hang up (it finally worked in my case, but only because I was called away. They suck, especially since iTunes is offering better radio, like this awesome stream of offbeat Xmas music.

My new filing technique is unstoppable

I guess everyone loved "Get Your War On," which I never did, but my new filing technique is unstoppable is hilarious. The book is great, too, kept me up late last night laughing.

Makes a funny office-orientated gift!

12.15.2004

Washington Note

I've added Steve Clemons' Washington Note to the blogroll to get a little pissed-off reportorial energy up in here.

Mandate revisited


So all it takes to get a Federal appointment these days is a guy crush, huh?

I used to think W., with his narrow religiosity and disregard of rights, was like Charles I. But The New York Times > Washington > maybe he's more like James I:

"Throughout the process, the Republican close to the administration said, everyone at the White House knew that Mr. Bush liked Mr. Kerik, placing him in the special category of 'this guy's our guy.' Mr. Bush admired Mr. Kerik for his service as New York City's police commissioner on Sept. 11, 2001, for his willingness to try to train the police force in Iraq and for campaigning tirelessly for the president's re-election."

12.14.2004

What good is sitting alone in your room


I'm off working on my pilot now. This is good, because I'm writing, not pitching. It's also bad, because of the looming possibility of my corporate masters hating the work product, leading to early retirement, sub-Learning Annex teaching gigs, etc.

But in the afternoon of the writing day I can listen to this program on WNYC and I find that to be good indeed. By the way, I have no idea if it's classical-music PC to like this program or not like it; I would believe either argument. But as it happens, I like it.

Henry Blodgett's take on investing.

From Slate. Perhaps apropos of the social security debate?:

"People's natural tendency...is to view the conclusions of behavioral finance theorists as yet another indication of how dumb everyone else is rather than how handicapped we all are as we try to outwit the market and each other. But the biggest lie of the 1990s—the biggest lie of every bull market—is that investing is so easy that anyone can do it, that all you have to do to win is play. The reality, of course, is that only a tiny handful of people are dedicated and talented enough to overcome their DNA, confront the long odds, and come out ahead of the market averages, and they are as rare as world-class athletes. As for the rest of us, we may have fun trying (and this, in and of itself, is enough reason to play), but, alas, we are almost sure to lose."

And this, in and of itself, is enough reason to play? With one's money? No thanks. Delicious treats his money like a draft horse and is conservative, and, while it meant he had to spend 1999 in rooms hearing other comedy writers boast about Qualcomm, it also meant that he had to spend 2001 in rooms hearing other comedy writers bemoan Qualcomm. Either way, he got home late -- which wasn't my original point, but what's a blog for?

Awesome! (Christmas division)


Television's 'Yule Log' Going National:

" Television's 'Yule Log,' a 38-year-old New York holiday tradition featuring a filmed loop of a roaring fireplace set to music, is going national this year on Superstation WGN, parent company Tribune Broadcasting said on Monday.

The yule log, which debuted in 1966 on WPIX Channel 11 in New York City and returned by popular demand in 2001 after a 12-year hiatus, will air again on its home station as a four-hour telecast on Dec. 25.

The holiday video offering has won its time period for WPIX in New York's local Nielsen Media Research ratings each year since its comeback three years ago.

In addition, portions of the commercial-free broadcast will be carried nationally starting at 1:30 a.m. EST on Chicago-based Superstation WGN, which like WPIX is owned by Tribune Broadcasting.

The first yule log broadcast was a 17-second film of the fireplace at Gracie Mansion, then the official residence of New York Mayor John Lindsay. The film was later looped to fill a two-hour broadcast, and has been re-shot a number of times. "


(Emphasis added because it amuses me so.) Of course, some of us want to see the old broadcast so we can laugh at the fashionable fire styles of the 60s. They called those flames?

12.13.2004

Actual Scott Peterson related post

Scott Peterson getting the chair reminded me of how Gray Davis was almost fetishistically tough on crime and hoped to execute people, etc. And that made me think of the Digby Thesis.

One kind of limited way you could summarize the Digby Thesis is that even Democrats who tack to the right somehow wind up being branded as wimps. And Gray Davis, tough-on-crime, (semi) tough on deficits Gray Davis, I think, would second that observation. (I don't know what the cure is; in Gray Davis's case, and Kerry's, a little people skills wouldn't have hurt.)

Record week

In terms of visits -- mostly me checking to see how the posts look, but still. Thanks to you, my happy few, Delicious's (half) Dozen!

That's what happens when you post your ass off. Or not my ass, which is ample, but the ass of a skinnier person. I'm posting the ass off of a skinny, aspiring, stringy-haired actress, I think.

12.12.2004

Role reversal (a movie idea)

This quote from The Poor Man made me think:

"And I like how we have to rely on career politicians to provide a check on the corruption and idiocy of the media. That's a quite healthy situation, and not at all fucked up. Sleep tight."

You know how in the classic Hollywood press movie it was the plucky journalist fighting the scumbag pols to get the truth to the people? Doesn't it seem like the roles have reversed nowadays? Our movie now has to be about a plucky senator who's willing to forego up to two fundraising dinners in order to get his staffer to write a letter to The New York Times with the truth, dammit!

It should be a good movie and, if it's shot with any Senatorial authenticity, the craft service will be choice.

12.10.2004

Word whose horrible overuse I would have complained about two weeks ago, but somehow it only strikes me now


"Basketbrawl"

Moral hazard


A stranger writes:

"To the Editor:

I favor Social Security privatization for one reason: I don't want Washington politicians, of either party, to control my retirement security. At 31, I am willing to accept the possible downside of making my own decisions in exchange for full control of my future.

Eric Lahti"


Fine by me. Let us do this: let's free those who renounce the dead hand of the jackbooted, shortsleeved thugs of the Department of the Treasury. If you decide to live with the wolves of Wall Street, you renounce your claim to the safety net of the sheep.

It's simple, really. If you're smarter than the government, you won't need its medical programs. Or food stamps, for that matter. Or its hospitals. Basically I want is insulate my tax dollars from being thrown away on people who gambled in the stock market and lost. Such a permissive attitude cannot but encourage speculation and tax increases, and for the latter of these two reasons, constitutes moral hazard.

One note

The Catholic League, viia Talking Points Memo: :

"Who really cares what Hollywood thinks? All these hacks come out there. Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. It's not a secret, OK? And I'm not afraid to say it. That's why they hate this movie. It's about Jesus Christ, and it's about truth. It's about the messiah. Hollywood likes anal sex. They like to see the public square without nativity scenes. I like families. I like children. They like abortions. I believe in traditional values and restraint. They believe in libertinism. We have nothing in common"

This is untrue. The nativity scenes make good places to hide cocaine.

12.09.2004

Steven E. Landsburg-o-mat

Based on his latest piece, it has now become evident how Steven Landsburg, the "Everyday Economics" writer for Slate, gets his effects: Things that are bad to us are actually good and refreshing!

This is also how they wrote all the episodes of the Addams Family, and that show ran for years.

Trimmings and trappings

You only see the world through your own experience, of course, and Chez Delicious we have been slow getting out the Xmas stuff -- despite the presence of small(ish) children. So naturally it seems to me that this is a citywide phenomenon. On the other hand, we've only gotten three Xmas cards so far, so maybe it's not just us.

I suspect panic to set in with me and the Mrs. this weekend, which, again, I'm sure will also be citywide.


PS -- I can never remember which is the less religious way of writing "Christmas." I'd assume "Xmas," which is how I think of the secular festival, but something in the backroads by the rivers of my memory says that that's actually more Christian (or Xian), what with the "X" being a cross and all.

12.08.2004

I am a son-in-law of the South

So I can only add to Wolcott's plug for the now on-again Oxford American, the magazine by Southerners who also listen to NPR.

12.07.2004

Okay, Mr. Schmitt


From The Decembrist :

"[I]t is clear as day that the Republicans have just proposed eliminating the tax deduction for health insurance. That means you, the average hard-working American, are going to lose your health coverage -- I said lose your health coverage -- to finance even more tax cuts for the wealthy."

Actually, per Decembrist, it should go like this:

"[I]t is clear as day that the Republicans have just proposed eliminating the tax deduction for health insurance. That means you, the average hard-working American, are going to lose your health coverage -- I said lose your health coverage -- to finance even more tax cuts for the wealthy."

That's all for now.


Yahoo! News - 1,000 Canadian Airport Uniforms Disappear
:

"TORONTO - More than 1,000 Canadian airport security uniforms and badges disappeared in the first nine months of the year, prompting a legislator to warn Monday that 'that security can now be breached at a major airport.'

Some of the items were discovered on the online auction site eBay, the CBC News said."

12.06.2004

Bummage watch


Yahoo! News - 1,000 Canadian Airport Uniforms Disappear
:

"TORONTO - More than 1,000 Canadian airport security uniforms and badges disappeared in the first nine months of the year, prompting a legislator to warn Monday that 'that security can now be breached at a major airport.'

Some of the items were discovered on the online auction site eBay, the CBC News said."

Bummage watch


Yahoo! News - 1,000 Canadian Airport Uniforms Disappear
:

"TORONTO - More than 1,000 Canadian airport security uniforms and badges disappeared in the first nine months of the year, prompting a legislator to warn Monday that 'that security can now be breached at a major airport.'

Some of the items were discovered on the online auction site eBay, the CBC News said."

12.05.2004

Baby it's Cold(ish) Outside


Here in the Southland it's in the 30s when one gets up in the morning these days, so LABlogs thought they'd ask a few questions, and I thought I'd answer:

1. Do you own a winter jacket?

I'm a northeastern expat, so yes. But I save it for genuine cold weather.

2. Do you like the winter mountain sports? Skiing, boarding, sledding, snowshoe, etc...

I grew up country, so I like them if they're convenient, in particular X-C skiing. Worth doing, but not worth going to do.

3. Big Bear, Mammoth or other?

Pasadena.

4. Favorite hot drink?

Coffee is the revealed preference here. Grog a l'americaine, for a cold; I tried it first because of this Elizabeth Bishop poem, but stayed for the taste.

5. Heater setting?

Lower than Mrs. Delicious's.

6. At night, more blankets, more pajamas, more heater are all of the above?

Blankets, baby.

7. Do you go out and enjoy the cold or bundle up and stay inside?

The two are not mutually exclusive. What is also enjoyable about unseasonal LA coolness is clearness -- driving east on the 10, I see these huge mountains looming behind downtown and I think, damn, I'm in the West.

8. Cold temps. Stay for a while or bring back the 70s?

The 70s will always be with us. Accordingly let us enjoy a cool interim, unless in some way it's a harbinger of catastrophic climate change, in which case let us be scared shitless.

12.02.2004

Fight for your left to party

I was directed here, to some Weblog awards thing, by Off Wing, who's in the best Sports Blog category. All the political categories are currently being dominated by right-wing blogs. Left-leaners like myself are urged to speak up and vote (but do it page by page or it takes forever). It also seems like a good way to get to know some blogs you might not otherwise have heard of.

Schwarzenegger Bullshit Watch (3)

KESQ NewsChannel 3 Palm Springs, CA: California revenue could fall short of Schwarzenegger's predictions:

"Five months into the fiscal year, the governor's finance office says California won't likely receive any of the $450 million Schwarzenegger sought from punitive damage awards. The state has also collected less revenue from Indian gaming agreements than expected."

Actually, as an ex-New Yorker, I know that a lot of politicians invent phantom sources of revenue or jack up the numbers to make their budgets. It's just that I didn't think Schwarzengger was trying to govern like David Dinkins.

Steroids

I don't do nearly as much sports blogging as I do reading about sports, because it's boring, but I did want to second Joe Sheehan's thoughts on steroid use in today's Baseball Prospectus (subscription only):

"...[D]on't we praise players who run into walls, who play hurt, who undergo risky experimental surgeries to mask pain and add stability so that they can take the field in a big game? The differences between a football player downing painkillers to get through Sunday, a pitcher taking a cortisone shot to get through September, and a slugger using THG to be more productive, aren't nearly as clear as they might seem."

Steroid use seems crazy risky to me, but it doesn't seem as clearly immoral as some sportswriters make out to be, and for this reason. Sportswriters moralize an awful lot for people who get that much free food. But then again, so do bishops.

11.30.2004

PSA

Huge amount of movie trailers to be found here, courtesy Turner Classic Movies. (Via Morning News.)

11.25.2004

Thanksgiving

SHORT HISTORY OF THE BOURGEOISIE

This was the moment when, for five minutes,
without noticing it,
we were immeasurably rich, generous
and electric, cooled in July,
or if it were November,
wood flown in from Finland glowed
in our Renaissance fireplaces. Funny,
everything was there, was flying in,
in a way, by itself. How elegant
we were, no one could bear us.
We threw our money about on solo concerts,
chips, orchids in cellophane. Clouds
wrote our names. Exquisite.

Scheduled flights in all directions. Even our sighs
were on credit. Like fishwives
we scolded each other. Everyone
had his own misfortune under his seat,
close at hand. That was a shame, really.
It was so practical. Water
flowed from the taps like nothing on earth.
Do you remember? Overcome
by our tiny emotions,
we ate little. If we had only known
that it would all be over
in five minutes, the beef Wellington
would have tasted quite, quite different.

by Hans Magnus Enzensberger. Translated by Alasdair King

11.24.2004

One man's answer


Brad DeLong writes:
"Suggestions for what should replace the Volokh Conspiracy on my regular reading list?"

P.G. Wodehouse?

And the Fair Land


I am a feasts-and-seasons person -- I could never be an atheist, only an ex-Catholic -- so I like seeing "And The Fair Land" in the Wall Street Journal on the day before Thanksgiving, even though I think it's overwritten:

"And for all the abundance he sees, he finds the questions put to him ask where men may repair for succor from the troubles that beset them.

See what I mean? But it goes on:

His countrymen cannot forget the savage face of war. Too often they have been asked to fight in strange and distant places, for no clear purpose they could see and for no accomplishment they can measure. Their spirits are not quieted by the thought that the good and pleasant bounty that surrounds them can be destroyed in an instant by a single bomb...How can they turn from melancholy when at home they see young arrayed against old, black against white, neighbor against neighbor, so that they stand in peril of social discord. Or not despair when they see that the cities and countryside are in need of repair, yet find themselves threatened by scarcities of the resources that sustain their way of life. Or when, in the face of these challenges, they turn for leadership to men in high places -- only to find those men as frail as any others.

...What is to preserve their abundance, or even their civility? How can they pass on to their children a nation as strong and free as the one they inherited from their forefathers?

...But we can all remind ourselves that the richness of this country was not born in the resources of the earth, though they be plentiful, but in the men that took its measure. For that reminder is everywhere -- in the cities, towns, farms, roads, factories, homes, hospitals, schools that spread everywhere over that wilderness...

And we might remind ourselves also, that if those men setting out from Delftshaven had been daunted by the troubles they saw around them, then we could not this autumn be thankful for a fair land."


All true. (Of course a Republican newspaper in 1961, when this was written, was not in favor of drowning the government in the bathtub.)

11.23.2004

My two cents...


Another CNN president!:

"Walton said Klein's first task will be to remake CNN's primetime, which has struggled to find its footing and has no ratings hits outside of 'Larry King Live.' Any ratings uptick in that daypart would have the greatest impact, because higher numbers are watching television."

(Via Variety, of course -- your preferred source for news with old, cumbersome slang.) While I would enjoy seeing CNN decide to inch leftward, so that we could have fights about the news at my gym, I do strongly feel that they have to get rid of that grinning death's head Larry King. Not just to cut off one of the hydra heads of shit celebrity culture -- as noble and doomed an enterprise as that would be. But because how can you say you're "remaking a brand" when you've got TV's leading reminder of our hideous mortality occupying your prime real estate?

As a side note, I like how Variety -- Variety! -- has to remind its readers that more people watch TV during prime time. Who do they think they are, the New York Times?

Cheeses!

I finally got a look at that Virgin Mary sandwich. Maybe it's because of my background, but the image reminds me a lot more of the little girl from the Les Miz poster.

It's my piece of the rock and I dig ya

What song will they play after Washington Nationals games? I nominate "Chocolate City" ((and its vanilla suburbs).

11.19.2004

Bitching (not bitchin')

Mr Ross asks:

"Has anyone else had the experience of more or less forgetting how to write — not to mention forgetting how to talk or think — toward the end of a book-writing process?"

No, in the limited sense that it doesn't take a book to make me forget how to write or talk or think. But my real bitch, my tiny bitch, my bitchlet, is that you can't put comments on his blog, or e-mail him, or anything. His questions, therefore, are unanswerable -- Ivesian, you could say.

11.18.2004

O tempora &c.

I have come across this post [Media Matters for America] which talks about how the GOP DeLay script -- that the Texas prosecutor is a partisan nutjob -- has been effortlessly repeated through our media.

10 of the 13 references are to TV.

I submit that a nation that gets its news off TV is in trouble already.

Our 30-year campaign to maleducate Americans begins to pay off (2)

Via Digby . Undecided voters are interviewed:

"These questions, too, more often than not yielded bewilderment. As far as I could tell, the problem wasn't the word 'issue'; it was a fundamental lack of understanding of what constituted the broad category of the 'political.' The undecideds I spoke to didn't seem to have any intuitive grasp of what kinds of grievances qualify as political grievances. Often, once I would engage undecided voters, they would list concerns, such as the rising cost of health care; but when I would tell them that Kerry had a plan to lower health-care premiums, they would respond in disbelief--not in disbelief that he had a plan, but that the cost of health care was a political issue. It was as if you were telling them that Kerry was promising to extend summer into December.

[...]

In this context, Bush's victory, particularly on the strength of those voters who listed 'values' as their number one issue, makes perfect sense. Kerry ran a campaign that was about politics: He parsed the world into political categories and offered political solutions. Bush did this too, but it wasn't the main thrust of his campaign. Instead, the president ran on broad themes, like 'character' and 'morals.' Everyone feels an immediate and intuitive expertise on morals and values--we all know what's right and wrong. But how can undecided voters evaluate a candidate on issues if they don't even grasp what issues are? "

11.16.2004

KUSC

KUSC, the public classical station here in LA, cracked me up twice this morning:

1. First they said, "Classical music the way Bach, Beethoven and Brahms wanted it to be heard." Really? I mean, I'm no scholar, but...really? In the car and stuff? Do they mind if I turn it on because Jim Rome's interviewing some lame football player on AM? (John Cage wouldn't, I bet.)

2. Two stoplights later the morning DJ says, "This seems like a good morning for Tchaikovsky." This is hilarious because I believe the KUSC DJs prerecord their wraparounds in Colorado -- at the Strategic Air Command or something -- and then it's canned and shipped here to LA, where it's reconstituted on air, before your eyes. To me, the illusion of spontaneity ("this particular morning, 5 months off in the future, seems like a good morning for Tchaikovsky") adds an extra soulless effect -- the way Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms would have wanted.

11.13.2004

A misplaced priority

What a woman's right to choose is to a Christian conservative, the non-dissolving "Sugar in the Raw" is to me.

11.12.2004

Tired

And ever so. Tired of work, tired of myself and my lame jokes. Tired, already, of fast-approaching darkness. And there's no hockey.

Maybe I'll rediscover the lost art of conversation. On second thought...

11.11.2004

Praise etc.

OGIC, whom I have the honor of having corrected, writes:

"As a reviewer, I find that the most difficult thing to resist is the impulse to be too nice and therefore, critically speaking, useless."

Sure. I see this on the TV front all the time. Because almost everything is shit, anything that shows some signs of intelligence and wit gets overpraised for the mere fact of not being thrown together in bad faith. Part of it is genuine critical response -- the response the thirsty have to water -- and part of it, I'm often convinced, is poltical. Raves can save shows, but a nuanced, engaged, but overall positive review won't.

And as a consumer of criticism I find myself enjoying praise more than the kind of slam we're all supposed to enjoy. Most of those slams connect about as well as a weekend hacker's overhead smash; besides, I feel these are urgent times, and a critic's passionate engagement in and love of a work can save it from drowning.

Saving Private Ryan

was on and I got home just in time to see my favorite part -- where we learn that intellectual dudes who know foreign languages are not to be trusted with man's work.

I laugh when people call Spielberg a big liberal. This work denies it.

11.08.2004

Attention water fans!

Let's see Red-State Jesus get us out of this:

Yahoo! News - Scientists Find Arctic Warming Quickly : "Scientists say changes in the earth's climate from human influences are occurring particularly intensely in the Arctic region, evidenced by widespread melting of glaciers, thinning sea ice and rising permafrost temperatures.

A study released Monday said the annual average amount of sea ice in the Arctic has decreased by about 8 percent in the past 30 years, resulting in the loss of 386,100 square miles of sea ice — an area bigger than Texas and Arizona combined.

'The polar regions are essentially the earth's air conditioner,' Michael McCracken, president of the International Association of Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences, told a news conference Monday. 'Imagine the earth having a less efficient air conditioner.'

Susan Joy Hassol, the report's lead author, said the Arctic probably would warm twice as much as the Earth. A region of extreme light and temperature changes, the Arctic's surfaces of ice, ocean water, vegetation and soil are important in reflecting the sun's heat.

Pointing to the report as a clear signal that global warming is real, Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Joe Lieberman (news - web sites), D-Conn., said Monday the 'dire consequences' of warming in the Arctic underscore the need for their proposal to require U.S. cuts in emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases. President Bush (news - web sites) has rejected that approach.

In the past half-century, average yearly temperatures in Alaska and Siberia rose by about 3.6 degrees to 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit and winters in Alaska and western Canada warmed by an average of 5 degrees to 7 degrees Fahrenheit.

With 'some of the most rapid and severe climate change on earth,' the Arctic regions' melting contributed to sea levels rising globally by an average of about three inches in the past 20 years, the report said."


To be fair, Kerry would have been only slightly less of a pussy in fighting this problem, which, basically, Americans don't care about.

11.05.2004

Pixar

I'd prefer to blog about politics, for reasons that aren't clear to me, but TV is what I know, and Pixar tells us what's wrong with network TV.

With The Incredibles, Pixar enjoys its sixth success. And what makes them so good is that there are no suits. Not that they don't rework things or give painstaking notes; but, as I understand it, it all comes from fellow creators, people who have made their bones doing what the writers and directors are doing.

Contrast network TV, where the notes come from people who worked their way up from being assistants in the studio offices. Huge amounts of energy must be spent adjusting and/or fighting back these notes -- a political analogy would be the Swift Boat ads.

The point is that successful creative product -- and I mean commercially successful -- tends to come from people who are creating to impress themselves and their friends. I can think of a million counter-examples, of course; but I still believe that, in times when the old formulas don't work, a period of artists-only can point the way to new, greenback-laden pastures.

You'd think

religious conservatives wouldn't care all that much about politics. Isn't the kingdom not of this world?

11.04.2004

Hardball

From Baseball Prospectus It's subscription only, but worth it for the fan. I agree with them here as I so often do about OBP:

"There is also something to be said from the perspective of industry-wide welfare. It is very difficult to predict how well a manager is going to perform in the big leagues until he actually gets that chance, and there are also only a finite number of positions available. Sure, if there's a lot of turnover, you'll have to sort through your Grady Littles and Tony Musers, but you also have a chance of finding a Tracy or a Scioscia. If instead the industry preference is to give Chuck Tanner another shot, talented managerial candidates may never be given the opportunity to prove themselves.

Here, too, there is a useful political analogy. The Democrats in particular have been reluctant to throw their resources behind candidates with appealing skills but unproven track records, which in turn prevents these politicians from gaining the exposure they need (or are perceived to need) to run for higher office. It's a self-perpetuating problem. So we're going to get Hillary Clinton running for the White House in 2008. And we're going to lose again, just as surely as if the Diamondbacks had tabbed Jimy Williams for their managerial vacancy."


Emphasis added, most definitely.

Hey

You know what Kerry should have said in his concession speech? "Je ne regrette rien."

Let us all get behind the Waco Brothers

Well we all knew things had to get better
If we all kept acting rational and sane
I can see the clouds on the horizon
Bad times are comin round again.

11.03.2004

Two other thoughts (or "thoughts")

-- The Dem straddle on gay marriages seems like a 555 number: everyone knows it’s a fake. Maybe we should try making the case: the state should not be brought in to stop gay people’s happiness.

-- Also I wouldn’t be surprised if this marks the beginning of a new era of Weimar-style freakiness. If the cultural-war lines are drawn as clear as some wish them to be, then for whom would we blue-staters be behaving well? And to what end – if the environment, etc., is as bad as they say, what is the point of the future?

Be Of Good Cheer

because Dems are already perceived as the party of handwringers. There is still excellence to be found everywhere, particularly in our great cities. Now we have the conservative task of preserving this excellence.

As far as I make it out, the progressive wing lost every election between the Roosevelts: ’08-’32 (counting that racist Wilson as a wash). We had Prohibition – if that isn’t a Jesus-type issue, I don’t know what is. They didn’t quit, and neither will we.

Besides, maybe we’ll all get assigned to the same internment camp. O what fun we’ll have then.

11.02.2004

All these years as a Democrat

and I've had one good night, '92. Even '96 didn't signify much; I was working or something that night. And when we'd take Congress it was what we were supposed to do.

This must be what rooting for the White Sox, another organization with its head up its ass, is like.


Other thoughts:

-- Seems like our 30-year plan to maleducate Americans is finally bearing fruit. In fact, let me be the first to welcome our future Chinese overlords.

-- I still think Kerry was the best we had -- Edwards has never impressed me much -- & would have been a good President. His limitations will be much discussed but I was happy to vote for him.

-- I don't understand why people have it in so much for the gay. I really don't. What happened to live and let live?

-- Not only this, but there's no hockey.

Jesus wins again

Well played, Sir.

(under breath) Fucking Jesus.

BULLETIN! BREAKING NEWS!


Now you know: (from Variety (Expensive subscription only)):

"A weary-looking Michael Ovitz concluded five days of testimony Monday insisting the generous severance clause in his Disney contract was well justified by the risks of his new job and the hefty pay of his previous one. Refusing to be cowed by an aggressive tour of his expense account, he willingly portrayed himself as an intrepid and dedicated showbiz Santa Claus.

'I gave presents to everyone. ... I pioneered the idea of giving goodwill gifts to people to mark occasions,' the former Disney president told a Delaware court."


That's so fantastic I have to paste it and put it in bold again.

"I pioneered the idea of giving goodwill gifts to people to mark occasions."

Your parents owe Michael Ovitz thousands in royalties.

11.01.2004

Love it or Leave It

Via Wonkette:

"8:35PM - Paula Zahn Live.
Voter asking about stem cell research: 'Why does science have to use the unknown?'"

1) I choose to love it.

2) It's not like the Tories didn't warn us two hundred odd years ago that this kind of thing would happen.

10.30.2004

Tarzan want to know

Why Blogger no allow Trackback?

10.29.2004

No shit, Sherlock

O the tales one could tell.

TV Bosses Lament 'Dried Up' Comedy Genre:

The programing chiefs at all six broadcast networks held forth on the sorry state of televised comedy Thursday, blaming a shortage of originality and an abundance of executive meddling.

'I think it's dried up. It's like a prune,' said Gail Berman, president of entertainment at Fox Broadcasting Co., who pinpointed her network's own Emmy-winning 'Arrested Development' as an exception. 'There's nothing new going on.'

Berman and her network rivals shared their thoughts at the Hollywood Radio & Television Society's annual Newsmaker luncheon Thursday at the Beverly Hilton.

Kevin Reilly, president of entertainment at NBC, laid the blame on the excessive amount of creative notes scriptwriters are inundated with by network executives.

'I think the process of making sitcoms is smothering creativity,' he said. 'I think it's a miracle anything gets through.'


So don't blame us (entirely).

Just a democracy-eroding thought.

I see this in TAPPED:

"As a side note, one of the Fox hosts tried out what I expect to be a new line of attack emanating from the GOP and its surrogates: If someone is legally registered to vote, why should they worry about being challenged? Now, in fact, this is much in the vein of 'if you haven't committed any crime, why would you object to having the police perform an anal cavity search on you?' I think most people of good common sense can understand why it can be intimidating to have an aggressive, official-looking person sitting behind a desk at the voting station claiming you're a fraud and committing an illicit act. (Especially if that person is challenging your right to vote because the GOP sent you a piece of registered mail and you, not wanting any GOP literature, refused to sign for it. See this important story out of Ohio for the details on that one.) But I expect to hear this line a lot come Election Day."

Why don't the Democrats do this? Why don't they go into suburban, or rural, Ohio, and mete out the exact same treatment? Don't people in suburban, or rural, Ohio have a curiosity about how the other half lives? Sure they do! And here's a chance to live it, cost-free.

One if by Whiskey

Billmon is back.

10.28.2004

Gosh, the Red Sox

Because I know more New Englanders than Missourians (and the ones I know like the Royals), I was tickled by the BoSox win.

Who's cursed next? I think the worst thing would be a Blackhawks fan. That team might not even exist anymore. And they, too, have been close (ask Jacques Lemaire).

Thesis, antithesis, synthesis

From Kos :

"Jerome and I are writing a book about this very topic. Over the course of the last year, after observing the work of the party and the third-party groups first-hand, I am more convinced than ever that the national party's heydey is past. The third-party groups (527s, PACs, 501(c)(3)s, big money donors, think tanks, blogs, Air America, and our army of motivated ground soldiers), with their spirit of entrepreneurship, will lead the way to the promised land." Emphasis added

The right takes a Communist-cadre-like organization from the left. The left takes aZig Ziglar-like "Make it happen" ethos from the right.

No wonder they won't talk to each other. They're afraid of theft.

10.25.2004

I know funny

and this is not funny.

How unfunny is it? This idea has been done better by Art Buchwald, that's how unfunny it is.

More seriously -- that is, from a professional perspective -- the problem here is that Brooks can only write in his own voice. And he can be amusing/droll, if not funny, in it. What he doesn't have is the comedy writer's trick of changing voices. Why the readers of the New York Times need to be informed of that is beyond me.

Also, I hate Washington, so the subject matter is loathsome to me.

10.22.2004

Shout At Cops The Celebrity Way!

From today's New York Post:

In his most embarrassing small-screen performance, a bumbling Rip Torn stumbles and grumbles at cops in his police video from a January DWI arrest in Greenwich Village.

"You're an egregious bunch of bull- - - - artists," the allegedly ripped Torn growls loudly at one point, staring into the camera.

"Go to hell you guys!" the veteran Emmy-winning actor tells the cops. "Take these cuffs off! Let me take a p- - -!""


Remember: it doesn't work without the "egregious" (which is an excellent word to growl while drunk).

Tarzan want to know

How come Democrat web site no run ads in QuickTime?

10.19.2004

If there is a God

Why doesn't He tell us to relax?

On The Room

For once I can actually talk about something firsthand. The bad news is that it's the writers room article from the NY Times on Sunday. Sample:

Ms. Lyle's suit said that while joking about the supposed infertility of the actress Courteney Cox, one writer described her reproductive system as "full of dried up twigs" and speculated that if she tried to have sex, "she'd break in two."

It's all true, of course. The kiddie-table aspect of comedy writing is never more apparent than during a smutty room run. And even I was surprised at the writers of distinguished genius and accomplishment who enjoyed fart-n-shit humor, which isn't particularly my thing. (I'm a corpse-humor man, myself.)

Nevertheless: a lawsuit? My own defense of the rooms, in addition to the ones offered already, might be called performance-based. If you go into a comedy club to sit through two hours of well drinks and sex humor, you don't sue, no matter how much you might be tempted. Just so a writers room.

Note, too, that the performance aspect of being in a room can detract from the quality of the written product. A room that's too much about shouting and acting out is going to select for the extroverts and the former stand-ups, which doesn't necessarily correlate with excellence on the page.

I could go on about the room system but I am tedious on the subject, especially to myself.

10.15.2004

Vocab

Brad DeLong notices something:

"Dubbed... declaimed... reflexive... inquisitive... sustenance... enumerated... demeaned...harangue... munificent... straitened... divestment... sinecure... corollary... culmination... manifestation... constellation... amalgam... embodies... sanguine... impudent... reiterating... carapace... antennae...

We are going through the practice PSAT book. The Fourteen-Year-Old is only in ninth grade, but the only way to get good at something is to practice, and the best practice is that which is the most realistic. Hence having him take the PSAT now is the best way for him to practice for standardized tests in the future.

And it's hard to avoid noticing something about the vocabulary that they are testing. It's not, by and large, science or engineering vocabulary. It's not financial or commercial vocabulary. It's not political or quantitative vocabulary. What they are testing is the high humanistic vocabulary of the Sunday New York Times Arts and Leisure section, of the New Yorker, of the New York Review of Books."


My reactions:

A) I have to do PSAT drill with my kid?! My parents didn't do no testing drills with me. Of course they knew I would get into good colleges anyway, because I was so weird. But still.

B) The New York Times Arts and Leisure section? Which "Sex and the City" articles is he referring to?

C) He's right, of course. Financial/economic vocabulary isn't that difficult, but one can look like a nerd even to Harvard guys by, say, referring to the satisfy/optimize distinction.

D) Actually, experience shows any specialized knowledge that isn't about pop culture is viewed with suspicion by highly degreed generalists. This applies even to useless specialized knowledge, like deconstruction. Far better to know about "Amish in the City," even if your crew consists of people whose parents spent $200,000 on their education.

Stewart contra Delicious

Jon Stewart disses the bow tie on Crossfire. (Via Wonkette):

"Stewart said that Carlson was a 35 year old man with a bowtie, and that he is a joke."

Delicious enjoys the occasional bowtie, so I resemble that remark, I guess.

But Delicious is a fat guy. We manage to make the bow tie look work a little better, I think. Old, nearly retired doctors also tend to pull bowties off successfully; not many else.

Work less

I have added a link to the Work Less Institute of Technology, and I add a hearty, anachronistic "right on!"

If you don't think we work too hard, find a happy lawyer.

What a country!

Fred Kaplan in Slate:

"For the moment, the combination of Bush's war in Iraq and his disavowal of an Israeli-Palestinian peace process -- which many Muslims see, however misleadingly, as two fronts of a broad U.S. war on Islam -- has gravely diminished the very concepts of democracy. Gilles Kepel writes in his new book, The War for Muslim Minds:

The word 'democracy,' preceded by the adjective 'Western,' has negative connotations for a large swathe of the educated Muslim middle class -- although that class was the potential beneficiary of democratization. The Arabic word damakatra, which designates the democratization process, is frequently used pejoratively, signifying a change imposed from without. This disillusionment is of course highly beneficial to the region's authoritarian governments. Rulers go from one international venue to another, insisting that they are favorable to reforms but that change cannot be imposed externally. ... Posing as the champions of nationalism, they wage facile battles against foreign imperialism while postponing any meaningful reform. .... The Bush administration's ineptness in the region could not have led to a more complete dead end.

NPR's Deborah Amos recently returned from a tour of the Arab states with similar findings. Reform-minded figures in Jordan, Syria, and Saudi Arabia told her that they don't want Bush to endorse their goals or programs -- that association with the United States these days, for any cause, is a kiss of death. (Amos' five-part series runs next week on All Things Considered.)"


And to think that Bush wants win the election on the back of Mary Cheney. If people vote against Kerry because of his Cheney remark, which was lame, and in doing so ignore the evidence that Bush is increasing the numbers of people who hate us and wish to get us all killed, then we probably deserve what we get. I'm just saying.

Nonviolent resistance, Army style

Via Kos:

A 17-member Army Reserve platoon with troops from Jackson and around the Southeast deployed to Iraq is under arrest for refusing a "suicide mission" to deliver fuel, the troops' relatives said Thursday.

The soldiers refused an order on Wednesday to go to Taji, Iraq -- north of Baghdad -- because their vehicles were considered "deadlined" or extremely unsafe, said Patricia McCook of Jackson, wife of Sgt. Larry O. McCook.

10.10.2004

Climate fear as carbon levels soar

Really, though, read the whole thing:
"An unexplained and unprecedented rise in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere two years running has raised fears that the world may be on the brink of runaway global warming.

Scientists are baffled why the quantity of the main greenhouse gas has leapt in a two-year period and are concerned that the Earth's natural systems are no longer able to absorb as much as in the past. "

Human progress watch


Yahoo! News - Man Sets Record for Burgers in Mouth
:

SINGAPORE - Spurred on by shouts of 'shove it in, shove it in,' 19-year-old Ezra Nicholas set a world record by stuffing more than three McDonald's hamburgers into his mouth -- without swallowing -- at the close of Singapore's contest to be the world's wackiest.

Nicholas jumped up, pumped his fists in the air and shouted, 'Yes! I am the Burger King!' as he spat out the last bits of the 3 and one-fifth burgers that could put him in the Guinness Book of World Records.

'I just thought to myself, I've got to do this, I've got to do this,' Nicholas said. 'I'm on top of the world right now, because everyone's going to know that I can shove more than three burgers in my mouth!'

10.05.2004

listen.

I'm still tied up with my work job, but I'm trying to add to the karma of this link: The 101 essential pieces of 20th Century Concert Music.

10.04.2004

Lie to your Pollster

Honestly I can't stress this enough. Far too many people, not only the televised imbeciles but those who should know better, are reading these digitized entrails. In this way discussion of what is actually going on is crowded out.

Accordingly it should be our mission to fuck these polls up. An excellent outcome of this election season would be to have the polls lie shattered and smoking on the ground, thoroughly discredited. Too much to hope for, of course, but it could start with you.

Lie to your pollsters, everyone.

10.01.2004

My debate joke

Bush's performance was so bad I thought he was going to raise the terror alert halfway through.

9.30.2004

Drag outfit saves pitcher

Really there are more important things in the world, but I can't resist (Via 6-4-2):

Cleveland rookie pitcher Kyle Denney was saved from more serious injury by the USC cheerleader outfit he was wearing as part of the usual rookie hazing ritual. Two shots were fired into his team bus:

'[The players] heard a loud pop, and Ludwick felt something,' [team spokesman Bart] Swain said. 'Then Kyle eventually felt a burning sensation in his right calf. He didn't know what it was, but he reached down and saw blood.'

Team trainers Lonnie Soloff and Rick Jameyson were able to remove the bullet on the bus.

Oddly enough, Denney was dressed in a USC cheerleader's outfit during the incident as part of the team's yearly ritual for rookies. The outfit, which included a blonde wig and knee-high boots, might have actually saved Denney from further injury, Swain said.

'Because of the boot, the bullet didn't go far into his calf,' Swain said. 'So that helped him. When Lonnie and Rick opened the boot, the bullet pretty much popped right out.'"

9.27.2004

Oyez


Via Digby, this Jeffrey Rosen article on Bush v. Gore:

"To top it off, the Court rarely took cases before they were ripe, and the political process in Florida was still unfolding. 'It was just inconceivable to us that the Court would want to lose its credibility in such a patently political way,' one of the clerks recalls. 'That would be the end of the Court.'"

But guess what? It wasn't the end of the Court. The Court hasn't lost any of its credibility. I'm sure there isn't a Democrat in Washington who wouldn't bow and scrape before Scalia -- because of the ideal he represents. Indeed, I would. So would most people I know.

We crick the knee to Scalia, but he would not do the same for us.

And what's the alternative? To disobey the Court because its illegitimate? To acknowledge that there's no one who can be trusted to be an arbiter; that there's no public fiction (fig. res publica) whose maintenance justifies putting partisan advantage aside? That's a big step. The moment we look at this Honorable Court and see a bunch of black-robed Praetorians, we know that we really have become Rome.

Except with a weaker knowledge of the classics, of course. And (presumably) better popular music.

If L.A. had been smart

The real job must take priority this week so blogging, never heavy in the best of times, will be souffle-light. However, I will point out that, in all the blogging self-ref, hardly anyone notices this piece by John Tierney, on why cars are great.:

"The reason for Los Angeles's traffic morass is because it didn't build enough freeways, incredible as that sounds... Its traffic is terrible because it built only about half the freeways originally planned, so that it now has fewer miles of freeway per capita than any other major city."

See that? The problem with L.A. is that it lacks a six-lane freeway running down Santa Monica Boulevard, like they wanted to build. The problem with Manhattan is that the stupid residents didn't let that visonry (English pronounciation) Robert Moses have his way and build an expressway in Greenwich Village. That's what would have made these cities livable!

So that point's no good. His other point -- let's not try to change people, let's try to make the cars and freeways better -- is well-taken. I much prefer the train myself, but it is simply impossible in L.A. without a vast public expenditure that isn't coming. In other words, cars don't kill people, emissions kill people.

9.26.2004

Civilization

Glad to see The Truculent One, Steve Gilliard, foodblogging again.

Why I like sports


Wolcott, on the Rose film, which I didn't see:

"I was also impressed with the panel discussion ESPN held after the film, which was far more informative and interesting than any of the political panels I've seen this weekend. Unlike political pundits, sports guys have to know their stuff and be able to back it up on cross exam; whereas William Safire and Andrea Mitchell can spin cobwebs every time they speak without losing oracle status"

I even prefer sportswriting to watching sports, generally. It takes less time and there are fewer car ads. I fell upon blogs because the good ones have the energy, knowledge, and, crucially, personality of good sportswriting.

Also noted

Most bloggers I saw were linking to Billmon's article in the LA Times. Can't blame them for navel-gazing -- for who will look at one's own navel, if one doesn't oneself? -- but I actually thought this of note, too.

America the Conservative : " The nation's racial heterogeneity also partly explains its conservatism. U.S. heterogeneity sharply contrasts with the much greater homogeneity in Canada, Britain and continental Europe. People are much less likely to support income redistribution to people who are members of different racial or ethnic groups. Ethnic divisions make it easier for the enemies of welfare to vilify the poor, by making them seem like parasites who could be rich but prefer to live on the public dollar. The pro-redistribution populists were defeated in the South in the 1890s by politicians who stressed that populism would help blacks (which was true) and that blacks were dangerous criminals (which was not.) The enemies of Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society also employed racial messages that conveyed the idea that welfare recipients were dangerous outsiders who should not be helped. The sharp racial division that runs through American society makes it possible to castigate poor people in a way that would be impossible in a homogeneous nation like Sweden, where the poor look the same as everyone else."

Itals added. Is this true? I tend to think it is.

Even more


Memories of Development
Sonata Adler
National Endowment for Ass-Kicking
John D. and Catherine T. Ramone Foundation
The Indistinguishable
The Passive Aggressives
Glue of the Old Warhorse
Music of the Undead

At some point I'm going to have to go back to writing sentences. Not any time soon, however.

9.25.2004

More classical band names

From the Mixed-Up Files of Vincent Persechetti
Harbison & Son
Soggy Taters
Tone Def
Da Compton Classical Playas
Too Loud to Die
Intonation Nation

A friend writes

Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise: :

"Here is my list of possible names for the would-be hipper-than-thou classical ensembles of the future:
Majestic Morendo
The Fussies
Gesamtkunstwerkit
Collapsing Talmud Edition
Karl Ditters von Diddydorf
Samuel Barber of Seville
John Sheppard Blues Explosion
Pfitzner Boys
Boulezbians
The Revolution Will Not Be Chromaticized

Kind of lame, I know. Help me out, blogosphere."


(Post edited because funny diacriticals didn't import.

Here's some:

Welcome to the Tenordome
Insane Clown Ensemble
Diabolis Pro Musica
Up In Your Grill Chamber Players
The New York Rangers
Fish Heads featuring Middle C.
Critical Darlings

9.23.2004

Kentucky Classics, or Paraprosdokian, anyone?

There's a long post at Crooked Timber about media bias -- so long, in fact, that it is not compatible with getting to work in the morning.

However the highlight is this link: Kentucky Classics, a guide to terms of rhetoric. Delicious remembers being subjected to many of these during high school Latin, and finds them invaluable, though not in any tangible way that can be proven.

9.22.2004

Why I read Batgirl

And I don't even care about the Twins:
"Or, in other words, Stick it, Sox. Even, dare I say, Shove it. Take all your petty, bitchy, whining comments and shove it squarely up your below .500 bums. I know, I know, it's all a great tragedy, and circumstances have conspired to keep you in second place for the past three years, I mean it can't have anything to do with your completely inferior play, and the Twins are the luckiest team in baseball, plus they're full of cheating with that whole CheatDome, and you have your best players on the DL and it's just not fair because you don't have any prospects, who said you needed prospects anyway when you have stars, I mean the Twins don't have any stars, I mean there's Radke and Santana but that's it, after that the roster can't really do much, so how can they possibly beat you so soundly year after year, and the Cubs get all the attention and Freddy Garcia didn't save your team like he was supposed to and neither did Everett or Alomar—and really, who saw that coming?—and the world is full of uncertainty and life just isn't fair. And shouldn't it be? I mean, of all things that should be fair, weather and home runs and Valley Fair and all things in love and war, shouldn't life be fair? Because you’re such a great group of guys, terrific role models for the kids, full of hustle and heart and a good attitude, full of class and shouldn't that be worth something? I mean, shouldn't it?

Alas, it's not. Not when we're just so damned much better than you are. We haven't just beaten you, we've kicked your bums back and forth and up and down a few times and diagonally and counter crosswise and a few directions you didn't even know was possible."

9.21.2004

Passing thought.


Maybe I should call this blog Soggy Taters.

Emmys (or "Emmies")

I suppose I ought to blog over the Emmys, being in television. But I don't care. Indeed, in my small experience, many of the nominees don't care so much either. (Though not all, god knows.) It's nice to win, of course; but life goes on -- in fact, if you work on a nominated show, you almost certainly have to go to work the day after the Emmys.

It's this bourgeois quality that makes TV life better than working in the movies. Shows get shot out from under you all the time, but every once in a while you have a couple of years where you're going to the same office, working with the same people, attending the Christmas party, etc. You can go a long stretch with only minimal contact with executives and their very expensive casual clothes. It's nice.

Of course, it's also this bourgeois quality that makes us TV people much less cool compared to movie people. But when you're as fat as I am that's by the board anyway.

From the invaluable Morning News

Airport Codes: The ABC's   A History and Explanation

Check this out

From Richard Reeves:

"One of the facts that came out during testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was that, so far, not a single Iraqi has completed a full training program. Yes, 32,000 Iraqis have begun police training, but they were put out in the line of fire before they finished the program."

This is one where you really ought to read the whole things if you like to be depressed. And not depressed in a partisan way, for we are equally fucked even if my candidate John Kerry wins.

N.B. -- the banner ad on top of the Yahoo page where I got this had a picture of Donald Trump. It seems sort of wrong and decadent, somehow. And not the good, I-devoted-my-life-to-the-worthless-pursuit-of-a-really-good-desert-wine decadence, either.

What the iPod knew

Today at the gym my iPod came up with Les McCann's "Compared To What":

The president he's got his war
Folks don't know just what it's for
Nobody gives you rhyme or reason
Have one doubt, they call it "reason


I don't feel like finding a link, but enjoy the whole thing, if possible.

9.20.2004

My personal goo-goo hobbyhorse or, We Will All Be Like Nebraska


Per this post, on redistricting, I would like you all to meet my personal good-government hobbyhorse. I call her "Unicameral State legislatures."

No, really! I can see the reason for two houses in the U.S. Congress -- we're balancing the issues of state representation and popular representation -- but what is being balanced on the state level.

Think of it! One whole layer of government thrown, onion-like, in the compost! The important but too-confusing morass of who represents us at the state level simplified! And the importance of each election for a party increased (thereby, one hopes, adding to ideological cohesion)!

Anyway, it's only a dream. But someday, someday, we will all be like Nebraska.

The camel's nose

The fact that we are seriously discussing internment is the most sinister thing to happen yet, I think.

"We"? The fact that internment is being discussed. That the proposal is being floated. One can sound hysterical opposing it. But where is the hysteria, really?

9.18.2004

Schwarzenegger Non-bullshit watch

Schwarzenegger Defies California Republicans:
"On September 13, over the protests of Christian fundamentalist groups, Schwarzenegger signed another bill authored by lesbian Assemblymember Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) which will require insurance companies to treat domestic partners just like married couples.

The move puts him sharply at odds with the Republicans in the Legislature, where gay rights have become a party line issue...
San Francisco's gay Assemblyman Mark Leno, a Democrat, said that gay civil rights issues have become a litmus test. "Incredibly" Leno said, "In the history of the state Capitol, there has never been a single Republican vote in favor of LGBT civil rights - not one."


"Incredibly"? Still, good job, bullshit artist.
"

Even in academia

At the end of a good post about Big-time College Sports Jon Mandel writes:

"[A] few years ago, my school moved from division II to division I for reasons that were never made very clear. The suspicion that some had at the time was that this was simply a way of boosting the egos of the administration. They didn't see a move to division I as means to accomplish some other end -- it was the end (not just to win more games or attract more applicants or gather more donations). I don't know whether that is correct, but it points to the possibility that something not captured in Frank's account might be at work. If school officials are motivated by something like a macho attitude that is gratified simply by the spending itself, then it seems that much of Frank's analysis succeeds in debunking a mere rationalization -- which, of course, may be a valuable project in its own right."

(Itals added.) Bosses doing something to make themselves feel more boss-like? Even in academia?

Delicious doesn't read much actually business literature so he doesn't know if the phenomenon of free-spending idiot boss is really covered in the depth it deserves. But he knows a lot of people out here in Hollywood who are the beneficiaries of said phenomenon.


PS -- The school in question in the CT post is "The University at Albany." It's really just SUNY Albany! Part of the makeover, I guess. Don't tell anyone.

9.17.2004

All apologies (3)

While screwing around with the format I have somehow lost my blogroll, which I was actually going to post about, even.

It may take awhile for me to teach myself how to fix it.

Wow.


Rick James Death Due to Heart Attack, Drugs

I Found Some Of Your Life

Via Morning News. The intro says it all:

You are unknown to me.
Your camera's memory card was in a taxi; I have it now.
I am going to post one of your pictures each day.
I will also narrate as if I were you.
Maybe you will come here and reclaim this piece of your life.

9.16.2004

All apologies (2)


Delicious has been very busy providing America with its necessary television comedy, a career which he has to combine with being a lazy man.

Rants re: television comedy to come after some rest.

9.15.2004

Ah, college

Alex Ross:
"Robert Gable, aka aworks, has put John Cage's 4'33' on his iPod, so that the ambient sounds of his environment periodically interrupt the mad rush of music on Shuffle. It's a delightful idea. Apropos of little, in college I helped to organize a radio broadcast of 4'33' — a performance on Baroque instruments, or so we claimed. It lasted only one minute, because tempos were much faster in the Baroque period, har har."

When I was in college someone played 4'33' as their entry in the symphony's concerto competition. Cage seems to have written one of the few musical jokes that actually works.

True, but depressing

Yglesias: "As Judis says, the trouble isn't that people are lying it's that there's a process (as in Marx's theory of ideology) where people come to sincerely believe in the high-minded normative justifications for behavior that is, in fact, quite cynical and self-interested. It gives you what's really the worst of both words because you wind up genuinely surprised when the Filipinos (or Mexicans or Cubans or Vietnamese or Iraqis) don't welcome you as liberators, leaving you confused about what to do next."

That's when I think, "I'm surprised that they're surprised." But then again, no (to quote Bernie Taupin): when you grow up in the greater U.S. area you are fed a diet of Divine Right theory. The current term of art for that, I understand, is "exceptionalism." But you don't need Bush, or Woodrow Wilson, to see that it's really Divine Right.

Note that Kissinger -- who didn't grow up in these parts -- could hardly be said to suffer from the sort of disillusionment described here.

As a boy my mind would wander during Mass and I would look at the American flag up there on the altar and wonder, why should God particularly care about the U.S.? (Maybe I should have added "per se," but I was only a boy.) Catholics own their history, and that means believing in a God who has seen the nations come and go; somewhat, in this respect, like an old barfly.

More toy department

I find this hard to believe:

Yahoo! News - NHL Lockout Looms; ESPN Scrambling: "ESPN executives and advertisers are scrambling to figure out what they're going to do if labor strife disrupts the scheduled Oct. 13 start of the NHL season. "

Scrambling? I think not. Because it's not like a lockout hasn't been in the cards for a year and a half. I'm sure all parties have contingency plans. Indeed, even I, as a hockey fan, have a contingency plan. It is to read the great classics, perhaps with Jane Austen, beginning with Soul On Ice and working my way through the rest of the oeuvre.

9.13.2004

One small win for grammar

I was in Target with Mrs. D. The express lanes say, "8 items or fewer." Bless you.

My birthday

That's right. I'm 200 pounds young today. Take it away, Miss Bishop:


The Bight
[On my birthday]

At low tide like this how sheer the water is.
White, crumbling ribs of marl protrude and glare
and the boats are dry, the pilings dry as matches.
Absorbing, rather than being absorbed,
the water in the bight doesn't wet anything,
the color of the gas flame turned as low as possible.
One can smell it turning to gas; if one were Baudelaire
one could probably hear it turning to marimba music.
The little ocher dredge at work off the end of the dock
already plays the dry perfectly off-beat claves.
The birds are outsize. Pelicans crash
into this peculiar gas unnecessarily hard,
it seems to me, like pickaxes,
rarely coming up with anything to show for it,
and going off with humorous elbowings.
Black-and-white man-of-war birds soar
on impalpable drafts
and open their tails like scissors on the curves
or tense them like wishbones, till they tremble.
The frowsy sponge boats keep coming in
with the obliging air of retrievers,
bristling with jackstraw gaffs and hooks
and decorated with bobbles of sponges.
There is a fence of chicken wire along the dock
where, glinting like little plowshares,
the blue-gray shark tails are hung up to dry
for the Chinese-restaurant trade.
Some of the little white boats are still piled up
against each other, or lie on their sides, stove in,
and not yet salvaged, if they ever will be, from the last bad storm,
like torn-open, unanswered letters.
The bight is littered with old correspondences.
Click. Click. Goes the dredge,
and brings up a dripping jawful of marl.
All the untidy activity continues,
awful but cheerful.

The case for Kerry

In shorthand.

9.11.2004

Schwarzenegger Bullshit Watch (4)

Liar, uh, bullshit artist:
"Court and other consumer advocates also lambasted Schwarzenegger's endorsement of Proposition 64, which would change the state's Unfair Competition Law.

The initiative is aimed at limiting the 70-year-old law, which lets private citizens sue companies even when people filing the complaints have not been personally injured. The proposition would allow only the state attorney general or local public officials to sue on behalf of the public to enforce laws governing business competition....

Environmentalists, who have filed suits under the law in the past to supplement enforcement by government officials, said they felt betrayed by Schwarzenegger since the governor just three weeks ago assured them that he wanted to fine-tune the law in the Legislature, not at the ballot box."


(LA Times. Emphasis added, natch.)

9.09.2004

Our 30-year campaign to maleducate Americans begins to pay off

Fred Kaplan, on the myriad mistakes that led to 9/11: "In the vast majority of these foul-ups, the problem wasn't with the agencies' organizational charts but rather with the quality of the people filling those charts. The trouble wasn't so much the flow of information but rather what people did with information when they got it. The key question is not so much how the government was structured but rather who did what, when?

Washington is now debating how to restructure the intelligence community -- whether to break up the CIA, expand the CIA director's powers, or create a new national intelligence authority. This is an important debate. But the chronicle of 9/11 tells us that a much more important debate should be going on over how to reward smart people inside the intelligence community -- and how to recruit more of them."

Schwarzenegger Bullshit Watch (3)

No tanks.

3 more Rs

The littler of my little Deliciouses begins kindergarten today:

I

My child and I hold hands on the way to school,
And when I leave him at the first-grade door
He cries a little but is brave; he does
Let go. My selfish tears remind me how
I cried before that door a life ago.
I may have had a hard time letting go.

Each fall the children must endure together
What every child also endures alone:
Learning the alphabet, the integers,
Three dozen bits and pieces of a stuff
So arbitrary, so peremptory,
That worlds invisible and visible

Bow down before it, as in Joseph's dream
The sheaves bowed down and then the stars bowed down
Before the dreaming of a little boy.
That dream got him such hatred of his brothers
As cost the greater part of life to mend,
And yet great kindness came of it in the end.

II

A school is where they grind the grain of thought,
And grind the children who must mind the thought.
It may be those two grindings are but one,
As from the alphabet come Shakespeare's Plays,
As from the integers comes Euler's Law,
As from the whole, inseperably, the lives,

The shrunken lives that have not been set free
By law or by poetic phantasy.
But may they be. My child has disappeared
Behind the schoolroom door. And should I live
To see his coming forth, a life away,
I know my hope, but do not know its form

Nor hope to know it. May the fathers he finds
Among his teachers have a care of him
More than his father could. How that will look
I do not know, I do not need to know.
Even our tears belong to ritual.
But may great kindness come of it in the end.

(Howard Nemerov)

9.08.2004

Awesome post

Read the whole thing.

Here's a good Wisdom of Crowds item

From King Kaufman at Salon (yeah, you probably need a subscription):

"The good news is that there is one thing the people in this great and divided country can agree upon: which teams are going to win the eight divisions in the NFL this season. America is a nation united in the idea that pretty much the same teams that won the NFL's division titles last season are going to do it again.

The problem here is that this never happens. Since the NFL entered the 'Wait, I've been away for a year and now you're telling me that what team won the Super Bowl?!' era in 1998, exactly four division champions from the previous year have won the same division again. And now readers of this column and media 'experts' across the land are predicting that six division champs are going to repeat this season alone."


The six are Carolina, Philadelphia, KC, Baltimore, Indianapolis, and N.E. Delicious doesn't care much for the NFL -- who knew crypto-fascism was going to have so many commercials? -- but he was interested in this pigskin prognostication. Is this a wisdom-of-crowds item? Surowecki? Anyone? Bueller?

The Right roams the battlefield, shooting the wounded

Delicious is forced to conclude that the Right has won the media war if they have to resort to fake outrage regarding nomenclature as the current awful liberal media crime. Even Dubcek got on board there.

(Whole construct taken down at the the Timber, not that it matters.)

9.07.2004

"I had done all that I could; and no man is well pleased to have his all neglected, be it ever so little."

Probably the 3 people (all of them me) who read this blog also read Talking Points, but I was so taken by Jimmy Carter's letter to Zell Miller that I thought I'd reprint part of it:

"I, myself, never claimed to have been a war hero, but I served in the navy from 1942 to 1953, and, as president, greatly strengthened our military forces and protected our nation and its interests in every way. I don’t believe this warrants your referring to me as a pacificist.

Zell, I have known you for forty-two years and have, in the past, respected you as a trustworthy political leader and a personal friend. But now, there are many of us loyal Democrats who feel uncomfortable in seeing that you have chosen the rich over the poor, unilateral preemptive war over a strong nation united with others for peace, lies and obfuscation over the truth, and the political technique of personal character assassination as a way to win elections or to garner a few moments of applause. These are not the characteristics of great Democrats whose legacy you and I have inherited."


Then JMM says that he was told it was a "private communication." So how'd he get it?

A note for negative campaigners

From Reeves, one of my favorite old-school guys:

"President Bush has a record, and I assume Kerry's negative researchers are all over that. The devil is in the details. Democrats usually see governance as making speeches and passing laws. Republicans are better executives, and their governance is better traced through executive orders and federal regulations. Bush has issued 150 or so executive orders and, with almost no scrutiny, presided over the enforcement, modification or elimination of thousands of federal regulations -- word changes that allow coal miners to lop off the tops of Appalachian mountains or that channel federal aid to favored religious groups."

Happy Arrival Day!

Apparently, today is the 350th anniversary of the first Jewish immigrants to the new world, in New Amsterdam. Eszter at Crooked Timber is reminded of a wedding she just went to, and writes:

"There are several reasons why I live in the U.S. and although no one factor is fully responsible, one contributing reason is that no matter how people try to downplay it, anti-Semitism is alive and well in Europe. I prefer to live in a country where I do not have to be on my guard all the time about being Jewish. (I realize experiences must vary across the U.S., but this is my experience having lived in seven states in rural, suburban and urban areas and I appreciate it.) At my friends' wedding, Jews and non-Jews of numerous backgrounds came together to celebrate in the joy of two wonderful people. In my mind, this story is the perfect tribute to Arrival Day."

No politics about this, just a "right on," so to speak.

Another fan of Yeovil

Gopnik(in a recent New Yorker):

"The space between what the wine writers say and what the wine novice tastes is a standard subject of satire. (The best was written, exactly contemporary with Orwell, by Stephen Potter in the Winemanship section of his peerless Lifemanship books.)"

I can make no stronger recommendation to the few readers here than to check out those Stephen Potter books -- although I have tried to get several comedy professionals interested in them, to limited avail. I suspect one needs a little bit of Anglophilia to get into their voice. But they're still funny, and just true enough.

The tale of two hands

Came upon this in the Wall Street Journal:

WSJ.com - After Storms, Florida Wakes Up
To a New Insurance Reality
: "As Floridians begin picking up the pieces from the second devastating hurricane in less than a month, many are also discovering the full effects of a decade of maneuvering by insurance companies and state officials that has dramatically reduced the obligations of private insurers to pay for the impact of catastrophic storms."


Typical business, I thought. Selling themselves as caring and then trying to stiff their customers for as much as they can get away with. And the government, supposedly our stewards, letting them get away with it:

As a result, hundreds of thousands of Florida homeowners -- including many who have paid for what they believed was "full" property insurance -- now find themselves holding the bag for a much bigger portion of the estimated $10 billion to $15 billion in insured damage from Frances and Charley than they would have a decade ago.

Florida regulators and legislators allowed private insurance companies to add hefty new deductibles to homeowners' policies and to raise premium rates in some cases by as much as fourfold.


On the other hand:

What has happened in Florida is partly the result of a big shift in the way U.S. insurance companies have operated over the past decade. The industry has adopted increasingly sophisticated underwriting tools to avoid insuring higher-risk homes and has taken steps to lay more of the burden to pay claims on policyholders themselves. California residents who face the threat of storms or wildfires, for example, must choose between sometimes bare-bones coverage offered by insurance pools organized by the state and high-cost policies from niche insurers such as Lloyd's of London.

And it's hard to blame them. No one has a right to live cheaply in hurricane alley. Delicious lives in California, where we know a devastating earthquake is going to happen one of these days, and it's hard to see how that makes for good business for an insurance company.

Come visit America

Proof that M. Yglesias needs to visit, oh, say, Disneyland:

"As I say, it's hard to see how soda could not make you fat. At the same time, folks are drinking soda everywhere I turn and they're not exactly dropping dead on the street corners, so it's hard to imagine that this is our most pressing public health threat."

9.06.2004

Agreed

From Pinto:

This has to be one of my favorite plays of all time:

Athletics seventh. D.Miller grounded out, third baseman Mueller to first baseman Millar.

Heh

Yglesias: "You might think that our friendly war hawks would care about this, since you obviously can't conduct a generational struggle if your country goes bankrupt in six years. But, of course, they don't care about it any more than they wonder why, if success in Iraq is so important, they should keep the gang that lost $9 billion dollars and tried to put an Iranian spy in charge of the country running the show."

9.03.2004

Ready for my caricature, Mr. DeMille

It's nice that the dyspeptic Mr. Wolcott has a blog, even if:

1. he doesn't allow comments (in character, though, I think), and
2. It's impossible to read! In Safari it is, anyway. His fancy title loads right over the first entry -- which I linked to anyway, because it's about Pat Moynihan, who I always liked -- and the left margin is right on the point where the browser ends and, according to legend, the dragons begin.

I imagine one so sure of and fastidious about his prose won't allow such things to persist much longer. Unless it's a deliberate effect! Or he hates Macs.


UPDATE: Perhaps Wolcott can answer a question that crossed my mind this morning which is, Who is America's tallest novelist?

Kaus & Kerry

Delicious and the little Deliciouses are about to take off for the beach but I wanted to assert one thing, which is, resolved: The worst thing about a Kerry defeat -- unless I am wrong in my surmise that America is too lazy to be fascist -- will be the four years of I-told-you-sos from Mickey Kaus.

I just don't get the vibe of the guy, the gleefulness of his Kerry-hatred. Maybe it's because I dislike what Bush has done so much more, but I don't get the constant shivs, especially at this late date, and, also, to what end? The dude would rather be right than have Kerry president.

The other thing influencing me in this is my belief that Kerry was probably the best of that field. I've only seen Edwards a few times, but I find him a little syrupy for my taste. Dean would have been a good campaigner, but it's not clear that he could have made the transition to human-seeming robot that is necessary for the general campaign (see "21st Century, building a bridge to"). For Lieberman, of course, human-seeming robot would be a step up.

Kerry, to me, is a smart guy who would hire other smart guys and get things back on track. Is that so wrong? Churchillian he ain't. But is this a Churchill moment anymore? (A subject, I hope, for a later post.)

See ya -- with the proviso that I would not want to be you.

Notes toward a list of imaginary luxury foods

Lobster-fed steak
Chocolate-robed oysters

Keen eye

I always liked Mark Crispin Miller (although he's not exactly a lighthearted guy), and I liked this observation C. Pierce forwards from TAPPED:

"As to Miller, it was he who pointed out how the president only stumbles over himself when he talks about things that don't really interest him -- like domestic programs."

9.02.2004

The Bushes and the Cheneys

are on the stage (I'm watching the CSPAN rebroadcast), and one phrase comes oddly to mind: "Ghetto Fabulous."

Why? I don' know.

OMG THIS IS BIGGER THAN GARBO SPEAKS!

Larry King blogs!

Posted: 10:00 p.m. ET
From Larry King, host, 'Larry King Live'
It's a new thrill to me to blog ... and I may become a permanent blogger. In fact, blogging could become my life"


Fans of his late great three-dot USA Today column ("Tommy Lasorda's pasta sauce is very, very good") can only hold our breath.

"Lake Superior defines the term 'Great Lake.'" I just made that one up. If he's not going to blog that way, then I will.

Nice job, Pharisee

And the last voice you hear from Straw Man Festival, a/k/a the Republican Convention:

Benediction
Cardinal Egan


(Via Ailes)

Sexist beveraging

Digby says :

"Update: John Edwards knows how to make this appeal for our side and it's not because he's so darned cute. It's because he knows how to subtly aim the message.

'If you got up and went to the refrigerator to get a Diet Coke, you would have missed any discussion of what they’re going to do about health care, what they’re going to do about jobs, what they plan to do about this mess in Iraq.'

Diet coke, see? He's not talking to some hairy mook. "


FYI, those of us who get most of our calories from beer like to cut corners elsewhere.

Next time, do research


From the wires:
"Erika and Brian Marwood, who moved from Colorado to Orlando two months ago and huddled in their bathroom with glow sticks and candles while Charley rushed overhead, made their way this time to a Holiday Inn in Tifton, Ga.

'We thought we were doing a good thing getting away from the snow, but there are no hurricanes in Colorado,' Erika Marwood said."

9.01.2004

Spreading the bad word

From The Poor Man:

At a closed, invitation-only Bush campaign rally for Christian conservatives yesterday, Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas called for a broad social conservative agenda notably different from the televised presentations at the Republican convention, including adopting requirements that pregnant women considering abortions be offered anesthetics for their fetuses and loosening requirements on the separation of church and state.

Get this around. Anyone who has any offbeat religious persuasion, like, eventually, Catholics, is threatened by this.

Fafblog is back

Writing the plain american that dogs and cats can read:

"'But didn't Santa give us salvation for Christmas?' says me.
'We did not have enough faith in him!' says Giblets. 'An now look at us we are damned to hell!'

More toy department

Good article about Barry Bonds. Interesting quote:

"Some people lose their drive as they get older ? they'd rather be with their family, they don't want to travel, there are parts of the industry they don't want to do anymore, and it affects their mental approach to the whole game," [Dave} Winfield said.

"I don't see Barry losing the mental drive. He's very strong, and he keeps people away from intruding on his space and making him lose concentration."


This might explain -- only in part I'm sure -- Bonds' legendary surliness. Maybe when he retires he de-surlify somewhat; I hope so, I'd like to hear him talk baseball someday. I imagine, not least because he grew up around the game, that he'd have some interesting things to say.

My take is that Bonds's surliness has three causes:
1. He is surly
2. We think athletes shouldn't be surly.
3. Everyone else -- actors and politicians -- is so stage-managed now that genuine human surliness is surprising.

Here's a straw to clutch

Check it.

8.31.2004

Bad Straw Man


I ought to be writing something. Something about the Republican Convention, hereinafter referred to as "The Straw Man Festival," or "Straw Man." But Straw Man, instead of making me laugh, just depresses me. It depresses me that Bush is gaining ground. It depresses me to listen to John Kerry -- it doesn't even tranquilize me anymore. I miss the feel-good half-charlatan/half-nerd changeling we used to have in office.

I suppose I ought to take comfort in the classics, the way Zbigniew Herbert would have -- like that Simpsons where Homer buys the car with the "speed holes." Maybe I'll just feel better if I avoid Straw Man.

And look how good they are!

Yglesias: "That's why the government is run by professional politicians, professional political operatives, and professional policy analysts, not by random members of the public. It's like how movies are made by professional filmakers, not by movie fans."
(Emphasis added by me.)


Seriously, though, dude may have a point. Too much professionalism, though, leads to (a Joel Schumacher-like) sclerosis.

8.30.2004

Programming note

So I'm blundering around my cable system trying to figure out where C-SPAN is, and I come upon Oxygen -- which is showing "Dazed and Confused." On Oxygen? Are they going to get first rights to "Harold and Kumar"?

More music notes

From TAPPED:

"It's one thing to play 'New York, New York' (that's practically mandatory, and the DNC would have done the same if Boston had a more memorable song than The Standells' 'Dirty Water')."

I submit that "Dirty Water," though (arguably) not more memorable, is a much better song than "New York, New York." It's even, or perhaps particularly, a better song to sing drunk.

Please stand by

You want television test cards from around the world, you say? Right here.

(Via The Morning News, which I have just started to enjoy.