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.