The Jogger

Heat Vision and Jack is probably the king of the great pilots that never got picked up (a genre that has many fewer members in it than you might think, in my experience). Now those guys have started a site called Channel 101 so that they and their friends can do five-minute pilots. (This one's my favorite (you need Quicktime, I think).

Warning, or perhaps enticement: many of the others are extremely juvenile.


This is ridiculous: yes, Kaus again.

Kaus defines a "Get Up And Get A Beer" line as :

...a line packed with so much resonant meaning, or so many different possible meanings--all interesting and profound!--that you get up to get a beer and think about it and never return to the article you were reading (i.e., the article that contains it). The way to solve this problem is to cut the line."

Okay. This is like the Golden Rule ("If it's gold, cut it.") Murdering the darlings is one of the things you must learn as a writer. But then he goes on to say:

"True, some of the most famous lines in cinema are G.U.A.G.A.B. lines. 'You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and ... blow.' Exactly what is Lauren Bacall suggesting? Norma Desmond says, 'I am big. It's the pictures that got smaller.' OK. But if the pictures got smaller doesn't Desmond, you know, look even bigger on the smaller screen? She should be saying. 'I am big. But the pictures got bigger still!' I'm all confused! ... "

Oy, and, if I may say so, vey. Taking these lines in order:

1) Does Mickey Kaus not know a come-on when he hears it? (Don't answer that.) The meaning of any suggestive line involving lips ought to be self-evident...unless you went to Harvard, I guess! (Isn't this a little hard on Harvard? -- ed. BLAM! Why did you have to shoot me...everything going...black...-ed)

2) The differences in emotional tone -- or "bigness" -- between silent movies and talkies are so manifest that this misunderstanding of Norma Desmond's mind can only be deliberate.

Coming soon: Kaus takes on Lear. Why, the man is crazy!

I couldn't agree more.

WSJ.com - Traditional TV Sitcom Isn't Dead Yet
(Cue the Laugh Track)

"'It's not that people don't want to watch traditional sitcoms anymore,' says Laura Caraccioli-Davis, a senior vice president at Starcom Entertainment, a Chicago ad-buying firm owned by Publicis Groupe SA. 'It's that people are tired of poorly executed ones.'

One area that CBS handled atypically is casting. Co-creator Chuck Lorre hired most of the cast based on instinct instead of conducting endless rounds of screenings with test audiences as has become the norm, say agents and executives at Warner and CBS. For example, only one actor was auditioned for the 'half' role, a 10-year-old named Angus T. Jones. 'Angus was a little green so the knee-jerk was to see a bunch of kids,' says Mr. Moonves, who also serves as chairman of CBS. 'But Chuck was very convinced. I relented and they haven't heard a word from me about Angus since.'

Another important casting move: Mr. Lorre filled the remaining principal roles with veterans in their 40s, 50s and 60s, not the young flavor-of-the-week actors with little experience that networks sometimes cram into shows in a bid to attract younger viewers. 'That's one of the biggest mistakes networks make,' says Ms. Caraccioli-Davis. 'You want experienced actors because they deliver a consistent product week after week.'"

Nothing against experimentation. But wasn't it Schoenberg who said there were plenty of good pieces still to be written in C Major?

They can even be written by committee, with the right people on it, not some former-assistant-turned-executive who wishes (s)he had your job.


An important anniversary

Aren't we coming up on about the 50th anniversary of the "suburbs are spiritually dead" idea? What should we do to celebrate?

The persistence of genius

At Kos I find the a gloss on this NY Times article:

"Instead of saying, 'What's the logic here, we don't see it,' you could speculate, there is no logic here,' said Anthony James Joes, a professor of political science at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia and the author of several books on the history of guerrilla warfare. The attacks now look like 'wanton violence,' he continued. 'And there's a name for these guys: Losers.'

'The insurgents are doing everything wrong now,' he said. 'Or, anyway, I don't understand why they're doing what they're doing.'

Well that settles it. This 'genius' doesn't understand what's going on therefore the insurgents are 'Losers.' This kind of thinking leads to abrupt departures on helicopters from Embassy rooftops."

The name "Anthony James Joes" rang a bell. And then I remembered: I had recently been reading some Murray Kempton. And in his piece on Mussolini Kempton writes:

"I regret that I must decline any attempt to engage Professor Anthony James Joes's Mussolini. There is no way to deal with a scholar who persissts in bowing down before a legend nearly two generations after the events that exposed it as a myth...Professor Joes teaches at St. Joseph's University of Philadelphia, an institution whose basketball teams have given me so much pleasure that I would rather cherish what goes on in its gymnasium than thank about what seems to be going on in one of its classrooms."

Change the sport to football and I rather feel the same about the University of Tennessee.


Five Points

It's Mother's Day, of course, and this Billy Collins poem was read at church:

The other day I was ricocheting slowly
off the blue walls of this room,
moving as if underwater from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
when I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.

No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one into the past more suddenly --
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid long thin plastic strips
into a lanyard, a gift for my mother

I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
or wear one, if that's what you did with them,
but that did not keep me from crossing
strand over strand again and again
until I had made a boxy
red and white lanyard for my mother.

She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sick room,
lifted spoons of medicine to my lips,
laid cold face-cloths on my forehead,
and then led me out into the airy light

and taught me to walk and swim,
and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.
Here are thousands of meals, she said,
and here is clothing and a good education.
And here is your lanyard, I replied,
which I made with a little help from a counselor.

Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth,
and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.
And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift -- not the worn truth

that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hand,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even.


I don't get it.

I don't get why climate change doesn't receive more attention. I don't get why, here on the left, we haven't made it a special responsibility to get the facts out and take the lead in advocating innovation to try to mitigate climate change. I don't get why everyone (me included) just walks around like nothing is happening.

Read this. One money quote:

"As you point out, I spoke to many very sober-minded, coolly analytical scientists who, in essence, warned of the end of the world as we know it. "

This seems like a bigger deal than stuff within the world as we know it. But nothing happens. I don't get it.


Post in the manner of Brad DeLong

Pardon My Sarong, an Abbott and Costello movie, has an excellent tap-dance sequence in addition to its almost-perfect title of its type. We were advised that it would...