10.31.2005

Alito nomination

De feminis non curat lex.

10.30.2005

They're not wrong

I saw this article in the Wall Street Journal on Friday and it made me think of the notes process for a writer. The gist is that -- well, just see:
brains have a remarkable talent for reframing suboptimal outcomes to see setbacks in the best possible light. You can see it when high-school seniors decide that colleges that rejected them really weren't much good, come to think of it.

You can see it, too, in experiments where Prof. Gilbert and colleagues told female volunteers they would be working on a task that required them to have a likeable, trustworthy partner. They would get a partner randomly, by blindly choosing one of four folders, each containing a biography of a potential teammate. Unknown to the volunteers, each folder contained the same bio, describing an unlikable, untrustworthy person.

The volunteers were unfazed. Reading the randomly chosen bio, they interpreted even negatives as positives. 'She doesn't like people' made them think of her as 'exceptionally discerning.' And when they read different bios, they concluded their partner was hands-down superior. 'Their brains found the most rewarding view of their circumstances,' says Prof. Gilbert."

The article goes on to state that this quality is what maintains our species belief in God. But what it really reminded me of is when you get a devastating note from the network, one that requires you to rebuild an entire story, and you sit there looking at the whiteboard at your new, jerry-rigged story...and suddenly, you see all the advantages of the new way.

"They're not wrong," you say about your network masters. Oh, but they may well be. But why dwell on it?

10.27.2005

Hiltzik (3)

My favorite LA Times columnist now has a blog. Check it out.

My least favorite LA Times columnist? So many to choose from...

Reaction to the Miers withdrawl

"And always keep a hold of Nurse
For fear of finding something worse."

10.26.2005

Poor Kos

As if trying to help the Democrats isn't bad enough:

"I'm a full-time blogger, a soon-to-be author, and I am building a network of sports blogs called SB Nation which has nothing to do with politics, but I am biased toward the Cubs, A's, Bulls, Bears, and Blackhawks. "


At least Bill Wirtz doesn't head up the DNC...

10.25.2005

Schwarzenegger Bullshit Watch (18, crony division)

Mercury News:

"...an hourlong interview with the governor will soon run on the Spanish-language Univision television network, whose owner is a large Schwarzenegger donor."

What's Spanish for Sinclair?

10.24.2005

Attention Santa Monica!

Beachfront property not so valuable after all!

No Escape: Thaw Gains Momentum - New York Times:

"Those authors and many other experts have settled on the same picture of the region late this century: tundra retreats and forests spread; most sea ice disappears in late summer; coastlines wear away under the assault of wind-driven waves on waters that previously were sheathed in ice; permafrost turns to bogs; and ancient lakes that once sat atop permanently frozen ground drain like unplugged bathtubs.

Climatologists say the effects eventually could extend far beyond the sparsely populated north, contributing to climate and ocean shifts that could dry the American West and possibly slow north-flowing warm currents in the Atlantic Ocean that keep northern Europe milder than it would otherwise be.

The effects could also include a sharp increase in the rate at which seas are swelled by melting glacial ice and far greater warming as even more greenhouse gases, locked in permafrost and the Arctic seabed, are liberated by warming.

For example, American and Russian scientists studying lakes in northeastern Siberia recently reported that the melt of permafrost is generating methane, a potent greenhouse gas. In spots, so much methane is being released that roiling streams of bubbles prevent the surface from freezing even in the depths of the Siberian winter.

The most that can be expected, some climate scientists say, is to limit the human contribution to warming enough to forestall the one truly calamitous, if slow motion, threat in the far north: the melting of Greenland's ice cap.

Rising two miles high and spreading over an area twice the size of California, this vast reservoir - essentially the Gulf of Mexico frozen and flipped onto land - contains enough water to raise sea levels worldwide more than 20 feet. In recent years, the ice sheets of Greenland have been building in the middle through added snowfall but melting even more around the edges in summer. Many Greenland experts say the melting is already winning out."
I imagine that the Broadway season will be affected, as well.

Humor from the LA Times?

'Frasier' back as legal drama - Los Angeles Times:

Starts off as a regular Hollywood-news story:

How can a hit television series like "Frasier" gross $1.5 billion and yet be $200 million in the red?

That's the issue at the center of a recent lawsuit filed against Paramount Pictures by two talent agencies seeking answers to how "Frasier" — the Emmy-winning NBC sitcom starring Kelsey Grammer that ran for 11 seasons — can claim that it never turned a net profit even though it was one of the most successful shows in television history.
The joke's way down in the piece, though, after the jump. Here's the setup:

The key to unlocking the mystery of Hollywood accounting often lies in the contractual definition of net profits, according to O'Donnell, the attorney in the Buchwald case. He also noted that clout plays a key role in the way a contract is structured. If you are a star like Eddie Murphy, your contract is more favorable than someone else's further down the food chain.

And here it comes -- wait for it...
"I think talent agencies probably are on the same lowest rung of the Hollywood clout ladder as the writer," O'Donnell says

Hahahahahaha. The same as the writer! How rich! Welcome to the bottom rung, guys. The difference is that we're not surprised to be here.

10.23.2005

Shame

I let a dear friend of mine look at this blog, and I have to say I was a little embarassed at how shitty it is. Fortunately she hates her blog too.

The hope here is that, having passed through the hot fires of embarassment, I emerge tested and determined to do better. The guess here, however, is that like most embarassing things, I just try to pretend it never happened.

Oh, right, TV: Notes on pitching

I have recently been pitching stuff around town (use of the word "town" to refer to "various Los Angeles-area corporate outposts of entertainment conglomerates" being both irritating and inevitable) and offer the following random observations:

• The most important thing in pitching TV comedy apparently is this happened to me. Your buyers are hoping for a show that can run a hundred times. They don't think your great idea about lesbian gators in space, howsoever funny it might be, has a hundred episodes in it. Something about your hilarious marriage, and how your wife tells you to pick up the towels in the bathroom but you never do, that stuff generates stories every day. So unless you can convince them that lesbian gators in space happened to you, you might as well work on your "Two and a Half Men" spec, because you're not selling nothing.

• People don't laugh all that much. (Even when you control for the fact that it's my stuff.) This freaked me out at first. A more experienced writer explained why: because they're thinking hard during your pitch -- have we already committed to an pilot like this, if we did this where would it fit on the schedule, do we have deals with any actors that might fit in here, can I bear to be in business with this person, etc., etc.

• The whole process of pitching seems a little archaic to me: like, why don't we all do two-page writeups of our ideas and then they can decide? Then I realized that the trial-by-fire element is as important as the idea. The executives could be betting their careers on you (a little). So they want to put you under some pressure and see how you do. If you run a show there will be times when you have to make choices under pressure, after all. On the other hand, this can't be too effective as a weeding-out process, because there are still tons of showrunners with poor administrative skills who can't make decisions under pressure.

• I must have a couple more but I want to get this up and get the ball rolling.

10.22.2005

Spoiled Modern Baseball Fan

Game 7 of the 1975 World Series is on ESPN Classic. How come there's no box with the score and inning on it?

Seriously, they could do it. It would help.

Also, check out the red blazers on the American League umps. Choice.

10.20.2005

Noted with agreement

From Digby, on the Republican big tent:

"Wait until Big Business understands that after they get their tax cuts and deregulation they'll have to contend with a generation of creationist witch burners to sustain a first world economy. "


Of course there is the servant class to consider...

10.16.2005

The case for good grammar (guest appearance: My Secret Unicorn)

Recommended without comment is this from Alicublog.

Money graf:


At the very least good English is a civilizing hobby, like horticulture or chess[...] Making a proper sentence requires a kind of mental engineering that causes even a strongly-felt emotion, coming out of the id like a compressed jet of molten lava, to confront a divided pathway of choice, which often leads to another series of choices, and then another, etc., thereby cooling and – when it all comes together in speech or writing -- condensing the product.


I would only go on to add that this thought dovetails nicely with my pet educational hobbyhorse, a magnificent secret hobbyhorse of a kind that would only be drawn on an empty page of one's Social Studies notebook: mandatory teaching of Latin. Talk about getting an education in grammar! There's nothing like a dead language for taxonomy. This hobbyhorse is so imaginary, however, that I might as well call it my secret hobbyunicorn.

10.13.2005

Megadittos, TT

I actually own the discs that Teachout is talking about here, and I second what he says (particularly about "You're Not The Only Oyster In The Stew"):

Most anthologies of classic jazz recordings appear to have been put together on the how-could-they-possibly-have-left-that-one-out principle, but the aptly named The Quintessence: New York-Camden-Los Angeles 1929-1943 (Frémeaux & Associés FA 207, two CDs) really is just as advertised, containing thirty-six unerringly chosen tracks that comprise between them the quintessence of Fats Waller as both singer and pianist. If you can listen to “Baby Brown,” “Sweet and Slow,” or “You’re Not the Only Oyster in the Stew” without breaking out in an ear-to-ear smile, you might as well button up your hair shirt and stick to Machaut or Tori Amos. God didn’t mean for you to be happy.

10.12.2005

Explore his web links? Sign me up!

I know I shouldn't pick on TimesSelect, because that's the fashionable pose, and usually I prefer to try to be early for the backlash. (Plus I pay good money for the WSJ, so it feels hypocritical.) But I can't resist when I see this enticement on the Op-Ed page:

"Paul Krugman: Money Talks Explore the columnist's lists of web links and read a recent Q&A with readers"

I get to see what Paul Krugman is linking to? And it's only 50 dollars? I'm sorry if I got shoe prints on your nice jacket but I don't care who or what I step over to sign up!

I'm late to the party

I'm sure, but I'm enjoying the increasing use of the word "fucktard." (Here, for example, but elsewhere too.)

10.11.2005

Random baseball thought

Everyone talks about Red Sox Nation all the time, yet I feel like I never hear about Cubs Nation. Is that because Cub fan-itude is less about nationalism and more about a way of life? Is the nation that Cub fandom most resembles Provence? Do we need to send Peter Mayle into those bleachers?

Okay, back to work.

10.09.2005

I'm back

And I have made more work for myself, so the posting will be sub-trickle.

Nice to see hockey, though.

No one blogs about what is truly significant.

In the Arts and Leisure section for God's sake:

The pump operator's story reflects a spirit of civic responsibility that rallied in humble quarters like these when Hurricane Katrina roared through the Gulf Coast, soon to be followed by Hurricane Rita. At the same time, it illustrates the degree to which the once-solid foundations of that system have become an illusion. For decades now, we have been witnessing the slow, ruthless dismantling of the nation's urban infrastructure. The crumbling levees in New Orleans are only the most conspicuous evidence of this decline: it's evident everywhere, from Amtrak's aging track system to New York's decaying public school buildings.[...]

The great American cities of the early 20th century were built on the vision of its engineers, not just architects. That spirit can be found in the aqueduct that William Mulholland built in the 1910's, transforming the parched Los Angeles desert into a sprawling urban oasis. And it paved the way for the soaring skylines of Chicago and Manhattan architects.In New Orleans, that vision was embodied not by the ornate facades of the French Quarter but by elaborate networks of pump stations, levees and drainage canals that transformed a quiet 19th-century town into a modern metropolis - one of the great engineering accomplishments of the 20th century."

[...]Today, the true descendants of these visionaries are more likely to be working in the Netherlands or Spain than in a major American city. Bilbao, for example, may have gained cultural cachet from the success of its Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum. Yet the strongest evidence of the city's enlightened planning is the enormous investment it made in a new high-tech subway system designed by the British architect Norman Foster. It's hard to imagine a similar undertaking in an American city today, especially when the federal government seems more concerned about doling out private contracts than reversing decades of neglect. The challenge we face is not just about infrastructure. It's about reknitting the connective tissue that binds us into a functioning society. This cannot be accomplished by retreating into a haze of denial; what's needed is an honest acknowledgment of what's brought us here. New Orleans was a warning.


Indeed, the anti-city people have run roughshod over the rest of us, to America's detriment, for too long. I blame air conditioning, and Thomas Jefferson.