Speaking of Arts & Letters

as I just was, that guy Denis Dutton used to be a loudmouthed global warming skeptic. Yet I don't see much of anything anymore supporting his position. I wonder what it is now...

Consolations of Latkes

I enjoyed this very much, but when I brought it into the room apparently some others had heard of it. Story of my life, I guess. Sample quote:

In every possible world, there is a latke. How do we know this? By discovering that it is impossible to imagine a world in which there is no latke. Try it.

First, imagine a world. Put in everything you need for a world; this is to be a whole world, not a fragment.

Now add in a latke.

Now take that latke out. It cannot be done, can it?

(Via Arts & Letters Daily)

UPDATE: I am reminded that Molly O'Neill's New York Cookbook has a funny recipe for latkes, specifiying Kitty Carlisle's version of "Beat Out That Rhythm On A Drum". Plus potatoes, of course. You can see it here.


And The Fair Land

You may not drive
A great big Cadillac
Gangster whitewalls
TV antenna in the back

You may not have
A car at all
But remember, brothers and sisters,
You can still stand tall

Just be thankful
For what you got

(diamond in the back, sunroof top,
diggin the scene with the gangsterlean, oo-ooo)


Desired iPod feature

If you're listening to a podcast or something really long, like a movement from a symphony, and then you want to listen to something else -- like William DeVaughn's "Be Thankful For What You Got" -- the iPod should be able to remember where you left off.

Maybe I should just turn this blog into "Sound Off!" items like this.



I've seen a couple of new NHL games on my TV box. Flow is better but one does wish for a little more physical play in the corners. I was watching some game where there was a nifty two-line pass, but a change that seems big to me is the way they moved the blue line out. It seems like it prevents defenses from really packing it in; it creates space, and space is something the old NHL was missing (partially because of the size of the players; I think the NBA has the same problem).


At the Hollywood bowl, by a friend of mine:

"So -- Everquest Girl is flying out to see me."

Which brings to mind my favorite snippet of overheard conversation, while I was waiting for a meeting at my agent's (stop yourself, from reading, if you've heard this before). Two fresh-faced baby agents, or possibly assistants, pass each other in the hall:

Baby agent 1: Gangsta!
Baby agent 2: What it is!

What it is. Awesome.


Another reason the LA Times stinks.

Today's Plaschke column, well-destroyed here.

It's no fun seeing the LA Times suck, to see it stink so bad it comes wrapped in itself. If they weren't famous for hounding you at home if you cancel your subscription I'd do it.

Ooh, the Food section looks good today, though.


Comment spam

Apologies for the comment spam. Right now it's easier for me just to delete them by hand (for that artisanal-blog touch) than turn on word verification. But who knows, you guys may learn something you didn't know about Cialis.

Q: "Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani?"

A: "It's in my nature."

(Inspired by Brad DeLong.)


A tiny feature of the Southern California landscape

Little old ladies with black umbrellas in the brilliant sunshine.

We lose Scheer for this


Those who defend McCain's amendment and attack Cheney and Bush feel a nice warm glow, as if they're basking in virtue, as in a hot tub, sipping Cabernet. But there is no virtue in joining a crowd, even if the crowd is right — and this one isn't.

McCain is a bona fide hero. But there's nothing courageous in standing firm with virtually the whole cultural leadership of this nation and the Western world, under any circumstances. It's too easy. To take a principled stand that you know will make people loathe and vilify you — that's what integrity, leadership and moral courage are all about. This time Cheney is the hero. McCain is taking the easy out.

(Emphasis added) Some notes:

1. Does this mean that Gelernter enjoys the "integrity, leadership, and moral courage" of al-Qaeda? Who's more loathed and villified than those guys? Oh, I know who! I forgot that Gelernter hates liberals more!

2. Don't you get the impression that Gelernter is for torture just because the rest of the Yale faculty is against it? This passage makes me think that he prefers al-Qaeda to liberals (or "liberals") -- al-Qaeda neither hot tubs, nor Cabernets, after all.

3. The hot tub-Cabernet line in general: tou-fuckin-che, dude. You nailed me. But when you're as fat as I am, you don't get into a hot tub unless everyone's been drinking, believe me.

4. If right-wing froth were in short supply I could understand why the LAT is keeping this guy and losing the left-wing froth of Scheer. But it isn't. No wonder the circulation's dwindling -- LAT management think this guy and Plaschke (and if Gelernter wrote shorter paragraphs he would be Plaschke) commit quality journalism.


Hiltzik (4)

Hear him!

Routed and pained, the Friends of Arnold will now declare that California is ungovernable. Baloney. All we know for sure is that it’s ungovernable by a blustering lout without the capacity to compromise and lacking a genuine program. Schwarzenegger doesn’t have an education policy. He doesn’t have a fiscal policy—neither a revenue plan nor a spending plan. Energy and water policies? He hasn’t even started on those.

He’s not a stupid or lazy man, but he has been a stupid and lazy governor. He doesn’t spend very much time in Sacramento, so he’s never learned the ropes. He surrounds himself with toadies who stoke his sense of entitlement and his paranoia about powerful enemies. He seems confused about the depth and origins of the opposition to his policies, because he has never met voters in their natural habitats, only on stage sets.

The Schwarzenegger tragedy is that he actually could have been a great governor. No one ever came into office boasting anything like his charisma and popularity. He was perfectly positioned to deliver home truths to the electorate—you either have to raise taxes or really cut the budget. He did neither. The turning point in his administration came two months before he was even elected, when he repudiated the observation of his own economic guru, Warren Buffett, that Proposition 13 had created too many tax inequities.

A Hollywood note: to me the difference between Reagan and Schwarzenegger is that one was an actor and the other is a star. Reagan's career was as, essentially, an employee: he was a cog in a business, one who came to sympathize with his employer no doubt, but somebody who understood he was replaceable.

Arnold is a star. There is no limit to how much his ego can be stroked, and this has been going on, for him, for 20 years. Such a man is particularly ill-suited for the messy business of governing (particularly in a state capital).


Among the many things I don't get

There are many things in life that are incomprehensible (as opposed to mysterious), and I've made my peace with that. But one thing I really don't get is "Work hard, play hard.". What's so great about that? It has "Work hard" right there up front. I'll never be an American.


What I Believe

Making television shows would be much more fun -- and the shows themselves would be better -- if all the executives still drank at lunch.