Movie Chat

Two "Match Point" jokes:

1. It was funnier than "Hollywood Ending".
2. Trivia: killing the girlfriend and an innocent bystander was the original ending to "Annie Hall".

Then I saw Narnia with young Master Delicious. Is Aslan Hobbes? He's an animation when he's alive and just stuffed when he's dead. What a different, and less solemn, movie that would be! The El Capitan show, featuring their mighty Wurlitzer, they have before the movie is pretty cool, also.

SPOILER: Aslan is Jesus.



Lots of comments about this post over to Crooked Timber -- is there an American empire? But there needs to be more talk about the "soft empire" -- the way America found the world brick and left it Starbucks.


Check it

I really should read the paper more often. From the LA Times:

calendarlive.com: Hollywood should rewrite own script: "Los Angeles moviegoer Leonard Kolod recently spent $9.50 for a Beverly Center showing of New Line's 'A History of Violence,' only to be bombarded by nearly a dozen advertisements and previews preceding the film. Kolod complained to Loews Cineplex, but rather than placate its customer, Loews admonished Kolod in an e-mail that ads 'have been part of the cinema experience for many years' and are necessary to offset costs as 'screen actors are now receiving upwards [of] twenty million dollar salaries per movie and the films themselves are costing over one hundred million dollars to produce.' To which the Leonard Kolods of the world will say, 'Next time, I'll wait for the DVD.'"

Emphasis added. Of course the Beverly Center theaters, as I know firsthand, are atrocious. But still -- here the theaters are, entering a time of crisis. They feel the best way out of this crisis is to shit up the experience of going to a theater. Then it's somebody else's fault that they shit up your experience.

I draw a parallel of sorts to my own medium of network TV, where, in the limited time I have been in this business, the shows have gotten about a minute shorter. In other words, the networks are so worried about you watching cable that they're giving you less of what you watch network television for. Genius! (I wouldn't mind so much if all that extra time weren't going for promos.)



Yesterday I ran into a writer friend of mine, who like me is writing a pilot.

HIM: I'm writing this, and I realize that I'm a very bad writer.
ME: I know. I feel like, at most, 70% of a man right now.

That's what the first draft is like.

But today I am starting to rewrite! And, as much as I hate writing, that's how much I like rewriting. First drafts are a pain in the ass -- they're wasteful, such a huge percentage of stuff that you know as you're writing it will never see the light of day.

But then you make your decisions about what to do with this junky pile of papers that represent the failure of your career, and indeed the failure of your character as a human person, and start rewriting and it starts to feel better. Almost everything you do is improving the script -- except for the intractable problems, like one's lack of talent. But even that, now that your mood is better, doesn't seem insurmountable.

Then what am I doing here instead of rewriting? I can't take too much good feeling, that's what.


The Meme of the Four

Via BOP and Teachout, which I haven't read lately:

Four jobs you've had: Meatroom clerk, record store clerk, temporary secretary, Executive Producer

Four movies you could watch over and over Annie Hall, Spinal Tap, Duck Soup, Godfather II

Four places you've lived: Palo Alto, Brooklyn, Hoboken, Hollywood

Four TV shows you love to watch: Simpsons, Daily Show, The Office (USA), Hockey Night In Canada, esp. "Coach's Corner"

Four places you've been on vacation: Brewster, MA, Nice, Quebec, PQ, Kona, HI

Four Websites you visit daily: Deadspin, Andrew Tobias, The Morning News, Digby

Four favorite foods: Zankou chicken, Stilton, oysters, really fresh porter

Four places you'd rather be: Saratoga Springs, NY, Paris, SBC Park (ne Pac Bell), in The New Yorker



From John Spencer's obituary in the Los Angeles Times:

"Right after he signed the contract for the pilot, his agent called again to say he'd just come across 'the best new American play' he'd ever read, called 'The Glimmer Brothers,' Spencer told The Times in 2001.

Again, it was a role that Spencer felt he couldn't pass up.

He played Martin Glimmer, a dissolute trumpet player who's about to pay the final dues of a hard life, at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts during 'The West Wing's' summer hiatus in 1999.

Two years later, he revived his well-reviewed role in 'Glimmer, Glimmer and Shine' — same play, different title — at the Mark Taper Forum while filming 'The West Wing.'"

Question, class: Who wrote this play? Who knows? Who gives a shit -- it's just the writer! This is the best new American play ever and the LA Times doesn't care to tell us who wrote it. I guess it really is a Los Angeles paper after all!

N.B. -- It was written by Warren Leight, Mrs. D and I saw it at the Taper, and agreed this morning that, while a nice enough play (and it's a great part for Spencer and he played it for all it was worth), if it's the best new American play ever that says more about the theater than about the play.


What's the matter with TV

Today we had trouble breaking episodes in the room (i.e. thinking of stories), because we didn't have our showrunner, because he was on the phone fighting off notes from the executives telling him to take out jokes from an episode we'd shot, because the jokes were be too mean.

Let us grant the incorrect premise of the executives and say that their notes would make the episode, what, 5% better. Even so, it's at the expense of the future, yet-unplanned show. That show is some unknown percentage worse, because the showrunner's energies are devoted to beating back notes.

Often executives behave as if show creators' time and energy were not zero-sum, while they make it negative-sum, by sucking the energy out of them.

Blog of the climate of the climate blogs

Let others be scared of terrorism; that's penny-ante stuff. We want to be scared of la longue duree; it's more existential-y. Thus climate change is perfect. The natural contrarian in me would love to believe that, because it's the fashion to be scared of it, it means that everyone's wrong. But I don't see the evidence.

What I have been doing is reading a bunch of climate blogs, so from time to time I will bring you a Delicious RSS (DRSS) of what I find. Today, for example, via Climate Change Blog, we have Dr. James Hansen, who's Senate testimony in 1988 was the first big alarm bell, writing in the International Herald Tribune:

The Earth's temperature, with rapid global warming over the past 30 years, is now passing through the peak level of the Holocene, a period of relatively stable climate that has existed for more than 10,000 years. Further warming of more than one degree Celsius will make the Earth warmer than it has been in a million years.

Business-as-usual scenarios, with fossil fuel (CO²) emissions continuing to increase at 2 percent per year as in the past decade, will yield additional warming of two or three degrees this century. That implies practically a different planet.

The Earth's climate is nearing, but has not passed, a tipping point beyond which it will be impossible to avoid climate change with far-ranging undesirable consequences. These include not only the loss of the Arctic as we know it, with all that implies for wildlife and indigenous peoples, but losses on a much vaster scale due to rising seas.



Words of wisdom from my son

"The cartoonier you make it, the funnier it is."

Attention holiday geeks!

Some dude has written the old Holiday Lights program, where you can put Christmas lights around the edge of your screen, for Mac OSX.

And this shall be a sign unto you!


The Cosmic Harmony Is Built On Dissonance

I've been drinking and paying bills, so the following, via BOPNews, I really "responded to" (to use current Hollywood parlance):
Think Denk: Hemiola with a Conscience:

"Now, I associate with each past piano teacher some wisdom-pearl, and John Perry was the first to express to me, so that I really heard it, the very obvious notion: how much poorer Bach would be (nothing, in fact) without the dissonances. (A pianist in master class had forgotten to tie over a crucial dissonant note). This composer, who we imagine so in touch with the cosmic harmony, such a master of musical logic and organization: the logic is built, so to speak, on a sea of contradictions, an uncountable array of types of dissonances.(Ugly, ugly dissonances!) Sometimes you hear Bach performances where these dissonances really 'speak,' and also quite often you hear them only by the way... the dissonances become like fresh herbs stirred into a stew too early, losing their flavor in the slow cooking. It is so easy to take them for granted, to forget their edge. "

Emphasis added by me, or rye whiskey, it's not clear which.


Sounds Dirtier Than It Is Dept.

BBC NEWS | Antarctica's ice bottom exposed

(Alternative title for this post: "Suck on this, Mars!")


Road q and a

Q. What kind of car should a guy drive who has a bumper sticker that says "Unlock Your Mind Through Hypnosis"?

A. An Infiniti, of course.

Ignorance and dust

I really ought to read Majikthise more:

Personally, I'm a huge believer in what Hirschman calls "ignorance and dust"--not caring about tidiness and not cultivating any special skills to produce domestic order. One of the way society controls women is by setting unrealistic bourgeois aesthetic standards and foisting them on women. One way women can resist the patriarchy is by rejecting these standards as unreasonable.

Mrs. D. and I have removed a source of domestic discord by perpetuating existing class relations and hiring a cleaning lady. But even before our cleaning-lady days, we were both slobs, so neither of us could posess the high ground to criticize. It's sort of a Mutual Assured Untidiness.

Majikthise should go further, as I do implicitly, and claim that untidiness is a sort of mark of genius -- it's the lack of cleanliness that's next to godliness. Up to a point, of course.


A link for you

Overheard in New York

UPDATE: Tried to send the HTML from my cell phone, I guess that's not possible.