Lone Emmy comment

Because I'm going out of town for one last bit of vacation before school thank God starts -- I note that the New York Times, an enterprise entirely staffed by writers, refuses to put them on their list of award winners.

At least we're better paid that those 43rd Street fucks. But I ask them: do actors read the New York Times? Actually, they do, and probably more thoroughly than writers because they have more downtime -- but you see my point, it's a violation of geek solidarity.

This never would have happened if Will Shortz were alive.

When The Levees Broke

Mrs. D. and I watched the first part of "When The Levees Broke" last night off the Tivo. Of course its outrageous in the sense of outrage-making: the DNC should mail copies of this movie to likely voters. And I don't have more to say about it outside of what Digby and Frank Rich have to say today -- except that aesthetically, Spike Lee has a great ear. And I never quite realized it, because my default position is that Spike Lee the director is ill-served by Spike Lee the writer. But here, the people interviewed are really alive and talk memorably -- credit to them, of course, and being New Orleanians they have a sense of persona, but Spike brings it out and knows what to leave in. And, when you think about it, actors almost always seem really alive in Spike Lee movies, however ridiculous they might be at times. It's funny, but for a famous dude, Spike Lee may not get enough credit.


Fight on! (for profit)

This has been blogged elsewhere, but you can't make too much of a fooferaw about this Boing Boing post, where Cory Doctorow discovers:

'USC's purpose is to promote and foster the creation and lawful use of intellectual property.'
If so, there's going to be a lot of pissed-off alumni -- unless USC is defining Pete Carroll's nickel package as "intellectual property."

And if you say, "Hey, isn't the purpose of a university to foster knowledge?", I can only reply, "HEY GRANDPA! YOUR CHILDREN ARE HERE TO SEE YOU!"

Jesus not chick magnet, say churchgoers

Everyone should be stuck at a Starbucks with a New York Times because you picked something up at the frame store in the wrong car and had to have one's wife go back and get the bigger car, because you can read stories like this, about how Christians don't like women talking to them:

"The Rev. Dottie Escobedo-Frank, pastor of Crossroads United Methodist Church in Phoenix, said that at every church where she has served, people have told her they were leaving because she is a woman.

At a large church where she was an associate pastor, a colleague told her that when she was in the pulpit, he could not focus on what she was saying because she is a woman. A man in the congregation covered his eyes whenever she preached."
I'm quite fond of crazy old Jesus myself, but at times like these I really do wish he were all-powerful.

LA: The Counter

I like the Counter, in Santa Monica, (and I would be interested in Digby's take on it since it's about six blocks from his PO Box) but going national? I dunno. Sounds like the birth of an OOs-era Johnny Rockets, if you ask me. I'm with the LA Biz Observed dude:

Frankly, I still don't get it - jotting down the toppings you want on a pad (there are 300,000 possible combinations, but does anyone ever choose dried cranberries?), and then waiting in line to place your order, and then waiting some more to get an open table, and then waiting quite a while longer before the adorned burger finally arrives. It's a very good burger, but waaay more trouble than it's worth.
Blow off the line, people -- go to Gary's down the street for a nothing-fancy burger but nice, well-done, freshly fried fries. Oprah hasn't ruined that place yet.


Hey Virginia Postrel

You are most certainly welcome to abet your "sense of place" by planting a palm tree. As for me, I'm glad the city's not planting them anymore -- the dead branches fall from a great height onto your car, forcing you to drive your now-dented car to another outpost of LA's "cultural, historical, and experiential identity," the goddam body shop.

Drinking: We're #23?

Via LA Observed, I find out that LA is the 23rd drinkingest city in America -- ahead of New Orleans! And I say, really? New Orleans? I mean, LA must be way way ahead in sad people drinking alone, plus Lindsay Lohan, but even so.

Oh, well. I'd have a drink to celebrate, but I gotta drive.

Apple grousing

How did I find out I had a potentially explosive battery on my Powerbook? From Boing Boing. Thanks, guys! That's a sincere "thanks" to Boing Boing and a sarcastic thanks to Apple. Yes, sarcastic! And not just regular sarcasm -- balls-out sarcasm.

(I enjoy Apple products and have used them my entire career, even kicking up a fuss when everyone else on a staff used Windows. But a company can make good products and be rapacious dicks at the same time. Not everyone has to be Microsoft and emphasize the latter at the expense of the former.)

"Oh, really?"Department, or A Dumb Obvious Headline That's Dumber And Obviouser When You Realize That The Newspaper Is Based In Los Angeles.

Money Is the Real Star in Hollywood - Los Angeles Times

Politics: Living in the future

Am wanting to point out this little note from Gristmill:

By around 2045, there will be nine billion people on the planet.

Now, I don't want to start one of the interminable debates about population that exercise the environmental community and bore everybody else.

It's just a fact of note that a world with 9 billion homo sapiens on it is fundamentally different than one with a billion on it.

So the obvious answer to the question of "how should 9 billion human beings best organize their collective affairs?" is:

No. One. Knows.
(The overdramatic punctuation, which communicates the gravity of the situation, is in the original.) Everything is demographics (so the executives tell me) and how we are going to keep all of us watered, plus figuring out what we are going to burn to cook our food etc., and what happens after we burn the stuff -- well, there better be some awesome engineers in that nine billion. Sewage engineers, particularly. That's going to be an awesome amount of shit in 2045, although per capita I think the record might still be held by those gilded age robber barons.


What I did last night

I went to Largo to see Jill Sobule and Julia Sweeney -- Jill Sobule sings about two-thirds of a song and then Julia Sweeney comes in and tells a story related to the song, then they finish the song. It's very entertaining and you almost forget how bad the food is at Largo. It's so direct, in a way, that it seems old-fashioned, unironic, but still funny.

They're doing two more shows, and one in New York in October, so hit it, if you can.

Jokes only comedy writers like

I picked up my free Onion (my first one in LA, I think), and I see that they now have fake editorial cartoons. It's not online, sadly, and I'm not going to describe it, but it's basically a parody of over-earnest editorial cartooning -- not quite drawing the world with a bomb-fuse on top and captioning it, "The Current Situation?", but close.

I enjoyed it, and then I thought, that's only for comedy people. You can probably spend time in a lot of rooms making fun of lame editorial cartoons. But it's a fairly obscure thing to parody, and it's so hard to make intentionally lame humor land, that I can't believe this feature is very popular, even among the sophisticated readership of The Onion.

On the other hand, sometimes your private comedy obsessions turn out to be popular. I was thrilled in "Anchorman" when Will Farrell played jazz flute -- jazz flute being something that always struck me as being really weird, but when are you going to get an opportunity to even bring it up?

A joke I can't use

Classical radio stations giving themselves a name the way pop stations do -- you know, like "The Beat," or "The Source," or even "The Blimp" (which a friend of mine once listened to in Maine).
Like, (ROCK DJ VOICE): "You're listening to Classical 91.5 -- The Benefactors Circle."


Fuck you back

Stage 24 @ Paramount. (Via Defamer)

UPDATE: I was narcissistically looking at SiteMeter and someone looked up this blog because they Googled the word "fuck". Real mature!


Politics: Bill Keller's job

Check out the rube who writes this to the public editor of the New York Times:

"Mr. Keller’s job — specifically noted in our Constitution as a key safeguard of our democracy — is to provide accurate information to allow informed citizens to vote responsibly for the well-being of our country."
Sorry, pal. Mr. Keller's job is to run the chief revenue-producing entity for the New York Times Company. The New York Times Company would like very much to be a national paper, and has no doubt noticed that there's a lot of Fox News consumers among the news-consuming audience in our country. That's who they're chasing.

The Times broke the Pentagon Papers case at a time when they were so sure of their primary, Upper West Side-type audience that they didn't even bother to produce a decent metro section. Those days are gone.

Politics: Life during inequality

So Paul Krugman talks about how our politics have caused a great amount of inequality.
Brad DeLong disagrees. His commenters disagree with him. I'm with his commenters -- and, further, not only have our wealthy/elite folks decided to grab all they can, they've trashed the res publica in the process. (Although, as the very first commenter notes, "complacency at the bottom" plays a role too.) Worth reading for the comments.


For you NHL fans

Here's something kind of cool:

It can be found here.


The fix is in

In our house the family gathers round on Wednesday nights to watch Project Runway -- vaguely unAmerican viewing, I know, but at least we're gathered round the TV, right? And like these commenters I can only say that the fix is in. Not that the fix isn't always in -- that's what they tell you right up front -- but one expects a little more finesse from fashion people.


Wolcott lies!

He writes:

Now that I've found it, I can't believe I have tumbled over Comics Curmudgeon before, given my own low-grade obsession with For Better or Worse and fascinatingly unfunny and badly scrawled strips like Girls and Sports and One Big Happy.

The obsession must be low-grade indeed if he can't get the title right. I suspect he doesn't even know they celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving in it.

One Big Happy blows, though. I think we can all agree on that.



Via Our Girl In Chicago I notice that it is Philip Larkin's birthday.

She links to a rare happy poem, "Coming". As an old ad copywriter I'll link to the characteristically grumpy "Essential Beauty".

Kerry summarized

By David Roberts is Gristmill: "He always sounds like he's imitating JFK, but the flop sweat shows, even in print."


Clearing out the NetNewsWire...

• Ethanol is the thirsty fuel, another reason to cock the eyebrow at it. Also, the Engineer-Poet tears hydrogen a new one.

The Coast Starlight sucks. However, I can tell you firsthand it's not so sucky northbound, from LA. Take the train northbound up the coast and fly/drive/anything else southbound.

• I missed Mixology Monday. Here 'tis.

PC v. Mac spoof

If I've seen it, I'm sure everyone has seen it, but viaLAist, here's a little YouTube fun.

Oh, also this.



While driving on Beverly just now I saw an ad for some The Rock movie called "Gridiron Gang". Gridiron? Really? Isn't that a little...Fielding "Hurry Up" Yost? Maybe that's what the kids are saying - maybe "swell" is making a comeback, maybe kids are calling each other "gate" again, I dunno.

But if The Rock were in a baseball movie they probably wouldn't have called it "Horsehide Heavies".


Word! (Vaguely Mel Gibson related)

From the LA Times's TV Blog:

"Instead, Gibson’s lackluster small-screen adventures point to the liabilities inherent in the TV industry’s lazy and toadying reliance on movie stars, even when those stars don’t seem particularly inclined to do much heavy lifting beyond making sure their name in the title credits appears as big as contractually specified (in TV industry lingo, this is known as “the non-writing producer,” a euphemism that grudgingly acknowledges the writer-creator’s central role in a television show’s destiny). Typically, this is a state of affairs to which no one’s impolitic enough to object, unless there’s a Problem That Can’t Be Ignored.

One season and out
Networks are forever hoping that stars-turned-producers will lend wattage to a series, maybe coaxing those promo-proof folks at home to tune in. That’s why, for instance, to promote its fall drama “Ugly Betty” ABC last month trotted executive producer Salma Hayek before TV critics in Pasadena.

The inconvenient truth, though, is that a star’s involvement behind the camera has little if any bearing on a TV series’ success. (Even with series that exist purely as vehicles for big stars, the results are often discouraging, as bombs like NBC’s “Whoopi” and CBS’ “Bette” proved.) TV is not film. The auteur theory does not apply. What elevates a drama or comedy is week after week of strong storytelling and performances, not the token participation of a celebrity producer or director."

My only quibble is that the auteur theory may apply even more than in film, because you need to have a strong goddamn vision of what your show is or the network will note it into pudding. The difference is that it doesn't have to be one person who has the vision. Also, frankly, the network will probably note it into pudding anyhow.


Much to read today on my NetNewsWire, which I can't use well enough to post out of (I have to switch to Firefox):

• At The Battle of California, a cute drawing of the NHL's Pacific Division by the prolific Earl Sleek;

• Via Martini Republic, I see where Jack Shafer is taking Marty Peretz to task over his use of $10 words. All to the good, but I would carve out an exception for "ultramontane", which Shafer, perhaps deliberately, interprets literally. "Ultramontanes" are those more Catholic than the pope, the paleos, the people (like my Latin teacher in high school), who thought Vatican II was the work of the Communists. Surely there's a place for that word. Plus it sounds nice.

• Billmon, our cheerful prophet of doom, refers to an old post which ends thus:

What it may need is a new population (or half of a population, anyway), one that hasn't been stupified or brainwashed into blind submission, that won't look upon sadistic corruption and call it patriotism, and that will refuse to trade the Bill of Rights for a plastic Jesus and a wholly false sense of security.
And I, with my Tory, ultramontane bent, tend to agree.


Sports: Waiver wire

Someone still needs to write a long piece about baseball waivers cause I still don't get it. This piece (it's at the end) is in the long Murray Chass tradition of being unhelpful.



The LA Times has terrible design, and their decision to cut their Saturday Sports section letters was a terrible one, but they do run the good long pieces. The ocean series was great (and depressing), and this GW piece is also great -- and depressing, in that it shows what shitheads we are:

"The survey of 1,478 adults, conducted over five days ending Tuesday, revealed a growing awareness of global warming. More than seven in 10 said it was a serious problem, and 58% said the Bush administration was doing too little to reduce it.

Three-quarters said they had cut back on household spending or taken steps to conserve energy in response to rising energy costs. Forty-five percent said they approved of oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska; 51% opposed it.

Less than 10% said the government should mandate stricter mileage standards to reduce reliance on foreign oil, whereas 52% said the government should invest in alternative energy sources such as wind and solar power. (An additional 3% volunteered that the government should take both those measures and more.) And to cut carbon dioxide emissions linked to global warming, 56% favored market incentives to develop new technology, compared with 11% in favor of capping emissions from vehicles and businesses; 12% volunteered that the government should do both, and 15% said the government did not need to do anything more."

I know, I know, a lot of this is due to the false-choice way pollsters ask their questions. But the idea that people know what's causing the problem and yet unwilling to do anything about it -- well, it just makes you say "shitheads," is what it does.

You know who aren't shitheads? The guys who did this.


And the problem is?

O'Reilly (via Media Matters:

"But there comes a point where the media and individual Americans start to enjoy the suffering of rich and powerful people."
I don't see what the hell's wrong with that. Isn't it a nice change from enjoying the suffering of Middle Easterners?

I like this

From The Washington Note:

....has sent private signals to Senator Hillary Clinton and other stalwarts of the party that he 'would like to' step down from his post in early 2009....Reid is offering Senator Hillary Clinton is his total, robust support to succeed him as Senate Majority Leader if she elects not to pursue the Democratic nomination for President."
Reid denies this, but I think it'd be a great idea. I think Hilary could be a great senator, the first lioness in the Senate ever. (Boxer's more like a tigress or something.) But, as with most great senators, I don't think her talents would travel well to the executive branch. Don't run, Hillary, don't run!

Global warming beer

Via Boing Boing, of course, this article about a Danish brewery that uses melted glacier water to make beer.

The rule is to stop drinking when your blood-alcohol level is greater than the average rise in sea surface temperature. And remember -- you don't buy the by-product of a global climatic catastrophe -- you rent it, am I right?


Notes on gin

Those souses at Martini Republic blog on an MSNBC article on "the perfect gin-and-tonic". Money quote:

Don’t start, therefore, by trying to make “the perfect gin and tonic,” a silly marketing ploy pandering to the natural uncertainties Americans have about alcohol. Let’s have no pressure here! This is a drink, not—work!

No. Start your midsummer by making a barely acceptable gin and tonic.

Make it tall, with a real gin like Plymouth, Calvert, or Beefeater. Sip it slowly. There is plenty of time to drink it.

Good advice. Except that I don't like Plymouth, my favorite martini gin, for gin-and-tonics. The very smoothness that makes it lovely in a martini (and it will change your mind about martinis, as it did mine), makes it inadequate to the sweet bubbly tonic. It's as if Cary Grant had been cast in "Night of the Hunter."

I got a bottle of Miller's gin from some friends of mine and the effect was just the opposite -- hated it in martinis, it had an excess of personality, as if the gin itself had had too many martinis. But it stands up to tonic. Once I use up that bottle, though, I'm not getting it again. In general it's not worth ponying up more for gin if you're just going to use it with tonic, I think. Beefeater's -- which I'm glad to see M.R. single out, because I think Tanqueray/Bombay snobs look down on it -- is perfectly fine. Even Gordon's, which is what I'm drinking now, is acceptable.

My father likes rum-and-tonics, too, after his tennis. This might be too sweet for some, but with a ruddy squeeze of lime once in a while I think he's on to something.

Thanks to wifi I'm on my back porch in the cool California night. It is summer and I'm drinking a gin-and-tonic. The piper is to be paid, but not yet. God is good. It is a beautiful night.