11.29.2006

More on vices

No smoking in Atlantic City? What will obscure people's views of all the urban degredation?

This is not what I should be reading first thing in the morning.

Rye! Rye whiskey!

In some ways, these are indeed awesome times for me.

11.28.2006

Cleaning out my net news wire...

Gin! I love gin and disdain vodka, which I really is fussy and fusty and stuff. But gin has flavor -- I always suspect vodka drinkers of just wanting to get shitfaced, which privleges the destination over the journey. The other thing I like about this post is that it delicately implies that Bombay Sapphire is shit. My own prefs, as noted, are Plymouth for martinis, Tanqueray for G&Ts (although really anything not store brand will do).

• The cranky people at Martini Republic are starting to sound like right-wing talk radio. Dig:

Yes, the City Council that tried to bilk you of a billion dollars for an Afforable Housing Bond that would only make housing more expensive thinks that palm trees are the enemy of Los Angeles.
This is a "midnight basketball"-type argument, I think -- "the same people who want you to pay for midnight basketball think that global warming is a problem!" Also, palm trees suck (this is one liberal whose car has been mugged by a palm tree).

Tommy Smothers hates Bill Cosby. I think you have to be my age or older to care. Still:
He didn't have the balls to do it when I was looking. He slipped behind Hefner and sucker-punched me.

Streetwise

I keep thinking I will write to Digby and offer to buy him a burger at the Corner on Ocean Park since that's where his P.O. Box is. (Or Gary's, which I secretly like better. But you can drink beer at the Corner.) And I'm again picking up what he's laying down lately. In this here post he makes the following point:

I would actually posit that the real problem is the liberal punditocrisy which reflexively rejects anything that is tainted by its association with grassroots populist sentiment.
I have two thoughts.

1) What could be more grassroots populist than the phrase "I would actually posit"? Nothing. None more populist. Maybe, "I would aver," but that's about it.

2) The Democratic Party is successful when it's in touch with the street. That has been true since Tammany and even before. Even if the street is a Wal-Mart parking lot, the Democrats have to represent that street or they have no reason to exist. Accordingly, the liberal punditocracy exists to serve the streetwise Democratic party, not the other way round. FDR was in the same class as the pundits of his day, but he knew that Jim Farley et al. were buttering his bread, and that the Brain Trust was there to be used post-bread-buttering. Whatever else you can say about Kos, he gets it (perhaps because he's a veteran, another form of street wisdom).

11.27.2006

More sports

This man is unhinged. He's unhinged because he thinks big-time college football, with the BCS and everything, is unfair. The BCS makes college football unfair? I much prefer college football to the NFL, but, like a fine cheese, its consumption is made more palatable because of the air of corruption.

Besides, college football is entertaining and stuff, but do your really need to know who the best football team is? I suppose you do, if you are:

1) a car dealer in Tallahassee, Florida, or
2) 19 years old.

And, in either case, drunk. Honestly, now: wouldn't a playoff system be boring? Isn't the Final Four kind of boring? (It's only the first two rounds of that tournament that are interesting.)

• Speaking of aesthetics, I direct the sports fan's attention to this book. From the review:

Gumbrecht rails against political and sociological interpretations: "Counter to many academic (and highly incompetent) "readings" of sports, athletic competitions do not express anything, and therefore do not offer anything to read." ...Gumbrecht traces this reluctance to praise sports to the Enlightenment legacy of criticism: a "reduction in the range of permissible discourses" that makes praise (especially of sports) not just unfashionable, but a reversion to pre-enlightenment intellectual values. So in addition to developing an aesthetic of sport, "In praise of athletic beauty" is a critique of class privilege in declaring what may be claimed in the name of "culture" or "art"... His goal is to "lay open the complexity of sports" as a music critic does with music.
I'm down.

• Speaking of highly incompetent readings of sport, Peter King wakes up and smells the triple-latte:
The NFL on TV is one giant commercial interrupted by football.


Sweetheart, get me rewrite!

Tarzan want to know

Why Versus (ne OLN) no show CBC feed of Hockey Night In Canada? Or show hockey on Saturday, make Saturday Hockey Night in U.S.?

Tarzan just asking.

(P.S.: Tarzan also want to know why Delicious no know how to put diacriticals in posts.)

Climate: so crazy it just might work department

If I were a rich dude I could hire someone to read this post by the Engineer-Poet and tell me whether it's crackpot, visionary, or both. Here's the skinny:Anyway, it's supposed to solve all our carbon-generation problems. Unless this does! (Giant magnifying glasses -- I mean, "Concentrated Solar Power" -- in the Sahara.)

While I can't assess the validity of ideas like this, they do keep my pessismism over climate change to going to full-on, Bill McKibben-meets-commenter-at-the-Oil-Drum run for your lives mode.

UPDATE: More on the mirrors (or is it? As I confess in comments, I'm out of my depth) here.

Bits'n'pieces Monday

Really the next series of posts will be cleaning out my NNW, but I'll try to segregate them by topic...maybe. I'd like to start by agreeing with Joshua Fruhlinger on newspapers' anti-comics attitude:

Print circulation at American newspapers is in free-fall, and editorial space continues to shrink. The shriveling of the comics is another symptom of a disease metastasizing throughout the newspaper business.

But maybe one reason readers are fleeing print is because the papers don't give them enough reason to believe print is anything special. Few comics fans would dispute that the funnies look best on paper, or that reading the comics in newsprint over breakfast is a pleasing ritual. Going back to the childhood of the modern newspaper business — in the graphically rich Hearst and Pulitzer papers of the early 20th century — one of the main attractions was always the Sunday morning treat of page after vibrant page of full-color comics. But when was the last time an interesting-looking comics page caught your eye, let alone invited you to a full-spectrum visual feast?
Newspapers are probably dying, but they're hastening it by having an anti-content attitude. It's hard to read any newspaper (any broadsheet, anyway) and not get the feeling that their main objective is to calm you down, to make sure you're not that excited about the story they're going to tell you.

My son likes the comics, when he reads them, but I don't really push them on him because they're hard to find; and on Sundays, the LA Times buries them under all the ads, even covering the section up with an ad you have to remove. Screw that; if the LA Times doesn't care about its content, why should I?

The parallels with the network business, and their glee with changing the content-ad ratio to the detriment of content, should be obvious.

11.22.2006

And the fair land

I'm a sucker for recurring things like the And the fair land editorial the WSJ publishes every year on the day before Thanksgiving. This year's money quote (even though it was written in 1961):His [the "traveller's"; perhaps it was overwritten in 1961] countrymen cannot forget the savage face of war. Too often they have been asked to fight in strange and distant places, for no clear purpose they could see and for no accomplishment they can measure.

On the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, no less! Anyway, I have my own tradition, and it involves William DeVaughn:

Though you may not drive
A great big Cadillac
Gangsta whitewalls
A 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...

11.21.2006

Cleaning out my net news wire...

• Some climate stuff: We are all fucked (Warning: unsafe levels of whimsicality). Also this:

If new rules ultimately impose controls on emissions, environmentalists say, TXU seems to be betting that restrictions will not apply to plants that are already up and running; environmental groups say that TXU’s ambitious coal construction plan is intended to be built and running before any new rules go into effect.
On the other hand this is reasonably good news.

• From a Variety e-mail I got: ""Snakes on a Plane" director David Ellis won't helm a film if he's not allowed to surf during the shoot. " Sleep well, Robert Altman: the medium is in good hands.

• Franklin Avenue says that the LA Times might be getting better. I think so too. They have an LAUSD columnist, which they should have had ages ago. If they would print letters to the sports editor every day (my single favorite thing in the paper), I would be even happier.

• Finally, Every Day Should Be Saturday interviews Michael Lewis. My favorite quote:
[EDSBS]: What sort of inefficiencies as a whole do you see in the college system? You mention that college football is a black market–what are some other inefficiencies you see?

ML: I’ll tell you my favorite. It’s a sociological one. One of the big problems in our country is the presence of ghettos. Inner-city America is a large, growing, festering social problem, and it’s being cordoned off from the rest of society. There’s a brief moment when the most dangerous people in this environment–18-22 year old men with a talent for violence on the football field–come in contact with the broader culture. And the broader culture of rich white businessmen take a real interest in them.

Yet we’ve created a system that prevents those two groups from having anything meaningful to do with each other. It’s called the NCAA. If the rich white businessman so much as buys lunch for one of these poor black kids, it’s a violation. So the only way the relationship occurs is illicitly and out of sight.

There’s a huge social opportunity–instead of saying these boosters can’t do anything to make these kids want to play football for their school–instead of saying that, say just the opposite. Let’s take this brief moment in these kids’ lives when the broader society is interested in them and cultivate it. Say you have to have these relationships, you have to be mentored, you have to have jobs in the offseason, so they have when it’s over and there’s no future in professional football they have the kind of connections a white kid has to get on. That strikes me as a grotesque inefficiency of the current system.
• As to Michael Richards, all I could say is, "oy, actors."

11.19.2006

Cleaning out my net news wire...

More writing someday, I promise, but I owe so much writing to my corporate masters...

This Houston janitor stuff needs more air.

(((If we simply returned to the security situation status quo ante on 9/10 instead of 9/11, it would be like the civilized world suddenly got over a massive, self-inflicted stupidity virus. Furthermore, we'd be a lot safer.))) (Via Boing Boing

"Joyce Carol Oates" wants Shea Hillebrand for MVP.

• Final sports note: A Michigan-Ohio State rematch means that it doesn't mean anything to win your conference. I thought Nebraska 2000 taught us that was a bad idea.

11.16.2006

Little-known fact

The guy who invented the high-five? Gay dude.

Fun with the Writers' Guild Awards

An errata e-mail crosses my in-box:

“Reba” ... should not have been included in the DRAMATIC SERIES category; “Reba” is eligible in the COMEDY SERIES category.

“The Shield”...was inadvertently listed in both the DRAMATIC SERIES and COMEDY SERIES categories. It is a DRAMATIC SERIES...
Chiklis does look a little funny with the shaved head, though, come on.

11.15.2006

Busy

I have to get this pilot done, I'm afraid, but until I return please enjoy this movie of Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer chasing fried chicken.

11.13.2006

Sitcom food

I can, from long experience, assure the reader that this is true, except that there is also sometimes ice cream. Remember Jim Broadbent in "Bullets Over Broadway"? That's what we turn into.

I once worked on a hit show, and a friend of mine came on staff after having been on a succession of non-hits. At our first table read, he took one look at the craft service table and said, "Now I know I'm on a hit." (There were cupcakes, I think, at 10 in the morning.)

Actually the food isn't as plentiful as it used to be back in the day, and now the studio nickel-and-dimes you, like they won't pay for writers' meals in pre-production -- unless, again, you're on a hit. It's not unreasonable, really. But some studios won't pay for Starbucks runs -- for God's sake, that's a drug we need to write!

True-life experience of someone burned by Borat

At Tobias's.

11.11.2006

November 11

The War in the Air
by Howard Nemerov

For a saving grace, we didn't see our dead,
Who rarely bothered coming home to die
But simply stayed away out there
In the clean war, the war in the air.

Seldom the ghosts come back bearing their tales
Of hitting the earth, the incompressible sea,
But stayed up there in the relative wind,
Shades fading in the mind,

Who had no graves but only epitaphs
Where never so many spoke for never so few:
Per ardua, said the partisans of Mars,
Per aspera, to the stars.

That was the good war, the war we won
As if there was no death, for goodness's sake.
With the help of the losers we left out there
In the air, in the empty air.


(A whole bunch of poems about war here.)

A plan for climate change

Here. Note that it's British -- where Monbiot says "coach," we would say "mustard," for example. (That "lorry" is a British term for "one of our dollars" is one of my favorite joke tropes.) Looking it over it seems like life would be very different (he proposes banning incandescent lightbulbs, for example, also new roads) but it wouldn't be that very different, unless you fly a lot.

Second-order quoting

Ellen Willis, via The Rest Is Noise:

...far from being a grass-roots art form that has been taken over by businessmen, rock itself comes from the commercial exploitation of blues. It is bourgeois at its core, a mass-produced commodity, dependent on advanced technology and therefore on the money controlled by those in power. Its rebelliousness does not imply specific political content; it can be — and has been — criminal, fascistic, and coolly individualistic as well as revolutionary. It can simply be a more pleasurable way of surviving within the system, which is what the pop sensibility has always been about.
Maybe I really respond to this because I work in TV, for which this is true squared. Actually I feel this way about all art; we think it elevates but it doesn't necessarily; think of the moment in "Schindler's List" where the Nazis have busted into a house and one of them plays Bach. Art is against the market, or alongside of it, and in this day and age that's a useful corrective. But that doesn't mean you know what it's for.

Also, Alex Ross has been blogging his ass off. Example here and here.

"As an X, N is a great Y"

A bunch of formulae over at Language Log. I'm really tired of #5 on the list.

11.08.2006

Ah, Yard Work

It's actually better than baseball, I think.

Dems take house

When does my abortion coupon come?

11.06.2006

Exactly!

I like Billmon, but I have only been saying this about the New York Times until I'm tired of hearing myself saying it (which means, twice, probably):

Note this key quote from Halperin's recent appearance on Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor. It pretty much lays bare the motivation behind the kowtowing:
"As an economic model, if you want to thrive like Fox News Channel -- [if] you want to have a future -- you better make sure conservatives find your product appealing." [Emphasis added.]

This is about moving product, not producing good journalism.

I don't think I've ever heard it put quite so bluntly -- except, maybe, by Ruth Brown:

�If I can't sell it, I�m gonna sit on it. Why should I give it away?"

An endorsement we can all get behind

Gatling-Dubois.

So many votes, so few people who care

Real work and a visit from my parents will force radio silence for a time, but I thought I'd share my ballot before I go:

Governor: Angelides. I'm not too enthusiastic about it. And Schwarzenegger's such a good bullshit artist (really like W.J. Clinton) that I don't think he'll make a conservative mis-step again. But four years of business writing regulations...I don't like it.

Other state offices: Whatever. Probably the Democrat. Haven't I voted for Garamendi for like twelve different offices already?

Senator: Todd Chretien, the Green. Partly because I'm in a French-Canadian mood, partly because I think the loony left deserves a little more play, but mostly because I don't like voting sitting Senators third terms. That's just one of my bizarre sets of political principles.

Props: Yes to the Prop 1 series, except for 1A, because I don't like voters determining the tax code. That's what a legislature is for. In my Tory way, I dislike initiatives in general: Hence no to 86 (tobacco tax, plus I dislike anti-tobaccoism), and, yes, 87. I'm tempted to vote for 87, and might change my mind at the booth, but ultimately, even though I'm in favor of raising the gas tax, I think the money should have gone either in A) the general fund or B) to offset the Vehicle License Fee. Yes on 89, though; if we can get some of the money out of the campaigns I can watch the World Series in peace.

The LA propositions require more research (=cursory research). I'm inclined to vote "no," though. I'm always inclined to vote "no."

Je suis un bloguor

Eric McErlain, the lord of the hockey blogosphere, was interviewed by La Presse in Montreal, and offers Google translation of the the articles here and here. I know it's fish in a barrel, but I still liked reading the translated La Presse articles with a French accent in my head:

While large newspapers like NewYork Times and the L.A. Times put the axe in their cover of hockey, the blogists of hockey push like mushrooms in the fertile compost of the Web.

Gradually, they are being made a place, nested between the sites of the traditional media and the forums of discussion which preceded them. Several are animated by fans see for example Battle of Alberta (battleofalberta.blogspot.com), where the partisans of Flames and Oilers are given some to heart joy, without much claim with objectivity.

Attention entertainment executives! The secret of "Borat"!

No notes.

11.05.2006

Improving the robocall idea

We all know that the Republican robocalls are a superbrillant idea -- but I have a way to "plus" it, if you will:

They should have had the guy calling pretending to be a Democratic campaign worker use a super-faggy voice -- or in Tennessee, a super-black voice (super-Jewy, I mean "New York," would have worked as well). In Arizona, super-Hispanic.

I know, you can't believe the Republicans missed a chance to be racist either. Maybe that's why they're losing their edge.

Cleaning out my net news wire...

• There's a long Digby post on neocons and how they're full of shit, but the thing that jumped out at me is that they are pussies:Adelman was so happy that he burst into tears at the door of the vice president's residence that Sunday. He hugged Cheney for the first time in the 30 years he had known him.

• Drinking: More on the virtues of Plymouth Gin (although a more Londony gin is better for G&Ts, even a more of-the-people brand like Gordon's).

• Hurry, everyone! Shit up the environment before it's too late!

• A Sunday atheistical sermon:

Yes,I did have an epiphany. I saw with greater clarity than ever before in my life that when I say "Thank goodness!" this is not merely a euphemism for "Thank God!" (We atheists don't believe that there is any God to thank.) I really do mean thank goodness! There is a lot of goodness in this world, and more goodness every day, and this fantastic human-made fabric of excellence is genuinely responsible for the fact that I am alive today. It is a worthy recipient of the gratitude I feel today, and I want to celebrate that fact here and now.

A comment on the Ted Haggard thing

When gay sex is outlawed, only ministers will have gay sex.

Politics is depressing

It is inherently useless for me to blog about politics, but usually I like it. Today it's depressing. This depresses me. This depresses me too, but not as much, because it's also pretty brilliant:

Three TPM readers have reported a phone scam with a double whammy. The call purports to be for John Hall, the Democratic challenger, but makes negative assertions about Hall. If the caller hangs up, they are called again and again, as many as seven times, according to one report.

So either the recipient hears a negative message about Hall, or they think Hall is harrassing them with repeated phone calls. Either way it's a win for Hall's opponent, Republican incumbent Sue Kelly.

This, basically the first step to exit visas, is also depressing and a little scary:
The Department of Homeland Security has proposed that airlines and cruise ships be required to get individual permission (”clearance”) from the DHS for each individual passenger on all flights to, from, or via the U.S.
Try fleeing to Canada now, Alec Baldwin!

11.04.2006

Everything only connected by "and" and "and"...

I really enjoyed this Language Log post, on sentence-initial "But" (or "And"). I, too, was taught never to begin a sentence with a conjunction. As a consequence, I think I overuse "accordingly" -- yet, I continue to do so, because of some inner music only I can hear. But I still don't like sentences that begin with "and"; in my own shitty writing, I always wonder why I can't just join that sentence to the preceding one. "But" is a different matter, you may need that beat of the period before you sail in with the "but".

(I thought the poem referenced in the title would be easily available online. It isn't. It's discussed here.

Quis custodiet etc.

I hate to keep agreeing with Billmon, but I was thinking the same thing when I heard about the "Rummy Must Go" editorial in the Army Times:

The Dems may applaud now, but if I were them, I'd be extremely wary of the precedent. As a group, the joint chiefs are developing a taste for bureaucratic blood -- they're trying to destroy Rumsfeld just as they destroyed Les Aspin and emasculated Wesley Clark. Only now they're doing it openly (or at least semi-openly) and in the middle of an election campaign.

That's usually not a good sign for a republican government -- and I'm not talking about the political party.
From Wikipedia:

Although its name has become synonymous with intrigue, conspiracy, disloyalty and assassination, it could be argued that for the first two centuries of its existence the Praetorian Guard was, on the whole, a positive force in the Roman state. During this time it mostly removed (or allowed to be removed) cruel, weak and unpopular emperors while generally supporting just, strong and popular ones. By protecting these monarchs, thus extending their reigns, and also by keeping the disorders of the mobs of Rome and the intrigues of the Senate in line, the Guard helped give the empire a much needed stability that led to the period known as the Pax Romana.

Only after the reign of Marcus Aurelius, when this period is generally considered to have ended, the guard began to deteriorate into the ruthless, mercenary and meddling force for which it has become infamous. However, during the Severan dynasty and afterwards during the Crisis of the Third Century, the legions, the Senate and the emperorship along with the rest of Roman government were falling into decadence as well.

Downtown LA Disneyland

This is very long but it's kind of a neat summary of a downtown-LA tour done by noted retrologist Charles Phoenix, with the controlling principle being that downtown LA is just like Disneyland.

The "sunken garden" -- a public park right below the Music Center, which is referred to late in the tour -- is indeed an example of the loneliness of mid-century public architecture. It is also home to the lonliest Starbucks in the world (although I imagine at 8:58 on a weekday morning it's busy enough with civil servants).

Via LA City Nerd.

Free agency

From Baseball Prospectus (I'm pretty sure that it's subscription-only), on the new revenue-sharing agreement:

How much a team spends, though, is dependent not just on how much revenue it gets to keep, but on how much it can generate in the first place--and that calculation of how much new money a player can bring in is going to vary wildly from team to team. Even if an influx of talent would result in the Yankees and the Royals putting the same number of new fannies in the seats, those seats are worth two to three times as much in New York as in Kansas City, and that's before even accounting for the increased value of eyeballs attracted to the team's cable broadcasts.

This discrepancy in teams' marginal revenue potential goes a long way toward explaining why the top-revenue teams hog all the big names at free-agent time. It's not so much that the Yankees have more money than the Twins-[...] It's that players are worth more to the Yankees than the Twins, solely by virtue of the fact that the Yankees play in such a high-marginal-revenue environment.

(Italics original.) See, this is why I can't feel that sorry for Kansas City; New York is a huge town with a huge interest in baseball. Why shouldn't it have the best players?

11.02.2006

Hoo boy

I have so much other shit to do, like get over this cold, but Hoo boy:

NBC also wants Sorkin to make some creative changes to "Studio 60." ... NBC entertainment president Kevin Reilly has been working directly with Sorkin on some possible fixes, the source close to the show says.
Alt. to "Hoo boy": "That'll work."