12.28.2008

Only three days left

Of the WKCR Bach Festival. Thanks to The Agonist for reminding me.

And while I'm being politically incorrect

I might as well say that I enjoy the LA Times in its current incarnation as a Southern California-centric paper. I find myself reading it more, because I'm more likely to find articles that I can't get from the NY Times or online. Sports has gone long-form too, away from game-recap stories. All these are good things. The reader is starting to feel that the people on the LAT enjoy living in Southern California and no longer care what their colleagues in New York and Washington think.

The opinion page is still atrocious, however. And I'm sure this is just a snapshot -- as the legacy of all the layoffs works its way through the paper I imagine things will get worse and worse. But for right now it's good -- if they had done this years ago they would be...well, probably they'd be in the same predicament, because the Chandlers bailed and then Tribune bailed.

Obama and smoking

Here's kind of an amusing Op-Ed from an ex-smoker urging Obama not to quit:

The nation is too precariously balanced right now to risk having him burst into tears, or march off in a snit, or take to his bed with the glums.

It would jangle our already fragile national nerves to hear him smashing things offstage at news conferences. Nor do we want to watch him lose his train of thought and begin absent-mindedly lighting matches just to huff the sulfur and watch them burn.
I share this sentiment; it doesn't matter to me if Obama doesn't quit. If smoking helps him through these four to eight years, well, these are the four to eight years we need him the most.

It's just like sending soldiers off to war. At some level we don't care whether they die -- or don't care enough not to get war-fever.

Besides, the more I read about climate change, the more I think that he's not going to want those extra 20 years in the middle of this century.

12.24.2008

Guacamole crisis!

Via Aquafornia. Everybody should be reading Aquafornia to see what the future looks like. (Hint: difficult.)

Sadly

I agree with Sean Paul Kelley.

12.15.2008

Dipping a toe back in

After the Harvard Classics thing ends, I'm going to have to start blogging for reals. Here's two things that caught my eye:

1. An interview with LA institution-in-the-making Charles Phoenix. Here's his now-discontinued "Disneyland Tour of Downtown Los Angeles":



And then, completely unrelatedly, here's some quotes from Bagehot's "English Constitution" I came upon during some late-night Wikipedia-ing (which almost sounds like a title to a Monk song):

The American Government calls itself a Government of the supreme people; but at a quick crisis, the time when a sovereign power is most needed, you cannot FIND the supreme people. You have got a Congress elected for one fixed period, going out perhaps by fixed instalments, which cannot be accelerated or retarded - you have a President chosen for a fixed period, and immovable during that period: all the arrangements are for STATED times. There is no ELASTIC element, everything is rigid, specified, dated. Come what may, you can quicken nothing, and can retard nothing. You have bespoken your Government in advance, and whether it suits you or not, whether it works well or works ill, whether it is what you want or not, by law you must keep it.

and
"The executive is crippled by not getting the laws it needs, and the legislature is spoiled by having to act without responsibility: the executive becomes unfit for its name, since it cannot execute what it decides on; the legislature is demoralized by liberty, by taking decisions of which others (and not itself) will suffer the effects."
I agree with the first more than the second, myself.

11.26.2008

Attention counterfactual fans!

How different would the financial crisis be if Kerry had beaten Bush? My guess is "not much" -- what politician would want to interfere with a financial boom? Still, I wonder.

Recombobulation

From Consumerist: All Airports Should Have A Recombobulation Area Like The One In Milwaukee

11.24.2008

On the financial crisis

This Yves Smith post is one of the best I've seen.

Finance Has Lost Sight of Its Role: "And why is that? Back to the cult issue. Willem Buiter has chastised the Fed for what he calls 'cognitive regulatory capture,' that is, that they identify far too strongly with the values and world view of their charges. But it isn't just the Fed. The media. and to a lesser degree, society at large has bought into the construct of the importance, value, and virtue of the financial sector, even as it is coming violently apart before our eyes. Why, for instance, the vituperative reaction against a GM bailout, while we assume Citi has to be rescued? A GM bankruptcy would be at least as catastrophic as a Citi failure. but GM elicits attacks for the incompetence of its management and the supposedly unreasonable posture of the UAW (the same free market advocates recoil at a deal struck by consenting adults). The particular target for ire is the autoworker pensions and health plans, as well as their work rules. But the pension plans being underwater is the fault of GM management for not providing for them in the fat years; I personally have trouble with the idea that health care should vary by class; and for the work rules, German and Swedish automakers have strong unions and yet can compete."

11.23.2008

30 Rock note

Mrs. D. and I watched two "30 Rock"s in a row this afternoon. And, while they never fail to satisfy, I do think they're overusing this joke form of "principle + specific example 1 + funny specific example 2" I deleted the stuff from my Tivo so I'll just make up an example: "But that's a proprietary formula, like Dr. Pepper, or Laura Bush's morning Nyquil."

Maybe it's just cause I saw two in a row, but, like I say, that particular play is getting a little predictable. Like NBA offenses in the 90s, or all the faked moon landings.

11.18.2008

Thought for the day

Cogitamus: Every Year The War On Christmas Starts Earlier: "Jesus was an illegitimate child born to backward hicks who didn't have the intellectual wherewithal to plan ahead enough to get a room on a trip they knew they had to take."

11.05.2008

Peace, Unity, Love...and Having Fun

I'm so mad about Prop 8 winning I can't see straight. It's like a slap in the face to my friends and relatives. The harshness of that reality drowns out other, sweeter notes. But this popped up on my iPod and made me feel a little better:



We listened to it in college in the 80s. The President-Elect of the United States was also in college in the 80s...holy shit.

10.18.2008

A ray of hope

The NHL Network now carries Hockey Night In Canada

10.12.2008

Financial Crisis stuff

I just entered my investment prices into Quicken. Oy, and, may I go on to say, vey. Angry Bear (not a bolshie website by any means) says it all for me.

10.08.2008

"That one"

I just looked at the old Sitemeter stats and found out people are still coming here (please go read the other project, that's where my energy's going. That and trying to get paying work.), but I will reprint a comment I left at ObWi on "That one": I always think of "that one" in the context of old-timey "Lockhorns"-style married couples. Like, "Me, I like to have an eye-opener in the morning, but that one (POINTS WITH THUMB) says it's bad for the kids to see it."

I've used it, and heard it used, in this joke formation so often in writing rooms, that I was actually shocked to hear McCain say it. Not appalled shocked, more like, "Wow! Somebody actually used it in the wild!"

9.17.2008

$350 Million

I forgot to mention that How I Met Your Mother syndicated for 350 million dollars. That doesn't include cable and is only for four years. I consider it good news for us in the Hollywood comedy community if only because it shows how much is still out there in success. "The biggest loser" is not going to make 90+ million dollars a year for you for ten years, like HIMYM could.

9.16.2008

Interesting times

I am not qualified to agree with this analysis, but I do.

Come for the climate, stay for the giant Eddie Murphy heads!


Via LA Observed.

The More You Know

"Studies have shown that in an undeveloped area, half of the rainfall will seep into aquifers with as little as 10 percent making its way to local waterways. However, as more impervious surface is added by development, about 55% of the water will end up in local waterways, while the amount that percolates into the aquifer to replenish it is reduced to as little as 5%."

Via Aquafornia.

9.15.2008

Attack in Ottavia Rima

Thanks to my friends at Cogitamus this got up there, but I suppose it belongs here as well.

DON JOHN – AN ATTACK IN OTTAVIA RIMA

I want a hero; a man who’s unafraid
To tell the simple truth -- that is, unless
The truth makes me the slightest bit dismayed.
Then I think that lying’s for the best.
Sure, the truth is ticking, like a grenade,
But someone else may come clean up the mess.
For simple truth we have a simple thirst,
But in a pinch, truth second – simple first.

My hero is a maverick, one who roams
Away from everything he ever stood for.
Climate, taxes, torture – Gitmo’s groans
First he could not sanction, then he could, for
You can’t be cute when Karl calls you home.
If principle hurts polling, what’s it good for?
Appeasement of the base he thought a curse,
But if the base holds power? Appeasement first.

My hero’s brand-new Truth is a higher one
Than that which can be taught by education:
He opposes knowledge that inspires one
To seek what’s not been shown by revelation.
Education’s fine, till you acquire one.
Then you’re not fit to lead this holy nation.
Evil elites let dogma be reversed
In face of facts. Facts second - theory first.

And what will he do? (Thinks.) Well, he hates pork --
Unless the pork is meant for DOD --
His party hates cosmopolites, so New York
With all its gays can sink into the sea.
(Which now seems likely – you can stick a fork
In energy not flamed from Texas Tea.)
While lobbyists feed, feed though bubbles burst
And we eat shit they label “Country First.”

9.09.2008

Our increasingly shitty world: it's just a phase

Some guy named Kurt Cobb:

By looking at the fossil fuel age this way, we need not judge it as either good or bad. I often think that the burden of criticizing or defending our current society on moral grounds uses up considerable energy that might be used to imagine and construct a new society that will be viable during a period of contraction. I'm afraid it is not moral arguments that will cause people to ready themselves for such a contraction, but circumstances themselves. (I confess that I must take some of the responsibility for the excessive moralizing.)

To the extent that we can accept that industrial civilization is neither a mistake nor the highest and best arrangement of human affairs that will ever be, but rather has unfolded as one would expect through the interactions of social creatures who seek maximum energy, we can turn our energies to managing a transition to the next phase of civilization.

There is considerable talk about creating sustainable societies, that is, societies that can last for an indefinite period without either exhausting their resources or fatally disturbing the natural processes upon which they depend. But if Odum is correct about the pulsing nature of complex systems, then we can expect to do no such thing. Instead, humans will be continually called upon to adapt to dynamic resizings of their scope during phases of both expansion and contraction.

Often we confuse what is good with what is permanent. Permanence somehow conveys an innate moral rightness to us. But there are many things which we value which are inherently ephemeral--the bloom on a rose, the flight of a bird, the excitement of success, the exhilaration of falling in love. Do we value these things any less because they do not last? No, we value them all the more. But, we learn to go on to the next task in life, looking to meet our needs and attentive to the possibilities of pleasure and pain in every circumstance.
(Via The Oil Drum)

Daily Show

I've seen a lot of different stuff from last week, but this was my favorite and I hadn't seen it:

But he didn't

From Bob Woodward's book, viaThe New Republic:

"Powell left quietly as he had come, alone. Baker turned to Panetta and said solemnly, 'He's the one guy who could have perhaps prevented this from happening.'"

Goats!



This'll take your mind off the election.

9.08.2008

Screw the Arclight!

It's the small indignities that drive you nuts.

9.05.2008

Old Nonesuch Records

I am not a musicologist, or a musician even, but thisDial "M" for Musicology post made me nostalgic for my parents record of C.P.E. Bach flute sonatas. I also liked this quote:

It is true that listening to new things is more challenging and that repetition is most likely a sign of a less mature listening practice, but there are times when only the familiar will get you through.

What defines a Christian most? Ressentiment, apparently

Beliefnet's (!) Rod Dreher: "In truth, as much as I like Palin, especially for the enemies she's made..."

9.04.2008

IOW

I think what the Obama campaign means to say is everything she says is a lie including the "and" and the "the".

UPDATE: Sullivan says, "I'm not sure that Google is the 'liberal establishment.'"

9.03.2008

Vin Scully

One of the many appreciations. One of the reasons he is so great is that he is still allowed to work alone. I believe that radio guys should work alone, to build intimacy in that most intimate of mediums, and you can have TV guys in the booth.

8.31.2008

This pisses me off

Here's a New York Times article about "The Mary Tyler Moore Show":

"All three of the final seasons won Emmys for outstanding comedy series — a prize it had never previously taken — and in each of those years the series also won the Emmy for writing. Besides “Chuckles Bites the Dust,” the honored episodes were “Mary Richards Goes to Jail” (a rare if gentle foray into Norman Lear-style topicality in which Mary landed behind bars for refusing to reveal a source) and for the show’s final episode, which still stands as the high-water mark for how to wrap up a sitcom in style."
Hey, asshole (in this case Mark Harris -- somebody wrote those episodes. They didn't just happen to be written. Anonymity is the writer's life -- our reputation is what we trade for the money -- but if you're actually going to single out writing why not single out the writers while you're at it. Douchebag.

The whole list can be found here, but "Chuckles" was written by David Lloyd and "Jail" was written by Ed. Weinberger and Stan Daniels. The last show was written by the whole staff.

7.26.2008

Isn't it delirious?

Via Puck Daddy, here's Alex Ovechkin on women:

The girls often write on the posters 'Alex, will you marry me!'

All the time. Got used to it and don't feel shy anymore. Sometimes after the game, they pull up T-shirts and ask to sign on the chest. I am all for it. Never asked to sign on the passport. When someone asks to sign on the money I always refuse. Bad omen.

A couple of years ago you were asked why do you change your girlfriends so often? Do you remember what you've answered?

No.

I want to live and have fun.

I could not say that for sure! It was all made up. On the contrary I've always hoped that I would have the one and only girl. But for now my record in relationships is 2 years. However I don't want to talk about my personal life. The newspapers write so much nonsense! For example, as soon as I showed up with the designer Lena Lenskaya at the presentation for Bilan, the rumors about our relationship started flowing. Isn't it delirious?
I'm glad he's "all for" signing chests. Good to know.

7.22.2008

Bacharach

Honestly I don't know what I'm doing with this blog; I think next year, after the Classics Project, it may become clear to me. In the meantime maybe I'll just link to things that seem interesting to me, like this post from Dial M on Burt Bacharach.

7.13.2008

Bacon whiskey?

I would by dying to know if anyone ever tried this.:

"To make 750ml of bacon whiskey, cook about 1/2 pound of bacon. Make sure to get some really nice bacon, don't go for the bargain stuff here. Once the bacon is thoroughly cooked, set it aside. You can eat it later. Collect the fat drippings and combine with 750ml of good quality whiskey. I used a blend of Jim Beam Rye and H's Eagle Rare Bourbon. Let the bacon fat infuse the whiskey for 48 hours. Then put the infusion in the freezer for 30 minutes to solidify the fat. Remove the bacon fat from the whiskey and filter well to remove any fat that remains."

7.10.2008

I am useless

After reading this David Appell post it makes me depressed about this desultory blog, but without me, who would agree with this George Skelton column?

Maybe the takeaway is less opining about national politics and more trying to highlight out-of-the-way stuff. My energy's going to the other blog anyway, which is useless too, but in a way I often find much more delightful.

7.08.2008

Annals of Capitalism, House of Cards edition

At Eschaton.

When The Newspapers Go



It will be sad to see that the "interesting article you stumble on" will also go, like this one aboutmoon rocks:

"One of these “grandparents” is a University of Tennessee lunar geologist, Lawrence A. Taylor, 70, an expert on regolith. He has developed ways to extract oxygen from the lunar dust, and, based on the knowledge that regolith contains metallic iron, he patented a method of microwaving the soil to transform it into a glass that can be used as a hard surface for spacecraft landings and takeoffs or for roads."
Turning the soil into glass? It might be worth going to the moon just to see that!

7.07.2008

Cleaning Out My Net News Wire

David Appell, in an aside about health care, says, "What a disincentive towards entrepreneuralism." Just so -- I think the Dems should hammer the idea that someone can't quit their job to start their own business because of health care. (It would be the equivalent of the "family farm" argument on the estate tax.)

"The future doesn't happen in America anymore."

• Or does it? Kudzu as biofuel? As a son-in-law of the South I can't describe how happily this would be greeted.

• I don't understand this post -- it is too nerdy even for me -- but I am interested in it.

7.05.2008

Dodgers blogging: our GM is stupid

I was going to mention this earlier, but I see LAist beat me to it.

Peak metal

I was swimming today and thinking about peak helium, which seems vaguely funny and yet its consequences would be anything but, and here's a post on peak iridium and peak zinc. I don't believe that this planet was "designed" to do anything, but we design our lives as though it were true. But if it were true, then it seems that Earth is not "designed" to hold six billion humans with the lifestyle we happen to have right at the moment.

On the optimistic side, I think we outlive our design purposes.

7.04.2008

Prudence, indeed

From the other blog:

"To be political for a second I will pull out two of Jefferson's et al. complaints:

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislature.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

One of my political complaints is the fact that a sizeable number of people don't want you to criticize the troops; this, to me, will tend to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power. (Slightly on-topic: in my career I've met a few M*A*S*H writers, all of whom had been in the military in one way or another, because of the draft when they were in college. I think it was much easier to make fun of the military when everyone had been in it, and, on the flip side, it's much easier for those who had no experience of it to feel excessively reverent.)

Such reverence also seems bound to happen when you have, in times of peace, a Standing Army; once you have a Standing Army, it seems inevitable that you will no longer have times of peace ( “What’s the point of having this superb military you’re always talking about, if we can’t use it?” -- Madeline Albright).

The Founders had experienced empires from the business end and knew what they were about."

"Why is it we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?"


True, but it only matters a little to me today. Happy Fourth!

7.02.2008

Sad

This was inevitable, but the sad thing is that I was enjoying the LA Times more under Zell -- it was a little punchier and more local-focused. Sports and Op-Ed still had dreadful columnists, which is unforgivable in the age of the Internet, but I guess it doesn't matter now, the dying-by-inches process has begun.

7.01.2008

History repeats the same refrain

My favorite part of the piece:

"I telephoned Bell -- he, too, had not heard about this other street corner stunt. But, though Jacques Gordon died two decades before Bell was born, Bell knew of him. The two men had shared something intimate. From 1991 through 2001, Bell played the same Strad that Gordon had once owned, the same one Gordon had played on the Chicago streets that day in 1930. For 11 years, Bell's fingers held the same ancient wood."

6.30.2008

Annals of Capitalism

Football division.

Thanks, WFMU


This "Beware of the Blog" post is like the FreeDarko mother lode. This one is merely (merely?) funny cereals:

WALL-E

Of course everyone's right, it is a masterpiece. The only thing I can add is my belief that there's a connection to be made between it and its much less successful bummer-future cousin, "Idiocracy." I think Pixar, being Pixar, is too discreet to point this out, but the baby-people on the Axiom are much more likely to be talking about "Ow! My Balls!" than the kind of Newton Minow vast-wasteline scenario that is presented.

6.29.2008

We're all connected!

Jerome a Paris:

"Just like the decline of the North Sea seems to have caught the UK government unaware, and is leading to quasi-panicky behavior by the UK government (which one day blames the Russians, one day wants to go all nuclear, one day wants to go all-wind, and generally blames 'uncompetitive' continental Europe for its plight rather than its own policies, or lack thereof), the brutal decline of the Cantarell field, and of overall Mexican production is likely to have brutal consequences, as the country loses its main source of exports and the Mexican government its main source of tax income. Social unrest, and massive migration toward the North could be one outcome..."

6.22.2008

Not to say that I like it, but I love it.



Pro-rail Obama logo, courtesy of Greater Greater Washington. That's the positive side of him, as opposed to the Roman Imperium loss-of-the-republic side (to be fair, we probably lost the republic after WWII).

Treasured sports theories

Mark Heisler's probably my favorite writer on the LA Times sports page. Without him I would care even less about the NBA. Here's something from today's season-ending debriefing:

"Before Game 6, the Boston Globe's Bob Ryan, a Celtics beat writer when there were classics, wrote a column headlined, 'It has to get better than this,' noting there hadn't been a 'knock-down, drag-out 48-minute demonstration of mutual athletic greatness' that would have thrilled a wider audience.

Unfortunately, today's defense-oriented game doesn't promote classics.

The '80s Lakers-Celtics Finals games that popped up on ESPN Classic had flowing action with both teams running and scores in the 110-120 range.

This season's quote, unquote, high-scoring Lakers, averaged only 93.8 points, stymied by that Celtics defense packed back in the paint.

Athletic greatness requires a stage on which to perform. Bryant, one of the game's greatest high-wire artists, spent the Finals shooting jump shots from the cheap seats."
This brings up my favorite sports theory, which I export from the NHL, which is that the sheer size of everyone nowadays limits the time and space for offensive geniuses to create. Size, and increased conditioning. Weight training has been a disaster for aesthetically inclined sports fans (I prefer Ozzie Smith-era baseball as well).

Schwarzenegger Bullshit Watch (24), mass transit edition

From Calitics via Kos:

Proposition 1B, the multibillion transportation bond approved in the 2006 election, was supposed to deliver funding to purchase more cars and expand Amtrak California services, including the creation of a "Coast Daylight" train from SF to LA via the 101 corridor.

Those funds haven't materialized because Arnold Schwarzenegger's Department of Finance stunningly claims that there is no need for new cars. According to the Rail Passenger Association of California and Nevada (RailPAC):

The Department of Finance, whose director Michael Genest maintains that public fund support for mass transit, particularly the intercity rail program, is not a legitimate expenditure of public funds, has conducted an "audit" that said "we don't see you need it." So, "we can't spend any because of that." That puts the expected order of new cars for the Surfliners, Capitols, and San Joaquins on hold.

What happened was that Genest sent auditors to ride the Capitol Corridor in the middle of the day on a Wednesday in the middle of January - traditionally a time of low ridership, whereas the route is packed to the rafters on weekends and during commute hours. This flawed "sample" enabled the Schwarzenegger administration to extend its war on public transportation to the successful Amtrak California system, in an attempt to starve it of services right at the moment when Californians are embracing intercity rail.

6.19.2008

It's the runoff, stupid

Kit Stolz points us in the right direction:

"We've done numerous things to the landscape that took away these water-absorbing functions," he said. "Agriculture must respect the limits of nature."
Not just agriculture. I remember being in Dauphin Island, Alabama and taking my kids to the sea lab they have there, in which they pointed out that all the runoff from all the asphalt leads to sudden, strong discharges into Mobile Bay, which weirds out the ecosystems therein (not the actual words).

The various environmental crises we're at the beginning of are not just CO2 related, but are a function of unprecedented numbers of us humanoids running around on the planet. Hopefully some of these nine billion brains will have some answers.

Against the Greatest Generation

Ken Ringle on the National Mall:

"the great central place in Washington that remains today the world’s largest planned urban open space, symbolizing the American psyche and destiny of perpetual becoming. This concept, contrasting with the European tradition of monuments celebrating past triumphs, has become increasingly blurred in recent decades as this tabula rasa has been encroached on with modern “memorials” of questionable aesthetic merit."
I guess I've always disliked the "Greatest Generation" jazz because I feel there's no room then for those of us to come, and that seems un-American. It's a freezing of historical mobility that reminds me of the freezing of social mobility, and it rubs me the wrong way.

6.07.2008

Small question on politics

How could someone who wouldn't fire Mark Penn make a good president?

Belmont day

Still one of the most memorable sporting events I ever saw (warning -- poor 70s quality):

Comparisons come to mind with Clinton-Obama.

6.06.2008

National Doughnut Day?

I'm just finding this out now?

Fortunately I had a doughnut (or "donut") while protesting the budget cuts at my kids' school. Between this and the strike, I appear to be trying hard to establish in my kids' minds that political activism = donuts.

6.05.2008

Pilot season RIP

So I see by Nikki Finke that NBC is basically going to abandon pilot season, and in the comments there's a lot of crowing about how this proves the strike was bad (sample comment: "Congrats, WGA! You lost.")

About this I have two things to say:

1. They're right, but
2. It doesn't matter.

I don't believe it's in the best interest of a union to keep uneconomic practices alive, and pilot season -- even, or especially, the way NBC conducted it -- was uneconomic. I myself got a six-figure sum for a pilot pitch a few years back, which they didn't even greenlight to pilot. And they wound up taking none (0) of their pilots to air that year.

That can't continue. The strike merely hastened the inevitable doom of the pilot process, at least in its most profligate form.

Of course, NBC is probably doing the usual network thing of overreacting. When networks discover they've been driving on the left shoulder of the road, they think the cure is to drive on the right shoulder.

Cleaning out my net news wire: Climate

Hybrid solar lighting? We're only at the start of our innovation -- those of us who make it to 2020 (I'm choosing cirrhosis, myself) will wonder at our primitive ways.

• I like David Appell's crankiness here:

1)COAL IS NOT VIABLE AS A LOW-CARBON ENERGY SOURCE

2) NO MATTER WHAT SOME COAL COMPANY EXECUTIVE SAYS, EFFORTS TO SEQUESTER COAL'S CO2 EMISSION HAVE BEEN A HUGE FAILURE.

3) BASIC PHYSICS SAYS THIS SITUATION WILL NOT BE IMPROVING ANYTIME SOON.

4) "CLEAN COAL" IS AN OXY-MORON.
These are all lemmas which prove the following theorem:
COAL IS COMPLETELY ANTITHETICAL TO THE FUTURE OF THE HUMAN RACE.

NEXT?

McCain: Baldness we can believe in

My own scalp is as hopeless as a Rust Belt ghetto, and while looking at it this morning I realized that McCain is too bald to be president -- we haven't had one since Ike, and that was practically pre-television.

5.27.2008

Go forth, performance metrics

Guess what business this is talking about:

"Establish tangible performance metrics for each of the unit leaders and hold them accountable for results."
Right! It could be any business! It's b-school gobbeldygook!

But what makes it doubly rank is that it's talking about the UC system. What on earth is a "performance metric," in that context? I don't mean to be all Emersonian here (see this to get an example of what I'm talking about), but surely, in some sense, education is an obligation, not an output.

In fact the way we hang the public universities out to dry these days is one of the many evidences that we have no civic spirit -- and that is what causes decline, not homos marrying. In fact this (from the same op-ed roundtable) seems shameful -- although par for the course in California:
In 2004, UC President Robert Dynes and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger abandoned the idea of a public university in favor of a privatized model. Dynes accepted a $1.5-billion permanent cut in the university's annual $5-billion core operating budget, and agreed to substantially increase tuition every year, in exchange for a promise (now broken) of modest increases in state money while UC sought private money "to support basic programs."

5.26.2008

Sydney Pollack RIP

If only (but not only) for Tootsie, which,, as Virginia Heffernan points out is one of the greatest comedies of all time -- one of the few with the structure to keep it being funny all the way through.

Overheard

Two guys, late 20s maybe, are walking down the street.

Guy 1: you're getting older, you've lost a step

Guy 2: I'm still expressive.

Guy 1: No, you're a cold-hearted asshole.

Guy 2: [chuckles]

5.25.2008

Shoot

I forgot to put up my "Red Wings in 4" post yesterday, and now I look like an idiot, or Plaschke.

But trust me. The West is much better than the East.


UPDATE: Also, Versus was terrible -- they kept trying new angles so you kept just missing the play.

5.20.2008

Wait, Ben Silverman isn't finished with it yet.

NBC Limping To The TV Seasons End - TV Decoder - Media & Television - New York Times Blog: "“The prime-time performance makes it all the more impressive that NBC has managed to stay in first place for its evening news, late-night lineup and early morning,”"

5.19.2008

Send in the Latrines - New York Times

This op-ed (about the need for waste management in the aftermath of the cyclone), brings up a question I've always wondered about, which is, once we get up to 9 billion people, what are we going to do with all the shit?

5.18.2008

One nice thing about jazz

One nice thing about jazz is that you can be listening to it on the car radio, park, go into a store, transact your entire business including helping the cashier to add, walk back to your car, get in, start it, and the song will appear to still be in the exact same place you left it.

5.16.2008

America's Important Obscure War contest

Who would win -- the French and Indian War or the Mexican War?

I vote for F and I, but then I've been to Fort William Henry.

Also, from our "You know you're reading a conservative paper when" department:

Thanks to the influence of Spain's military tradition and the help of mercenary soldiers, the Mexican army was well-equipped and well-trained.
Get it? Without Spain, and (presumably European) mercenaries, that army would just be a bunch of Mexicans [shudder].

Fox cutting back on commercials for two TV shows - Los Angeles Times

I am super in favor of this; I have always wondered why the networks wanted to shit up the experience of their customers. Maybe they all used to work at airlines or something.

Fox cutting back on commercials for two TV shows - Los Angeles Times: "Fox executives said the shift came in response to annoyance among viewers at the heavy commercial load in popular prime-time shows. The network believes that if there are only a few 30-second spots per commercial break, viewers might be less tempted to flip to another channel or fast forward through the ads while watching episodes on digital video recorders."
Two other notes on this:
• What really need to go, of course, are all the network promotions.
• Funny that this doesn't apply to half-hours. 30 seconds more makes a big difference; that's a joke or two that could really tickle someone.

5.13.2008

Yes, another hockey post

sI'm watching Flyers-Penguins on Tivo and it reminds me of one of the irritating things about hockey announcers (maybe only US hockey announcers), which is that they don't pay attention to line matchups.

To the uninitiate, hockey looks totally random, but in fact there's some strategy in personnel matchups, and you never get the sense from the announcer that a team is intending to do anything. There are probably too many former players in the booth, and not enough former coaches -- although hockey coaches are notoriously uninformative. Maybe Ron Wilson might help.

Sonnet

I promise not to crosspost everything from the other blog, but I rather liked this sonnet I wrote (a takeoff of this sonnet which I didn't:

A Trophy Wife
Anywhere on the Westside

Beauty like hers is genius. It takes pains --
The surgeon's silicone, the salon's dye,
The trainer's sweat, and every tool whereby
She turns all heads in preschool dropoff lanes.
Her husband's ex, a gossipy mom explains,
Was the woman who brought him his first script
Which starred this wife. (Remember? Her space suit, ripped?
And how she wore those glasses to show brains?)

As many men are horndogs in their youth,
But tamp it down to taste responsibility,
And discover depths in their connubial she;
Her husband, like a sophomore, without ruth
Will ditch this trophy wife if she gets gray
Hence her pains with art and science Time to stay.

5.11.2008

Can I just say

I don't give a shit about making hockey more popular; that will probably just make it worse, to me. I get Versus on my cable system, so I don't really care who else is watching.

The last thing I want is Vic "The Brick" Jacobs talking hockey.

5.10.2008

Reminder

When I am not posting here it is because I am posting over there

5.01.2008

Today's Double-Dactyl: Buzz Bissinger

Dude, watch your spittle, there!
WRITER "Buzz" Bissinger
Can't stand reporting
By unpriestly hands

Though I'm not one to wax
Blogotriumphalist --
People will read them when
This shit hits the fans.

4.30.2008

A new double-dactyl

Get out the flamethrower!
Liberty City's
Virtual denizens
Give righties a shock.

But they have their own
Densensitizations:
Killing is O.K.
If it's in Iraq.

4.28.2008

Cleaning Out My Net News Wire

I kind of like the Grove too. Only there' s nothing much to buy there.

More annals of capitalism.

• I think Kunstler can be hysterical (as in, someone with hysteria), but I do agree that "there's an equally eerie vibe out there that things are seriously out-of-whack. We're on the edge of something."

4.25.2008

Drinking note from all over

I made this the other night, and I recommend it highly, although the next time I'm leaving out the sugar and just letting the creme de cassis do its work.

Creme de cassis is one of those bottles that just pile up in the back of the liquor cabinet, so I am glad to find so delightful a way to use it. If only someone could find a way to deplete the ouzo (I'll know that times are really tough when I am forced to drink the ouzo.)

Worst nightmares

As a little boy in Catholic school I was taught that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church. So wouldn't a martyr-reduction program actually be Hamas's worst nightmare?

Same goes for Cuba. They'd be capitalists right now if we let them have access to our system.

4.24.2008

William Shakespeare on "Why I Am A Democrat"

I'm going to try to post more here, honestly, at least once a day, even if I have to steal from the other blog, as I'm doing today. It's a passage I saw in yesterday's reading of King Lear:

Through tatter’d clothes great vices do appear;
Robes and furr’d gowns hide all. Plate sins with gold,
And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks;
Arm it in rags, a pigmy’s straw does pierce it.
The rich get off, in other words, says Lear, while the poor get ground down. Of course there are those who say that Lear was crazy...

4.16.2008

Have another donut, you fat pig

Reading that the media gave McCain donuts makes me want to go all Jim Schonefeld on their ass:

4.10.2008

Let's do it


Playoffs really begin today.

(image via Eyes on the Prize, who point out, "If Jesus thought there was anything wrong with this photo, he would not have posed for it, or signed a contract with the Montreal Canadiens.")

Another good Habs blog is A Theory of Ice.

4.05.2008

Annals of capitalism, race to the bottom edition

Yesterday'sNYT:


In a working paper for the National Bureau of Economic Analysis, prepared for a conference to be held next week at Cambridge University, Mr. Kane assigned some of the blame for the current credit crisis to international regulatory competition, in which national regulators, fearful of seeing business go overseas, dared not be too tough.... Ever since the Great Depression, the government has tried to limit the leverage available to the public in the American stock market. But regulators, led by Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, thought innovation would be hampered, and financial activity driven overseas, if there were any attempts to impose limits on leverage in the unregulated markets.

What caused the lack of regulation? Competitiveness. The invisible hand is slapping us!


4.04.2008

Sartorial note

While driving around running errands I saw a friend of mine walking down the street (yes, in L.A. Shut up). He was wearing jeans and I have to say he was failing to rock them. And I could only imagine how unrocking I am in jeans. Middle-aged guys should be careful about the jeans.

And I wonder if the decline of the suit in the workplace has something to do with the general de-middleage-ifying of everything. Suits are clothes designed so that middle-aged guys can look good in them.

4.03.2008

Obsession

My damn writing partner turned me on to this:


And I'm trying to get it out of my head by putting it in yours. What I like about it is that the whole series is summarized in the first six words. Keep watching anyway, though!

4.02.2008

Lets play two today

Inspired by this post (and my comment there), I decided to work every major league team into the lyrics of Cole Porter's "Let's Do It".

God help me, here goes:

Cubs do it, Sox do it,
Even Bible-thumping Rox do it,
Lets do it
Lets play two today

Rays do it, Jays do it,
Cards in their rebuilding phase do it,
Lets do it
Lets play two today

(bridge)
Do the Bucs, to empty stands, do it?
We'll just take it on faith.
In L.A., Dodger fans do it,
But they're gone by the eighth.

(chorus)
M's do it, O's do it,
A's and ex-Expos do it,
Lets do it,
Lets play two today

The Rangers -- worst in the West -- do it,
The Padres when they're feeling blessed do it,
Mets do it
Lets play two today

(bridge)
Giants with good vibes do it
Not to mention the Fins.
Why ask if the Tribe do it?
Watch them take on the Twins.

(chorus)
H-town's struggling 'Stros do it,
SoCal's hard-to-place Halos do it,
Lets do it
Lets play two today.

Royals in KC do it,
D'backs blasting the AC do it,
Reds do it,
Lets play two today.

(bridge)
Down south, Atlanta Braves do it,
To a tomahawk beat.
Detroit Tigers, to big raves, do it --
Just don't park on the street.

(chorus)
In New York, gold-plated Yanks do it,
Phillies -- those ill-fated cranks -- do it,
Lets do it,
Lets play two today!



3.23.2008

Easter poem

"Primogeniture"

The door to the book is closed;
The window which gives on the turned earth is closed;
The highway is closed;
Closed, too, are the waters, their lips sealed;
The door to the grass is closed.

Only the chute stays open,
The ruined chute, entering heaven --
Toehold and handhold, the wind like an accident,
The rain like mosquitoes inside your hair,
You stall still, you suffer it not.

-- Rose of the afterlife, black mulch we breathe,
Devolve and restore, raise up:
Fireblight and dead bud; rust; spot;
Sore skin and shot hole:
Rechannel these tissues, hold these hands.

-- Charles Wright

2.25.2008

Oscar joke after seeing "The Counterfeiters"

Which I don't know where else to put:

Just think of how many Nazi movies there'd be if we lost the war.

2.06.2008

Going dark

I'm going dark here for a little while; you may have noticed the posts are drying up. I'm still continuing the other thing, but with that + trying to get work again, I can't even do what posting I do.

Besides, a little quiet is good for Lent.

ENVOI: I leave you with this.

2.05.2008

Will Leitch is making sense

In LAist: "I adore Dodger Stadium. I am surprised it doesn't get mentioned with the Wrigley Fields and Fenway Parks when you people talk about great historic stadiums."

2.04.2008

I resemble that remark

Nikki Finke:

"...the big-time agent who described the TV showrunners as 'the plantation owners' vs the TV writers who worked for them as 'the cotton-pickers who should just damn well be grateful they have health and pension and get back to work already'."

2.01.2008

You know what city sucks to live in? Paris.

At least, according to Forbes, according to this bloggingLA post. Why does Paris suck? High taxes, says Forbes. (LA is the 7th most miserable city in the country.)

I question any system where Panama City, Florida can possibly score points ahead Paris on any scale except access to barbecue.

Buy a Masonic Temple!


This Curbed LA post, about the Masonic Temple on Wilshire near where we used to live (and for which Coldwell Banker has the listing -- Valentine's Day is coming up, ladies!), brings to mind one of my favorite crackpot theories -- that at some point the cool Hollywood thing will be to join the Masons or the Elks or some fraternal lodge like that. I just like the idea of the cast of Young People's Problems and The Indie Songs About Them all hitting a Moose local for the wrap party. It could happen!

I really shouldn't be blogging about politics

But I agree with this:

"As for the general election, everyone just has to stop freaking out about poll numbers in February. It's true that McCain is a stronger general election nominee than the other Republican candidates. But most of the public still thinks of McCain as Mr. Straight Talk Express, and after $500 million worth of advertising to point out that that bus is old and broken down, he has no real economic policy expertise, and he's fine with staying in Iraq for one hundred years, the numbers will change."

On TV development

The press of events has prevented me from blogging on this and this from the Times TV blog.

The first is from Jeff Zucker:

Mr. Zucker also gave details about the network’s recent decision to curtail its pilot development season, saying repeatedly that NBC was “committed to as much scripted programming as ever” because of the revenue it generates from advertising, syndication and DVDs.

He noted that the five broadcast networks spent half a billion dollars to develop 80 pilots last year. “Next fall, or whenever the next television season begins, at most eight of those series will return. 1 in 10,” Mr. Zucker said.

As he has done in the past, Mr. Zucker suggested that the NBC broadcast network will increasingly resemble the company’s cable properties. The USA network, for instance, has produced “just five pilots in the last two years,” he said. “Four of them went to air.”

On cable, Mr. Zucker said, “there’s far more discipline, far fewer big name directors and stars, and far greater reliance on script development and guts.”

Even though Jeff Zucker's record as a network executive speaks for itself (Father of the Pride), he is right in every particular here:

1. A scripted show will make you more money in the long run. People are still watching Gilligan's Island.

2. The way the networks develop is crazy.

3. The way cable develops isn't crazy.

Why is this? My opinion: a cable network knows itself and knows what it wants. USA (Characters wanted) stands for something; Bravo (reality in the decorative arts) stands for something; NBC stands for Celebrity Apprentice. Guts means standing for something and not picking something up because you had a marketing retreat where some Mark Penn-wannabe told you what your audience might want.

The second post is about how Raymond and Family Guy are still making coin in an otherwise gloomy syndication market. Why is the syndication market gloomy? Because there's no comedies? Why are there no comedies? Because no network wants to open another comedy night, because the network suspects, probably rightly, that they'll just screw them up. (Raymond and Family Guy are excellent cases in point because Family Guy was cancelled and Raymond almost was. )

I realize this is a long way to just say "Executives are idiots" but sometimes everyone needs to be reminded.

1.29.2008

"Can you dig it? Yes, I can"

I am 100% enthusiastic about this idea: putting a park on top of the 101 where it's below street level in Hollywood.

One of the first things one notices as an LA parent is that there's practically no park space in this town. I guess you're just supposed to hang out in your backyard, and like it. But, as we become more urban around here (Hollywood especially is getting denser), we need the urban amenities, especially those small-d democratic ones, like parks.

If the strike ends

...and I transform from being-on-strike to simply-unemployed, what will I do to celebrate? What small luxury will I permit myself to mark the fact that now I might get some money down the line with sufficient hustle now, but probably not?

I think I'm going to go to Wally's and see if they have Old Tom Gin.

Eli Manning, antiquer

I am shocked that this article has not received more attention in the sports snarkosphere :

"Over the years, the antique shops on Magazine Street in New Orleans became as familiar to Manning as his childhood home. He returned to them for pieces to decorate his college apartment at Ole Miss, as well as the apartment in Hoboken, N.J., where he lives during the football season. It is a hobby he has passed on to his fianc�e, Abby McGrew, who now joins him when he browses for antiques during the off-season."
He likes antiques -- it's almost too easy. But I'll bite:

1. Now we know why he didn't want to play in San Diego, unless he has a fondness for mid-century modern stuff, that's the only thing there's a lot of here.

2. In contrast, New Orleans, as a formerly rich place now in decline, has compost-like richness for the antique shopper.

3. And that's why I hope Eli is shopping Upstate and not New England (where they overcharge tourists).

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't pimp Glenn Eichler's great piece about the magical grasp of antiques.

1.28.2008

The State of our Union: Complete Bulls**t

I can't stand how often the State of the Union is interrupted by applause. Lincoln had the right idea just sending the message up.

I realize this is a trite complaint, like bitching about turn signals. But in all honesty that pisses me off too.

1.27.2008

Sorry

I haven't been posting much, and I'm sorry, but the other project is really taking up a lot of my extracurricular energy (it's fun, though), and I suspect that the strike is ending soon, so ducks have to be aligned.  


Also I'm following the political race, and I'm censoring myself to keep from sounding just like everyone else -- a semi-losing battle, I know.  

Score one for my medium

Roy:

"...let us be content with the excellencies Juno offers. The dialogue really is snappy, and the actors sell it beautifully. It probably says something that the fine supporting cast is mostly from prestige TV shows: they have a great feel for lines that might have choked actors who aren't used to thinking fast."
I used to know TV people who'd go to the Golden Globes and be all agog to see Movie Stars!  "Shit," I'd say (for I don't mince words), "You work with better actors every day."  

Related point I could also pull out of this post: comedy people are better than drama people.

1.22.2008

Well, that would explain the love of capes

Batman's an Episcopalian.

(Via WFMU, which is really blogging its ass off in the new year.)

The Culinary Man on Third

This post on Orangette includes a recipe for doctoring a can of black beans, and it reminds me of the concept Bruce Jay Friedman called the Culinary Man On Third. You buy something already made, and all you have to do is hit a long fly ball. Jarred spaghetti sauce is a good example, or buying a roasted chicken from the supermarket and making chicken salad (although the amount of work there might actually amount to a single).

1.20.2008

There are three sides to all reality

There's optimism.
Pessimism.
And a promotional film starring Don Knotts.

(Don Knotts link via WFMU.)

Waterblogged has had it

"Dude , you’re thinking about the water crisis every day,” said our youngish and annoying therapist, as he sipped from his goddamn bottle of Evian, destroying what little credibility he had. “Dude, that’s asking for burnout!”

Our thoughts meandered as we impatiently listened to the smarmy whelp. Do you know how stupid it is to be drinking bottled water, you idiot? Do you know that it’s no more, and maybe less, healthy than tap water? Do you know that it’s often just tap water in a pretty package, anyway? Do you know it costs like, 10,000 times more than tap water? Do you ever read? Do you know that this is readily available information that you read or hear in reputable news outlets every goddamn day? Do you know what those bottles are doing to the planet? And we’re looking to you for advice? And stop saying dude. What’s the use? There’s nothing we can do about it. It all sucks. Aaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!"

Wow, that's almost as good as the "For The Union Dead" quote Tom Brady has tattooed on his arm

Federer Survives a Long Challenge From No. 49 Tipsarevic - New York Times:

"Tipsarevic, a Serb ranked 49th, is an intellectual in an anti-intellectual sport. In a microcosm where PlayStation rules, he reads and rereads the works of Fyodor Dostoyevsky and admires the 19th-century Russian writer enough to have tattooed one of his phrases on his left arm: “Beauty will save the world.”"

Ken Levine on overwriting

The whole post is good, but I want to pull this out:

"More often than not these long speeches have characters express in detail their emotions and attitudes. Not only is it taxing to listen to this balloon juice it also gives the actor nothing to play. Might as well go on to the next scene. Sometimes a look or a gesture can say volumes more a two page speech that James Joyce would find too convoluted."
One thing I've found is that sometimes you come to the table with a speech that states your character's attitude/state of mind and, during the week, you cut it. But you needed it at the table (if it wasn't too long) so that the actor knew what they were playing. Once they know it, though, they can show, not tell.

The first time as tragedy, the second time as farce, except it's happening to me so it doesn't feel farcical

LGM draws a parallel I've always had in my mind too: W. = Charles I. Two sons of decent rulers who allow their religious nuttery to lead the country into disaster.

1.19.2008

Strike: Who Needs Writers

So here, and elsewhere (I saw it on LA Observed, too), they're talking about how the unscripted programming is doing better than the scripted programming, particularly on NBC.

I don't doubt it. A lot of these scripted shows suck. And a sucky scripted show is worse than a sucky unscripted show.

The only point I can make in my craft's defense is that a good scripted show can make millions and millions for years to come. They're still making money off of Gilligan's Island. Or Friends.

A different point is that it's not the writers' fault if NBC puts on crap. (I mean, it is the writer's fault, but not because he/she's a bad writer generally, just one who got rolled by the notes.) It's the fault of the gatekeepers. The individual Knicks lose the games, but we all know that the fault really lies with Isiah Thomas for thinking these guys would make a brilliant team.

La Ville Est Hockey

From Slap Shot, the blog that's not just for hockey nerds -- actually, who am I kidding, it is -- here's my team:

This is how I feel, but without the snow

From American Elf

1.17.2008

I don't care about the NFL...


But this picture of Bill Belichick in short shorts from 1986 is too good not to share. (Via NYT: "-play for an in-"

Oh, Christ

That racist Sean Avery is lionized by Vanity Fair.

Optimism!

My agent says that the DGA did outstanding work. (Of course, he's a little self-interested, but still.)

I don't want to look at it till tomorrow, since there's a definite heart-head conflict. I'm sick of walking in circles, but I don't want to let that influence me.

But that I could go from striking to unemployed -- so exciting...

1.16.2008

Maybe this should be under "Annals of Capitalism"

This can't be right, can it? "[Robert] Iger could write a personal check to end the strike for his whole corporation -- and still have a little over $21 million left over." It could be -- after all, the two things I keep repeating about this strike are

1) We're not asking for that much money
2) And even if we wanted to stop asking and cave, there is no offer for us to cave in to.

$27.7 million. Wow. One could do a lot with just the .7.

1.15.2008

"To commune with these great writers of all time is one of the finest habits possible."

My project for the year is to follow the Daily Reading Guide from my great-grandfather's set of Harvard Classics, which lived for my entire childhood in the upstairs hall, untouched, until I moved it to my upstairs hall in 2000.

The idea of the Daily Reading Guide is to make you actually open some of the fifty volumes you bought by giving you a little homework every night -- the famous "fifteen minutes a day." Or, as they put it in delightful early 20th-century advertising prose,

That fifteen minutes will carry you on wings of romance and adventure to other lands, to the scenes of other days and will break the monotony of your days, will change the course of your thinking, will give you the privilege of contact with the great minds who writings have stimulated and inspired mankind over the centuries.

Break the monotony of my days, eh? We'll see about that. Even so, I am enjoying the antique, pre-broadcasting idea that contact with the great minds will be stimulating and inspiring. These days we have motivational speakers for that.

Anyway, you can follow my progress here.

HuffPost's Say "No" to Pollsters Petition! - Politics on The Huffington Post

Why not just lie to them?

1.14.2008

Cleaning out my net news wire

• Two optimistic posts about clean energy.

Civility in the blogosphere! Seriously, read it; it will make you feel good about the potential for dialogue...until you realize that the cause of this debate was a serial killer.

Brought to you by your Los Angeles Angels!

Michael "The Bigot's Bigot" Savage!

It's worth remembering that Arte Moreno, who owns the Angels, bought a station, then put Michael Savage on it.

Maybe they are Orange County's team after all.

Noted with pleasure by Mrs. D.

From today's (yesterday's, if you're late to this) Times:

"And he serves up the reaction of Robert’s very Texan grandfather to Robert’s union with Michael. Right on cue the grandfather comments: “Better a man than a Yankee girl.”"
Did I mention that Mrs. D. is a Tennessean? When I first brought my Yankee self down there, she had me so psyched out I just pointed at the menus.

1.12.2008

Today's rage

Brought to you by Sir Charles:

"You know there is something that sticks in my craw when some privileged tenured clown, an overly credentialed jackanapes who lifts nothing heavier than a cup of coffee every day, opines about the net negative that unions present to our society. Try fucking working for a living assclown and then tell working people that unions don't help them. And what the hell, maybe try doing a little research on the growth rates attained in the U.S. in the 1950s and 60s, the period of greatest union density in our history, where real wages skyrocketed and inequality diminished. Just spare us this bullshit 1920s economics dressed up in modern globalization gobbledygook."


Why, Sir Charles, how earthy!

Fear and comedy

Ken Levine mourns a comedy writer and teacher:

"In his own words, his philosophy:

Pointing out that an idea has been done is off limits. If you say it’s been done, everything stops dead, but if you stick with it, it will probably turn out to be something totally different. And it shows it was good to go on the air. The main thing is to keep a positive attitude. If you start turning things off before they are developed, you’re going to put everybody in a frightened mood, and they are going to get very negative."


I highlight these words because that's what network comedy development's been like for as long as I've been in it.

The other note is interesting, too; one of the things you have to fight against in a room is a "its worse to be wrong than it is good to be right attitude -- your terrible pitch outlives any of your good ones. You don't want the atmosphere to be supportive, exactly -- it should be a little competitive and judgmental, just to keep you on your toes. Plus, you know, making a TV show is a business, not an avocation. But maybe with a generous spirit of overlooking the (occasional!) failure.

Annals of capitalism, extra pay for failure edition

New York Times:

"On Friday, The Los Angeles Times estimated that Mr. Mozilo’s severance pay could be worth roughly $115 million. That figure includes a $24 million lump sum pension payment and $3 million in compensation for stock options and stock grants. In the event of resigning or being fired, Mr. Mozilo’s contract with Countrywide also guarantees him a payout of three times his current base salary, plus a cash bonus equal to whatever is greater: his last bonus or the average of the previous two years’ bonuses.

In case you lost track of all those calculations and stipulations, that total is a tidy $87.9 million, The Times reported.

Given the well-publicized misery of subprime borrowers who have lost their homes, it’s not surprising that that generous figure drew some outraged reactions."
No idea why.

1.11.2008

Force majeure ax falls at ABC Studios - Entertainment News, Front Page, Media - Variety

I was just wonder when this would happen, and here it's happened. In my overall-deal days I would have been force majeured so fast. Badge of honor, dudes, badge of honor. The writers can now say, "Taye Diggs and I have something in common."

Crazy, wild hope -- could ABC be force-majeuring guys because a settlement might be in the wind? Even I think that's crazy, but if I were more desperate I would believe it.

1.10.2008

Schwarzenegger Bullshit Watch, It Had To Happen Edition

Skelton:

"Republican state Sen. Tom McClintock recalls a meeting with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger one year ago. The veteran Thousand Oaks lawmaker tried to warn the governor that he was traipsing down the same deficit trail as his recalled predecessor.

In fact, McClintock cautioned, Schwarzenegger's path was even more risky than that of Gray Davis.

McClintock showed the governor a chart he had drawn. It illustrated that spending under Davis had increased an average of 7% a year. Under Schwarzenegger, it was climbing at a 10% rate. Similarly, he pointed out, the deficit -- the billions being spent over the revenue coming in -- was larger than under Davis.

According to McClintock, the governor replied: 'That is bad news that people don't want to hear. People want to hear only good news. I don't want to hear pessimism. I'm an optimist.'"

Side note: Why it's kind of bad to love sports

It makes these guys rich. Swindle:

"Whether the SEC stays with CBS or leaves for even bigger money is a fascinating question, especially given Fox's ability to make it rain. Fox already holds the rights to the World Series, the NFL's NFC contract and four of the five BCS games."

"For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong"

Miss Finke:

"It's also Clooney's idea that everybody would be locked in the room together and not leave until the deal is done."

Heh

Miss Finke: "Look, I've been to the Writers Guild Awards and it's a big, BIG stretch to call that a show."

I knew Studio 60 was doomed from the scene early in the pilot where Chandler and that guy from West Wing are at the prestigious Writers Guild awards. Who are we fooling, anyway?

1.09.2008

"Use Teflon curling iron only in order to prevent damage to hair piece"

The Steve Allen Rider.

For Steverino-philes only!

Personal strike note

I got to get myself back in picketing shape. I come home and throw myself on a couch like a lady in a melodrama.

LA: The Loneliest Starbucks In The World



I'm a little too dense to understand what Frank Gehry is talking about in this post -- I'd need a map -- but here in the Civic Center park, across from the Music Center but difficult of access, is the loneliest Starbucks I have ever seen. I'm sure it's jammed at like 8:50 am with government workers at the hideously ugly courthouse on the right there, but if you go at 10 am, as I have once or twice, it's just this little coffee stand in this big empty park in the middle of a huge city. Crazy.

The civic center park also has this over-the-top women-in-stiff-hairdo-drinking-brandy-alexanders 60s-era fountain in the middle of it, which this photo doesn't do justice:



It's dedicated to some bureaucrat, as I recall, which somehow seems LA.

1.08.2008

Politics note: People Like Nerds

Here's Slate on why Hillary won: "In town-hall meetings, she answered question after question for hours and finally made herself accessible to the press." I know it's a commonplace that the public is interested in policy and the stupid press is interested in the horse race, but it doesn't mean it's not still true. IIRC Clinton (B.) would always have these three-hour State of the Union addresses, and then the blowhards would come on and talk about what a disaster it was, and then his poll numbers would go up. Of course Clinton (B.) was uniquely gifted in making policy talk seem like it mattered to you -- he "could put the hay down where the goats could get at it," as some Arkansas politician once said of him.

I myself prefer hay to hope, and I like wonky pissed-off Hillary more than grand-themes Hillary, and if we can get Obama to come down from 30,000 feet and talk about thin-film solar then this should be good.

This place is turning into fucking Russia (3)

Via The Agonist:

"The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that police armed with a warrant can barge into homes and seize evidence even if they don't knock, a huge government victory that was decided by President Bush's new justices.

The 5-4 ruling signals the court's conservative shift following the departure of moderate Sandra Day O'Connor.

The case tested previous court rulings that police armed with warrants generally must knock and announce themselves or they run afoul of the Constitution's Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches."

Cleaning out my net news wire

Mirtle on doubling the overtime. Yes! And being a both/and type of guy, I say they should also award 3 points for a win.

• Two good Kit Stolz posts (they're all good, actually; I like that blog): Stupid voters (he says "undecided," I say "swing"), and how climate change brings about nostalgia for a place you've never left .

• And two more climate-energy posts: Future Pundit, usually so optimistic, on how biofuels suck, and, to be optimistic, 70 percent of US energy from solar?

M

According to blogger this is my 1,000th post. Actually I feel a little disappointed -- maybe because it took me so long to get here -- but that's my default state anyway, and I should probably just congratulate myself for keeping at something.

I've been blogging more and enjoying it more of late, though, so I hope it won't be as long to MM.

Stewart/Colbert -- late review

Shit, tonight's shows are probably on by now, but I thought I would add my two cents.

The Daily Show reminded me of a Lakers game where Kobe scores 65 and the Lakers almost lose. There's no doubt that the man can create for himself, but you kept wanting to edit stuff here and there, to get off one joke and on to another. I also thought, Man, he's going to get very tired of doing this after awhile. Obviously his opening segments will probably be shorter than last night's, but still.

I was surprised by how jazzed! Colbert was, but then that's the character and he did receive a long ovation. (I think it's un-PC to go to one of these shows under strike conditions, by the way -- the hosts have to cross that line, but you don't, audience dude.) He might last longer before giving out, because that character has such a clear point of view and besides, he can just watch O'Reilly to get his rough drafts. But he's going to get tired too. Those daily shows are a grind under the best of circumstances.

1.07.2008

A (not the) return of the double-dactyl

Is it mud if it's frozen?
The New Hampshire primary
Quadrennial wheel-spinning
In the Granite State's ruts.

But N.H. is hardly so
Unrepresentative
The tradition's crazy
But the country is nuts.

Sheesh

My internet is down all day (thanks, Time Warner!) and I come back to find the big story was that Hillary Clinton may or may not have cried.

Are we sure we're supposed to look down on nonvoters?

1.04.2008

Concur

On Plymouth Gin, from Very Good Taste:

"...I’m in a bad mood with Plymouth, because it ditched its charmingly nautical thick glass bottle for an undistinguished trendy new look that’s half Smirnoff, half skyscraper."
See for yourself (I'm bad at uploading photos, though):

On Leno

I'm not going to get into it too much, because to be honest I don't get what the WGA gets out of screaming and shouting about it, but some points.

1. I would believe it if Jay is generating his own monologue. Way, way back in the day, before he did the Tonight Show, I knew standups who thought Jay was the best standup they had ever seen. Also, whatever Jay's opinion of the union is, I don't think he'd put his writers -- or any aspiring writers -- in a compromising position by asking for material.

2. That said, Jay is doing a "fuck you" to some extent, and I wonder if it's rooted in the fact that everyone thinks Letterman is cooler. Jay's got to have a Paul-Bunyan's-cricket-bat sized chip on his shoulder about that, and it doesn't get smaller when Worldwide Pants gets to get its writers back and seem like heroes of the union. I smell ressentiment, but then I usually do. (It's because I'm trying to conserve water by showering less.)

3. The final thing, which is apropos of the big screenwriters going fi-core, is from that Verrone opponent Craig Mazin:

In the meantime, there may come a day when like-minded writers get together to magnify their political power in this union. Should that come to pass, it wouldn’t (couldn’t!) possibly happen until there was actually something to argue for, like a reasonable offer from the AMPTP.

There hasn’t been one yet. That’s something everyone can agree on.
It'd be a lot easier to give in if there were something to give in to. But there isn't.

Two things that sound funny, one of which isn't, apparently

• There's still a reward out for D.B. Cooper.

• We're running out of helium.

My favorite TV thing

So Fox has this show coming up called New Amsterdam and it has my favorite TV thing, because the main character is named Amsterdam. I love that. But I am on record as saying "Six Feet Under" would have been better if it had been about a family named "Feet."

30 Rock did a bit about this, too, which is one of the reasons I cherish it so -- all my favorite room idees fixes put out there for the masses (or a sliver thereof) to enjoy.

The Money Changers and The Temple

I heartily agree with This sentiment, and have since I was a mere lad in the parochial school:

"US conservatives have been failing for generations to explain how free markets and stable social structures don’t undermine each other, and they’ve been failing for very good reason"
I mean, we all It's remarkable how much the GOP has gotten done based on liberal-hatred. It helps when your opposition keeps nominating version of Rich Kotite for President. But there are limits, which we might be seeing this year.

Light blogging

The children still aren't back at school. The children still aren't back at school. Life has no order. The rain is unsurprising. Also, I have embarked on another project which involves daily tasks, and which will be revealed on the blogspots if I prove I can keep it up. Otherwise not. But it cuts into my blogging time. Sorry to be so mysterious -- this project certainly doesn't justify it -- but that's just how it is now.