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.