Saturday, May 31, 2014

Hoodathunk

"Doctor Shortage Is Cited in Delays at V.A. Hospitals"

LIB

Forget the Pulitzer, here's some Nobel-worthy economics analysis: “It’s just harder to attract physicians to care for more challenging patients while paying them less.”

Thank God this won't happen under Obamacare.

No Guts

In Variety, Peter Bart starts a thought-free think piece on Jill Abramson thus:

The evisceration of Jill Abramson as executive editor of the New York Times earlier this month has sparked spirited debate across the media landscape.

Evisceration?  She was fired.  I wouldn't call it evisceration.  I think defenestration would fit better.

But perhaps Bart is referring to all the insults and attacks. Except when he talks about the reaction, he's more impressed with her defenders:

The storm of pontification about Abramson’s ouster became so fierce that Sulzberger was forced to issue a statement a few days later defending his decision.

And storm of pontification?  Really? Didn't think I'd miss evisceration so soon.

Mad Again

California is the worst run state in the nation--or so says an extensive survey at 24/7 Wall Street.  Here's how they put it.

For the third year in a row, California is the worst-run state in America. California faced a nearly $24 billion in budget shortfall in fiscal 2012, including a mid-year shortfall of $930 million and $8.2 billion carried over from the year before. California carries an A credit rating from Standard & Poor’s, and an A1 from Moody’s — both worse than any other state except for Illinois. Explaining its rating, Moody’s pointed to the state’s history of one-time solutions to resolve its budgetary gaps. It also noted the state’s “highly volatile revenue structure,” due to its over reliance on wealthy taxpayers. The Golden State was also among the worst states in the nation for educational attainment, health coverage, and unemployment.

Catch that part "worse than any other state except for Illinois"?  That's where I used to live.  Right now the Land Of Lincoln is ranked #48.

Illinois has the worst credit rating in the U.S., having received the lowest rating of any state from both Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s. Explaining its reasoning, Moody’s pointed to the state’s underfunded pension and ongoing weak fiscal practices such as bill payment delays. Only 40.4% of the state’s pension obligations were funded in 2012, the worst rate in the nation. Illinois also had the fourth-largest debt in the country at the end of fiscal 2011 at nearly $65 billion. The state faced high foreclosure and unemployment rates in 2012, both among the worst in the country.

Illinois may catch us yet.

Especially if Springfield's House Speaker Mike Madigan has his way.  The state has been chasing away successful people for years, but not fast enough for Madigan.  Now he wants a referendum that will raise taxes yet more on millionaires.  Politicians wouldn't pass it, but he's hoping the people will.  The theory behind it seems to be "we've overspent, and you've got a lot of money, so you owe it to us."

Or perhaps he figures it will bring out Democrats in the fall in a time when the GOP's fortunes have been rising.  Madigan calls these people cynics and I agree.  I believe he honestly wants to do these things that make Illinois a miserable place to live.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Gone Gary Gone

For years I enjoyed reading the Becker-Posner Blog.  Every week the boys would each write a mini-essay on some topic in their pithy, no-nonsense style.

Gary Becker passed away earlier this month.  I wondered what Posner would do.  Here's the entire entry a week later.

FAREWELL:
   
In memoriam: Gary S. Becker, 1930-2014.

The Becker-Posner blog is terminated.

Richard A. Posner

Like I said, pithy, no-nonsense.  I only hope I can leave this blog so gracefully. (Posner's way, I mean, not Becker's.)

Respect my authority

"It is said that the problem with the younger generation — any younger generation — is that it has not read the minutes of the last meeting."

 Said, it is.

(Minutes of the last meeting? F,WT. I'd "love" to know what passes for poetry on the Will bookshelf.)

Ballmer The Baller

According to the LA Times, It looks like former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer may be buying the Los Angeles Clippers.  He's made a $2 billion bid, considerably more than David Geffen's second-highest offer of $1.6 billion.

I had no idea the Clippers were so valuable.  In fact, Ballmer's number is almost four times higher than what any NBA team has ever sold for.  Does Ballmer want to make money, or does the guy just want a bauble?

In any case, what he wants to do with the team is his business.  If he gets it.  Any purchase has to be cleared by three-quarters of NBA owners.  The first question you ask when someone offers you a big check is will it bounce?  Well, with a net worth of $20 billion, I'll assume he's good for it.

Second, it looks like he's promised to keep the team in Los Angeles. (Not that I personally care.  Don't follow the Clippers and we've got another team anyway.)

But that should just be the start.  I'd now like him to turn over everything he's ever written, said, and, if possible, thought.  Public, private, I make no distinction.  And while we're at it, have him fill out a questionnaire and perhaps take a polygraph.  In this country, we don't allow unworthy people to own things.  So we have to know how he feels about every political issue before any purchase can take place.

In a related story, it turns out Donald Sterling stands to make a 15,900%  profit when he sells the Clippers, so I wish he'd stop complaining.  Forcing him out of the NBA is a huge favor, doesn't he get it?

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Getting deep

"His Holiness has been in deep meditative state since 29th January 2014."

No, it's not the New York Times coverage of Obama. (Of course it's the same words, but trust me, it's a different story.)

It's a question whether the courts can determine he's alive, and if so is it based on science or faith? Sort of Scopes Monkey Trial, or socialist economics, if you prefer.

Communicating

There's talk that Hulu will host a sixth season of Community.  The show never rated well in its five years at NBC, but it's got one of the most rabid fan bases in the world, and was among the highest-rated show of Hulu's rebroadcasts.

There are stumbling blocks.  Number one is Dan Harmon.  They've already tried it without him and no one wants to do that again.  But lately the show's creator, who at first said NBC or nothing, seems to be coming around.

Then there's the question of who will return. The show has already lost Chevy Chase and Donald Glover, but the rest who stuck around seem game.  I don't know what the budget would be for a thing like this, or how many episodes (or when they'd be available), but that might affect a lot of things.  And who knows, maybe Glover of Chase would show up for an episode or two.

So I guess this is cause for a celebration, though there are still hoops to jump through. I'm more worried about the potential quality that whether it'll happen or not.  The fifth season, when Harmon came back, was a return to form, but it still didn't match the first three seasons.

Above all, we need a sixth season so they can go on to do a movie.

Procul Vocal

Happy birthday, Gary Brooker.  He's a founder of and singer and songwriter for Procul Harum. They've recorded over ten albums but are mostly known for a few singles.





Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Time Shift

So ColumbusGal puts herself to sleep watching ridiculous old TV shows--say, Columbo. Or Frasier. Or Mary Tyler Moore (no judgment LAGuy, great show). And it seems inevitable that it would happen eventually, Cheers.

So we're watching the first season and a nice little joke has to do with a guy at the bar whose special, interesting talent is he knows all the lyrics to the Bonanza theme song, and insists on singing it.

Nice little bit.

So not quite 24 hours later, it dawns on me that the time between Cheers and Bonanza--played as ancient in the bit--is a helluva lot less than the time between Cheers and now.

Crap.

I think I'll go watch some Hulu original programming. On my iThrone.

Plenty O' Somethin'

"On My Way" by Joseph Horowitz is a book we may not need but I'm glad we have.  It's 250 pages mostly about how we got Porgy And Bess on Broadway in 1935. The show is considered one of the high points of the American musical, and American opera, but I don't think millions were demanding to find out what was behind the original production.

First, of course, was DuBose Heyward's 1920s novella Porgy.  Heyward came from a genteel southern tradition, but was fascinated by the black, Gullah-speaking community of South Carolina.  His book was popular and George Gershwin wrote Heyward, suggesting it might be musicalized.  Heyward didn't take him up on it, as he and his cosmopolitan wife Dorothy were already adapting the work as a straight play.  Only some time after that became a hit in the 1927 Theatre Guild production did Gershwin return to the work.

But the hero of "On My Way" isn't Heyward, or even Gershwin, but director Rouben Mamoulian.  Mamoulian, an Armenian born in Tbilisi, Georgia, studied Russian theatre and by his early 20s was doing imaginative work on the American stage.  The Theatre Guild at first wasn't sure what to do with the Porgy script, but Mamoulian, newly hired, decided it would be right for his first assignment there.

Mamoulian believed the playwright provided the dialogue, but the director did everything else. His productions concentrated on the sound and look of the work, not just the words.  And everything--the sets, the costumes, the movement--were created for a unified whole.  His kind of directing required a metronome and a baton.  At its best this method created a powerful, even startling theatrical event--though it sometimes failed to lead to powerful individual performances.

To get a feeling for the show, Mamoulian studied Gullah culture, and also attended Harlem churches.  In addition, he and the Guild had to find a large African-American cast at a time when few such actors were seen on the Broadway stage.

Mamoulian had a lot of say in reshaping the script, and his set pieces--the picnic, the funeral, the hurricane, etc.--made the play a surprise hit. And though it was a straight play, it was filled with music, such as spirituals and other suitable songs.

When sound came to Hollywood, it was natural that Mamoulian would be asked to make films.  And he created in his early years in film some memorable titles. He's too often relegated by critics as a trickster with little personality, but stuff like Applause (1929), Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde (1931), Love Me Tonight (1932) and Queen Christina (1933) is nothing to sneeze at.

While Mamoulian was out West, George Gershwin was busy musicalizing Porgy, renamed Porgy And Bess.  The lyrics were supplied by brother Ira and DuBose Heyward himself.  Originally, they wanted John Houseman to direct, but the Guild felt Mamoulian had the experience and talent to run such a huge, expensive production.

Once again, Mamoulian took over, shaping the show, which was based on the play, not the novel.  Of course, he had the original plot to work with, which he knew intimately, and the amazing score. The show was recognized as something special, but did not make money, and reviewers often took a patronizing attitude toward Gershwin.  Some were perplexed--what was this, opera or musical, serious or popular?

Eventually, the work got under the skin of the public--even though Mamoulian didn't like later productions--and now enjoys universal acclaim.  This was a little too late for Gershwin, who died very young in 1937.  Same for Heyward, who died in 1940.  Mamoulian went on, though, and helped revolutionize the Broadway musical with two smashes, Oklahoma! (1943) and Carousel (1945).  By the 1950s, however, his career petered out. In Hollywood, he became better known for the pictures he was fired from--including the Sam Goldwyn production of Porgy And Bess--than those he completed.

At least he lived long enough to see Porgy And Bess become a modern classic, even if his name was rarely mentioned as one of the people behind it.  Perhaps Horowitz's book will do something to address that.

Proud John

John Fogerty turns 69 today.  He blazed pretty hot for a few years as leader of CCR, and then did some decent work as a solo.









Tuesday, May 27, 2014

What government values

"He was articulate. He was polite. He was timid."

Now can we get back to the Tea Party? Those guys say "fy" ALL the time.

Oh, yeah, and more signs saying weapons are not allowed.

Cri De Coeur

Larry Kramer's play The Normal Heart caused quite a stir when it opened off-Broadway in 1985.  Kramer, a writer and activist, tried to put on stage the devastating impact of the AIDS epidemic, and did a lot of finger-pointing along the way.  Now he's adapted his play for HBO, starring Mark Ruffalo and Julia Roberts, directed by Ryan Murphy.  And though it's received wide acclaim, I'm not sure how well the drama has held up.

The film does a good job capturing the bewildering feeling of being part of a community rent apart by a plague.  The early moments, when this disease, unknown, unnamed, is creeping up on the gay New York scene, work pretty well.  But then we get to the outrage, and the piece becomes almost a series of angry rants. (The lead character, who's constantly inflamed, is based on Larry Kramer himself.  If it's accurate, I can only say he must be an exhausting person to be around.)

I'm sure back in the early years of the epidemic such speeches felt cathartic.  But now that we have some perspective, the main emotion that comes through is self-righteousness.  The piece, I suppose, is a useful documentation of a place and an era, but as drama it has serious failings.

Back To Black

Happy birthday, Cilla Black.  Her name means nothing in America, but back in the UK, where she's from, she had a bunch of hits in the 60s.  And several of those came from the Lennon-McCartney songbook:






Monday, May 26, 2014

Heh heh

Enjoying a bit of Schadenfreude this morning: "I.R.S. Bars Employers From Dumping Workers Into Health Exchanges"

The law means just what we choose it to mean, neither more nor less.

About the only joy we're going to get in health care is watching Big Guv Luv finish the job on pharmaceutical companies and insurers.

Now they just need to finish that inversion thing, stop the movement of assets out of the country and tighten up the currency controls, and everything will be fine, just like they said it would.

Last Men

So we're at the end of the half-season on Mad Men.  That came fast.  And "Waterloo," after giving us a solid hour of fine entertainment, ends with one of the biggest WTF moments the show's ever had.

It's July, and Apollo 11 takes off.  Won't be long before they land on the moon, and everyone's worried if they'll make it.  Ted is out with some clients from Sunkist, flying a plane.  He cuts the engines and scares them to death.  Ted seems not to care.  There are repercussions at the NY office, especially from Pete.  Ted says he's done with advertising, just buy me out and I'm gone.  Jim can't calm down Ted, and then Lou comes in--they've lost cigarettes due to Don, and they're a laughing stock.  Jim gives him the back of his hand, but realizes, yet again, that Don is trouble.

Then there's a subplot with Betty and Sally and guests at their place which I found kind of dull, so I won't bother to recount it.  It does include Sally kissing a boy, ignoring Betty's advice from years ago that you don't kiss boys, they kiss you.

Now Harry is ready to be a partner (and his wife is waiting for it--she won't get a divorce until he does).  He, along with Pete, Don and Peggy, are prepping for their Burger Chef pitch out in Indiana.  (Harry may be a future partner, but he still gets no respect.)  Looks good, though they're worried if the moon shot fails it'll put a damper on things.

Peggy gets back to her place and deals with a handyman.  There's another subplot here with the kid, Julio, who drops by, which isn't bad, and brings out certain feelings in Peggy, but I'm going to ignore it as well.

Back at the office Don's secretary delivers a letter.  The partners--actually, Ted's behind it--are firing him for breach.  He didn't live up to the rules when he broke into that tobacco meeting.  The secretary feels bad and makes a play for Don--and just like when Peggy did this at the start of the series, Don isn't interested.  She makes it clear she's available.

Don confronts Jim.  You didn't follow the stipulations.  Don replies that meeting was to force me out.  Jim insults him and Don takes it public--he calls all the partners together outside Jim's office and says you want me out, do it now.  Only Joan agrees with Jim. She's become pretty nasty this year, but she's got her own problems, and she still blames Don for losing her so much money when they were about to go public--she may be a prostitute, but she doesn't want to sell out cheap.  So there's not enough votes.  Seems to me you can't force a guy out, contract or no, without the consent of the partners.

Don prepares for the trip.  Don calls Megan, telling her it looks like he'll be out. He says maybe he can move to Los Angeles, but she's not sure how to respond.  Probably not what Don was hoping for.

Roger barges into Bert's office and isn't happy about Jim.  Bert doesn't love Don, but explains he had to be loyal, yet he knows Don shouldn't be back.

The fearsome foursome are flying to Indiana, including Don (who, after all, could just drop out at this point).  Pete's worried he'll be skittish.  Don isn't, but also knows Pete can't really help him.  Once they get to their hotel, they watch the moon landing.  So does everyone else on the show. So did everyone else in the real world.  Then Roger gets a phone call.  Bert has died.

Roger goes into the office.  Joan meets him there. Followed by Jim.  Bert was Roger's mentor, and of course Joan was close for years.  Jim is a little more cold-hearted.  Joan wants to deal with the aftermath, but Jim is almost gleeful that this means Don has to go.

Roger calls Don to tell him the news.  Now Don knows, in addition to Bert's death, that he's out.  Yet there's a pitch tomorrow.  I figured Don would go through with it, but he figures he's got to have Peggy do it (and Pete will get no say, of course), because if he's gone, she'll have to have the account.  Not sure of the logic, but Peggy apparently goes along.  She back in love--well, like--with Don (as is Pete), and works with him.

Next morning, Roger meets with the McCann guy, and waves Buick in front of him.  Roger's plan--buy us out and let us act independently.  Roger is doing this, of course, to save not just Don, but all the old team, who might not make it (aside from Harry) in Jim's future. The only stumbling block is getting back Ted, since he and Don are what GM want.

At the pitch, Peggy is nervous (and Pete isn't entirely happy with the turn of events), but she pulls it off magnificently, tying everything in to the moon shot and almost getting some tears, like classic Don.  Times have changed.  In the first episode, Don didn't even like being spoken to in the wrong way by a woman, even if she was a client, but now he's more than happy to introduce Peggy's pitch, and watch as she moves up in class.

Don comes home to his apartment and Roger is waiting.  He explains the potential deal.  Wait a second, didn't we go to a whole lot of trouble just to avoid being gobbled up by a big company?  Roger says he'll be in charge and they'll be left alone.  Don can go back to pure creativity, and not worry about votes and meetings etc.  Better this than any other option, it seems.

Next morning. The showdown.  Ted is back, too, ready to leave.  Jim and Joan are all prepared to give Don the heave-ho right after they announce Bert's death. Meanwhile, Pete hasn't heard back from Burger Chef.  Calm down, everyone, Roger wants to talk.  They all sit down and he tells them about the McCann deal. Jim thinks it's to save Don (at least partly right), but so what?  Joan finds out she could make $1.5 million for her share, and that's all she needs to hear. Don, all if forgiven.  But this'll only work if Ted, who wants to leave advertising (and maybe this world) will sign a five-year contract.  While he's thinking, Harry drops by--sorry, Harry, you're not a partner yet, so you don't get to share the honey.  Don does a selling job--can't keep a good pitch down--telling Ted he was done not too long ago and now he'll do anything to get back.  Ted (I'm a bit surprised to say) agrees.  Roger calls a vote and now even Jim has to go along--who'd turn down all that money?

They go out to make the big announcement.  Peggy got the call from Burger Chef and they bought the pitch.  Don and Peggy hug. Dawn gets everyone together and Roger makes the announcement while Don goes downstairs.

So that's the end. Or could be.  Things have turned out okay for just about everyone, and the future seems assured.  Except that would mean the end of the series and we know there are seven episodes left, not to mention six months to go in the 60s.  So Don turns around and see Bert, who then, with some secretaries, performs (in his Robert Morse old-man voice) "The Best Things In Life Are Free."

What's going on here?  Is Don having a psychotic break?  A fond remembrance? I thought he was on an even keel again. Guess we'll have to wait a year to find out where this is going.

I'd love to show a video of Bert doing the song, but it's not available yet. So, in its place, here's Toni Collette and Rachel Griffiths performing "Waterloo" from Muriel's Wedding.

Miles To Go

There aren't too many names in jazz that mean more than Miles Davis.  Happy birthday.











Sunday, May 25, 2014

Slim Pickens Award

Glenn Reynolds always says "Faster, please" whenever there is news from the front on the biology wars, and now he's delighted that doctors have succeeded in suspended animation.

Fine, I get it that every treatment is a good one. What's the alternative? I'd much rather have my wife be a cyborg, too, than dead. (I'm not sure it's balanced each way on the sexes, though. ColumbusGal leads me to believe that so long as the penile implant keeps working, she's cool.)

But I'm less sanguine that getting rid of death as we know it is a good thing. Plenty of people seem to like talking about how we are evolutionarily wired for this or that (and are therefore wrong footed by today's modern circumstances that don't match up to our days on the Veldt).

How will we react when the biggest factor of them all isn't a factor any longer?

So, faster, please. But what will we do when we get there?

NO

Norm Ornstein has written a dumb article in The Atlantic.  It's one of those partisan pieces masquerading as an objective argument--we need term limits for the Supreme Court because for some reason that will cut down on its polarization, when it seems more likely all Ornstein cares about is kicking off the conservatives who have been enjoying a (paper thin) majority for a while.  (Ornstein is one of those people who claims to fight for non-partisanship by getting everyone to join the side he supports.) But we expect this sort of argument whenever people write about the Supreme Court--they say they're fighting for a principle, and it's just a coincidence this alleged principle will mean the Court decides cases the way they want.  Here's the despicable part:

[...] I thought about what would have happened if the current Supreme Court were transported back to decide Brown. Two years of deliberation? No way. Unanimous or even near-unanimous decision? Forget it. The decision would have been 5-4 the other way, with Chief Justice John Roberts writing for the majority, "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race"—leaving separate but equal as the standard. The idea that finding unanimity or near-unanimity was important for the fabric of the society would never have come up.

Let's leave aside that it takes two to tango--if the liberals on the court would work with the conservatives, maybe we could get more unanimous decisions.  Ones that would probably make Ornstein editorialize against the pall of conformity.  The Court simply isn't built that way at present, unlike the days of yore.  And I see no reason why term limits would address Ornstein's problem (which isn't even a real problem, which is just as well, since I doubt Ornstein really cares about it), while I can see how it would make things worse in other ways.  Though I guess it would be a fun political spectacle to watch some Justices trying to put off a case so that it's beyond the retirement of a Justice they disagree with, and then as soon as they get a majority, start overturning everything in sight.

No, let's look at Ornstein's hate.  Saying today's judicial conservatives would oppose Brown is beyond a cheap shot.  It would be just as easy to claim that Robert's opponents, who think that people should be treated differently based on their race, would have trouble with the entire civil rights movement of the post-WWII era.  But where does that get you?

Mr. Ornstein, how can you claim you want more deliberation and less polarization when you resort to such slimy name-calling?

PS  I wrote this post a couple days ago.  Since then, Ilya Somin has taken on Ornstein, making most of the same points, only more calmly and rationally. 

Go, Johnny, Go

Like a lot of rock stars, Johnny Burnette died young from an accident.  But if he had lived, he'd be 80 today*.







*I read the date wrong--turns out his birthday was March 25.  I don't care--today we celebrate his legacy.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Flushing Him Out

Good news, everyone.  The "Playground Pooper" of Ypsilanti has been caught.  The investigation has been going on for over half a year to find the person who's been leaving feces (his own, presumably--and yes, I'm assuming it's a male) on slides in local parks.  Why did it take so long?  Perhaps he'd been laying low for a while:

“This winter, it wasn’t necessarily a problem,” city council member Pete Murdock said Friday. “Now that the weather is getting warmer, we need to get a handle on it.”

I couldn't agree more.  The whole town was concerned. People even put up billboards along I-94 that said things like "Help Us Catch The Poopertrator."

Now that he's on ice, the police have not identified the individual, or explained if they caught him in the act or used some other method.  The people need to know.

I think Mr. Murdock summed the problem quite well, though: "No one wants to play in other people’s feces."

Police expect the problem is behind them, but with all this publicity, will there by copycats?

Zimmy

Happy birthday, Bob Dylan.  What can I say?













PS  I put up to above a few weeks ago and already I see a couple of the videos are no longer available.  More than any other artist I'm familiar with, Dylan has people regularly checking on YouTube to take down his original recordings.

So to make up for the deficit, here's one of his famous songs, performed by someone else, used under the best part of Watchmen--the credits.


Friday, May 23, 2014

1969

The final season of Mad Men is set in 1969.  I'm sure they've asked themselves how can they capture the mood of that long-gone era.  As noted below, there were new sounds, like the Moog synthesizer, that conjure up a certain sense of what is was like.

But I've recently come across some video, shot in 1969, that I believe encapsulates better than any other what it felt like to live in that time.


A La Moog

Robert Moog (pronounced Mohg), inventor of the Moog synthesizer, was born 80 years ago today, so let's have a properly synthetic celebration.









Thursday, May 22, 2014

How odd

How completely odd this is. Less than a few days after Sunstein takes down Epstein and the Tea Party, Sunstein tea bags it:


Students can be indoctrinated? Watch out, Cass. That way madness lies.

Girls Girls Girls

When I was a kid we had an audio/visual club in our school and, if I recall, it didn't have any girls.  I don't think there was an official rule, but setting up film strips and the like was considered something mainly of interest to boys. (Whether you'd call it sexism or not, it wasn't as if this was considered a great position--it was something for nerds to do.)

Now at the A.V. Club, which comments on popular culture, they seem very concerned about the place of females in popular entertainment.  As I noted a couple weeks ago, they're surprisingly troubled about how poorly women are treated in Game Of Thrones--though reviewer Erik Adams hardly seems to notice that men in that show, if anything, have it worse.

And now, in a review of the latest episode of Silicon Valley by Les Chappell, we get this:

The largest success of “Proof Of Concept” is that it acknowledges one of the show’s most glaring omissions, its lack of female characters. Several publications (including this one) have criticized the show for its lack of gender diversity, a complaint that showrunners Mike Judge and Alec Berg have countered by saying it’s representative of the world they’re portraying. Both have also expressed a desire to satirize that trend, which Monica does by warning them that this isn’t the safety of Palo Alto: “Normally the tech world is 2 percent female. For the next three days? 15 percent.” (“It’s a goddamned meat market,” Gilfoyle observes.) While the show shouldn’t feel obligated to include more female cast members to satisfy criticisms, it also shouldn’t be tone-deaf that those criticisms exist, and an acknowledgment of this disparity is a step in the right direction.

This is a success--putting women in a show about tech nerds?  The show should have as many women as it needs, including zero if it works.  How many female characters you have, or male characters, or blacks or whites or Asians or whatever is, artistically (which is what Chappell's talking about), irrelevant.

Shows shouldn't feel obligated to add characters due to criticisms from fans or reviews if those criticisms are stupid.  It's not a question of being "tone-deaf" or moving in the right direction--ignoring stupid advice is the right thing to do.

I've never been too concerned with the sex of the people who write A.V. Club reviews, but now that they bring up the topic, the men seem to outnumber the women by a significant degree.  Don't they think something should be done about this? If they can't afford to hire more people, let me suggest they fire the men who complain about sexism and replace them with women.

Three For One

Some big birthdays for a few musicians today.

First off, it's the 90th birthday of Charles Aznavour.



 And it's the 80th birthday of Peter Nero.



Finally, it's the 60th (though some sources say the 59th) birthday of Jerry Dammers.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Unwise

Several years ago Congress passed some resolution or other saying that if any of the laughable-if-it-weren't-so-tragic "international law" jurisdictions sought to lay hands on U.S. soldiers to prosecute them, that the U.S. military would intervene. Of course it was all about Iraq, but it could have been anything. NPR interviewed some nobody in Belgium who was quite outraged and wondered if the Marines would attack Brussels.

Yes, ma'm, that was exactly the point.

(Of course we've lost that will by now. I doubt that we had it then, but we could make a colorable claim of it, especially in the context of the day. I suppose the decay curve suggests we might get it back temporarily at some point, but I'm guessing the oomph has fallen below threshold.)

Evidence of this comes via Mr. Holder's and Mr. Obama's decision to issue criminal charges against five Chinese soldiers.

How many divisions has Mr. Holder, again? I read recently that his buddy Chuck was looking to cut the number in any event.

Favorite line: "Analysts said the US was unlikely to be able to put the men on trial . . ."

Indeed. The soaring majesty of the law.

Champions

Two excellent hours of TV on Sunday.  Both Mad Men and Game Of Thrones were at their best.

Mad Men's "The Strategy" was probably the best episode so far this season. It already makes me sad that there's only one more show to go before the long hiatus. We start with Peggy out of town at a Burger Chef--their new client--interviewing women who buy the family meal there.  Can't she hire other people to do this research? Meanwhile, Pete, who's been out of it this season, is flying back to New York with his new girlfriend Bonnie. He's going back to see his daughter.  Bonnie wants to be together, but looks like Pete also wants to spend some time apart.

Don is cleaning up his place--we can guess who's coming.  Joan's still living with her mom and son, and is getting ready for the office. At the office, Don is now working hard and in comes Bonnie.  He did meet her in L.A.  Pete joins them.  He insists Don, as a team member, join Peggy's Burger Chef pitch to Lou.  The pitch--a mom feeling guilty about fast food till her husband joins her--goes pretty well, but Peggy is put off by Don's presence, even though he's still in his friendly mode.

Roger's taking a steam at the New York Athletic Club when he runs into a guy from McCann.  They trade quips and Roger gets the better of him.  You don't mess with Roger.  They talk about fast food, cars, cigarettes, Don Draper--just boy talk.  Back at the office, Pete and Peggy meet in Lou's office and Pete wants Don to do the real pitch.  Ted's listening in too from California (whatever happened to Ted?) and Peggy, not thrilled, has to go along with it.  The way Pete talks, you'd figure Don's still in charge--in fact, Pete and Roger seem to be his only champions.

Upstairs, who's back but Bob Benson. (It's been so long since last season, the actor was on a series that's already been canceled in the meantime.) He's there with the GM people, and there's one-eyed Ken and Joan also meeting them.  Bob wants to see Joan again.  What are you getting at, Bob? Downstairs, Peggy informs Don of the pitch, pretending it was her idea.  Don mentions reworking the ad, but Peggy says no.  Now Megan comes into the office.  Peggy catches her first.  Stan also says hello.  Then Don walks by--hey, his wife came early.  As Don and Megan are leaving, Jim talks to Roger about Philip Morris--which could force Don out.  Boy, the partners don't get along. How much longer can this last?

Bob gets a late-night call. His GM guy was arrested for homosexual activity.  He's hurt, but he won't go to a hospital--doesn't want the info to get out.  When is Stonewall gonna happen already?  This wouldn't have happened in Detroit, where he knows his way around. Bob tries to separate himself, but it doesn't play. More important, GM is moving on, and Bob will be going with Buick.  Big news.

It's now the weekend, and Peggy can't sleep. By suggesting he was working on a new angle, Don put a bee in her bonnet that the idea wasn't good enough.  Over in Cos Cob, Pete meets his daughter, who doesn't even know him.  His wife is out, only the maid is there.  Does this mean no Alison Brie?  It's cruel enough we've lost her in Community, but is she out of the picture at Mad Men too?  He comes back later and she's still out.  He's obsessed and calls Bonnie--have fun tonight, I'm gonna stick around here.  Glad he did, since Alison finally comes back.  Their little meeting doesn't not go well.  She seems to be over him and he's gets high-handed (though he's got a gal stashed in a hotel).

Don sleeps in and wakes to sees Megan on the balcony. If only she wanted to be back, but her life is now out West. Peggy goes to the agency, takes residence in Lou's office and tries to work.  She calls Stan and wants him to come in.  He's busy.  So she calls Don and gets all Jill Abramsony, saying his ideas stink and now he's ruined hers.  He hangs up on her.

Bob comes over the Joan's, being his regular charming self.  Later that day, he offers her a ring.  He figures it'd look good for both of them, especially now that he's moving up.  (He also says she might like it in Detroit.  I know all about Grosse Pointe, but would anyone say this in 1969?)  Anyway, Joan, approaching 40, with a kid, is holding out for true love.  Maybe she's right, but its not the worst offer.  At Don's, Megan is going back to L.A.  And Pete in the hotel loses Bonnie--she doesn't want to go shopping, or wait for him, she's her own woman who wants a serious relationship.  The men are striking out right and left.

Later, Don goes to the office to meet frustrated Peggy.  Maybe the most painful thing this season has seen these two--former mentor and protege, the most creative people around--be at odds.  She's being annoying at first, but he's open, helpful and charming.  Even honest. You don't always know what works.  You've got to do what you want, even in a pitch.  They bond. What is this campaign really about?  What is life about?  Peggy just turned 30, and doesn't know where he life is going.  Don sort of feels the same way.  Peggy imagines a beautiful place where you can go, break bread, and be with family.  That's the idea they need.  "My Way" comes on the radio and they dance. She lays her head on his chest.  The camera pulls back and it looks like the end of the show.

But it's not.  The song continues and we see both Bonnie and Megan flying back home. In first class, of course.  And then next day's meeting going over GM dropping the account.  Jim's idea, misdirection--advertise the computer and make Harry a partner.  Roger and Joan are disgusted, but the others are willing to try it.  (Don, who's still a partner, has some reason to like Harry now that he got useful info in Los from him.)  Hary has always struck me as the Lieutenant Scheisskopf character--not too smart, not too much talent, but he's just the kind of guy who keeps rising through the ranks until he's in charge of everything.  Joan and Roger, who both had inside info (Joan from Bob, Roger from the steamroom) meet and compare notes after this horrible moment.  Are they coming back together?

Now comes the final scene.  Don meets with Pete--who's now free--at a Burger Chef. (I remember Burger Chef. Maybe some day I'll tell a story or two about it, but this post is already too long.)  Peggy joins them.  She wants to shoot the ad here.  The eat a Burger Chef meal.  Every table here is the family table, as Peggy notes.  Don backs her up.  And here we have this wonderful moment, rare--maybe unique--in the series, where the three main characters are all together, having a nice, family moment.  And they need it, since they've failed everyone else they know.  The camera pulls back, and that's it.

Only one more episode before the break.  Is the firm going to fly apart?  Who will stick together, when all is said and done?

Over at Game Of Thrones, in "Mockingbird," plenty of action and plenty of maneuvering, and each story has something interesting happening.

Tyrion's back in his cell, awaiting trial by combat.  Jaime can't believe he refused the deal that Tywin suggested.  It's not looking good for his brother.  Not that long ago, Jaime would have been his champion, but missing his right hand, that's not gonna happen. Oh well, at least Tywin's plans are screwed up.  And we see who'll be fighting for Cersei--the Mountain, as fearsome as ever.  He kills a few people for practice.  Can anyone stand up to him?

We cut to the Moutain's little brother, the Hound. He and Arya come up to a man who's been attacked and is waiting to die. The Hound does him the favor of killing him, stabbing him in the heart. Then someone jumps on the Hound and bites him in the neck before he's taken care of.  Then the freed prisoner who threatened to do awful things to Arya is also there, explaining that Joffrey is dead and a hundred stags of silver go to anyone who kills the Hound.  She doesn't know his name so she's not on his list, but once he says it, she stabs him in the heart.  She learns quickly.

At Castle Black, Jon Snow is back, but, as always, the bureaucrats who run the place don't understand the threat. Jon wants to seal the tunnel, fill it with rocks and ice--something that's never been done.  But then, they've never had to deal with Mance Rayder.  Jon's seen giants, but Castle Black's middle management decides against it.  I think they'll be paying for that decision before the end of the season.

Bronn drops in at Tyrion's cell. (Guess he can have regular visitors now.) Now here's a champion with a track record.  But Bronn isn't the same guy he was back in the Vale.  He's got money and position now, and he doesn't like his odds against the Mountain. Tyrion can't pay him enough to take the chance. Cynical Tyrion expects nothing less from cynical Bronn. The two shake hands. It's a warm moment, and it may be their last.

Over in Meereen, Dario, still being sort of a jerk, breaks into Dany's room.  He wants to do something for her, not just serve as head of the local police force.  She figures there is something he can do, and has him take off his clothes.  Poor Ser Jorah--how come he never gets these kind of orders?  He sees Dario coming out of Khaleesi's chambers next morning.  She's sent him off to retake Yunkai and kill all the masters.  He talks a lot about whom to trust--but what will happen if Dany ever finds out that he was once sent to spy on her.  She's on her crusade against slavery (though Jorah was a slaver) and he notes, like Barristan earlier, you can't always fight evil with evil. No one's all bad.  He advises she offer mercy, and she allows the Meereen guy with the unspellable name to be her ambassador first.  Go tell Dario I've changed my mind--in fact, tell him you changed my mind.

In a creepy bathtub scene (they have one each week), Melisandre and the Queen have a talk about the Lord of Light.  Sometimes you need fake magic to impress people--you need to lie to get to the truth.  The two are about to travel somewhere.  To Braavos?  I don't think so.  Stannis isn't going to get some more ships and attack King's Landing right away, will he? The timing wouldn't be bad, but didn't he already do that?  Anyway, I recall the Red Woman being quite concerned about events at the Wall.  Maybe Jon will be getting some help.  Anyway, the matter at hand is whether or not to bring along daughter Shireen, who's a heretic.  But Melisander assures the queen she'll be needed.  That doesn't sound good--this witch would as soon burn someone as say hello.

The Hound now has a festering wound.  Arya is willing to burn away the bad part, but he's got the thing about fire.  Poor Hound.  People with festering wounds don't do well in this world. Remember Khal Drogo?  I'm thinking before the season's out, Arya may have to do the Hound a favor.  In fact, the show gives Sandor a nice speech about his brother and his past--the kind of character moment people sometimes get before they're about to be offed.  That'd be a shame.  Arya works great with literally anyone in the show, but her coupling with the Hound has been a highlight.

Brienne and Pod eat a nice kidney pie at an inn. Prepare by whom?  A very talkative Hot Pie! Of all the characters in GOT, he's probably the luckiest.  Born in Flea Bottom, sent to the Wall, he's ended up in a job and place that's perfect for him.  Brienne (partly to shut him up) explains her quest to find Sansa.  Hot Pie's not sure if he can trust her. The Lannisters want all the Starks dead, after all.  But later, when she and Pod are saddling their horses, and Pod thinks Brienne should be quiet about their quest, Hot Pie, thankfully, comes out and tells the truth.  He doesn't know Sansa, but met Arya. This is big news, though Brienne takes it pretty calmly.  HP explains their adventures and how the Hound took her. Pod, a helpful squire, figures Clegane is heading for a reward at the Eyrie. In fact, that may be where Sansa is. Good thing they've got a place to go.  Westeros is a big place, Essos even bigger--the idea that Brienne would march around the entire world looking for a girl in hiding seemed almost pointless, but now she's got a quest.  Wouldn't it be great if Brienne, Pod, Arya and The Hound all met up with Sansa at the Vale? (Though would Littlefinger let them in?)

Back in Tyrion's cell, the third act.  Prince Oberyn wants to talk. He's figured out what's going on.  He knows how Cersei wants Tyrion dead.  But, sounding quite a lot like Inigo Montoya, he makes a speech about his need to avenge his family.  Wow, Tyrion actually has a champion.  I don't know if Oberyn can beat the Mountain, but I'm guessing we'll find out next week.

Finally we get to the Vale.  Sansa makes a snow castle to remind her of Winterfell. Snotty little Robin comes in and messes it up. She slaps him. Hanging out with Littlefinger has made Sansa harder, and less naïve.  Littlefinger, who saw what happened, comes over. (It's a castle, but the place seems mostly empty except for Sansa, Littlefinger, Robin and Lysa.) She thinks she's never getting home, but he says never say never.  He explains how he loved his mom, but she's even more beautiful, and kisses her. (Sansa does look pretty good right now.  I'm guessing in the books Cat and Sansa were described as major babes.) Arya's been engaged to one guy, married to another, and also attacked, but I don't think she's ever been kissed.

Alas, everyone seems to be watching Sansa, and Lysa sees the kiss.  In the throne room, Lysa explains how she's been willing to kill everyone necessary to get Petyr.  Then she's about to throw Sansa out the moon door when Littlefinger shows up.  He convinces her to let Sansa go. I think we know what's about to happen, but Littlefinger is so wonderfully cold the scene still works. He promises her the moon, but she only gets the moon door.  And just before, he tells her he only ever loved one woman.  Your sister.  Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! End of show.

Sansa gets to see all this.  Better not mess with Littlefinger, but she already knew that.  Only three more episodes this season and what's left.  Well, there's Mance's attack on Castle Black.  Stannis and Davos and Melisandre's plans, wherever they are.  The trial by combat. Brienne getting to the Vale. Perhaps the Mountain and Arya getting there.  Dany doing something, though I don't know what (and what's the deal with her dragons?).  Theon pretending to be Theon for Ramsay.  Bran finally getting to that tree.  And a few other things here and there that need to be cleaned up. Plenty of action for only three more hours.

Wall To Wall Waller

Fats Waller was born 110 years ago, and we're still celebrating.







Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Reading between the lines

The only important question here is, did Cass suggest the headline? (And if so did he do it through Dick Windsor?)

AK

Happy birthday, Astrid Kirchherr.

She was born in 1938, part of the German generation that had to deal with the awful legacy of fascism.  She and her art school friends Klaus Voorman and Jurgen Vollmer were bohemians--living in Hamburg, they rejected their home country and looked to France for their fashion and philosophy.

Though not rock fans, they traveled to the rough St. Pauli district of Hamburg in 1960 and became infatuated with a band from Liverpool, the Beatles.

They became close friends with the band.  Astrid would even bring them out to her family's place, letting them enjoy the middle class comforts so lacking where they worked.

She fell in love with the bassist, Stuart Sutcliffe. He was a talented artist but not much of a musician.  Eventually, he left the band and stayed behind with Astrid in Hamburg.

They got engaged during a time when a lot of the British, understandably, wanted nothing to do with Germans.  But before all that, Astrid took the Beatles out for a photo session, and created some of the most famous photos ever of the band.

She'd been studying photography, and had a real eye.  And, just by chance, she chose a group of young men who'd soon be the most famous in the world.

The photos have since been reproduced countless times, but they're still beautiful, and still surprising.

Sutcliffe, full of artistic promise, died tragically young--only 21, in 1962.  A few days later the Beatles were in Hamburg to perform.  They tried to comfort Astrid, but they themselves were distraught.

She remained friends with the band as they rose to the top and stayed there.  In general, she's had a relatively normal life, though to this day I'm sure she wonders what it would have been like had Stuart lived.

Judy Judy Judy

Happy birthday, Judy Kuhn.  She's been working in Broadway musicals since the 1980s, but may be best known as the singing voice of Pocahontas.







"You'll learn things you never knew you never knew." Who wrote this, Donald Rumsfeld?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Swiss Miss

Congratulation to Switzerland for rejecting the world's highest minimum wage.  And the vote on the referendum wasn't close--the citizen rejected it over 3 to 1.

At present, the country has no minimum wage.  This measure would have guaranteed approximately $25 an hour.  It was backed by unions, who said it would fight poverty, especially in a country with such high prices.  Business leaders and others argued it would just drive prices higher and also increase unemployment.

In fact, it's so expensive to live in Switzerland (and why that's so is a question well worth asking) that the minimum they were asking for was about equivalent in purchasing power to the $15 minimum wage some Americans have been demanding at fast food establishments.

It's tempting to vote for more money--who doesn't want people do better, especially at the bottom?  But even assuming compensation shouldn't be tied to the worth of one's work to an employer, you can't get money from nowhere.

The common question to ask people who support a "living wage" is why not make it $100,000, or a cool million.  They generally respond this is a reductio ad absurdum (though as far as I can see they're willing to keep adding to wages they're not paying for until it gets pretty absurd).  But that's not the point.  It's common to hear these higher wages are essentially costless, or even a positive thing for the economy. (They often pull out that old Henry Ford chestnut about his paying $5 a day so his workers could buy his product.)  But when they object to raising wages much higher because it's not possible, at least they're admitting there's a cost.  The question becomes is the cost worth it for other reasons, not c'mon cheapskate, do you care or don't you?

PT

Happy birthday, Pete Townshend.  The Who was four individuals, but if there was a leader, it was you.














Sunday, May 18, 2014

Say That Again

In a post on antibiotics research from Megan McArdle we get this:

There’s a wonderful Robert F. Kennedy quote that is very popular at commencements: “There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”

She goes on to be rather skeptical of RFK's quote, but she should also question the provenance.  It's actually a paraphrase of George Bernard Shaw from Back To Methuselah:

I hear you say "Why?" Always "Why?" You see things; and you say "Why?" But I dream things that never were; and I say "Why not?"

The line, by the way, is spoken by the Serpent in the Garden Of Eden. But this is Shaw's Serpent, not the Bible's, and he gets most of the best lines.

While we're at it, here's the first sentence of documentary film review in The Hollywood Reporter.

The subjects of A People Uncounted are the Roma, better known as Gypsies, who have suffered endless prejudice, poverty and genocide over the centuries.

Since the Roma are still around, I'm guessing they've suffered from attempted genocide.

PS Genocide is a modern term, and some would define it as including killing or harming part of a group.  I'm sorry, but what's the point of the word, then?  Suicide is killing yourself, not hurting yourself or cutting off a finger.  Homicide is killing another, not winging someone.  If there's no death, you've got at most attempted suicide or homicide.  Genocide should be destroying a race, or some identifiable group, or nothing.

AH

Happy 70th, Alert Hammond.  He wrote, sang and produced a lot of fun records.








Saturday, May 17, 2014

Eat It

Anthony Lane's New Yorker review of Chef (which is doing pretty well for a small release) ends thus:

[T]he real subject of “Chef” is the Internet.The offending critic writes a blog post; Percy teaches Carl how to respond on Twitter; the fame of the Cubanos spreads virally; there are plugs for Facebook and Vine; and the whole cross-country trip is captured on the kid’s phone and finally put online. Worst of all are the tweets that pop up onscreen and then fly away, chirruping, like the Disney bluebirds that greeted Snow White and helped Cinderella with her gown. This digital worship, unlike the food, is flavorless and dehumanizing, and in a few years’ time it will look archaic. For now, it spoils the appetite.

There's no question the Jon Favreau film makes liberal use of social networking--it's part of the fun.  Why is Lane being such a sourpuss? He's probably right it will look dated in a few years, but so already do payphones and pagers and indoor smoking in a lot of old movies Lane dotes on.

And the tweets that fly away?  That was cute.

Marty

Years ago conservative historian Paul Johnson published an hysterical book entitled Intellectuals.  It examines the lives of many important philosophers and artists, finding them, in general, to be hateful, foolish, cheap, nasty and filthy.  Oh yes--most of them were secular leftists, i.e., Johnson's arch enemies.  So there it is, page after page on one thinker's inability to pay his debts, another obsessing about his penis, another failing yet again to bathe.

I find the book funny because, aside from all the odd (and sometimes questionable) facts Johnson unearthed, what exactly is the point?  Even Johnson admits few lives can withstand serious scrutiny--especially in the hands of a tendentious historian.  Should we expect artists and intellectuals to be any better than the rest of us?  To Johnson, if you're a thinker, and you want to change the world, you apparently have a higher duty. I don't see it.  In fact, if you want to make a change, or be noticed, in addition to being brilliant it helps if you're driven--if you put your ideas, and your work, before personal relationships.  This doesn't always lead to the best personal outcomes.  And once you're lucky enough to attain wealth, power or fame, there are many temptations that can lead you astray.

One person Johnson didn't attack (if I recall) was Martin Heidegger. Heidegger was, after all, one of the most significant philosophers of the 20th century, but also a man who joined the Nazi party when they took over Germany. (Some claim Johnson left him alone because Heidegger's often associated with the right, but that's a whole different argument.) It could have just been bad timing, because new revelations were coming out regarding Heidegger and National Socialism just as Johnson was finishing his book.

For years, the excuse had been Heidegger had to join up or lose his position, and that he may have been hopeful at first but soon learned that Nazis weren't congenial to his thinking.  But as the full extent of his involvement became clearer, that was hard to maintain.

Lately, even more revelations have come out--personal notebooks written in the 1940s which show how anti-Semitism was part of Heidegger's thinking, or, perhaps, how he applied his thinking to the Jews.  Here's a piece in The New Yorker by Joshua Rothman about how tough it's been getting for Heideggerians lately.

Rothman was excited by Heidegger when he first read him. (I wasn't so excited, though perhaps I didn't read closely enough.  Heidegger seemed to me yet another obscure and mystical German taking up questions the Greeks handled better.) Unlike Johnson's examples, the trouble here isn't just the personal life of Heidegger--it's how his association with the Nazis infected his thinking. There it is in his notebooks, where he says Jews are different, always plotting, and not able to fully participate in what it means to be human.

Perhaps this means we have to throw over Heidegger.  Though the question becomes, in general, how do we deal with old thinkers.  Ideas change, and the unquestioned assertions of yesteryear become the anathema of today. Back in the 1930s, straight up racism didn't grate like it does today, and fascism (not necessarily tied to racism) seemed like a new idea that might be able to deal with the problems of capitalism.

In general, older thinkers regularly let us down.  Look at, for example, the things they say about something as basic as the differences between men and women.   And no doubt people today will disappoint those in the future for our lack of vision.  For that matter, I'm pretty disappointed in the perennial popularity of socialism among intellectuals.

So throw out Heidegger.  Who needs the bastard?  But I'm not sure where we'll stop.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Losing the biology wars

If we needed any additional evidence that there is no education system in the US, this is it:

"In addition to the 17 percent of people who said they are prepared to “have sex with an android,” more than one-in-ten claimed they would care for the fruits of such labor – with 11 percent saying they want a robot child similar to David in the movie A.I."

What's It All About

About Alex will be opening theatrically and on demand August 8, according to The Hollywood Reporter.  Haven't heard of it?  Well then, I guess you missed its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival this year.

It's an ensemble picture, featuring Aubrey Plaza, Max Greenfield, Jason Ritter, Maggie Grace, Nate Parker, Max Minghella and Jane Levy.  Not exactly A-listers, but names, at least--familiar faces to TV and movie fans.  Jesse Zwick is the writer-director.  You may have heard of him.  Well, his last name, anyway, which he shares with dad Ed Zwick, a major film and TV director/producer.

And what's the plot? "The Big Chill-like movie focuses on a group of college friends who reunite for a weekend away after drifting apart following graduation."

Ouch.  If you've ever been to a film festival, you'll know you can't spit without hitting a movie about college friends reuniting for a weekend.  I'm not saying they can't be good--heck, I liked The Big Chill, and Return Of The Secaucus 7, which helped start the genre--but the odds don't favor it.  This sort of film lends itself to characters having deep conversations about how we've all changed, coupled with a complete lack of forward motion in the plot.

So for you future filmmakers out there, please don't learn the wrong lesson from About Alex.  No one cares to hear you moon over your college days.  Give us a story that hooks us--one where things actually happen.  If there is a lesson to be learned from this project, it's to get names in your cast, and, if possible, be born to a Hollywood insider.

Not Young

Happy birthday, Isaac Holt.  He was the drummer in the Ramsey Lewis jazz trio and then became part of the Young-Holt Trio and Young-Holt Unlimited.






Thursday, May 15, 2014

Wur nummer won

What would George Washington have to say about this? Canada is kicking our arse, for chrissakes.

No Fluke

Guess who I've been getting mail from?  Sandra Fluke. You remember her. She was the 30-year-old law school student who needed help from the government to get birth control.  She's running for state senate and I've received a few mailers already.

You might wonder what she's running on.  As far as I can tell from what she's sent, her greatest achievement was standing up to Rush Limbaugh*.  And that takes a lot of nerve in her circles--almost as much as condemning the KKK at an NAACP rally.

I can't expect her to ignore her claim to fame.  What bothers me is she must have done some research and found out that this would impress people.

* To recap, he noted since she wants government to pay for contraceptives, what she's demanding is money for sex, which makes her a prostitute. He later apologized, saying it was a joke--which it obviously was.  But that's not how things are played any more.  Fluke did not accept the apology.  If she had, I might have some respect for her.

Sound Man

Happy birthday, Eddy Arnold. He was a popular singer for over half a century and along the way helped invent the Nashville Sound.









Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Nuance


Ben Affleck as Batman. How do you like them apples?

By George

George Lucas turns 70 today. Not every project he's associated with has worked out, but I don't think there's a filmmaker alive who has affected the movies, or moviegoers, as much.

>

Yesterhim Yesterday

Almost forgot the birthday of one of the supreme artists of our time, Steve Wonder.  Sings great, can play just about every instrument, and writes amazing music.













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