May 16, 2016
What Game of Thrones Teaches us about TGreer.
I have missed the GoT phenomenon, though I know many who have not been so fortunate.
Blog friend tg has written a superb piece which he advertised on Facebook as "easily the harshest, least charitable, and most judgmental thing I have ever written on the internet." And, as I say in my lesser charitable, harsher and more judgemental posts: "we'll just put him down as a 'no' then."
Readers who interact with me on other forums, comment threads, or e-mail groups where discussion of American pop culture are par for course are aware of how much I despise Game of Thrones, the books that inspired it, and the adulatory sub-culture that has sprouted up around it. It should not be surprising to find that I agree wholeheartedly with the tenor of all of Mr. Elkus's arguments, and the substance of most of them. Elkus's piece is long and far-ranging, and I recommend you read all of it. His thoughts on Game of Throne's invasion of American political rhetoric and culture--especially our inability to discuss atrocities that are occurring in the real world without dumbing them down to a series of Game of Thrones memes--is particularly on point.
I live in a glass house plastered in Buffy, Angel, and Firefly posters, so I am tempted to withhold judgement; I have not seen any GoT and confess to a certain coolness to the whole genre of modern edgy dramas including even superbly crafted ones like Breaking Bad and the US version of House of Cards. You know where to send the hate mail.
The whole post is excellent, but the great hook here from our well-read blog buddy was this challenge to contextualize these stories with reality.
This is a blog about history, politics, and strategy. My field of expertise is East Asian history--but more specifically, the role that war and empire has played in its history. Examining the atrocities and tragedies of the past is what I do. In this line of research it is easy to forget the real cost of wars and turmoil, to reduce suffering to statistics, battle diagrams, and theoretical abstractions. I fight this temptation by reading memoirs. My rule is that I read one at least once every other month. I find a personal account of someone who lived through the worst of what human beings have done to each other so that I do not forget what abstractions in the mind of strategists become in the world of flesh and smoke. I've read dozens of them. They are accounts of soldiers, diplomats, refugees, and survivors. They do not read anything like Game of Thrones. There are powerful--even beautiful--novels like Vaddey Ratner's In the Shadow of the Banyan that depict events far more horrifying than anything that has happened in Westeros, yet somehow muster an emotional range that exceeds what Game of Thrones can offer. There is a realness to these books that Game of Thrones cannot hold a candle to--and when you meet those who write these kind of books you realize how insulting such a comparison is.
March 11, 2016
Some killer movie recommendations:
Tim's Vermeer: How, how how did I miss this? Tim Jenison is a regular guy save for three things: 1) he made enough money in the dotcom boom to pursue eccentric pastimes; 2) he is buddies with Penn & Teller, so his eccentric pastimes can be recorded in film; 3) he is bright enough to discern the method he believes that the Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer used to create his paintings.
Trust me -- I'll refund every penny spent to anyone who is less than enthralled with either of these.
February 4, 2016
Not just a football game
Super Bowl 50 is more than just "Super." It will be an epic battle between good and evil.
"Use the force, Peyton!"
December 23, 2015
Merry Christmas, Humanity!
The deal involves rights to stream 224 songs from the original 13 studio albums released in the UK as well as "essential" collections including Past Masters.
UPDATE: Available now on iHeart Radio, among other places.
May 27, 2015
Tejas Levantamiento! (or, "American history as reimagined by the Tea Party")
I lived in Texas once - for a year. The year was 1986, which happened to be the Sesquicentennial of the Republic of Texas. I didn't really know what that was all about, except that Texas became a state fifty years before Colorado.
As a product of Colorado, educationally and culturally, my opinion of the Lone Star State was mediocre at best, being the source of a great influx of temporary and permanent visitation to my home state and preceding "Californicans" as the great scourge upon the Colorado countryside. Yet with age came wisdom and a new appreciation for the fiercely independent western nature of the people of Texas.
During my short residence there I did journey to the Alamo, and toured the old fort inside and out. But that's as far as my curiosity took me at the time. And so I was captivated by the early promos for History's 'Texas Rising' which said, "the Alamo wasn't the end, it was the beginning." I've now watched the first two of five episodes in this "epic series event" that aims to bring the fight for Texas independence to life.
It didn't take long for me to recognize that the portrayal of events would be unpopular in some circles. After all, the Mexicans and the Commanches "were there first." How could white men defeating those indiginous groups ever be considered "winning independence?" It's European colonialism, pure and simple, right?
"This movie isn't just bad -- the politics are dubious too," the liberal newspaper the Guardian wrote in a piece called "Texas Rising: American history as reimagined by the Tea Party." "Texas Rising is a movie that glorifies the campaigns of white settlers in land that technically belongs to Mexico and was initially settled by Native Americans. There is not an inkling of post-colonial reflection about what that means in the great scope of history. The line between good guys and bad guys is drawn as simply and thoughtlessly as it is in a backyard game of Cowboys and Indians."
But the charge of white-colonial bias fell flat during last night's segment. Portilla, one of Santa Anna's lieutenants [spoiler alert] was addressing Texian Colonel James Fannin. "You are a filthy wetback. You swam across the Sequin River, illegally. You are in my country now." Then Portilla murdered Fannin with a gunshot to the front of his head. One can almost imagine the NRA and Tea Party patches on Portillas sleeves as he parrots this modern nativist sentiment, in reverse.
Still, I am captivated. The story is compelling and the history captivating, whatever liberties may or may not be taken. It is a good background for future learning of the true history which, being from a time and place prior to internet and cloud storage, remains quite murky to this day.
And besides, not all the reviews are bad.
May 20, 2015
I found this disturbing:
The Syrian government's antiquities chief Mamoun Abdulkarim said he had no doubt that if Palmyra fell to the jihadists, it would suffer a similar fate to ancient Nimrud, which they blew up earlier this year.
But I shall not just complain without suggesting a solution.
These heavily armed aircraft incorporate side-firing weapons integrated with sophisticated sensor, navigation and fire control systems to provide surgical firepower or area saturation during extended loiter periods, at night and in adverse weather. The sensor suite consists of a television sensor, infrared sensor and radar. These sensors allow the gunship to visually or electronically identify friendly ground forces and targets anytime, anywhere.
April 27, 2015
I May Never Watch Anything Else
Penn Jillette on Jon Caldara's show. Magnets in the air prevented me from watching its broadcast Friday, but it is on the Intertubes:
Every minute rocks, but at 17:30:
We can out-left the Left and out-right the Right on all the stuff that people really feel. It is purely American!
April 6, 2015
Quote of the Day
Well, I am the last guy in this galaxy to follow nb's sagacious counsel and see Interstellar. Man, I loved it. I paused it to type this quote into my iPad, but I needn't have bothered -- a trip to IMDB shows this as the top quote. And now I see it made it into nb's review as well. Worth another visit all the same:
Cooper: We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars, now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt.
Great film. There are some quibble-worthy elements, but I found it refreshing to be treated to a smart film that used beauty and score for impact.
December 18, 2014
"The Terrorists Have Won"
In the wake of Sony Pictures decision to mothball their movie "The Interview" in the wake of terror-like threats against movie theaters, even so far as invoking the images of 9/11 (what, are they going to fly jetliners into the Cineplex?) the punditry today has turned to criticism of Sony for "backing down" or "caving in" to terrorists.
Let's think about that for a moment...
Has this happened before?
And did it work then too?
Weakness in the face of those terror threats was arguably the foundation for the Sony hacking, and for the strategy the state-worshipping North Koreans chose for spiking the film about their "Dear Leader."
December 1, 2014
Re-contacting the Contact Discussion
The first commenter in 4 days who wasn't either jk or myself was here, and the post in question is off the page. Sheesh!
Click here to revisit the commentary on 'Cry Havoc and Let Loose the "Contact" Spoilers.'
Cry Havoc -- and Let Loose the "Contact" Spoilers!
[Bumped for comment activity -- originally posted Nov 21,2014]
Party like it is 1999! JK has become the last person on the planet to see "Contact," discussed in post and comments this week.
I liked it plenty but do not plan to rank it up there with Serenity. Some of it may be the terminal 1990s-ish of it. At least it wasn't the 70s; the 90s were berry berry good to me. But the computers and President Clinton cameos jar one out of plotline immersion.
It gets three and a half stars right off the bat for location footage of the VLA -- I went to school for a year right down the road from the VLA in Socorro. Dialogue gives the location as Socorro, but I think the actual location is Magdalena.
Bonus points [seriously, we're ignoring potential spoilers in a 17-year old movie now, are we not?] for the ambiguity given to her experience. It reminded me of "Normal Again," one of my five favorite Buffy episodes. Buffy spends half the episode in a mental hospital with a kindly doctor telling her (living, happy and married) parents that she has constructed this fantastic world where she is a superhero. She spends the other half in Sunnydale fighting monsters.
I'd like to watch Contact again, but I only got a 24 hr. rental. But on first, I think they did the same admirable job of not taking sides.
There are many interesting questions asked. I think I see why it is loved and perhaps why in one case it is not. The production is good (I bet mind blowing in '97). I am on record as an anti-Sagan grouch but was not bugged by Saganism. The lovely bride thought it lacked for sympathetic characters. I think I could find twenty minutes to trim. But these are small beer in a ThreeSources review.
What did I miss?
July 3, 2014
It's Art! It's a Rant! No, it's an art-rant.
There are a million great lines in "Buffy," but if pinned down to a favorite, it might be Spike in "Becoming Part 2." Angel (as wicked, evil, brooding Angelus) has got a plan to destroy the world. Spike jumps sides to prevent this. As he explains to Buffy:
"We like to talk big. Vampires do. 'I'm going to destroy the world.' That's just tough guy talk. Strutting around with your friends over a pint of blood. The truth is, I like this world. You've got... dog racing, Manchester United. And you've got people. Billions of people walking around like Happy Meals with legs. It's all right here. But then someone comes along with a vision. With a real... passion for destruction. Angel could pull it off. Goodbye, Piccadilly. Farewell, Leicester Bloody Square. You know what I'm saying?"
I like people for different reasons. I am overwhelmed with joy that people create art.
I'd perform a DIY root canal with a dull bit before I'd watch most of the singing reality shows like Idol, Voice, America's Got Talent, &c. They all have a bad incentive structure. You have to impress an audience in 30 seconds, which may be entertainment but I question whether it is conducive to art. I don't mean to be snobbish, there are some good folks who come out of that scene sometimes. But I know for a fact that anybody I call a hero would be laughed off in the first day so the judge could display sardonic wit.
And yet I find I really enjoy the cheesy summer replacement for Idol: "So You Think You Can Dance." I know nothing of dance. Every dance I ever attended, I was either on stage playing or sneaking beer in the parking lot. I enjoy Cyd Charisse and Fred Astaire, but it is like watching Gaelic Rules Football -- interesting and enjoyable, but I understand only the surface layer.
SYTYCD is bring my appreciation chops up a bit, at least for choreography -- the fine points of performance still elude me. But these kids, and they're all kids, work so hard and dedicate so much to an ephemeral bit of joy. The show forces them out of range: the hip-hoppers have to tap and the tappers have to do ballroom. The competition and voting seem a necessary evil which I avoid. There was a local girl a couple years back for whom I sent a few texts, but I just watch.
The performances are frequently breathtaking for their beauty. I was thinking last night that, like Spike, I love people. Then this morning [uh, oh, tortured segue alert!], a friend of this blog and Facebook friend celebrated a recurring street fair in his adopted hometown:
I love Thursdays on First! Folks are setting up tents, unpacking merchandise, firing up their grills and getting hard work done in anticipation of a beautiful day. There is so much creativity in an event like this from the glazes on a pot to the spices in a recipe. The human spirit thrives in a market place. I know to some that might sound crass and materialistic but it is true nevertheless. We gather with our crafts, our food and our music. We buy and sell, eat dance and engage each other in peace. Free people, free markets and fish tacos...I'm digging it.
In spite of the court decisions that do not go our way (I was only doing 39...) and our friends' gross misinterpretations when they do, it is good to be people.
Happy Fourth, Y'all.
June 23, 2014
Review Review Corner
A friend (and a friend of this blog) posted a link to this on Facebook a few weeks back. I read it and missed the byline. It was written by David Harsanyi, and last night I read it again because he tweeted "most important thing i've ever written"
ThreeSourcers know my appreciation for Harsanyi; and, damn if about every word in his most important piece isn't accurate; but I will confess that I enjoyed "Frozen" more than "Tangled."
Sunday's Review Corner will tackle Orwell's literary criticism and I don't think I need a spoiler alert that George will pick up some stars. Orwell and TS Eliot's deep and intellectual criticism remain a joy on their own and a key to deeper appreciation of the art they reference. But I am a blues guy still. And there is an element of art that some may call spiritual and some will call left-brain, but it is one step beyond our ken.
I have no children, but I am a fan of Disney's animated films. When I saw Tangled, I said "yeah, that's pretty good" and went on with my life. Frozen was more immersive, and it might be the social media buzz around "Let it Go." I've now heard it sung by firefighters and Marines -- the best is Jimmy Fallon, Idina Menzel & The Roots. When I finally saw Frozen, I had heard the song and had a hook.
I'll confess to Harsanyi that at the end of Frozen, I thought "what was that all about?" Then I saw that it was adapted from Grimm's "The Snow Queen." Okay, then -- for Grimm that is straight up. It is an usual story to say the least. But repressed internal powers and fear of hurting those we love are extant human emotions.
Fair cop about the depth of the male character as well. Yet if may channel Dr. Helen Smith for a second, the Disney princess procession is leaving increasing little room for male characters at all. I imagine the next will be set in a seraglio with no males whatsoever.
At the end of the day, Harsanyi is right. But I've seen Frozen four or five times (I suspect that's what's known as "morning" in houses with youngsters) and enjoyed it every time. I watched Tangled once, and then again after reading Harsanyi's article. I may watch it again now that I know it was Harsanyi -- talk about appeal to authority. It is good but it is not nearly as captivating.
There's a chord change in the Neville Brothers' "Tell it Like it Is" that makes me cry. It is more than resolution, it is transcendent. The Frozen plotline does not hold up to intense scrutiny and several characters are weak. But many of its sequences are captivating: Olaf dreaming of summer, Elsa's Ice palace, returning to the trolls.
All Hail Harsanyi -- but I'm still going with Frozen.
UPDATE: I muffed the Twitter conversation by "quoting" but the thread is rather enjoyable, even if my side is not well represented.
February 12, 2014
Meanwhile, in Buffy News...
Merging Buffy and the Allman Brothers! Is this a great country or what????
[ThreeSources fave Eliza Dusku] has joined the cast of "Midnight Rider," a biopic about Allman Brothers singer-organist Gregg Allman, in which Allman will be played by William Hurt. According to the trade publication, Dushku will play the woman who inspired the song "Whipping Post," which Allman first recorded when he was 21.
"Oh Lord, I feel like I'm dyyyyyyyin'..."
September 17, 2013
Meanwhile, in Buffy News
Joss's (Is Joss Whedon like Jesus and Moses and Bill Gates that he gets a singular possessive of Joss'?) Much Ado About Nothing gets a scholarly review from Shakespearian Hoss Stephen Greenblatt in the New York Review of Books.
The squabbling between them takes place in public, under everyone's watchful eyes. This is a world in which everyone is constantly observing everyone else--"nothing" in Elizabethan English was pronounced "noting," and this is indeed a play of much ado about noting. To understand the culture out of which Shakespeare is writing, it helps to read Renaissance courtesy manuals like Baldassare Castiglione's famous Book of the Courtier (1528) or, still better, Giovanni della Casa's Galateo or, The Rules of Polite Behavior (1558, available in a delightful new translation by M.F. Rusnak).3 It is fine for gentlemen and ladies to make jokes, della Casa writes, for we all like people who are funny, and a genuine witticism produces "joy, laughter, and a kind of astonishment." But mockery has its risks. It is perilously easy to cross a social and moral line of no return. Whatever quality or error is being mocked "must be such that no noticeable shame or serious harm could arise from it; otherwise it would be hard to distinguish quips from slander."
Out on DVD/Blu-ray/Amazon Instant October 8.
August 22, 2013
Meanwhile, in Buffy News...
Joss Whedon on "The Empire Strikes Back:"
To which your EW interviewer blurted: "You think Empire had a bad ending?"
And a whack at Twilight.
July 22, 2013
Meanwhile, in Buffy News
First, an aside: I could not have done better choosing the episodes for SyFy's Buffy Marathon last night. I would not have picked Buffy vs. Dracula. But I would have been wrong. Even though all are on Amazon Prime anytime, I watched "Hush" and "Buffy vs. Dracula," and DVR-ed "Once More with Feeling" and "Fool for Love." Still awesome.
Yet I post to link to a review of Much Ado About Nothing, written by NRO intern Will Allen.
Joss Whedon's depiction of this most playful Shakespearean comedy is a sheer delight. It is also a rebuke, a surprise, and a challenge, in that order.
Hat-tip: Jin Geraghty, who liked it too.
July 12, 2013
Meanwhile, in Buffy News
Very cool article on the clothes and costume treatments in "Much Ado About Nothing:"
This is not The Cabin in the Woods. There are no big sartorial clues in Much Ado About Nothing for a switcheroo mid-point that makes you go "ahhh...now I get it". Nonetheless, director Joss Whedon's always inventive costume designer Shawna Trpcic could not resist the urge to pepper his film with subtle meaning. Plus everything on screen is contemporary set but shot in black and white. In costume terms it is a far tougher job to be seen and yet not seen, and even more so without the use of colour. Delicate application of fabric and pattern is vital.
I. artless and male, missed most of the subtle clues enumerated in the article; but I was struck by the costumes, even forgetting that there was no budget and little time. Joss was rooting around in actors' closets. Yet -- and I am a big fan of B&W photography and film -- I remember being struck the classic beauty of Amy Acker's clothes and the comedic, slapstick cop suits of Nathan Fillion and Tom Lenk. Sean Maher's Don John is painfully dark; his formality of dress underscores his distance from his brother and his brother's friends perfectly, while adding a cold, villainous professionalism.
July 2, 2013
Meanwhile, in Buffy News...
By my troth, a book in Octob'r due...
Joss Whedon's new adaptation of Shakespeare's classic comedy has already been acclaimed as "a masterpiece".
June 22, 2013
Five Stars and Two Snaps!
Be troth, ne'er have I gone to th' cinema with more rais-ed hopes! Yet verily twas I, and indeed the lovely bride, bewitched by the Bard's tale as by Mister Whedon spoken.
It was awesome! Shakespeare and Whedon really are a great match. This film is predominantly funny, but has dark characters and intensely dramatic sections: like Buffy in blank verse.
Five stars. Don't wait for the video -- get thee to thy local art cinema!
June 10, 2013
Meanwhile, in Buffy News...
May 16, 2013
Meanwhile, In Buffy News...
Can't wait. Can't wait:
Hat-tip: Whedonesque blog
April 23, 2013
Meanwhile in Buffy News
I am in physical pain waiting to see this. The UK Trailer is out and this doesn't help:
UPDATE: Warning! This embed will not shut up after showing the trailer, you have to hit pause/stop. See how long we can stand it...
March 28, 2013
Meanwhile, in Buffy News...
Add to the list of things I do not understand: film distribution.
I cannot wait; the lovely bride and I watch the trailer every day:
Awesome, or what?
February 25, 2013
At last! Some Oscar news that is not terminally vapid! Ari Armstrong celebrates Anne Hathaway's big win -- and her understanding of "sacrifice;"
Reporter: When you look at how much work you had to do to prepare for this role [for The Dark Knight Rises], and then also a rigorous role in Les Mis as well--when you decided you wanted to be an actress years ago--this is the kind of stuff you signed up for?
January 30, 2013
Meanwhile, in Buffy News...
I'm looking forward to this film. Herald Scotland:
It was confirmed last night that Whedon, creator of the long running TV hit Buffy The Vampire Slayer, as well as 2012's Marvel blockbuster Avengers Assemble, will walk the red carpet outside the Glasgow Film Theatre.
I also like that they led with Buffy -- then added "as well as ... Avengers." Wha hae, Scots!
December 27, 2012
Meanwhile, in Buffy News
Cabin in the Woods star Kristen Connolly one of Rotten Tomatoes' 25 Breakout Stars of the Year.
December 10, 2012
Quote of the Day
If Ms. Winfrey can mobilize one of our most powerful publishing houses into action as though it were a pack of panicked cadets at reveille, what chance does a mere author have to escape with her dignity intact? With the possible exceptions of Toni Morrison and Cormac McCarthy, every writer endorsed by Ms. Winfrey has seemed fawning and peripheral when sitting next to her on a couch during her show. Jonathan Franzen will be remembered by wiki-posterity for his ingratitude, his made-for-TV 2001 spat with Ms. Winfrey and their subsequent uplifting reconciliation. So spare a thought for Ms. Mathis, whose career is assured but who will know as she passes through the battery of photo-ops and gassy interviews that her novel has been transformed into just another of Oprah's Favorite Things, along with panini presses and shea-butter bath soaps. -- Sam Sacks, reviewing "The Twelve Tribes of Hattie" by Ayana Mathis
November 5, 2012
Even the Children Learn
I respect the sobreity of brother Ellis' prior post but I do believe caution is in order. There's another equally possible outcome. After all, none of the republics which failed throughout history had the internet... or YouTube.
This episode has been on my mind since the summer of 2008. Now, on the eve of the referendum vote, it finally seems fully appropriate.
October 8, 2012
Howard Roark, Call your Office!
Blog friend Sugarchuck sends a link to a great Camille Paglia piece in the Wall Street Journal: How Capitalism Can Save Art. Paglia fans will know her columns resist brief, bloggy summarizations, but she decries the lack of vitality in visual art and holds the hallowed halls of academia culpable.
Unfortunately, too many artists have lost touch with the general audience and have retreated to an airless echo chamber. The art world, like humanities faculties, suffers from a monolithic political orthodoxy--an upper-middle-class liberalism far from the fiery antiestablishment leftism of the 1960s.
Avant-garde died with -- rather was killed by -- Andy Warhol, says Paglia. And nothing has taken its place. ThreeSourcers will also appreciate her commentary on craftsmanship (in the term's finest, gender ambiguous usage). Artists like Warhol were conversant in industrial arts: they made things, fixed things, and adapted things from the factory floor.
She has some kind, McCloskeyesque words for capitalism qua capitalism, then notes that the bright spot of art is the most commercial
Over the past 20 years, I have noticed that the most flexible, dynamic, inquisitive minds among my students have been industrial design majors. Industrial designers are bracingly free of ideology and cant. The industrial designer is trained to be a clear-eyed observer of the commercial world--which, like it or not, is modern reality.
June 29, 2012
As the FNG at this superb site, I'm still learning the ropes and wanted to see if I could post images.
We learn from the Toronto Sun that Shera Bechard, citizen of the Dominion of Canada and former "girlfriend" of Hugh Hefner, has been admitted to the United States on an O-1 visa. The O-1 visa allows individuals of "extraordinary ability" to come to the United States for up to three years. It is often referred to as the "genius visa."
Among her other extraordinary accomplishments, Miss Bechard was "Miss November" in 2010 and started an online photo sharing craze called "Frisky Friday" through which women were encouraged to post photos of themselves in their underthings. On Fridays. Aside from the alliteration, we fail to understand the extraordinary nature of her abilities in this area, but back to our quest to successfully post a (tasteful) image on this site. We found ourselves unable to accomplish this, and resort to a link for your perusal to evaluate Miss Bechard's extraordinary qualifications for her visa:
We suppose that is genius, of a sort, but given the doctrine of stare decisis we are now wondering if most of the O-1 grants for the year are going to go to attractive women who are willing to disrobe for all the world to see.
UPDATE: (jk -- let me help with that embed, code, EW...)
March 29, 2012
Is editorialist Michael Taube "dreaming in Technicolor?" That's how he describes people who believe Jane Fonda will give a favorable treatment of Nancy Reagan, whom she portrays in her upcoming film. But Taube may be guilty of the same thing in believing that a conservative movie studio could be a commercial success.
Third, actors and actresses would need to get on board. Many Hollywood conservatives and libertarians would initially be frightened to make a leap of faith and join this new studio. But all you need is a small handful of recognizable silver screen veterans, and a decent amount of emerging talent, and a good cast can be created.
The partisan vitriol of the left already borders on a lynchmob in the non-fiction media world. To expect anything less than hatred and blacklisting in the fictional media seems quite naive. Too pessimistic?
October 3, 2011
Paris of the Midwest
Today's Bing wallpaper image of Cleveland, shown below, made me think of another midwestern city with an ornate history and a rust-belt reputation - Detroit.
That ornate history is tangentially referenced in the "Imported from Detroit" ad campaign for new Chryslers, and more directly so in this one they didn't use. Adorned with original architecture and art works funded by the private wealth of twentieth century industrial prosperity, Detroit was dubbed "the Paris of the Midwest." Today, however, articles are written about the city's death. Investor's Business Daily wrote last March ?Who, or What, Killed Detroit? Union Greed."
Two years ago, the Center for Automotive Research estimated that for every job created by a foreign transplant, 6.1 jobs were lost by the Big Three - many of them in Detroit. No city can take that much economic abuse.
And in November 2008, Patrick J. Buchanan had his own explanation for the Motor City's demise: "What killed Detroit was Washington, the government of the United States, politicians, journalists and muckrakers who have long harbored a deep animus against the manufacturing class that ran the smokestack industries that won World War II."
Obviously both authors are correct. An overburdening regulatory government and big-time labor unions were both responsible for the demise of Detroit's industrial base, and that of the nation. Indeed, they were co-conspirators, for without each other they could scarcely exist.
Remember this the next time you hear President Obama make a speech about how government "needs to create American jobs."
May 1, 2011
'Atlas Shrugged Part 1' - Only the Beginning
I enjoyed the very fair Pollywood review of 'Atlas Shrugged Part 1' by two relatively pro-Rand film writers, Lionel Chetwynd and Roger Simon that JK linked for us. They had some very good points and I fully expect the producers to follow as much of their advice as possible in future efforts. This first production clearly had some handicaps that led to its shortcomings, many of which will not apply to the sequels, e.g. the looming expiration of contratual rights, inexperience of the independent production company, and perhaps most importantly... working with the most tedious and least compelling portion of the novel, i.e. the first third. As a first-time reader I wasn't hooked by the story until the tunnel scene, which won't transpire until Part 2.
If the Aglialoro-Kaslow Atlas Shrugged franchise produces better products with its promised sequels than was the original it will not be the first such situation in motion picture history. I'm thinking of the progression in production value, if not necessarily the story line, of the Australian 'Road Warrior' series. The film by that name was far more entertaining and compelling than the predecessor 'Mad Max.' And it's a well-known fact of life that improving on an existing product is a shorter bridge than must be crossed when blazing an original trail.
'Atlas Shrugged Part 1' also suffered from an almost maniacal focus on keeping a quick pace. This led to many stilted scenes where a bit more dialogue would have fleshed out the scene considerably. For example, the "old wounds" in the relationship between Francisco and Dagny are only hinted at in their solitary scene together alone. Rand wrote a richer storyline than was presented to viewers of this film and allowing it to "balloon" to a full two-hours wouldn't have hurt its flow one bit.
But I must disagree with Mr. Chetwynd over his characterization of Rand's novels as mere "ciphers" for her philosophy, having no "depth of character" and lacking the undescribed qualities that would have resulted from "a reflective, creative work." I did find the character portrayals in the film to be rather two-dimensional but I attribute this to the aforementioned limitations and not to the source material to which the producers "slavishly" adhered. I would have liked to see more of the warmth and vulnerability of the literary Dagny in the movie character - an extended scene with Francisco could have provided this. In contrast with Messrs. Chetwynd and Simon, Robert Tracinski observed:
But Ayn Rand started out her career--in the 1920s through the 1940s--as a Hollywood screenwriter, working for such legends as Cecil B. DeMille and Hal Wallis. She wrote her novels in a very cinematic style, with stark visuals, sharp exchanges of dialogue, and peaks of high drama. She gave a director everything he could ask for to keep the audience in their seats: visually beautiful settings from the skyline of New York City to the mountains of Colorado, large-scale action scenes set on railroad lines and in steel mills, big ideas expressed in sharp-witted exchanges of dialogue--and, of course, passionate love scenes with handsome leading men and beautiful leading ladies.
I applaud the passion and dedication which drove Aglialoro, Kaslow, and the entire The Strike production company to complete this much anticipated movie that so many have tried and failed at previously. I am encouraged by their reaction to the predictable reception these Hollywood outsiders were given for their faithful adaptation of Rand's paramount though controversial work. I look forward to bigger and better products to follow, on both the big screen in Parts 2 and 3 and in special DVD releases such as director's cuts and a possible miniseries. These film adaptations can only add to the inspiration and defense of liberty offered by the most influential book ever written save the Bible.
April 29, 2011
'Atlas Shrugged Part 1' news
Southern California reader(s) may want to take his lovely bride to meet Francisco d'Anconia this evening at 6:30.
This is one of several promotional events for the film that are advertised on Facebook.
They came to my attention as part of an email alert that the previously rumored John Aglioloro "strike" from Parts 2 and 3 is fiction.
April 14, 2011
One more day...
April 13, 2011
Two more days...
April 5, 2011
Quote of the Day
Take a hundred people off the street. Show them a kid's finger-painting next to a reproduction of, say, the Sistine Chapel or Bierstadt's "Among the Sierra Nevada Mountains." Ask them which one the toddler did. Five bucks says they'll get it right 100 times out of 100. Heck, even art majors could probably score a solid B-plus. -- A Barton HinkleHinkle is less than impressed with a "vindication" of modern art that "study participants preferred the works by the famous artists 60 percent to 70 percent of the time" to works by toddlers, monkeys and elephants.
January 6, 2011
Here Comes John Galt
To the big screen.
Many of my trepidations about making this story into a movie have been salved by this interview with executive producer and financier (read: owner) of the film, John Aglialoro.
Ranked by Forbes Small Business as the 10th richest executive of any small publicly-traded company (revenues under $200 million) in 2007, Aglialoro is one of those rare corporate executives who fully "gets" the philosophical message in Atlas Shrugged.
So the storyline should be safe. The scope of this movie is Part I of the book, which readers can review key points from by reading those entitled entries in Three Sources' "Atlas Shrugged QOTD" archive.
And the casting appears excellent as well. In my mind's eye I can envision Ms. Schilling walking through an abandoned factory, or consoling her poor, misguided young sister-in-law. And the movie's Hank Reardon, played by Grant Bowler, seems a perfect fit. I can easily see him telling Tinky Holloway that his game is up.
But we'll have to wait for the second sequel for that scene. I've heard that the intentions for Parts II and III of the book are to be separate sequels, each following about a year after it's predecessor.
Judging by some of the scene photos the setting of the movie will be decidedly modern. Apparently it will be set in our time, not in that of the book's writing. This is as it should be. The uninitiated youth will be more captivated than with a more faithful portrayal of the book. And, more importantly, we are closer to the events of the story becoming reality today than at any time in history.
December 7, 2010
The Obama Buck
Some creative Englishpersons have suggested a fresh look for US currency, and it includes replacing the image on the one dollar bill of America's first president, stodgy old white guy George Washington, with America's hip and worldly celebrated "First African American President."
As for the "reason" to redesign America's money:
Fast Company's Suzanne LaBarre praised the Dowling Duncan design, writing, "The Obama bill anchors their sweeping concept for redesigning U.S. banknotes ... The impetus: The greenback has an image problem. It has come to represent everything that's wrong with the American economy, and worse, with its cartoonish graphics and vaguely sinister styling, it actually looks the part."
That's right. The image above certainly isn't "cartoonish" is it? The president's ears can't possibly be as big as those in this caricature.
April 12, 2010
Artist for Freedom
Art is great. Art is powerful. The ideas and emotions it can express in a single image are difficult to ignore. Unfortunately a majority of "artsy" types seem to be of the collectivist bent. Obama used art to perfection in his 2008 election campaign to propogate, as Jon Voight said, "the greatest lie." Since the election heard 'round the world I've been on the lookout for an artist on OUR side. Today, I found him: Bosch Fawstin - artist and author, creator of 'Pigman' the anti-Islamist super-hero and much, much more. For example: AMERICANS: GET UP & FIGHT
Here's another good one: "NOvember"
Bonus points for (at least) two Ayn Rand quotes on the main page.
July 2, 2009
Forget about climate change. Forget about preventing a second term for Obama. The world is coming to an end the month after the election. "It could really happen." And that is a quote.
[What a waste of the category "art." I promise to do better in future.]
April 23, 2007
Here is more great dancing from SYTYCD, Season 2.
I'd have to say I liked some other dancers and performances on the show, too. Benji Schwimmer and his cousin Heidi did a fantastic routine to "Black Mambo" (they have been dancing together since they were at least 5!!!); Travis Wall and Heidi did a paso doble to "Plaza of Execution;" and Benji and Travis did an entertaining hip-hip routine to "Gyrate." But Allison is still first and foremost in my book.
Posted by Cyrano at 9:33 PM
April 17, 2007
Season 3 of "So You Think You Can Dance" starts on Thursday, May 24th!!! It'll be on at 7 Central, with a one-hour audition show. There will be a two-hour audition show on Wednesday, May 30th. This show is amazing; "Dancing With the Stars" got nothing on SYTYCD, which has real dancers on it, not "stars" who are learning to dance. And the music is much better, too. SYTYCD has recordings of original artists, not a cheesy band which sounds like it has been in an elevator too long. On SYTYCD they dance jazz, broadway, contemporary, hip hop, ballroom, Latin, swing. Dancers are paired with dancers, instead of a pro paired with a beginner, as on "Dancing With the Stars."
My favorite in Season 2 was Allison Holker. She had everything: technique, feeling, expressiveness, athleticism. She was not voted to continue at one point -- which almost caused me to quit watching the show, in extreme anger at the stupidity of the Americans who voted. But Travis Wall was good, as was Benji Schwimmer (who won)...so I kept watching...
Allison was paired with Ivan in the first half of the show, after the top 20 was picked. (Thousands of dancers audition around the country in four or five cities; a hundred or so are sent to tryouts in CA for the Top 20. Then one dancer of the 20 is eliminated each week.)
Allison did a hip hop routine to "Sexy Love" with Ivan, a contemporary routine to "Why" (by Annie Lennox) with Ivan, a tango routine with Ivan, a broadway routine to "Bye Bye Blackbird" (by Liza Minnelli) with Ryan...and many more great dances.
The judges comment on her overall genius and perfection in the routine to "Why" and to "Blackbird." Damn I loved watching that girl dance...