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Archive for November, 2011

Tear Down This Wall!

[ 33 ] November 23, 2011 |

Exhibit 4,000,000 in why the border wall is worthless, driving people into the desert to die while not even slowing down drug smuggling.


Be Safe and Such

[ 20 ] November 23, 2011 |

Weather is pretty not great in New England, a lot of people are on the road across the country including myself in about 5 minutes. Be safe, blah, blah, etc.

And if you think I wrote this post as an excuse to embed some Bill Monroe, well, I guess I’ll have to live with your contempt.


[ 15 ] November 23, 2011 |

I have always wanted to like Catherine Breillat’s films, but never have. I find her a cut-rate Eric Rohmer, trying and failing to equal Rohmer’s dialogue about sex and love and making up for it with shock value. People liked “Fat Girl” and most of it was pretty good but the ending was the kind of bullshit stunt she pulls way too often. Her other movies have see-sawed from incredibly boring (“Sex is Comedy”) to one of the most wretched, loathsome films I have ever seen (“Anatomy of Hell”). That said, I still occasionally sit down to watch one of her films with the hopes that her occasionally good dialogue will combine with her feminism and frank discussions of sex to create a truly good movie.

And last night that paid off when I watched her 2001 film “Brief Crossing,” which works very well. The story of a woman in her late 30s hooking up with a 16 year old boy on an overnight crossing from France to Britain has the potential for the typical Breillat disaster–making us feel uncomfortable instead of delivering us a solid film. But the dialogue works, the story works, the actors are good, and the twist at the end isn’t grotesque like the end of “Fat Girl,” but instead makes a lot of sense within the world of the character.

Gendered Insults Aren’t Justified By Bad Politics

[ 21 ] November 23, 2011 |

I’m a huge fan of the Roots and think Michele Bachmann is a malignant political figure, but Jessica Grose is right. However subtle, calling a Republican politician a “bitch” isn’t any more justifiable than “bitch” jokes about Hillary Clinton, and she does deserve a real apology (and ?uestlove should be operating on a much higher plane than Dana Milbank.)

…more here.



[ 9 ] November 23, 2011 |

Last night I accidentally watched the bulk of the GOP national security debate.  There was certainly a degree of entertainment value, and there’s something to be said for being part of a community of live tweeters.  Rick Perry made Michelle Bachmann make sense on Pakistan, Newt tried to play the front-runner, Ron Paul got some interesting applause lines, and as Dan Drezner and a few others noted, no one talked about China until the very end.  Fortunately, today’s column is about why we should talk about China:

President Barack Obama’s recent trip to Australia highlighted, in a very deliberate way, a decision to shift U.S. attention and resources away from the Middle East and toward East Asia. Obama’s remarks to the Australian Parliament, combined with his announcement of a new basing agreement at Darwin, on Australia’s northern coast, framed several days of discussions on the role that the United States would play in Asian power politics. Sam Roggeveen of the Lowy Institute of International Politics, an Australian foreign policy think tank, suggested that Obama’s speech in Canberra was as important and consequential as the Cairo speech of 2009. Of course, the speech itself is only worth as much as the underlying changes in policy that follow. In concrete terms, what does it mean when Obama that, “as a Pacific nation, the United States will play a larger and long-term role in shaping this region and its future”? And how will we know that the United States is following through on this commitment?


A Few Links

[ 11 ] November 22, 2011 |

Paul Motian, RIP

[ 18 ] November 22, 2011 |

The jazz world and the drumming world weeps tonight.

The Third Force!

[ 30 ] November 22, 2011 |

It’s an appropriately dopey punchline to a Bobo column that actually argues that the Republican and “Democrat”* parties are equally monolithic. The guy makes a healthy salary to discuss politics and he’s apparently never heard of Ben Nelson…

*Yup, Bobo is now reduced to using the Bad Grammar of Ressentiment as dictated by the Fox News style guide. Sad.

On the Prices We Pay…

[ 46 ] November 22, 2011 |

Fascinating, disturbing map of the ~370000 traffic deaths in the United States between 2001 and 2009.  You can drill down to street level data, which includes age, year, and type (motorcycle, pedestrian, etc.) of fatality.  One thing that leaps out to me is the relatively large number of motorcycle deaths…

Volunteers needed

[ 32 ] November 22, 2011 |

I’m working with a producer at a national news network to put together a segment on the employment and debt crisis among recent law school grads. We need someone who:

(1) Is a recent law school grad

(2) Has a large amount of law school debt (at least six figures)

(3) Is either unemployed or seriously underemployed

(4) Is struggling economically as a result

(5) Is articulate, and comfortable with the idea of being on camera

Ideally, this person will have gone to law school for reasons that would resonate sympathetically with a general audience, i.e., not because he or she was confident a law degree was going to make them rich. Also, this person should have relied on misleading employment statistics when deciding to go to law school and to incur large amounts of debt in order to do so. Having a family (spouse, and or child/children) is also a plus. It would be helpful if the person was either fairly close to the New York City area, or in the Denver metro area.

If you would like to participate, please email me ASAP at [email protected] If you’re not a suitable candidate but know people who you think would be and who might be willing to participate, please forward them this request. Thanks in advance.

The French Studio System

[ 59 ] November 22, 2011 |

Last night I watched “Mesrine”, the 4 hour film on the life of the notorious French gangster of the 60s and 70s, Jacques Mesrine. It was very good, but not great, suffering from some of the problems many bio-pic faces, primarily the need to stuff a lot of different incidents into the movie in order to follow the complexities of a real life. Being far, far better made than your standard Oscar-ready American studio bio-pic, it was still very enjoyable and a fine entry into the gangster film genre.

I have a question though that perhaps readers can help me answer. Like so many big-name French films, it had a huge number of the most prestigious actors in France–Vincent Cassel, Cecile de France, Ludivine Sagnier, Mathieu Amalric, Gerard Depardieu. What, no Juliette Binoche? Sadly, no proper role for a woman of her age or I’m sure she would have made an appearance too.

I’m curious about why most of the prestige films from France with international distribution tend to have the same actors in them. I know the French treat their best actors (and especially actresses) like deities, but is there something institutional about it? Does the French studio system choose a film or two a year and make sure all the A list names are in it?

This is as opposed to the U.S., where George Clooney might headline a film, but the rest of the actors are essentially character actors. The American equivalent would be to have Clooney, Streep, DeNiro, etc., in every American prestigious film. And then also essentially choosing which of the younger generation would be the next Streep. Because de France and Sagnier basically became the chosen next Deneuve and Binoche by the age of 24.

Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo

[ 71 ] November 22, 2011 |

The foreclosure mill that held hye-larious parties mocking homeless people and believes that it’s unconstitutional for banks and their lawyers to be asked to affirm that they own the properties they’re seeking to foreclose is shutting down. We should never forget the real victims.

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