Sunday, May 30, 2010

You people along the Gulf Coast are screwed again. Sorry.

I’m actually getting worried about this Gulf oil spill.

At first it was just a news report on my birthday: Oil rig explodes. I thought, “That’ll make for great visuals. The news is sure to lead with it tonight.”

Sidebar: Yes, now my birthday will be remembered for Columbine, Hitler’s birth and the beginning of the worst environmental catastrophe in U.S. history. Maybe going forward, April 20 should be a nobody-leaves-the-house national ‘holiday,’ with mandatory midnight to midnight curfews. Nobody’s allowed to go school, work or into labor.

But within a couple days it became clear that it would take a near miracle to cap that bastard. As soon as the video images from the sea floor came in, I felt in my heart that the Gulf was a goner, no matter how gamely the companies involved were lowballing estimates and projections.

Then Obama comes out this week in a big press conference and repeatedly claims ownership of “the issue.” Bill Maher had a great line about it: Where Bill Clinton would have famously felt the victims’ pain, Obama would tell them, “I have received a report on your pain…”

On the one hand, I respect Obama for stepping up and not shirking responsibility, but he generated about a million sound byte and video clips claiming responsibility for this thing. And here’s why I was surprised—this thing isn’t over. For Pete’s sake, we might not even be in the middle of it yet. Its ultimate magnitude and unintended consequences are going to hang around Obama’s neck like “No new taxes” did around George Bush, Sr. I honestly thought Obama was smarter than that.

I used to think he was unbeatable in 2012 (especially with the thin GOP bench), but now I think he may have shot himself in the electoral dick. Unless a miracle occurs, this thing is going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better. Insanely worse.

As NBC pointed out on its news tonight, hurricane season starts down there tomorrow. Imagine Katrina only it’s not dirty water up to your shoulders this time, its petroleum. Petroleum and dispersal agents, potentially more dangerous to humans than the oil itself. And all it would take is one lit match or a carelessly discarded cigarette to cause a catastrophe of science-fiction proportions.

Put me down in the “Glad We’re Moving North” category.

Actual decisions I have to make daily, apparel dept.:

A Faceful of Douchebag

I was at a party last night with The Missus’ peer group. Well-educated, well-to-do folks from the staff and faculty of the University of Christmas Island.

That’s right. I didn’t know a soul outside of the people with whom I had arrived.

But as a “Trailing Spouse”—which is what they actually refer to their colleagues’ spouses and partners as if they don’t also work for the Uni—it’s my job to suck it up, pull a smile across my face and make small-talk with strangers until I’m told we can go home.

So I’m chatting up this one guy about pop culture (the only area where I feel confident I can hold my own in such heady company) and I clink our plastic cups together and say, “Here’s to Dennis Hopper.”

The guy goes, “What, did he die? I’ve been at a conference the last couple days.” (I can tell in his mind, Conference is spelled with a capital C; somehow, I fail to be impressed anyway.)

So I go, “Yeah, just this morning I think.” And I wait for him to raise his cup to mine.

Instead, this college boy peers at me over the top of his glasses, makes a little face like he’s just smelled something icky, then looks confused and asks, “Wasn’t he a Republican, though?”

Ah douchebaggery, you wear so many faces!

I guess this guy slept through Simple Human Decency 101 and paid someone else—perhaps an under-employed Trailing Spouse—to do his homework for him.

I wanted to reply, “Yes, and Gary Coleman died this week too,” then lower my voice to a confidential level, “but I understand he was a colored boy.”

But I didn’t do that. I also didn’t mention Mr. Hopper’s passing again to anyone else at the party because I didn’t want to lose my shit and embarrass my wife.

Plus, this way I get to save the title “For a Few Douchebags More” to report on the next Left-Wing Intellectual party I attend. Should I ever be invited to another one after this post.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Frank Booth is dead

Photo ©Ron Slenzak

So is Feck from River’s Edge; he’s gone, too. And the recovering alcoholic assistant coach from Hoosiers. And the crazed photojournalist whose sanity has been swallowed up by war in Apocalypse Now.

They’re all God’s problem now.

For a lot of people, Hopper will be most missed as the intense biker who rode to fame in Easy Rider. For others, he’ll be remembered as James Dean’s friend and co-star in Rebel Without A Cause.

For me, though, he’ll always be both Frank Booth, “one suave fuck” from Blue Velvet—and this guy, from The Johnny Cash Show, reciting Kipling in prime-time to a dumbstruck Grand Ol’ Opry (seriously) crowd of blue-hairs and rednecks. When you were Dennis Hopper and you were on Johnny Cash’s TV show, you did whatever the hell you pleased.

One wonders if Hopper knew at the time he was delivering his own eulogy.

“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating...”
—Rudyard Kipling

Frank Booth once memorably demanded, “Don’t toast to my health, toast to my fuck!” I’d like to think Dennis Hopper would have appreciated the sentiment.

Here’s mud in your fuck,  Mr. Hopper.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Letting LOST go

Watched the last episode of LOST again today, and now that I know what was actually going on, I like it even more.

I like that I was at least partially right, about (most of) the original castaways getting killed off and especially about Hurley being appointed Jacob’s replacement as guardian of the Island. As I mentioned last time, since my opinion was put on local TV for public consumption, I would rather not have been categorically wrong about everything.

I was also pretty sure that the title of last week’s episode, “What They Died For,” referred to more than the fates of just the three main cast members whose characters had died the week before. That would be too obvious for Lost, the same way Jack was too obvious a choice to be Jacob’s successor.

I liked how when Desmond went down into the light and unplugged the island, Smokey’s power went out, too. Which makes total sense, and was in retrospect damned stupid of The Man In Black not to foresee as a possible consequence. If the island gives you your power and turn off the island, ipso facto, you’ve made a critical miscalculation. You’ve hit your own OFF switch, too.

Unlike Richard, who had has fill of immortality when Miles pointed out his first gray hair to him. I’ve read that he lost his immortality when Desmond turned off the Island, but I think it’s more likely that he began to age when Jacob died.

I love how the show’s producers wrote up to their audience, even to the last episode. The whole flash-sideways narrative this season was like one protracted, wet kiss to the show's long-time fans. It was the anti-Sopranos ending (which ending I actually liked, for the record). Lost was smart and expected its viewers to be, too.

Yes, I'm irritated at all the early-season questions, especially about kids and childbirth on the island, left unanswered, but so what? As far as frustrations with scripted TV are concerned, this barely rates better than a quibble. I’m much more satisfied feeling like there was still more to know about the show than I am with shows whose only lingering question upon cancellation is, “What took them so long to cancel it?”

My pal The Last Boy Scout disagrees. He writes:

I watched the ending of the Lost finale last night, and I still have issues.  Like many folks, I'm wondering why Sayid would end up with the floozy instead of Nadia, but that's just the tip of the iceberg.  I think my big beef is with the whole cave full of light situation.  What is it? Who built the little stone-in-the-hole contraption.  Why?  Why would a person turn into a smoke monster when he went in? Why would the smoke monster go back in there?  Why did the smoke monster kill Mr. Eko and the pilot? Why did the smoke monster save Ben from Widmore's army?  Why did the "numbers" appear on the hatch, and how did Hurley know to use them as lottery numbers? 

Why would Jacob, the alleged good guy, oversee the Others' slaughter of all the Dharma people? WTF happens in Ann Arbor?  How did the lady who killed Jacob's mom know all their weird stuff she knew? 

My thought had been that it was going to be fun, after the finale, to go back and watch all the past seasons and see how the puzzle all fit together.  Now I'm just a little pissed that most of it is going to make no more sense now than it did the first time.

Those who enjoyed the finale seem to like the production values, the focus on the characters we love, the uplifting moments, the theme of redemption.  I'm cool with all of that, but I would have liked it to ALSO wrap up the damn story.  The writers created the questions -- not me.  I assumed that they also cared as much as I did about the answers to those questions.

So I wrote him back:

Hello, I have returned to help.

Here’s what I think happened behind the scenes. Some day we’ll know, but right now I’m just guessing (so LOST, I know).

I think the producers and the writers in the first couple seasons were deliberately spinning enough stories to sustain the show through an unlimited number of seasons, the way all well-behaved big network hits do.

Then they got religion, as it were, and decided to do something unprecedented in the industry, and write to a pre-determined ending three years away. Take a hit show and plan to sink it before it before it becomes the regurgitated crap that long-in-the-tooth shows inevitably become.

The producers have repeatedly said the decision energized them creatively, but it also forced them to look at their priorities and start cutting their losses, storyline-wise. That resulted in their having to jettison a number of subplots as they got more focused on the overweening mythology of the show.

BUT... I think that answers do exist. I think there’s a show “bible” somewhere that contains all the ephemera and connections and backstory that their limited lease on life didn’t allow them to explore onscreen. I know that, for myself, I know a hell of a lot more about a character I’ve created than what ultimately ends up written down on the page. Big-picture thinkers like the LOST braintrust are bound to be even more anal than me about making sure everything syncs up correctly.

Which means that the answers are still out there, or at least we can assume they are.

Let me take a crack at a couple of your questions. Sayid ended up with the blonde because she was part of Jack’s island experience and the exotic chick wasn’t. This was all about the most important people people in Jack’s life coming together and he didn’t know Nadia. (If you didn’t see the Jimmy Kimmel show afterwards, you missed out on a lot of explaining, see below).

It’s funny that you’re rubbed so wrong by the shining light. The light is just a classic MacGuffin. It’s the Maltese Falcon and it’s the glowing briefcase retrieved by John Travolta and Sam Jackson in Pulp Fiction. It’s whatever the viewer makes it. You’re making it a Jar Jar Binks!

Why the smoke monster saved Ben from Widmore’s men is easy—Smokey had a contentious relationship with Ben, but apparently really hated (and felt threatened by) Charles Widmore. And Smokey wasn’t above using anyone to achieve his ends and Ben was endlessly available to be used. In the end, Ben’s actually the tragic figure, not Locke.

Hurley knew the numbers because it was always his destiny to be caretaker of the island. Maybe Jacob planted them, maybe the light did; a lot of this show existed on a less-explained-is-more premise. I’ve heard the producers cite George Lucas over-explaining midiclorians fueling the Force in his new Star Wars trilogy as something they didn’t want to emulate.

I don’t think Jacob oversaw the slaying of the Dharma gang. I think Ben and some bad apple Others did. Remember Ben admitting in one of the later seasons that Jacob had never actually talked to him, they’d never met? So when he was telling the Others Jacob wanted the Dharma people killed, that was just Ben being Ben.

Why would a bad guy turn into a smoke monster when shoved into the light? Punishment. His human body is killed and he’s sentenced to an existence of being an eternal, existential monster. This show was all about sin and redemption. And judgment and punishment! Ask Ben, or Sawyer in the early episodes, if the show wasn’t about punishment.

Ann Arbor I’m sure is another whole notebook buried deep in some producer’s desk drawer to be forgotten about till the tenth anniversary edition or something.

My guess is the writers cared deeply about the answers to all the questions you posed (and more!) and are probably frustrated as hell to see all that prep work gone to waste. I know just how they feel, in smaller scale of course. I’ve killed so many great bits in my own writing and every one of the cuts improved the story I was trying to tell. (Here’s one that I was just talked out of recently, describing a gunshot victim: “His head, like bad girls, went everywhere.”)

In Stephen King’s Book, On Writing, he refers to this take-no-prisoners approach to editing as “killing your babies.” That’s the way I always think of it, too. Ironic that in this context, a lot of babies got killed on LOST. Without explanation!

I think a good argument could be put forth that maybe the producers should have decided to go seven seasons when they instead chose to go six, but it was their baby. It was theirs to kill. The fact that they talked the network into it is what remains remarkable to me.

I hope the thought that the writers of LOST’s early seasons must share your frustration ten-fold helps some. Betcha one day one of them writes a tell-all book about the mythology of the show, and in the meantime, I have two words for you: Fan Fiction! And two more: Internet Rumors. This thing is gonna have a shelf-life in its fans imaginations from here to forever. Dipshit liberal colleges already have courses on various aspects of LOST.

If they had tried to tie everything up as you and I would have ideally liked them to, it would have been very un-LOST of them. And nobody would care anywhere near as much and we wouldn’t still be talking about it.

“You guys go on ahead with me”

 —Billy Pilgrim, Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut

I was in the comic book store today and the clerk glanced at me while he was ringing up my order. Our eyes met and the next thing that should have happened is one of us should have said “Hey.” But I just stared at him. After a moment, he began to show signs of feeling awkward but I felt nothing. It was like I was watching a movie that didn’t particularly interest me. He goes, “Uh, hey, how’s it going?” And I know I looked at him and he could see me searching for a reply, but I had nothing. I just kept looking at him, waiting for myself to kick in and have something to say back, but I just didn’t care. Nothing came.

After a moment, he goes, “Hey, you feeling okay?”

Now that’s a red-flag phrase and that almost always gets through. Yeah, I assured him I was fine, just pre-occupied with a move out of state coming up.

Then he said something and I said something back and then our transaction was concluded and I walked out of his store. I think I mustered up a “see you later,” but I couldn’t swear to it.

This life—this part of my life—as Tony Soprano used to say, is dead to me. I’m not gone yet, but it is. Every usual activity or errand is accompanied by a sense of loss of purpose. I don’t really need you, Rite Aid. I’ll be getting my drugs elsewhere soon. Safeway, I’ll see you soon in Boise, I’m sure of it; this isn’t goodbye. Guy who cuts my son’s hair better than anyone, who gave us his card on our last visit, I’ll never use that card. I’ll never call your number. I’m looking at it right now, and the black squiggles on the yellow rectangle might as well be modern art.

I feel like a guy who’s at his own wake. His two-month-long wake. I’m not even gone yet and I can feel my connections to this place dying on the vine. Everything is either a holding action, like the trips to the comic book store and Rite Aid; or else is preparation for the move. Nothing exists for its own purpose anymore. It’s all preamble to that which comes next, or postscript to what came before.

That’s where I am now. The encounter (or lack of same) at the comic book store just crystallizes it; crunches it down to an easily relatable anecdote.

I feel like I’m moving through null space. Like Billy Pilgrim, I feel like I am becoming unstuck in time and am witnessing events as they occur, instead of experiencing them. Like later on, this part of my life won’t have existed. Or it will have existed, but I will have somehow skipped past it to the next thing.

Unlike Billy Pilgrim, however, I don’t have the option of offering to let the other guys go on ahead without me. I happen to need my other guys more than Vonnegut’s protagonist needed his. The Missus is my Montana Wildhack and The Boy is my Constant, the two of them anchoring me as much as possible to this reality—ever-changing as it is, damn it to hell—and without whom I would become unstuck in space as well as time.

So to sum up: Having a lovely time I’m sure, just the same, grateful I couldn’t be here for it.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Welcome, News 10 viewers

I never thought these stories were true, until it happened to me!

I just saw myself, and this blog, on the local ABC affiliate. I’d accompanied The Missus for her interview about Lost from a literary standpoint, strictly for moral support. After a while, she drew me into the interview and at first I just answered all the reporter’s questions like they were queries about NBC’s The Biggest Loser. (None of those answers made the air.)

Once I realized they were really going to film me—about the time I was being wired for sound—it was too late to go home and change out of my silly Marvin The Martian® t-shirt and then it was all over.

Then the bastards cut her out completely and just ran with my fan-boy windbaggery! You can imagine my secret delight...

Anyhow, it was a pretty great media day today with The Missus appearing in the local daily:

...and me on the local news, both going on the record about one of the smartest, most ambitious and unique TV shows ever. This is almost as cool as people searching for Johnny Cash on YouTube and finding my clips.


Just the same, I’d like to thank The Missus for her support and the members of the Academy for their consideration. Really, it’s an honor just to be on TV. [pause for applause]

With all due respect, I’m saving the really big acceptance speech for when I pick up my Nobel for first recommending  Arnold Schwarzenegger for the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Lost Causes

Well, another TV season has just about come and gone, with more than the usual quotient of geek/sci-fi/genre fare represented (thank you, Lost). Among this year’s winners and losers…

Winners: The American viewing public. Our long national nightmare is over. Heroes has been canceled by NBC. Don’t know how that happened; they must have thought it was a good show.

This show has never been good. It had a couple of episodes the first season that were less cringe-inducing than the others, but the dialogue was always soap opera expositive. Every story point telegraphed, spelled out and reiterated. I didn’t even care that the special-effects were cheesy because I also didn’t care about the characters, almost all of whom have behaved stupidly from scene one. This show was a rotting carcass hanging on NBC’s marquee for four smelly seasons. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Losers: The American viewing public.
Lost is going away. The final episode airs Sunday night at nine p.m. and runs two-and-a-half hours and that can’t be anywhere near long enough to answer all the important questions. Like: Why did we never get a Charles Widmore flashback/forward/sideways episode? He was the only major player who never got his own episode. That surprised me since I’ve long thought that, somehow, Charles Widmore is the son of his daughter Penny and her time-traveling husband Desmond.

The guy from the local ABC affiliate was interviewing The Missus today about the show from an academic’s perspective, and somehow I ended up on camera too. The guy asked me how I thought the show would end. And since I went on record with him, I’ll tell you, too: I think Not-Locke will kill the remaining four candidates and Jacob’s worst-case scenario protocols (the flash-sideways) will kick in. Good will conquer Evil and Hurley will end up in charge of the island. He was way too quick to act relieved when Jack (the too-obvious choice) stepped up this week. Plus, Hurley’s the only one of the four remaining candidates with happily-resolved daddy issues. My money’s on Hugo.

Other than that, though, I’m resigning myself to never having satisfactory resolution to so many lingering questions—but I also like that. The brain continues to be engaged long after the broadcast has ended. Heroes, by contrast, I would literally forget what show I was watching while fast-forwarding through the commercials on the DVR. Lost will be rooting around in my subconscious—screwing with me—for years to come; Heroes will be a first-season set that I’ll sell in the yard sale before we move. And claim The Missus bought it.

Lost’s two most obvious band-wagoneers this season were V and Flashforward, both of which I’ve written about before. V kinda sucked from the get-go but improved slightly toward the end. Casting that actor from The 4400 is a black mark against any show. No disrespect to him, but I just don’t buy him as a conflicted priest, or an action hero, or anything he’s pretending to be. And poor Elizabeth Mitchell seems lost in the crappy lines she has to read, like a part of her soul dies with every take.

Flashforward is also a little explainey, but still less stupid than V. The thing that bugs me about this show is the British leading man’s Nowheresville American accent. He’s so tense and terse and one-note and boring, plus his accent is obviously fake. I’m pretty sure Damien Lewis is available, and he can nail the accent. It would have been a much stronger show with a more convincing protagonist.

Over on Smallville, they’ve picked up another lease on life for next season, but one has to wonder: Why?

Super-boy is growing like backward dog years on this show. For God’s sake, he was in high school when this show started seven or eight years ago, how long is it gonna take him to learn to fly? Yes, seriously, he’s pushing thirty and he hasn’t learned to fly yet. As a sexual metaphor, it’s embarrassingly apt for this entire long-in-the-tooth endeavor.

The best thing about this show used to be the Clark/Lex relationship in the first few seasons. Smallville worked great as a doomed bromance. It began its long, inglorious trek to complete suckitude when they altered that dynamic and set the former friends against each other. Which should have worked. It could have worked. It should have been powerful. But they milked the storyline well past its sell-by date, just like they’re doing with the series now. I say end it next year. Bring Lex back as the super-villain we know and love from the funny books, have Clark suit up and leap a couple of tall buildings and end the series with at least a grace note of dignity.

What else have I been watching every week? Fringe. Definitely improved in its sophomore year. I daren’t say too much about it; if you’re unfamiliar with it, you’ll appreciate that I didn’t spill any beans. But the look, the characters, the use of music and sound; this is a show running on all cylinders. Definitely more Lost than Heroes.

I would put Medium in the genre category, even though its star is a deliberately doughty, middle-aged woman, which is atypical to say the least of the sci-fi genre. It plays a little fast and loose with its concept (local psychic helps town’s DA solve crimes), but the formula’s elasticity has actually led to some of its best episodes. Sometimes it just absolutely shreds the envelope, while at other times it just stretches credulity. But the leads (Patricia Arquette and Brit Jake Weber) are so likable and the plots often so outlandish it’s hard not to have fun.

Chuck is in the same vein. Not great, but A+ production values, likeable, attractive stars… the only thing that bugs me about it—and it bugs me a lot—is the way they constantly refer to each other as “spies.” Even their military boss refers to them as “spies.” Not agents, not operatives—spies! It’s like there was so much stupid on later in the evening on Heroes, some of it splashed back onto Chuck. Still, I’m glad it escaped cancellation. It’s usually the last DVRed thing I get to in the week, but occasionally it’s a pleasant surprise.

Oh, and 24. Except for last season, I will miss it. It was never about tickling your brain bone, it went straight for the adrenal gland, and most seasons hit the mark most of the time. I’m glad it’s going out before another sucky season required a mercy killing by the network.

If anyone is looking for the formula for Lost and what made it work, here is a good place to start: Storytelling integrity. It was the same reason 24 worked. The creative teams were freed to write to a pre-ordained end point, allowing them to craft epic stories with a distinct beginning, middle and ending. That’s the same reason the first couple of seasons of Mad Men worked so well. The viewer trusted that even the slow episodes (or in Lost’s case, the downright confusing ones) were building toward something which, when revealed, would knock your socks off.

We will miss Lost like crazy. Everything else is just TV.

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Saturday, May 08, 2010

A Justice for all

With John Paul Stephens retiring soon (and I’ll be the first to admit that the band embarrassed itself with every appearance after John Bonham’s death), Obama has another left-of-center seat on the Supreme Court to fill.

Every interest group in the nation has its nose up the president’s ass right now, reminding him there’s only two women on the 9-person Court but roughly 50% of Americans who are women. Other than elderly white guys, everybody else is under-represented on the court too, from minorities to the mentally-challenged to left-handed chainsaw jugglers from Oscaloosa.

But as the photo at the top of this piece suggests, this column isn’t aiming to promote racial equity, Kentucky circus acts or former Alaska state officials.

I’m all about Mr. Justice Arnold Schwarzenegger.

I’ll come clean, since nobody reads blogs anymore anyhow. My Christmas Island has been located in California for the better part of the past twenty years. Like the governor, I, too, have come to think of this state as home. The first place I’ve thought of as home, through many moves, since the town I was born and raised. I think when most people hear Arnold bellow about how great the state of California is, they cringe, thinking it’s all part of some crass political calculation. But when I hear it, I think, “You’re damned right it is!”

Our governor was on the Jay Leno program last week, I’m not sure why. He didn’t seem to be there with a product to sell. Maybe he still feels he owes Leno, from whose show he initially announced his candidacy, what seems like so long ago now. (I came to the conclusion that the appearance was probably a stealth-launch of his impending post-governor media offensive, again using Leno’s show as his platform, but that’s just idle conjecture.)

And I thought again, as I have so frequently in the past, I want to see this guy on the Supreme Court!

Look at it from Arnold’s perspective. What’s he going to do when he’s termed-out, as he soon will be? He can’t really go back to making gazillion-dollar action movies and he can’t actually act (as Leno so ungallantly pointed out); almost anything other than governor or box-office king would be a step down, a humiliation. He’s probably looking at following in Bill Clinton’s footsteps, in terms of a post-government career. Sit on a bunch of boards of this and that, advocate his favorite causes, put his face in front of the cameras doing well-meaning and/or dignified things as often as possible.

That would be a good life, but not great, and our governor is wired for great. He readily admitted on the Leno show that if he was Constitutionally entitled to, he would “absolutely” run for President.

A seat on the Supreme Court is the only step-up for Arnold at this point in his career, and lest you think I’ve forgotten about America in my zeal to shove Arnold down your throat, I think he would be a brilliant pick.

The pundits and the TV talking heads have all been talking about how the president and his team are considering appointing a non-judge/lawyer, somebody with real-world experience. Who better than an immigrant (at a time when immigration issues are hitting the boiling point) who has actually lived the American dream? From the son of a former Nazi (generally considered to be an insurmountable stigma), to the biggest box office star in the world to governor of one of the nation’s greatest states—his résumé is literally unparalleled. You couldn’t make this story up.

He brings the perspective of the penniless émigré fresh off the boat as well as the Fat Cat in the executive board room. He has lived almost a parody of the idealized, rags-to-riches American success story; it’s like a Frank Capra script as filmed by Ronnie Howard. He gets the rich girl from the upper-crust society family in the end and still gets to smoke his stogies in a tent pitched in the back yard for that specific purpose. He’s Everyman, blown up to fill a Cinemascope® screen.

And now that he has government experience, it would help make up for his lack of legal expertise. That’s what staff is for anyhow, the same way it must have been at first in Sacramento.

Plus, he’s a RINO, so appointing him would help scratch Obama’s ridiculous, ill-fated bi-partisan itch. Seriously, with Schwarzenegger terming-out at about the same time as Stephens is retiring... It’s serendipity. Plus he would sail through the confirmation process—we Americans forgive our celebrities almost all, and Arnold’s never crossed a line that’s tripped him up yet. CSPAN would have better ratings than Fox News that day!

A Democratic-appointed, Republican legal immigrant sitting on the highest court in the land just when the anti-illegal-immigration shit is hitting the fan; the TV-movie will practically write itself.

And I think he’d do with his justiceship the same thing he’s done with every other step in his unlikely career—confound his critics and exceed expectations.

We could do a lot worse in a Supreme Court justice, and regrettably, that isn’t just idle conjecture.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Giving back to the Man In Black

I just discovered this highly cool thing on the interwebs, The Johnny Cash Project, dealing with my favorite country/western musician. Thanks to whoever sent it to me. I’m sorry I’ve already forgotten who you were.

They have used some very complicated web trickery to keep couch monkeys like me from copying and pasting their content for easy reproduction here, but they haven’t figured their way around a screen capture yet!

If you click here, it’ll take you to the video-in-progress. I defy you to watch it and not be moved by the images accompanying the music. Their quality ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous to the WTF were they thinking—obviously, it does not take a Caravaggio or a Kinkaid to contribute.

One small glitch in the process, at least from this user’s side, is that visitors are assigned a frame at random, which means that the last twenty minutes or so I spent hunting down the frame number of the image I wanted to do was an unfortunate waste of my time. But page reloads offer competing random images to choose from.

The drawing page is intuitive and easy and although I personally do not feel that I am worthy, perhaps you are.

The variation on frame 583, above, is by one Fin Cramb of Edinburgh, Scotland. Nice work, Fin. On the other end of the talent spectrum, check out my contribution, below. God willing, The Johnny Cash Project will have the good taste or at least the good sense to decline to use it: