Friday, August 26, 2005

Just a Heads Up...

Posted By on Fri, Aug 26, 2005 at 4:17 PM

This is a long ways off, but I thought I'd like you all know that David Sedaris will be reading at the War Memorial Auditorium, 7:30 pm April 18, 2006. That's all I know right now. I don't know why he's coming, what he'll be reading, or whether he will agree to become my new best friend. But he's very popular so I thought I'd let you all know, in case you care. I don't think tickets are on sale yet.

lost and foundas

Posted By on Fri, Aug 26, 2005 at 2:33 PM

An excellent, passionate piece by Scott Foundas in the L.A. Weekly, which anchors a series under the heading "Movies You Can't See." Why should you care in Nashville? Because several factors narrow down your movie-going choices, from exorbitant asking prices to simple neglect, and Foundas explains a lot of them.

He also stumps for movies that shouldn't be forgotten. Amazingly, one of the movies he lists has already played Nashville: La Commune (Paris 1871), Peter Watkins' one-of-a-kind six-hour experiment in recreating the ethos of Paris' short-lived revolutionary government during the Franco-Prussian War. An innovative, mutating work that combined agitprop theater with a dissection of TV news coverage, it wouldn't have played here without the efforts of the Belcourt's Scott Manzler, who basically screened it as a gift to adventurous local moviegoers. I was shocked to see about 20 people there on a Sunday football afternoon last winter for all six hours. Vive le revolution!

Others that Foundas mentions have never played here, and they sound great. The one that I've heard most about is William Greaves' Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One, a 1968 documentary experiment in which the making of a movie is really the movie. A sequel, Take 2 ݼ/i>, had some festival screenings earlier this year, just not in Nashville. But those films sound like they'd have a limited audience. What about the fate of Duma, a Gaylord-backed family nature adventure from The Black Stallion director Carroll Ballard? It's gotten rave reviews from the few who've seen it, but the Warner Bros. web site doesn't even spell Ballard's name right.

Thanks to GreenCine Daily for the link.


Posted By on Fri, Aug 26, 2005 at 1:57 PM

Interestingly enough, only 485 people have voted early on the sales tax increase referendum question, according to an unofficial tally on the Davidson County Election Commission website. Also interesting, the site is no longer displaying the mayor's "tax relief calculator" that, as the Scene noted this week, made the nonpartisan government agency look like it was shamelessy taking sides. Vote now or show up on Sept. 13. The Scene's editorial page will have more to say about the question between now and then.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

these boots were made for...

Posted By on Thu, Aug 25, 2005 at 2:55 PM

Finally—a presidential candidate with the steely resolve of Hillary Clinton, the scalpel-sharp reflexes of Bill Frist, and the rhetorical firepower of Barack Obama. He even sorta looks like all three morphed together.

oil's not well

Posted By on Thu, Aug 25, 2005 at 12:52 PM

Don't know how many people read Sunday's cover story in The New York Times Magazine, "The Breaking Point," but it's the scariest piece of reporting and analysis I've read in some time. Going to war for oil doesn't seem remotely implausible after reading Peter Maass' article, which raises essential concerns about the status of the massive Saudi oil reserves.

Maass considers what will happen when—the article suggests it's no longer a matter of "if"—the world's daily demand for oil begins to exceed production capability. It's not a question of the well running dry, he writes. Disaster will occur long before that, as the inability to satisfy demand sets off a toppling-domino string of international disasters, starting with triple-digit prices per barrel and global recession. Say goodbye to your climate-controlled habitat, as the cost of heating and cooling skyrockets.

One might expect the Saudis to see "peak oil" as a bonanza. Not so, Maass writes. The effect would be disastrous, as the inevitable downturn in oil purchasing would cause a nosedive in price per barrel, cripple the country's economy, and produce a huge unemployed underclass (already estimated near 20 percent) seething with discontent.

Anyway, this is an absolute must-read—especially after yesterday's announcement of the laughable new Bush fuel economy regulations, which exempt vehicles like Hummer H2s. (Apparently there aren't enough of them to matter.) According to the Times, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta delivered the news in a show of solidarity with hard-hit Americans at a service station—after rolling up in a gas-guzzling Lincoln Navigator. Next time maybe he'll announce a war on poverty between courses at The Palm.

The Scene makes news, displays news better

Posted By on Thu, Aug 25, 2005 at 7:17 AM

First, check out this San Francisco Bay Guardian column about a hotly rumored merger between Village Voice Media (the company that owns the Scene) and New Times Media. They say your local alt-weekly will get predictable and conservative after such a takeover. Less alt, more weekly.

Second, how about the Scene's new web site? Major kudos to webmaster (and Pithmaster) James Hanback for the labor-intensive makeover. Rumor has it James has been living in his office for several months now.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

36 and Dropping

Posted By on Wed, Aug 24, 2005 at 9:31 PM

A new poll has the president's approval rating down to 36% (it was over 50% as recently as January). Unsurprisingly, Republicans remain generally enthusiastic, registering 77% approval, while Democrats are down on W. to the tune of 15% approval. The truly startling figure is for indepedents, among whom only 21% approve of the job Bush is doing as president. That's a remarkably low number for these ostensibly magical swingsters, who in this poll represent a hefty 28% of registered voters.

Much of the president's sustained free fall in public opinion follows from the lethal combination of generally bad news in Iraq and generally inept administration handling of generally bad news in Iraq. This week saw Bush emerging from the ranch to give a couple of seriously platitudinous speeches to friendly red-state audiences. Most notably and infamously, he made this case for staying the course Monday in Utah:

We have lost 1,864 members of our Armed Forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and 223 in Operation Enduring Freedom. Each of these men and women left grieving families and loved ones back home. Each of these heroes left a legacy that will allow generations of their fellow Americans to enjoy the blessings of liberty. And each of these Americans have brought the hope of freedom to millions who have not known it. We owe them something. We will finish the task that they gave their lives for.

Unless I'm missing something, he is, with a straight face, drawing a connection between his feckless war in Iraq and the ability of future generations to enjoy blessings of liberty. And he is arguing, also straight faced, that a principal reason to keep fighting and dying in Iraq is to honor those who have already fought and died in Iraq. No wonder Americans are telling pollsters they've had enough.

Phil Gets the Finger

Posted By on Wed, Aug 24, 2005 at 2:48 PM

Paula Wade, a former reporter for The Commercial Appeal who has been working for the Bredesen administration, has just defected in a big way. She's taken a job as communications director for the Tennessee Justice Center, the organization that has battled the governor over his TennCare cuts and that Bredesen has publicly (and unfairly) repudiated. Clearly, Wade, whose reporting expertise was TennCare, didn't like what she saw on the Hill and became disillusioned with her boss and the direction of the state's health care program. From the TJC release on her hiring: "A 20-year veteran journalist, Wade covered TennCare from its inception in 1992 as Capitol Bureau correspondent for The Commercial Appeal.... As a reporter on Capitol Hill, she wrote award-winning news and analysis coverage of the TennCare program as well as healthcare and mental health policy, politics, urban issues, education, state tax policy and state budgeting." She is quoted as saying, "I look forward to working with the General Assembly and the Bredesen administration in this new role." Translation: "Screw you, Phil."

On the upside, I could eat a bag of Doritos and claim I was "training"

Posted By on Wed, Aug 24, 2005 at 12:28 PM

Some people think that competitive eating should be an Olympic sport.

And here's my blunt and hastily formed opinion: That is stupid.

In elementary school, my friends and I played a game called "Who can hold her breath the longest?" whenenever we played in a swimming pool. It was fun, exciting (well, compared to other activities available to six-year-olds), but it was not a sport. We were not athletes; we were just a bunch of first graders who filled our cheeks up with air like amateur puffer fish. We were not athletes when we tried to blow the biggest bubblegum bubble. Nor when we dared that Eric kid to eat eleven packets of butter before the teacher found out and made him stop. We were just kids trying to have a good time. And that's what competitive eaters are like, only older, less cute and a much more disturbing.

Why do non-sports players always want their games to be considered sports? Bowling is not a sport. It is a game that requires skill, like poker or Pac Man. I mean, I've been playing Pac Man in bars for years and I still can't pass level 3. Darts is not a sport either. Why aren't bowlers and dart players happy to play a game ֠just a game ֠and leave it at that? If bowling, darts and competitive eating are sports, then so is the game of tag. At least tag requires you to run around. You have to zig-zag, start and stop, learn to flee and learn to chase. I haven't played tag in about ten years (am I a retired athlete?) but I bet I could still kick some third-grader butt if I tried.

So that's my opinion. If competitive eating gets to be an Olympic sport, then tag should be one too. I'd love to hear the commentary on that one: "Well, the players have put their feet in a circle, John. The counting has begun: the bubble gum, bubble gum, is in the dish. How many pieces do they wish? Oh! The Germans picked 20! They're counting, counting...anndddd....yes, I believe....the Swedes are It! This is going to be one hell of a game!"

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Good Policy

Posted By on Tue, Aug 23, 2005 at 2:55 PM

On the subject of Pat Robertson's bizarro remarks about Venezuela, here is what National Review Online editor-at-large Jonah Goldberg has to say:

Look I don't like Robertson. But I think some things are getting jumbled. I really have no problem with an American saying that it would be good foreign policy to assasinate a leader. In the abstract I think assasination can be good policy. Killing Saddam a long time ago would be looking pretty smart right now. Morality aside, offing Chavez would almost certainly be a bad idea given the political consequences. But raising the issue doesn't horrify me in the slightest. The problem with this statement -- as opposed to some others -- is not that it's batty. It's that Robertson claims to be a religious leader and, call me crazy, religious leaders have better things to do than talking about wet work in Venezeuala. Tend to your flock Mr. Robertson.

In Goldberg we have a leading writer at one of the nation's pre-eminent conservative publications who regards killing elected foreign leaders as a reasonable option for U.S. foreign policy. He is troubled only because the guy who suggested it purports to be a religious leader -- in other words, the messenger, not the message. In Goldberg's conservative universe there is nothing horrific about state-sponsored assasination, which "can be good policy," as long as it's advanced in secular contexts? And conservatives think liberals are moral relativists?

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