Sunday, September 28, 2008

She's On The List

If that episode of Friends is to be believed, everybody has a list of celebrities that, if the opportunity presents itself, they would sleep with.1 I don't know if that episode is to be believed, in the sense that I'm not sure everybody has such a list, but I certainly have one.

Obviously that list is of male celebrities, and is pure fantasy since most of them are (apparently) straight, and no, I won't tell you who.

I have, however, another, shorter list of female celebrities that I would hook up with. On the Kinsey Scale, I'd consider myself a pretty solid 5, even a 5.5, but not a full 6. There are a select few ladies out there who are just so goddamn amazing, even I couldn't resist.

Tina Fey is definitely on that list.

Tina Fey, in fact, is on a sub-list of that list. I wouldn't just hit that, I would get down on my knee and propose and raise a family with her. Seriously, I love this woman. And I hope, if I ever actually get to meet her, that this admission doesn't make it awkward.

And, that her husband isn't around.


It's not like she's a new addition to the list, however she's come back to the fore with her spot-on impersonations of Sarah Palin2 on Saturday Night Live. Everyone saw the first Palin-Hillary sketch a week or two ago, but last night she appeared again, this time in a satire of Palin's trainwreck of an interview with Katie Couric:

Funny shit, but also a little scary. Why do I say scary? Because here's the relevant excerpt from the real interview with Couric:


You see what I mean by scary? The SNL sketch practically doesn't count as satire because it's almost fucking verbatim to Palin's actual answer.

Seriously, here's the transcript of what Palin says. Now play the SNL sketch and read along:

That's why I say I, like every American I'm speaking with, we're ill about this position that we have been put in. Where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out. But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health care reform that is needed to help shore up our economy. Um, helping, oh, it's got to be about job creation, too. Shoring up our economy, and putting it back on the right track. So health care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions, and tax relief for Americans, and trade -- we have got to see trade as opportunity, not as, uh, competitive, um, scary thing, but one in five jobs created in the trade sector today. We've got to look at that as more opportunity. All of those things under the umbrella of job creation.

The way they sync up is almost like playing Dark Side of the Moon while watching Wizard of Oz, except instead of freaking out because that's totally trippy, man, you're freaking out because there's a very real chance she will end up President of the United States if John McCain wins and then dies. And the odds of each one are, at this point, pretty much 50-50.

Even just reading it on its own, it's impossible to parse. As Ed Brayton over at Dispatches from the Culture Wars put it:

She literally babbles incoherently, just stringing together a bunch of totally unrelated talking points that couldn't make a coherent sentence at gunpoint. It's gibberish. It's word salad. It sounds like she's playing one of those refrigerator magnet games with a bunch of words and phrases and trying to tie them all together.

And yet the campaigns are still neck-and-neck.

Sorry to cock-knock my male readers, luring them in with dirty Tina Fey talk and then abruptly seguing into politics again. But the Palin sketch just got me thinking. So much depends on Thursday's debate.

  1. Ironically, it's in the season 3 episode "The One With Frank Jr.," and not the season 2 episode "The One With The List."

  2. Who I would also totally hit -- WITH MY FIST! AMIRITE?! HIGH FIVE!!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Election 2008: Presidential Debate #1

Political post. If you don't want to hear it, go read Dr. McNinja instead.1

Last night was the first of three Presidential debates for the 2008 election, between Democratic nominee Barack Obama, and Republican nominee John McCain. If you haven't seen it, it is available in its entirety on

The first question that's asked is who won. I'm not sure that's the right question to ask, but I'll bite. There are two answers here. On the one hand, from as objective a standpoint as I could figure, it seemed more or less like a draw. McCain was out of his league when it came to the economic discussion that dominated the first half hour of the debate, but he came back strong when they started talking about Iraq, and managed to get the upper hand a bit with "the Surge worked nanner-nanner," to which the ever graceful Obama could only reply "Yes, it did." I think they were about evenly matched in terms of Russia/Pakistan talks. So like I say, a draw.

But a draw, in this case, can also be seen as a win for Obama. John McCain is and has been behind in the polls as the afterglow of Sarah Palin's nomination began to wear off (which, as is often the case, occurred when she opened her mouth and spoke); his "suspend the campaign/debate" bluff got called and he wound up losing the skirmish and appearing at the debate after all. McCain needed a home run, and he was most likely to get it from this debate, as it was (supposed to be) about foreign policy, which is (supposed to be) his specialty. He needed to show that Obama was in over his head when it came to foreign policy, and that he, John McCain, had what it took.

And while perhaps J McC did show -- at least to those already inclined to think so -- that he "has what it takes," so did Obama. No major gaffes on Obama's part. He remained cool, collected, and for every question, he had an answer.2

As I said, McCain needed a home run, this was his best chance to hit one -- and he didn't. Policy-wise, they tied. "Not a game-changer either way," the pundits are saying. That means the game remains as it was: Obama started ahead in the polls, and remained ahead in the polls, and so the tie was, in a sense, a victory for Obama.

Of course, the debates aren't really for staunch Republicans or Democrats, who have already made up their minds and are just watching the way one might watch a football match, a gladiatorial match, or an episode of Destroyed in Seconds. They're not really weighing the two candidates' stances on the issues, they just don't want to miss the very real possibility of political carnage.3

No, the debates are for those beautiful bastards, the undecideds -- who, ironically, are the ultimate deciders. They are the third-or-so of the population that one of the candidates needs to win over. And according to the polls, Obama convinced more of them that he could handle the gig than McCain did last night.

Nonetheless, McCain is clearly of the Orwellian belief that you can control make something true merely by saying that it is true. For example, his campaign ran online ads declaring him the winner not only before yesterday's debate, but before he'd even confirmed that he would attend the debate.

So it's no surprise that, post-debate, the McCain campaign ran the following advertisement:

I think, however, that this ad backfires in a number of ways.

First off, we'll address the obvious elephant in the room: these statements are taken out of context. All three of them were followed by "but." Obama agreed with McCain's sentiments, but not the conclusions he drew or the actions he intended to take. But I suppose that kind of quote-mining is just par for the political course, so we won't belabor that. Let's talk about some of the other problems with it.

As one YouTube commenter pointed out:

By attacking Obama for agreeing with McCain, isn't his own campaign affirming the idea that McCain's policies are WRONG?

Well said, random internet person. Well said.

It also shows a fundamental (the politicians and pundits like that word) flaw in McCain's thinking. Specifically, that being willing to concede that someone else is right, and/or that you have occasionally been wrong, is some kind of weakness. That's exactly the bullshit pigheaded arrogance that has made Dubya the worst President, certainly in the recent history if not in the entire history of our nation.

It's okay to admit that you were wrong. In fact, to me, that shows more leadership potential and a better understanding of the nuances of human interaction than Bush or McCain seem to display.

On top of that, this ad, at least in concept, is plagiarized directly from this ad that VP nominee Joe Biden put together during the primary elections:

Let's stand back and think about this for a second. John McCain puts out an ad stating flat-out that Barack Obama is not ready to lead. And yet:

- John McCain chooses Sarah Palin as his running mate in a blatant attempt to cash in on Hillary's popularity.
- John McCain abandons his "experience" platform and adopts a "change" platform identical to the one that Obama has been using since the beginning.
- John McCain uses the "[blank] we can believe in" structure, recognizing its effectiveness in Obama's campaign
-Even last night, he appropriated Obama's rhetorical "Main Street/Wall Street" dichotomy, recognizing it as an effective sound bite, as well as another of Obama's frequently-repeated phrases, "Let me be clear."
- His "victory ad" is copied from his opponent's running mate.

In other words, McCain has spent his campaign following the other side's lead. If Obama isn't ready to lead, then why is McCain following right behind him at every move?

Also, it's a non-sequitur. The "punchline" of the ad has nothing to do with the preceding content. How does "I agree with Sen. McCain" automatically lead to "No"? It doesn't. They're two separate ads.

Here's my theory as to what happened: As a visual effects and graphics guy, I know that those graphics would have taken some time. So the fact is that they were already planning that ad, and had made the graphics and recorded the narration before the debate even happened, otherwise they wouldn't have been able to get the ad up so instantaneously.

They had already planned to release an ad stating that Obama was not ready to lead, already created the beginning and end bits, and were just waiting for Barack to put his foot in his mouth at the debate, so they could use that clip in the ad as their proof.

And the best they got out of him was his occasional concession that McCain had the right idea, but not the right approach, and just left the latter part out.

This is exactly the problem with their thinking -- the thinking that we already have in the White House. They make a plan and they refuse to deviate from it, even when it is clearly no longer the best strategy. "Stay the course." Fuck's sake.

Last comment on the debate: body language. Watch the debate with the sound off and just judge each one based on body cues. Obama was cool, relaxed -- hate to be trite, but "Presidential." He looked right at McCain, both while speaking to McCain and while McCain was speaking. He stood up straight and proud, and came across as someone I would be proud to have representing our country abroad.

McCain, on the other hand, was small, hunched over, tense, and looked more pissed-off as the night went on. He blinked a LOT, especially at the beginning -- generally a sign of either uncertainty or outright deceit -- and refused to look at or even directly address Obama. There are several ways to read that, none of them particularly good:

- On a purely primal level, social inferiors will not look their superiors in the eyes. You see this in wolves, lions, dogs, and apes. Subordinate males will not look at the dominant male. So just coming from the animal instinct level, John McCain recognized Obama as the alpha male on the stage.

- McCain is known to have a fiery temper, and despite his death's head rictus of a smile, he was all but vibrating with rage as Obama positively refused to be ignorant of the issues. It may be that he avoided looking at Obama because he would have utterly lost his composure if he had done so.4

- McCain was showing a total lack of respect, even contempt, for a formidable and worthy opponent. You don't have to like someone to respect them, and we don't need another 4 years of global petulance and disrespect from our Commander-in-Chief.5

I'm trying not to present a false dichotomy here, but I really can't think of any positive reason that McCain should have totally avoided eye contact, or even addressing Obama directly, especially when the format of the debate was that the two candidates would take five minutes in each topic to address each other directly. If any of you can put a positive spin on McCain's attitude, I'd be glad to hear it.

I was not myself undecided and this debate has not swung my vote. It's only made me more baffled -- and terrified -- that the race could be as close as it is.

As has been said by others, I don't believe that Obama is the pure-souled superpolitician who will finally bring back the unicorns. But I believe that this country needs a drastic change in direction, and Barack Obama represents that in far more ways than John McCain.

And if Obama really does bring back the unicorns, to boot -- well, I will be happy to admit I was wrong.

In the meantime, I'm very much looking forward to Thursday's debate.

  1. And even if you do want to hear it, go read Dr. McNinja afterwards, because that's some funny shit. Make sure you read the alt-text!

  2. Well, not quite every question. I was annoyed at the way both of them dodged the very direct question "What specific programs will you have to cut [read: what specific campaign promises will you be breaking] as a result of the economic crisis?" But both of them did it, so that one's a draw too.

  3. For this reason, I'm inclined to think that the Biden-Palin debate will be the highest rated of all the debates this election season. One internet wit predicted it will end with Palin curled up and sobbing in a corner, while Biden dons parachute pants and does the Hammer Dance across the stage.

  4. McCain also apparently didn't realize that his tactic of "make up lies about the opponent's positions and declare them as truth" wouldn't work if his opponent was standing right there to contradict him, which Obama did on multiple occasions, finally neutralizing many of the false talking points McCain has been spreading around the last few months.

  5. The more cynical or knee-jerk among us would probably say McCain was exhibiting racism, but I think, all else being equal (no pun intended), McCain would have behaved the same way with a white man.

Friday, September 26, 2008

More GB3 News

Haven't posted lately, as I've been busy with Sandrima (just locked a 3D track of what I think will be one of the stand-out shots of the project) and there's not much to post about.

Well, I take that back. There's actually been a LOT to post about, if we're going to talk politics, hasn't there? But the baffling actions of the McCain campaign have moved so fast that it really felt more appropriate to address them via Twitter than try to write up a meaningful blog about it, especially since I am having trouble understand what it all actually means besides "McCain is losing his marbles" and I don't want to stoop to that unnecessarily. Also, the mainstream media is FINALLY pulling their heads out and noticing that this is ridiculous, no longer forcing the Daily Show to be the sole source of sanity and accountability in this race, so I felt like the MSM had it covered.

So I've been out, although I probably will write a blog re: tonight's debate -- which, despite McCain's confidence, is anyone's game.

But I thought I'd follow-up on the Ghostbusters 3 story from my last blog with some new and exciting information.

One of the biggest stumbling points to another Ghostbusters film has always been Bill Murray. My understanding is this: like Indiana Jones, for which a sequel could only move forward with unanimous approval from Lucas, Spielberg, and Ford, Ghostbusters is split among the controlling interests of Reitman, Aykroyd, Ramis, and Murray. A third Ghostbusters film could only be made if all four of the principals approved of it, and for the last 20 years, Bill Murray wasn't having it.

When Ghostbusters 2 was produced, he was openly unhappy with the process of the production, as well as the final product, and declared that he was done with Ghostbusters. When the subject of the sequel came up, Murray either said no flat-out, or yes on the provision that Venkman be killed near the beginning of the film and return as a ghost.1

Things got more promising when Aykroyd, high off a viewing of TMNT, proposed that GB3 be made as a CGI feature. Though I'm on record around the web as hating that idea -- I would rather not have GB3 at all in that case -- Murray said that he would be willing to provide the voice for Venkman in that case. This opened the door to his willing reprisal of the role of Peter Venkman in the upcoming Ghostbusters video game, and apparently re-awakened his enthusiasm for the franchise, as he talks about in this video from Fantastic Fest (the GB talk starts at about the 5:00 mark):

It's funny, I always assumed that Murray was just kind of a crotchety guy and moved on from GB because of diva-esque "artistic differences," not getting enough screen time, whatever. But the interview here is so frank and open that I'm realizing that's wrong. It seems that the fact is that Bill Murray loves Ghostbusters, and he loves the Venkman character, and he was hurt and angry by the way the characters he so enjoyed, and the strength of the story possibilities, were marginalized and disrespected in favor of the effects and a lazy re-hash of the original.

Now, don't get me wrong, I personally like GB2, but based more on the mere fact of its existence than its relative merits. Objectively I can see where he is coming from. It was more slime than substance, and a clearly inferior sequel. And he didn't trust, for the last few decades, that a GB3 would be anything more than another hollow exercise in visual effects (and given the direction Hollywood movies have steadily taken, who can blame him?).

But it sounds like he's willing to give it another shot, and that he's in the same place I'm at with the talk of Office writers taking a crack at it -- new blood might be exactly what the franchise needs, not to re-invent itself, but to stage a triumphant return that more people would love to see than I think even the studio realizes.

If Bill Murray is on board, then this is the best news imaginable for the franchise.

  1. Considering that his problem with GB2 was what he saw as the overuse of visual effects, this seems like an odd request. I've long thought that this notion of killing off the most popular character was just a bluff that he knew they would never call, thereby saying "no" without having to say it.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Another Ghostbusters Post

So I never posted about this, got distracted by other things. Tweeted about it, but never put up a blog post. It may not even be blog-worthy at this point, but that McCain video is really depressing me and I want to put something else up for a bit.

Ghostbusters 3 might actually happen.

The comedy pedigrees here are interesting. You have two writers from the American version of "The Office," and according to a number of sources, Judd Apatow is at this point orbiting the project in some capacity, which means that if they go in an "old guys hand the reins to new guys" direction with the flick, we can probably expect Seth Rogen to suit up as one of the new Ghostbusters. According to Aykroyd, that would be "a dream," as he says in a recent interview with E!

The weird thing, of course, is that all the people who you would expect to be at the core of a GB revival are just shrugging and saying "Yeah, I hear someone's working on that." I think all of them have long since let the dream go, but it sounds like they'd do it if it came to fruition.

I won't go into what I think of Ghostbusters as a whole because I already did that, and I would venture a guess that I was correct in thinking that the anticipation and excitement for the video game is, at least in part, what made the studio realize that there is still an audience, and push the languishing project forward. Though anyone who observes the pattern of studio greenlighting probably would have guessed the same. Instead I'll comment on the direction things appear to be taking right now.

In short, I think it's very promising and exciting. Apatow and his crew display a strong understanding of what made 80s comedies "80s comedies," and that sensibility comes through in movies like Superbad and Pineapple Express, which manage to be both throwbacks and something new and fresh at the same time. I would much rather see the Apatow crew suit up than any other superstar "Dream Team" that's been rumored over the years (Will Smith, Ben Stiller, Chris Farley and Janine Garafolo were all purportedly going to be the new GBs at some point, and while I loved Mystery Men, it wouldn't have been right for Ghostbusters).

Ghostbusters is not about arbitrary all-star teams, it's about funny people in scary situations. You need comedians -- not just stand-up comedians but comic actors -- and particularly comedians who can riff off each other. The Apatow stable is the perfect fit for that. I would say they're this decade's answer to the comic collaborations of the 80s, and I think writers from "The Office" are the perfect choice to create fertile ground for that kind of riffing.

As to that, I find the choice to go with new writers rather than Aykroyd and Ramis to be, honestly, a risky proposition but one that could be tremendously rewarding. We've seen what happens when certain filmmakers return to a beloved franchise, and make the movie that shows what the franchise is in their mind, and it turns out that the franchise is a very different thing in the mind of the audience. Aykroyd has had a GB3 in mind for nearly 20 years, and that might make it stale. He might want to make the movie he's always wanted to make, and not the movie he ought to make in the here and now.

New writers could bring a fresh perspective to it, while ideally maintaining what made Ghostbusters so iconic and lasting -- strong characterization and comedy. Writers who grew up with Ghostbusters as a phenomenon would understand that phenomenon from an audience perspective, and potentially have more success at upholding it than the original creators (particularly Aykroyd), who may still not have been able to shake of the vestiges of the original intent.

With fans writing for a franchise, you of course run the risk of it being no better than fan fiction, bringing in or referencing every joke, character, and breakfast cereal ever related in any way to the franchise (and believe me, I know how fanwanky a GB3 script could get). But that's where the writers being from "The Office" bolsters my confidence. They've already shown that they can respect the spirit of a property while breathing their own life into it and creating something new, and I will be paying very close attention to this project as it progresses.

If this does happen, totally going to a midnight show, and totally going in costume. I guess I'll have to build another proton pack.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Why McCain must not be elected...

If it's not obvious, my blog is likely to get more politically-oriented in the next couple months leading up to the election. Because the fact of it is, folks, this one matters.

For my non-American readers, I apologize since I'm sure our politics bore your pants clean off. I'll try to intersperse lighter fare. But the fact is that if McCain wins, we are literally going to be in a world of shit.

You may not trust Obama. He's a politician and as the saying goes, if someone or something seems to good to be true, it probably is.

But we have had great Presidents in the past. We've had Lincoln, and Kennedy -- both of whom, incidentally, had less experience than Obama -- and I believe that leaders like that still exist. I believe that someone like Obama can be genuine, and I would rather take a chance on him, even given the slim possibility that he's lying about his goodness, than throw the future away on a man who is almost certainly telling the truth about his evil.

You may not want Obama -- but do you really want the alternative?

Think about it.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Thank You, Daily Show, Part 2


These next few months are going to get interesting. I can't wait to see what happens, in particular, when Biden and Palin share the stage.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Thank You, Daily Show

I'm a big fan of the Daily Show. I've been watching it semi-regularly since it first went on the air in 1996 with Craig Kilborn in the chair. At that point it was more of a rip-off "SNL's Weekend Update," reporting current news and adding a punchline. They had interviews like they do now, where the interviewer would ask the interviewee absurd questions, but they were clearly editing tricks, where the interviewees were not actually asked those questions.

When Jon Stewart took over, the show became more overtly political, and also grew a pair. Now when a ridiculous question pops up in an interview, we can rest safely assured that the correspondent actually asked that question.

It's gotten to the point where The Daily Show is the only news commentary show I trust. Jon Stewart is astoundingly intelligent; whenever a guest comes on who has written a book, Jon has read the book in preparation for the interview. He asks his guests harder and more sincere questions than anyone else in the news media; he has, on a supposedly fluff "comedy show," taken powerful politicians to task in front of a live studio audience.

Most importantly, they do their research. If a politician or news analyst makes a statement directly in contradiction to another of their own statements, they dig it up and share it with the world.

Case in point, this video from last night's show, taking the media to task for their double standard in letting VP-nominated Sarah Palin off the hook for...well, everything.

I'm voting Obama, and enthusiastically so, and anyone who isn't -- well, I just have nothing to say to them, because obviously we neither speak the same language nor live in the same reality. But regardless of your politics, regardless of which way the pendulum swings, it's good to know that The Daily Show is there to call people on their bullshit. And I've seen them hit the Dems just as hard, and with good cause.

If I believed there was a God, I would thank him for The Daily Show. Since I don't, I'll settle for just thanking them.

Speaking of which, I'm really bogged down with work and haven't had time to continue Case for a Creator. Considering I don't want to just post glib or dismissive posts, I'll hold off continuing the reading for a while until I can review and post more substantively.