Julie Mason of the Houston Chronicle writes in her pool report from Air Force One, on the way back from Texas back to Washington yesterday: “En route, Karl Rove appeared in the press cabin, brandishing a round tin filled with chocolate-covered pecans. Those who daintily took just one were admonished by the bearer to ‘take more, take more.’ He made a quick round of the cabin and paused on his way back out to declare, ‘Sweets for my sweets.'”
Just how many chocolate-covered nuts will it take to get the White House press corps (and the rest of the media, for that matter) to start doing their damn jobs and challenging the Republican spin instead of channeling it? I’ll be happy to take up a collection, even I have to get a whole tin for each reporter. Hell, I’ll even throw in some cocktail weenies if it helps remind them that they are not Karl Rove’s huckleberry.
6 commentsOctober 31st, 2006 at 06:43pmPosted by Eli
Stanley Kubrick never threw anything away. On the other hand, he didn’t have much of a filing system, and when he moved — permanently, it turned out — from Hollywood to London in 1962, a great many things went astray. Among them was the sole copy of a film treatment called “Lunatic at Large,” which Mr. Kubrick had commissioned in the late ’50s from the noir pulp novelist Jim Thompson, with whom he had worked on “The Killing,” a 1956 heist story that became his first successful feature, and then on 1957’s “Paths of Glory.”
The manuscript remained lost until after Mr. Kubrick’s death, in 1999, when his son-in-law, Philip Hobbs, working with an archivist, turned it up, along with a couple of other scripts, and set about trying to make it into a movie.
“When Stanley died, he left behind lots of paperwork,” Mr. Hobbs said in a telephone interview. “We ended up going through trunks of it, and one day we came across ‘Lunatic at Large.’ I knew what it was right away, because I remember Stanley talking about ‘Lunatic.’ He was always saying he wished he knew where it was, because it was such a great idea.”
Speaking from her home in Britain, Mr. Kubrick’s widow, Christiane, said: “My husband always had a drawerful of ideas. There were always a lot of stories on the go, things he started, things he left lying around. It was like being in a waterfall. I remember he was very excited at the time about ‘Lunatic at Large,’ but then other things happened.”(…)
Despite its title, “Lunatic at Large” is not a horror story. It’s a dark and surprising mystery of sorts, in which the greatest puzzle is who, among several plausible candidates, is the true escapee from a nearby mental hospital. Mr. Clarke, the screenwriter, said that the recovered treatment (a prose narrative dramatizing an idea by Mr. Kubrick) was a “gem” but also “pretty basic,” and that he expanded it a bit, adding a new subplot, among other things, to make the solution less obvious. Mr. Clarke’s experience consists mostly of writing for British television, so he prepared for his new task by rereading Mr. Thompson and studying old Bogart films.
His finished screenplay has the feel of authentic Thompsonian pulpiness. Set in New York in 1956, it tells the story of Johnnie Sheppard, an ex-carnival worker with serious anger-management issues, and Joyce, a nervous, attractive barfly he picks up in a Hopperesque tavern scene. There’s a newsboy who flashes a portentous headline, a car chase over a railroad crossing with a train bearing down, and a romantic interlude in a spooky, deserted mountain lodge.
The great set piece is a nighttime carnival sequence in which Joyce, lost and afraid, wanders among the tents and encounters a sideshow’s worth of familiar carnie types: the Alligator Man, the Mule-Faced Woman, the Midget Monkey Girl, the Human Blockhead, with the inevitable noggin full of nails.
The director hired for “Lunatic at Large,” Mr. Palmer, is in roughly the position Ridley Scott was in before “The Duellists.” He’s an acclaimed London director of commercials, that is, who has never made a feature film.
But Mr. Hobbs is untroubled. “You have to remember that before he got his big chance, Stanley had only made one or two films,” he said. “And you can’t go to just anyone with a Kubrick idea; it does have a bit of provenance. A lot of people would be frightened to take it on.”
Mmm… Midget Monkey Girl…
I really do wish this had been made 40-50 years ago, when it was supposed to. And by Kubrick, in black & white. Or at least Sam Fuller.
1 commentOctober 31st, 2006 at 06:36pmPosted by Eli
“Guiding Light” and Marvel Comics have teamed up for an episode of this long-running series, to be shown at 10 a.m. tomorrow on CBS. In the episode, “She’s a Marvel,” Beth Ehlers, as Harley Davidson Cooper, one of the show’s main characters, has an accident that gives her superpowers. To commemorate the occasion, Marvel has produced an eight-page comic.
The episode is a mix of slapstick (a thief is shocked by the heroine, and his hair stands on end) and drama (are the powers worth possibly losing her husband?). Transitions between scenes feature comic book panels by Alex Chung.
Mr. Chung is also the artist of “A New Light,” the eight-page story from Marvel that is commemorating the collaboration. The story will be included in several Marvel titles, arriving last week, today and on Nov. 8.
The script for “A New Light” was a balancing act, said Jim McCann, the writer of the comic. He said he had to give readers enough information about “Guiding Light” characters and also fill them in on Marvel superheroes and villains.
“I tried to make it as universal and as accessible as possible for both sides,” Mr. McCann said. “I threw in a couple of little things for ‘Guiding Light’ fans, so they would know I really did my homework on their show.”
My brain hurts.
2 commentsOctober 31st, 2006 at 06:32pmPosted by Eli
By many calculations, Democrats are ready to make big gains in the midterm elections, enough to take over the House and possibly the Senate. But White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten says there is one reason he is feeling upbeat amid so much Republican gloom.
“I believe Karl Rove,” Bolten said in an interview in his West Wing office Friday. “Karl Rove, somewhere inside that massive brain of his, has figured out the political landscape more clearly than the entire collection of conventional-wisdom pundits and pollsters in the entire city of Washington.”
That was true for two elections in a row, in 2002 and 2004, and President Bush’s senior adviser has insisted to West Wing colleagues and party faithful alike that it will be again. But Rove is just eight days from having his genius designation revoked — or upgraded to platinum status.
Even within Rove’s own party, expectations are widespread that the Nov. 7 elections will mark a repudiation for the base-rallying, contrast-drawing brand of politics with which he and Bush have been so closely aligned. But it is a mark of the particular place Rove holds in the Washington psyche that even the most exuberant Democrats are wondering why he seems so confident.
There are two questions. Is Rove just acting cocky as a way of lifting GOP morale, or does he really believe it? And, if the latter, is he deluding himself, or does he once again know something that Democrats do not?
If the Republicans were to lose control of at least one chamber, those in the party who have long seen Rove’s approach as polarizing would feel emboldened….
“The architect may find his engineering plans were faulty,” said one former senior official of past GOP administrations, who has watched the current one with increasing dismay. “Turning out the base this year may not be a winning or a governing strategy. America seems to be looking forward to making things work together, rather than dividing people across the board.”
The flip side of adulation is paranoia. Many Democrats are convinced Rove has some trick up his sleeve — Osama bin Laden in the freezer, perhaps, ready for release just before Election Day — that will save the Republicans from electoral disaster this fall.
I am particularly intrigued by the part I bolded, about Republicans feeling that Rove’s strategy is “polarizing.” Well, no duh. What’s telling is that they apparently only consider this a problem if it loses elections. The DLC wing of the Democratic party establishment has the opposite problem: They have embraced a Republican-lite philosophy of right-wing pandering and capitulation in the name of winning elections. Of course, in their case, it doesn’t actually win elections, but we’ll let that pass – they do.
It’s a dilemma that’s probably been around at least as long as there have been elections: On the one hand, you want to stick to your core principles; but on the other hand, you want to get elected, or else you can’t defend your core principles at all. What’s twisted about today’s political environment is that either party would probably do a lot better with their voters if they actually did stick to their core principles, but they’ve become so cynical and focus-grouped and obsessed with pandering to the cowardly bigoted lowest common denominator that they’ve totally lost their way.
Can’t we just slaughter all the consultants on both sides and start fresh?
2 commentsOctober 30th, 2006 at 09:03pmPosted by Eli
SPIEGEL ONLINE: With all your access to high-level sources, have you come across anyone who still thinks it is a good idea for the U.S. to torture people?
Suskind: No. Most of the folks involved say that we made mistakes at the start. The president wants to keep all options open because he never wants his hands tied in any fashion, as he says, because he doesn’t know what’s ahead. But those involved in the interrogation protocol, I think are more or less in concert in saying that, in our panic in the early days, we made some mistakes.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Because they could have gotten information through normal interrogations . . . .
Suskind: . . . yes, and without paying this terrific price, namely: America’s moral standing. We poured plenteous gasoline on the fires of jihadist recruitment.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: So the average interrogator at a Black Site understands more about the mistakes made than the president?
Suskind: The president understands more about the mistakes than he lets on. He knows what the most-skilled interrogators know too. He gets briefed, and he was deeply involved in this process from the beginning. The president loves to talk to operators.
Am I the only one who finds that last bit kinda unsettling and creepy? Like Bush hangs on the torturers’ every word, panting and begging for ever more cruel and gory detail? (God help them if they’re bald; he’d never leave them alone…)
Maybe he can be an interrogator after his term finally, mercifully expires. He has the temperament and the total lack of empathy for it.
6 commentsOctober 30th, 2006 at 02:31pmPosted by Eli
Nick Mangold, a 6-foot-4, 300-pound rookie starting center for the Jets, is not the only football player in his family. His 16-year-old sister, Holley, a backup on the offensive line at Archbishop Alter High School, played on special teams Friday night during the Knights’ 33-15 victory against their archrival, Chaminade-Julienne.
Ed Domsitz, the high school coach of both Mangolds, said, “Holley might be a tad meaner.”
Mr. Domsitz said her size, technique and tenacity had allowed Holley to compete at this level. She is on track to earn a varsity letter in football as a junior this year. “She’s an in-your-face, knock-you-on-your-tail offensive lineman,” Mr. Domsitz said.
Holley’s father, Vern Mangold, said she was the state’s first high school girl to play a down from scrimmage. At 5-9 and 310 pounds, she is an imposing presence on a team with only a couple of other players that size.
Off the field, Holley carries herself with the aplomb of a runway model. She strolled into the school secretary’s office for an interview after a gym class this week, wearing brown sweat pants and a black collared Alter High shirt, with her shoulder-length blond hair in a ponytail. Her fingernail polish was burgundy.
Holley has tried 11 sports, by her count, including swimming, softball and roller skating. Only football has held her passion. “I like to hit people,” she said.
Awesome. I’m totally rooting for her.
1 commentOctober 28th, 2006 at 05:05pmPosted by Eli
Q: So it’s a haunted house film?
A: Well, no. Conventional wisdom teaches us that when confronted with a haunted house, the best course of action is to leave ASAP. Once you’re out of the haunted house you’re okay. See also: The Amityville Horror, The Legend of Hell House.
The difference with the Grudge films is, once you’ve set foot in the house, you’re screwed. Totally screwed. It’s not haunted, it’s cursed, and the curse might kill you in the house, but more likely it’s going to follow you home. And most likely it’s going to mess with your head for a few days and make you crap your pants and then kill you. And that’s part of what makes these films so disturbing: there’s no getting away from it
Q: So who goes into this house, then?
1 commentOctober 27th, 2006 at 07:19pmPosted by Eli
The commissioner of internal revenue has ordered his agency to delay collecting back taxes from Hurricane Katrina victims until after the Nov. 7 elections and the holiday season, saying he did so in part to avoid negative publicity.
The commissioner, Mark W. Everson, who has close ties to the White House, said in an interview that postponing collections until after the midterm elections, along with postponing notices to people who failed to file tax returns, was a routine effort to avoid casting the Internal Revenue Service in a bad light.
“We are very sensitive to political perceptions,” Mr. Everson said Wednesday, adding that he regularly discussed with his senior staff members when to take actions and make announcements in light of whether they would annoy a powerful member of Congress or get lost in the flow of news.The tax agency has broad discretion to change filing deadlines in the case of disasters and has traditionally eased off tax collections before the December holidays.
But four former I.R.S. commissioners, who served under presidents of both parties, said that doing so because of an election was improper and indefensible.
Mr. Everson issued the order to delay enforcement in an Oct. 10 conference call with some of the career civil servants working on tax enforcement in the areas that were devastated by the 2005 hurricane.
“We just spoke with commissioner on the enforcement issue in the gulf,” wrote Beth Tucker, the I.R.S. executive in charge of dealing with Hurricane Katrina victims, in an e-mail message to her team obtained by The New York Times. “He prefers that we do not resume any enforcement actions until after Dec. 31 due to the upcoming elections, holiday season, etc.”
Former Commissioner Jerome Kurtz, who served under President Jimmy Carter, responded, “Never, never, never,” when asked if he would have considered delaying broad-based enforcement actions like sending notices because of any election, national or local. “Oh my God, that is unthinkable,” Mr. Kurtz said.
On the other hand, Mark E. Matthews, the I.R.S. deputy director of services and enforcement, who participated in the conference call with Mr. Everson, said that “the reference to elections was in a litany of things we were running through here” and that “I did not read it as being politicized.” Mr. Matthews noted that he is a Democrat who worked in the Clinton administration. [Big whoop. So’s Rahm Emanuel.]
Mr. Everson was deputy director of the White House budget office in January 2003 when he was nominated by President Bush to be I.R.S. commissioner. His wife, Nanette, was until February the chief ethics lawyer in the Bush White House. [Well, that explains a lot…] There is no indication that anyone in the White House was aware of the order to delay the tax collections.
Charles O. Rossotti, the commissioner under President Bill Clinton and President Bush, said, “That’s not appropriate.” Mr. Rossotti added that “given the culture of the Treasury and the I.R.S., I just can’t imagine anyone would even bring anything like that up.” [Dude, have you been living in a cave for the last six years?]
Alex P. Trostorff, a tax partner at the New Orleans law firm Jones, Walker, Waechter, Poitevent, Carrère & Denègre, said that despite the filing extension offered by the I.R.S., the agency continued to send overdue notices to many people in New Orleans.
“A lot of people are upset,” Mr. Trostorff said.
So, let me see if I understand the rationale here. The IRS wants to avoid bad press and ill will by easing up on enforcement actions during the holiday season, which now includes… Election Day? I just can’t imagine anyone saying, “What kind of heartless bastards would send a collection notice on Election Day?” Well, anyone outside the Republican Party, that is…
3 commentsOctober 27th, 2006 at 09:08amPosted by Eli
It took a little while, but while fooling around with the Wee Backup Camera at the dinner table, I discovered its Special Purpose. Between the smallness and the lack of a viewfinder, I found that it was really great for getting a “Land Of The Giants” perspective on everyday objects that’s hard to get with a giant SLR. I mean, yeah, I could get down to table level with my main camera, but quite frankly I would look like even more of a freak, and would effectively be removing myself from the conversation pretty dramatically. It’s also a lot better for candid photos, although I probably won’t post any of those unless I get an okay.
But with a small camera, it’s like sending a tiny little avatar of yourself down into Table World, to wander around taking gawky tourist pictures of the enormous landmarks it encounters. Fun stuff.
The forks are not to be trusted.
My uncle attempts to hide behind some enormous and festive flowers.
5 commentsOctober 26th, 2006 at 08:12pmPosted by Eli
Ground-penetrating radar studies have revealed sheaves of inscribed animal skins beneath the ancient rock of Stonehenge.
The discovery may have finally clinched the identity of these mysterious monuments.
“I believe the monoliths are primitive staples binding the earliest known writing in the British Isles,” said Dr. William Atkinson, director of the Stonehenge excavation.
Every staple was probably placed by hand since no device existed for driving the staples through the animal skins–though Bronze Age rock carvings of a machine long interpreted to be a catapult or similar siege engine may represent an early design for such a device.
“In any case, stapling was rather a lot of work, so they gave up,” Dr. Atkinson said. “We didn’t see another staple in human history until the McMurphy Company patented a ‘Single-Stroke Staple Driver’ 4500 years later, in 1877.”
Atkinson’s work has forced a complete re-imagining of Stonehenge. Scientists now understand the ancient stones’ alignment with the midsummer sunrise and midwinter sunset as an attempt to maximize natural reading light.
In the meantime, Dr. Atkinson has moved on to new research in Egypt, working on a controversial theory that Thutmosis III habitally opened papyrus letters with the tip of his obelisk.
2 commentsOctober 25th, 2006 at 07:46amPosted by Eli
Fascinating and poignant article in today’s NYT about an artist who painted self-portraits to document the progression of his Alzheimer’s. Be sure to check out the slideshow; by the end of the sequence he’s barely even recognizable as a person.
1) Sick. Sick as the sixth sheik’s sixth sheep since Saturday evening. This was when my sinuses responded to some perceived affront by drawing all the mucus and moisture from my throat up into the vicinity of my left nostril. It’s a bit like the process by which pearls are created, but with a considerably less valuable work product.
By Sunday night, the combination of liquefied sinuses and bone-dry throat produced a sensation not unlike simultaneously drowning and inhaling cigarette smoke – after gargling ground glass. There was some kind of awful synergy with my bad ear (too much headphone-wearing in my misspent data-entering youth) too, which just added to the overall soreness and misery. I probably got about four hours of sleep while trying to fight it off, which my subconscious or unconscious attempted to render into terms I could relate to (I’m hazy on the details, but I’m pretty sure I had to go through some kind of approval process to request temporary passageways that I could breathe through).
After that, it wasn’t so bad. I’m a bit lightheaded, and my throat is still kinda sore (not so dry now – I’ve even started coughing), and my nose is still stuffy, and I have to periodically retire to the men’s room to make elephant-graveyard noises. But this too shall pass. If this runs its typical course, I expect that by tomorrow I will feel fine but sound awful.
Well. That was considerably longer than I expected, and was not really intended as a woe-is-me-my-life-is-miserable post; I’ve certainly been through worse. There was probably only about an 8-12 hour period on Sunday night where I was sick enough that I would have had to call off from work (my benchmark for “really really sick”).
2) Disgusting Hypothetical Invention I Would Totally Pay Money For Right Now: “Nostril Vacuum”.
3) One of my favorite Phillip Glass pieces is “Open The Kingdom,” from Songs Of Liquid Days, but it always makes me think “Open The Kingdome.” I suppose “Demolish The Kingdome” would be more apt.
4) The word for “lawyer” in French and possibly Spanish is very similar to “avocado” – is this a coincidence, or did lawyers used to be greener and bumpier in Ye Olden Tymes?
5 commentsOctober 24th, 2006 at 08:12pmPosted by Eli
Prosecutors won’t seek charges against two men who exhumed the remains of a man who claimed to be the outlaw Billy the Kid.
Tom Sullivan, former sheriff of Lincoln County, N.M., and Steve Sederwall, former mayor of Capitan, N.M., dug up the bones of John Miller in May 2005. Miller was buried at the state-owned Pioneers’ Home Cemetery in Prescott nearly 70 years ago.
“It appears officials in charge of the facility gave permission and the people who were attempting to recover samples of the remains believed they had permission to do so,” said Bill FitzGerald, a spokesman for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, which made the decision not to seek charges.
Sullivan and Sederwall obtained DNA from Miller’s remains. The samples were sent to a Dallas lab to compare Miller’s DNA to blood traces taken from a bench that is believed to be the one Kid’s body was placed on after he was shot to death in 1881.
Sullivan and Sederwall have been hunting for the Kid’s bones since 2003.
They began their quest in Fort Sumner, N.M., where history says the Kid was buried after then-Lincoln County Sheriff Pat Garrett gunned him down in 1881.
But at least two men — Miller and Ollie “Brushy Bill” Roberts of Texas — claimed prior to their deaths that they were Billy the Kid. Their stories presuppose that Garrett killed the wrong man and lied about it.
Let me see if I have this straight: Their theory is that Pat Garrett killed Not-Billy-The-Kid, and the real Billy The Kid escaped and lived to a ripe old age.
Okay, fine – I can handle that; I like a good “Elvis Lives!” yarn as much as the next guy. But what the hell does comparing their DNA to the guy Garrett shot actually prove, other than that Miller or “Brushy Bill” were not killed by Pat Garrett, which to me already seems pretty obvious? What’s the logic here?
4 commentsOctober 23rd, 2006 at 04:16pmPosted by Eli
Washington’s signature play was his 16-yard touchdown with 4:51 left in the fourth quarter, a sideline run in which he tip-toed on an imaginary tightrope – the rope that became the noose around the Lions’ neck.
In case anyone’s been wondering about the recent dearth of photoblogging, I’ve been doing a lot of volunteer data entry for some of the local progressive organizations on my nights and weekends, so I haven’t had a lot of time for photographical oot-and-abootness. Hopefully the situation will improve after the election.
I have managed to take a few pictures, plus I have some more stashed away on my wee backup camera which look like they might not suck too awfully.
This guy again.
Backlit flower back.
4 commentsOctober 21st, 2006 at 12:17pmPosted by Eli
The head of Google, Eric Schmidt, is cautioning politicians stuck in the sound-bite era that “truth predictor” software is in the works so that computer-wise voters will be instantaneously able to check on the probability, if not the certainty, of what candidates claim as fact.
I wonder how exactly that would work, both in terms of determination and delivery. Maybe you can just highlight text and then right-click or hover, and the software shows you some kind of “truth rating” for the selected text? But how would it derive the truth rating?
Jeez, if everyone used the internets, this would put the Republicans out of business in a matter of weeks.