Saturday, July 09, 2005

Where Were You..When We Built the Ladder to Heaven?

Oliver Stone for some reason is making a 9/11 film with Nicholas Cage. Cage will play Sgt. John McLoughlin, a real Port Authority policeman who was the last person rescued out of the World Trade Center before it collapsed.

They certainly sound serious in the press release on Aint It Cool News, talking about the need for a responsible and appropriate cinematic response to such an obscene tragedy.

Brad Grey, chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures Motion Pictures Group, said, “This is a moving, personal story of courage and perseverance. The individual heroism and the collective human spirit portrayed in this project is storytelling at its finest. We feel fortunate, proud, and an enormous sense of responsibility making this movie at Paramount.”

And getting Oliver Stone to do it, rather than some studio lackey who would be easier to control and manipulate, does indicate that they're not trying to churn out a quick tearjerker that will pry $7 out of the simple-minded at the box office.

But this movie neccessary right now? Isn't it a little soon to be dealing with 9/11 as an event head-on?

Permit me to clarify. I don't think there's anything wrong with raising terrorism or the World Trade Center as an issue in a movie, of having the subtext of a post-War on Terror world in the background. I thought the way Spike Lee handled the 9/11 references in The 25th Hour were masterful, and even this summer's War of the Worlds, which I very much enjoyed, was always aware of the real destruction that faced Americans a few years prior.

But to come right out and make the 9/11 movie, to faithfully depict the imagery of that day and present it, however sincerely, as a piece of entertainment...well, I don't quite know if 4 years is enough time. We don't have a lot of perspective on 9/11 yet - it's still too fresh in our minds. A filmmaker has to contend with the visceral impact those real images still have for Americans.

Think about it...Whenever you see that video clip of the second plane smashing into the tower, and the plume of flame erupting out of the other side, don't you get a lump in your throat? Don't you still feel a bit weird, almost reliving the paranoia and haziness and confusion of that day? I do. I bet most Americans do as well.

So now, Oliver Stone has to recreate that in some meaningful way for a Nicholas Cage film...I'm not sure any filmmaker is up to that challenge. What do you do? You either recreate the image, like with CGI, of a plane smashing into the World Trade Center, which has no chance of looking anything like the reality of the situation, or you just carefully avoid showing that image at all in the movie. Either way, it's distracting from any sort of drama you're going to try and create.

I feel like, maybe in 2010 or so, we'll be ready for an honest American movie about 9/11. Stone didn't made Platoon until 1985, almost ten years after our military's exit from Vietnam, and that seems to me to be a reasonable-enough timeline for the sort of raw honesty he's likely to bring to a project.

Oliver Stone said, “Andrea Berloff’s screenplay is one of the best that’s ever come to me out of the blue – I guess like that day. It walloped me – and many others – with its emotion and simplicity. Clearly, it’s a work of collective passion, a serious meditation on what happened, and carries within a compassion that heals. It’s an exploration of heroism in our country – but is international at the same time in its humanity.”

So, this will probably more be a patriotic exploration of American heroism (from Oliver Stone????) than an actual movie taking up the issues of 9/11. Which is fine, I suppose, although then you do get into a situation that might be considered exploitation. I mean, if you're just using 9/11 to make a movie about brave Americans, it kind of cheapens the entire exercize. If you want to artistically recreate Ground Zero, hey, go for it, but you better have something really special and insightful in mind...

Friday, July 08, 2005

More Dumb Crap from the Creationists

My brother's a smart guy. During one of my numerous anti-Cruise Scientology rants recently, he pointed out that Scientology is just another stupid religion, no more or less stupid than any other, more mainstream religion. At the time, I disagreed with him, citing thousands of years of historical and communal tradition backing up old-school religions, whereas Scientology only has the lunatic jabberings of a mediocre sci-fi author to fall back on.

But I was wrong and Jonathan was right. Or, at least, it seems that way when you read this obnoxious, idiotic attack on evolution from inane conservative blog Red

Semi-anonymous dim bulb Leon H. tries to argue that a belief in evolution translates into a disdain for humanity, leading to a completely anarchic amorality. Yeah, I already makes no sense, but bear with me.

If atheistic evolution is true, and there is no God, then a number of logical conclusions are also immediately assumed to be true:

Before we even get going, let's talk about why Leon gets even this first sentence wrong. First off, he assumes everyone who believes in evolution is an atheist, believes the system runs completely independently of any sort of supernatural or mysteriously misunderstood force of nature.

This is complete bullshit. I mean, Darwin believed in both evolution and God, and so do numerous scientists. Millions of them, really. Think Einstein, both a religious, God-fearing guy and a famous scientist.

Okay, so obviously, that's dumb, as Leon would know if he had ever actually bothered to read Origin of the Species rather than just excerpting quotes out of it misleadingly in an attempt to stifle free thought.

The second problem with phrasing the question of evolution this doesn't take into account whether or not evolution is actually true. Leon even starts his article stating that he doesn't want to discuss whether or not evolution is accurate - he just wants to talk about why believing in it hurts society at large.

Isn't this just typical? This is how our President thinks - pay no attention to what's actually happening, just think about how you wish things were and talk about that. So, even if the world functions and grows through an evolutionary mechanism, if that simple fact doesn't vibe exactly with the religious beliefs you've already decided on, just ignore it, and maybe it will go away.

Okay, on to Leon's actual argument. If you can call it that.

If atheistic evolution is true, and there is no God, then a number of logical conclusions are also immediately assumed to be true:

It is first immediately recognized that physical matter is all that exists. As such, humans are neither unique or special in the cosmos, as they are merely matter arranged in a specific way. The implications of this are staggering, from both a philosophical and political point of view.

I like that Leon uses the term "logical conclusions," as if he's going to actually employ some kind of logic. But, of course, he doesn't. The term "logic" actually means something - it describes a specific method of attacking a problem using pre-determined laws. Leon just makes a stupid, inaccurate assumption and then calls it a "logical conclusion."

His assumption is that belief in evolution equals a belief in an entirely known and understood universe, as if people who believe that humans descended from apes also neccessarily believed that there was no God, no spirituality, no mysterious forces of nature acting in ways humans don't understand, even no extraterrestrial life. The evolutionist, for Leon, is a person with the hubris to declare that he or she knows everything there is to know.

What insane clap-trap. Beliving in evolution doesn't mean you don't believe in anything more powerful than ourselves. It just means that, considering all the available arguments about the descent of man, the only one that seems reasonable is this Darwinian concept of natural selection teamed with random mutation.

So, okay, Leon's whole argument is based on a logical fallacy, a thoroughly ridiculous non-argument that pretends to speak for evolutionists. What Leon really does is what Karl Rove always does - he creates a strawman, a fake argument that almost no one agrees with, and then argues against it as if it represented his opposition.

This means that everything else that follows is meaningless, because it's all based around an incorrect, bogus assumption. But let's goof on it anyway.

1. Humans are no more special or worthy of protection than any other species of animal, since we are are merely matter arranged in a different structure, and our existence here is just a matter of random chance.
2. Humans are no more special or worthy of protection than any species of plant, for the same reasons listed above.
3. Humans are no more special or worthy of protection than inanimate objects such as rocks, since the only principle difference between us are the proportionate amounts of Carbon, Hydrogen, and various other elements.

Where in the evolutionary theory does it say that human beings are fundamentally the same as tungsten? Nowhere! How you feel about humankind and its place in the universe is a personal decision that has to do with many different considerations.

Sure, if you feel that God created human beings carefully, molding them after himself, you might feel that we are meant to rule the Earth, that all other creatures are our servants by right. If you believe that the universe came to be following a period of adaptation and change spanning millions of years, you would be more inclined to see us as a piece in a larger puzzle, as a cog in a vast machine with the ability to take advantage of the wonders around us, but also a responsibility to them.

But it is not a zero-sum game. You can believe in a little bit of both. That human beings are obviously operating on a higher level of consciousness than any other creature or object, and that therefore their wants, needs and comfort requires a special level of consideration.

I mean, my very existance disproves Leon's argument! I'm an atheist who staunchly believes in evolution, but I don't think a human being is of equal importance to a mineral or a plant. If there was a fern dying in front of me, and also a baby, even though I don't like babies and would be concerned about getting baby goo on my clothes, I'd help the fucking human, you know?

Further, if atheistic evolution is true, we are doing a great disservice to ourselves by keeping the weakest members of our society alive and affording them legal protection.

Now, Leon has really gone off the deep end. He's trying to tie evolutionists to Fascists by bringing up eugenics policies.

I'm going to rephrase Leon's argument to show you how fucking stupid it is. Here we go...This is really what his column says.

"I don't believe in evolution, whether or not it is true. Because it's bad. I know it is bad, becuase if you believe in evolution, you have to believe in the following things:

1. There is no God
2. Humans and human life is insignificant
3. Everything in the world is exactly the same because it is all composed of matter
4. We have the right to kill anyone we deem inferior

Because I think those things are wrong, I reject evolution.

Leon H."

Okay, I added the salutation at the end, but the other stuff is genuinely just different phrasing. The argumentation is identical. This guy is one of the stupidest Internet scribes I have ever read, and I used to read John Gibson's column daily!

And because I can't resist, here's John Gibson's new column in its entirety. It's sensitively entitled "What's the Obsession With Africa?" It's short, so you should read it the entire way through, and learn what type of people we're actually dealing with here:

I am going to say something now that amounts to complete and total heresy in this world. It makes me completely and totally apostate, a low-life, pond scum. But I'm going to say it anyway.
What's the obsession with Africa?

I mean, here's the day after the Brits big day of terror. Fifty dead, 700 wounded. The ancient and regal city reduced to walking home because of guys with backpack bombs set on timers and at least one guy who blew himself up along with his victims.

So here's Friday — what amounts to 9/12, the day after 9/11 — and what is Tony Blair doing? Talking about Africa — debt relief, AIDS relief, starvation relief.

I know Africa needs help. But the day after their big terror day, the Brits were back to talking about Africa, as if nobody set off any bombs in London the day before.

I know, I know. The Brits were trying to show the terrorists that they won't be dissuaded from their important work in Africa.

But even the reporters were fixated on Africa. Can you imagine this in America?

"Hi, I'm George Bush. We got bombed yesterday and I want to talk about aid to the third world."

Mr. President, put a sock in it. What about the bombing? Caught the terrorists yet? Are you yanking out their fingernails yet?

Come on. What this is really about is that things are so good in Britain, life is just so perfect, the Brits have turned their attention to improving life somewhere else.

Bono was at Gleneagles, Scotland, site of the G-8, where he's being treated like a rock star who is also a prime minister who was swept into office on a landslide vote. Actually nobody voted him anything except cool.

But look at the guy. He's selling aid to Africa in a tuxedo jacket and a rocker's silk shirt and those damn stupid glasses he wears everywhere. What does he look like without those things anyway?
This is a perfectly good working class Irish rocker who now goes around demanding money from rich countries to give to the poor.

Am I the only one who thinks all this looks very, very nuts?

That's My Word.

He is unthinkably vile....That's MY motherfucking word.

Born to Kill

There isn't a single redeemable character in the entire 1947 film Born to Kill. Seriously. Not one. I suppose one or two of the people could be described as nice, but their kindness reflects their naivete instead of any sort of genuinely good nature. It's a story in which an unrepentant killer finds not one, not two but three people willing to die for him, a story in which the hero is a pathetically sleazy private detective looking for a bribe.

This is the darkest kind of film noir, a pitch-black look at amor fou (snooty cineaste for "foolish love") from one of the masters of the genre, Robert Wise. It's a wonderfully entertaining film.

That's Lawrence Tierney, best known to a young generation of film fans as gang leader Joe in Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs. In his heydey in the 40's and 50's, Tierney was best-known as a crazed alcoholic maniac who frequently became involved in barroom brawls and other violent shenanigans. (A famous anecdote, recalled on IMDB, tells of him threatening Jerry Seinfeld with a knife while performing in a cameo role as Elaine's father on "Seinfeld.")

The action of Born to Kill centers of Tierney as Sam Wilde, a, well, crazed maniac who butchers a young Reno woman he's been dating, Laury, as well as the new man in her life. With the help of his nervous and equally amoral friend Marty (the terrific character actor Elisha Cook Jr.), Sam escapes Reno for San Francisco, and marries newspaper heiress Georgia (Audrey Long). Georgia's adopted sister Helen (Claire Trevor) herself is set to marry the rich yet dull Fred (Phillip Terry), but that doesn't stop her from falling desperately in love with Sam.

By the by, the name of the dead girl in the movie is Laury Palmer, eerily close to "Laura Palmer," the name of the dead girl from David Lynch's seminal 90's soap opera "Twin Peaks." Was he inspired by Born to Kill, or is it just one of those coincidences?

Anyway, let's consider these main characters. A double-murderer. His friend and accomplice. A spoiled, self-involved rich girl. Her shallow and duplicitous sister, and her idle rich weenie of a fiance. And finally, the scumbag private detective (Walter Slezak) hired to find out who killed Laury by the victim's only friend, a batty drunk (Esther Howard).

It's not exactly an optimistic view of humanity.

Wise paints a portrait of several people crippled by their uncontrollable emotions. Helen, the crafty bride-to-be with dreams of wealth and priviledge, knows that loving a low-life criminal can ruin all her chances for security. But, of course, she can't help herself whenever he's around, and this temporary absence of rationality costs her everything.

Sam's intense animal magnetism underlines the entire film. All the women around him become drawn to him, even though he has very little to say, and doesn't really respond to any of their advances. Most of the time, when ladies lean in to kiss him passionately, he barely bothers to move forward. As several men will ask during the course of the film, including Slezak's (overweight) detective in one of the film's cannier and best-written scenes, what is the attraction? Are women irresistably drawn to this man because of his primal, violent nature? Is it his aggressiveness, or is it his quiet, stoic and sedate social manner?

Or perhaps the answer is as simple as Georgia insists - that Sam is unlike any other man she has ever met. Certainly his cold, aloof manner, his snide, sarcastic sense of humor and his irrational temper would place him in the category of unique finds, but whether or not that equals the kind of raw animalistic lust is a question I'll leave for another post.

Whatever the reason, these women (and Marty) become drawn further and further into Sam's world, and it's a world of lies, anger and cowardice. No one likes where they end up, except for Slezak's detective, Arnett, who takes part in the action of the film but also seems to glide above the surface of the degredation, somehow separate from all the villainy.

Even when begging Helen for a bribe, threatening to reveal Sam to the police even though he has little or nothing to gain, Arnett fails to sink to the level of Sam and his cohorts. He may be what he refers to as a "scoundrel," but he doesn't actually cause anyone immediate harm. His actions may pervert justice, but in the scummy underworld of Born to Kill, where everyone is guided only by their base impulses, the simple perversion of justice seems a relatively minor offense.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Great Britain...Fuck Yeah...

It's been a rough day in Merry Olde Londontown, unfortunately. As I'm sure you've heard, 37 people are dead and 700 wounded following a coordinated attack on the London Underground and a city bus. An al-Qaeda affiliate group is apparently responsible, and even though I tend to take a peaceful, non-violent, anti-war stance on this blog, allow me to just say that the actual terrorists, the guys who really are pulling off these bombings, are major assholes that I wish we could hunt down and exterminate quickly.

Regrettably, the world doesn't work that way. And these guys might have been suiciders anyway, which means they already took themselves out and there ain't too much more we can do.

What we shouldn't do, of course, is go on Fox News and immediately declare that these bombings were a force for good, because they demonstrate the neccessity of Bush's aggressive Middle East policies.
That's what Brian Kilmeade did.

And he [British Prime Minister Tony Blair] made the statement, clearly shaken, but clearly determined. This is his second address in the last hour. First to the people of London, and now at the G8 summit, where their topic Number 1 --believe it or not-- was global warming, the second was African aid. And that was the first time since 9-11 when they should know, and they do know now, that terrorism should be Number 1. But it's important for them all to be together. I think that works to our advantage, in the Western world's advantage, for people to experience something like this together, just 500 miles from where the attacks have happened.

Awwww....Isn't that sweet? Brian thinks the bombings were good because, hey, they brought us all together. And isn't the abstract spirit of togetherness and brotherhood between England and the United States in the face of worldwide terror more important than 737 ruined lives? (Not to mention the ruined lives of the friends and family of the dead and gravely wounded, which surely numbers in the thousands).

Now, if only terrorists would bomb the fuck out of Al Franken and Michael Moore, Bush could get some goddamn stuff done! I mean, has it ever been more obvious that the hard-right neoconservatives and the crazy Islamic fundie nutjobs are really on the same side? They both want to see this war escalate. Every new calamity is good news! It will rally more people to their cause!

But Brian Kilmeade's astonishingly callous analysis isn't really the point of this post. Over at Second Breakfast, they're attempting to raise the spirits of Britons everywhere by recounting all the various and sundry awesome shit that has come out of their country. And being something of an Anglophile myself, I just couldn't resist.

So here are some of my favorite things to come out of Great Britain, in no particular order:

Monty Python

Only the greatest comedy troupe of all time! John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Graham Chapman and Eric Idle helped to forge the modern concept of absurdist humor with their deft blend of bawdy slapstick and sophisticated, satirical wit. Their show, "Flying Circus," changed television and their films, particularly Monty Python and the Holy Grail, rank among the most brilliant comedies of all time.


Who doesn't like a nice blueberry scone? They're freaking delicious, even if you don't take afternoon tea. It's, like, 90% butter or something crazy like that. What have Americans created that's even close to a pastry this good? Muffins? Too sweet and cakey. Biscuits? Too mealy and thick. Cornbread? Shut the hell up, that's nothing like a scone.

Scones were created in Scotland. To this day, there is even debate about what the name means...some think it was named after the so-called Stone of Destiny, where the Kings of Scotland were crowned. Others think it's a variation on the Dutch word "schoonbrot," which roughly translates to "beautiful bread."

Funny Hats

The Brits are responsible for some of histories most hilarious hats. Here is just a small sample:

Well, it's good for golfing, then, innit? Doesn't at all look like a pair of boxer shorts has sprung to life and attacked this man's head.

They dress their cops up like this. How is that supposed to be in any way threatening to criminals? They might as well be wearing propeller beanies.

Okay, fine, so you knew that one was coming. Big deal. It's still a funny hat...

James Joyce, William Shakespeare, Douglas Adams, JRR Tolkein

Just to name a few...

The Third Man

There are so so very many terrific British films. Lawrence of Arabia was another one I was tempted to mention. But this one might very well be my favorite. (It wasn't actually filmed in England, nor is the cast British, but the director Carol Reed was, so it counts, dammit!) Just a fabulously odd, semi-comic noir with maybe the greatest Orson Welles performance of all time.

The British Invasion

Does this one really need an explanation? British bands in the 60's totally rocked way harder than most American bands. Many still do. Like...


I'm not here...this isn't happening...

The Phrase "Bob's Your Uncle"

This amusing colloquialism means "all will be well," in particular that the method to obtain a desired outcome will be easy. For example, "If you want to rent a video, just head over to Laser Blazer, fill out a simple form and Bob's your uncle."

It's kind of a handy phrase, as well as being really strange-sounding and obscure for most Americans, which only enhances its usefulness.

The origin likely dates back to the appointment of Arthur Balfour in 1887 to the position of Chief Secretary of Ireland. His uncle was Lord Salisbury (whose full name was Robert Cecil), and members of the British public assumed the young and inexperienced (and unpopular) Balfour only got the job because of nepotism, because "Bob" was in fact "his uncle." Ironically, Balour wound up being considered highly successful at oppressing the Irish, earning him the eventual nickname "Bloody Balfour."

By the by, the Salisbury steak is NOT named for Robert Cecil Salisbury, but for British doctor J.H. Salisbury, who in the late 1800's gained noteriety for suggesting to his patients that they eat beef three times a day.

The Office

Just about the perfect sitcom. Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant are geniuses. If you haven't yet discovered this BBC delight, it's on DVD, so get off your ass. And don't just watch the American version, because while it's somewhat better than I expected, it doesn't even begin to compare with the original.

James Bond

Couldn't have a list of cool British stuff without the big guy, 007 himself, James Bond. And there's the ultimate incarnation of Bond, Scotsman Sean Connery. The essence of cinematic coolness.

This Blog Doesn't Have MP3's

Mainly, that's because I don't really spend a lot of time looking for free mp3's. When I want to download some new music, I use one of those less-than-legal peer-to-peer file share programs, like SoulSeek, which can fortunately get just about any song you want but can unfortunately not be linked on your blog and shared with all of your friends. Cause it's illegal and some people have some sort of odd moral hang-up about that.

The only place I really go for free music downloading is the Audiofile column by Thomas Bartlett on Bartlett's a pretty cool musician in his own right (I saw him play last year at the Troubadour with Mike Doughty's Band.) And in this column, he goes out and finds cool new mp3's online every day.

The other day, I got this Clap Your Hands Say Yeah mp3 that started me listening to that Brooklyn band's entire album. It's great, but you knew that already, because I wrote about it while intoxicated several days ago.

And today, he's got a special treat. A link to a Flaming Lips official download page, where you can access their entire new live "bootleg" disc. It's called "Fearless Freaks," after the documentary about the band coming to DVD on Tuesday (which I'll certainly try to review, if we get some in at the Blazer).

Anyway, it's terrific - 7 live recordings of Flaming Lips B-sides including on of Wayne Coyne's famed "parking lot experiments," in which he'd have dozens of car stereos playing different tapes all at the same time.'s not entirely true that I only download free shit from Bartlett's column. I will occasionally use Pitchfork links as well, like this one for the first song by The Islands, the new offshoot of the Unicorns. It's a pretty cool song called "Abominable Snow." It could easily have just been a Unicorns song, if that band hadn't "broken up."

Corpse Bride

Hells yes. This new trailer for Tim Burton's stop-motion animated Corpse Bride looks freaking incredible. I'm a huge huge massive fan of Nightmare Before Christmas, and this film reunites many of the same talented people. Plus it's a stop-motion animated film about the undead.

The way I see it, even if Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory busts this summer (and it was written by the same guy who did the adaptation for the reprehensibly lame Big Fish, after all) we've still got this to look forward to in September.

I can't help but feel that remakes are bad news for Burton. He has, I'm sorry to say, a somewhat limited range, but when he gets the sort of project that's right for his sensibilities, it's a slam dunk. I don't think he's appropriate for these lavish big budget remakes, properties studios want to franchise, like Planet of the Apes or Batman. That kind of corporate thinking just doesn't suit him.

I'd rather see him develop quirky, offbeat stuff like Beetlejuice or Edward Scissorhands or Ed Wood, pretty clearly his best movie. (Although...Scissorhands...that's a tough call...) I mean, say what you will about the script for Sleepy Hollow, that movie is fucking beautiful to look at, like a painting. I could watch it with the sound turned off and be equally entertained.

I can't really explain away the total failure of Big Fish with this reasoning. It was, after all, an adaptation of a novel that he took upon himself, supposedly because he had a fondness for the material. I thought it was sappy and ridiculous to the point of total exasperation, and found the Albert Finney character far more obnoxious than inspirational.

I'm tempted to blame screenwriter John August, as I blame Andrew Walker (the scribe of Seven) for his semi-retarded Sleepy Hollow hackjob. But Big Fish doesn't even look any good. It's like someone imitating Burton - it's fanciful, I suppose, but also really flat, without a lot of detail. And whereas Burton once could make an entire film strattling the line between satire and whimsy (Pee Wee's Big Adventure or Scissorhands both qualify, as well as shorts like Frankenweenie and Vincent), his attempts in Big Fish at both fail miserably.

This turned into something of a rant. All I really wanted to say was that Burton's been in a big slump lately, and I'm hoping his one-two punch of Dahl and stop-motion comes together well.

You're the Worst...Around! Nothing's Gonna Ever Keep You Down!

Who will be crowned the Worst Person Alive? You are all gonna find out, maybe sooner than you think. I have here, right here, in this very e-mail, the final nominee for Worst Person Alive.

I'll give you a day or two to think it over, and then on Friday, we'll get the official voting post, where I'll ask for your votes in the comments section. DON'T LEAVE VOTES IN THIS COMMENTS SECTION. They won't be counted. This is only the final post nominating a Worst Person.

And boy, when I say Worst, I mean Worst. This next guy is so bad, so noxious, so absolutely vile, he's spent the last several years in a desperate attempt to convince the world he doesn't even exist. Like Keyser Soze, his evil deeds will go unnoticed because people think he's just a silly ficitonal character.

I'm talking, of course, about the REAL worst person on Earth...Victor Von Doom.

Now, I know what you're thinking...Victor Von Doom is just a comic character. He's not a real guy. In fact, in just a few days, a major motion picture called Fantastic Four will turn him into little more than a live-action cartoon, an archetypal "evil scientist" brought to life by, ugh, "Nip/Tuck" star Julian McMahon.

In fact, this is all part of Victor's nefarious scheme. By pouring money into a splashy, ridiculous, laughably awful comic book movie about himself, he becomes a joke! Something laughable and not threatening! And that will make it much easier to fulfill his dreams of world domination! Don't you see? A world not constantly on guard for the threat of destruction by the man who calls himself Dr. Doom is a world that will soon enough be destryoed.

Still don't believe that Dr. Doom is real? Well, check out this photo. I have here actual photographic evidence of Doom killing one of his more disobedient followers. Look on if you dare.

Wow, that's hard-hitting stuff. I defy anyone to tell me that this is not the sort of violent lunatic whose actions demand immediate US intervention.

For those of you who have not studied the vital Kirby and Lee literature on the subject, or studied the cartoons based on this literature, I will quickly sketch the threat Von Doom poses to the stability of the world today.

Raised by gypsies in the small European nation of Latveria, it was obvious right away that Victor was a particularly intelligent, but also troubled, child. He earned a full scholarship to Empire State University, where he excelled in the sciences. During an unfortunate accident in the laboratory, Von Doom became horribly scarred.

He traveled the world searching for a cure for his ailments, but finding none, eventually settled on a full suit of body armor, including a metal mask. As my co-worker Ray pointed out the other day, the mask ironically caused his disfigurements to become far worse. Had he simply attempted traditional treatment and permitted his face time to heal, he might have had a chance at a normal life. But instead, choosing to hide his real features, he had become a freak, a monster.

Using his amazing skills of invention and awesome scientific and mystic knowledge, Doom rose through the ranks of the Latverian government, eventually taking control as Monarch-for-Life. His nation now serves as a front for his vile schemes for world domination.

And it's not just in politics that Doom excells. As you have seen from the recent marketing blitz, his newest financial venture, the Fantastic Four film, retelling a ridiculous, self-serving and wholly inaccurate presentation of his life story, is having no trouble making headlines. You may not have known that he also has a burgeoning career as an underground hip-hop artist.

Scary stuff.

This is a guy who once condemned his girlfriend to Hell, convincing her he had given up on his evil experiments, and then used her skin and bones to make new armor for himself. I mean, that's pure concentrated evil. (More evil than Zach Braff, the very namesake of the Braffies? I'm not's close...)

I'll leave you with a typical, pompous quote from Doom himself:

In my duties as ruler of Latveria, I travel the Eastern nations with some regularity. I visit America only when I must and leave as quickly as I can. I prefer civilization.

The bastard! But do his endless cavalcade of Doomsday Devices and evil plots constitute something more heinous than Antonio Esfandiari's belligerant self-serving club rant? What about Tana Goertz's disgusting "Apprentice" jockeying in the season finale? Or ever song Toby Keith has ever written?

Man, I don't envy you folks having to make this decision. I'll try to help you sort it all out in the coming days. And don't forget to tune in to the Braffies themselves, starring Sean Hannity and Friends. Check your TV listings for times and stations. If you don't get the Braffies, call your cable companies and tell them to get bent.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Live 8 is Enough

AOL is offering a lot of footage from the recent crop of Live 8 concerts for free on their website. I checked out a few, including some songs from the Pink Floyd reunion set. It's amazingly cool to see Waters and Gilmour on stage together (after nearly 25 years!), but I have to say that Waters' voice isn't what it used to be. They still sound great, and if there's a Floyd reunited US tour, I'd certainly try to go, but it's obvious the guy can't lay down the songs like he once did. Still, the version of "Wish You Were Here" from the London show sounds pretty great, and his dedication to Syd Barrett at the beginning is kind of touching.

Which reminds me, the London show was way better than any of the others. I mean, granted, I can't vouch for the quality of a lot of the bands that played Berlin or Rome...Acts like Chris De Burgh, Nek and the "is it offensive or isn't it" Negrita.

But I do know that acts which would be solid mid-day highlights, like Duran Duran, Audioslave or A-Ha were headliners in Berlin and Rome.

Why be that way, Bob Geldof? Why schedule all the most notable acts for the same show, the show you happen to be attending and at which you will perform. And please don't say it was a travel issue, because Rome, Paris and Berlin are all quite reasonable destinations for popular international arena rock acts, and Toronto or Philadelphia ain't much farther.

Think I'm lying? Here are some of the featured London acts:

Elton John
Mariah Carey
Paul McCartney
Pink Floyd (!)
Snoop Dogg

Are you kidding? UB40? Hells yeah!

But you see what I mean...They aren't all neccessarily my cup of tea, but that's a massive concert full of international superstars.

Now, here's the list for Toronto:

Barenaked Ladies
Bruce Cockburn (uh-huh....huh-huh-huh...uh...)
Bryan Adams (noooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!)
Bachman Cummings Band

At this point, I'd like to pause and note that I'm not making this up. Three acts with awkward sexual innuendos in their names, and Bryan Adams. What a line-up. Madonna Who?

But there's more...

Deep Purple
Gordon Lightfoot
Motley Crue
Simple Plan
Tragically Hip

Are you starting to notice some disparity here? Yes, yes, I know, Tragically Hip were, like, totally way bigger in Canada than here, and a lot of you drunken nostalgic weirdos still for some reason cling to the notion that Motley Crue was any good...But it ain't to U2 and Paul McCartney reuniting to play Sgt. Pepper and announce the reformation of Pink Floyd.

Just seems kind of janky to do a worldwide charity event and then schedule almost all the really great acts for one city. Oh well...

Some of the footage is pretty cool. For one, you get to see all the weird Live 8 slogans littering the stages. One particularly strange one above U2 reads "We Don't Want Your Money."

That's nice. Much better than the traditional banner under which U2 plays - "Fuck You, Pay Me."

There is other surreality in store. Paul McCartney oddly invites George Michael to join him on stage for The Beatles' classic "Drive My Car." I had thought Michael retired from show business (officially, not just in everyone's mind). Yet here he is, singing along with Sir Paul and looking like he just stepped off the "Faith" album cover. Most peculiar.

Also, you get to see Stevie Wonder's bizarre facial hair from the Philadelphia show. Now, I know Stevie can't see, and so he can't really style his facial hair in any specific way, but he has managed to shave all the hair off his face that doesn't physically border his mouth. So there's like a fuzzy moat surrounding his food hole. It's slightly disturbing. Someone get that man a fully-sighted barber immediately. Stevie has some weasely white douchebag I couldn't identify join him for "Higher Ground" for no reason, ruining what would otherwise been a fully serviceable version of the song. Boo.

Finally, Chris Martin from Coldplay introduces a cover of "Bittersweet Symphony" with the line: "This is probably the greatest song of all time." I mean, it's a pretty good song, but that's like saying "Apple is probably the greatest baby name of all time." Clearly an exaggeration.

Clash by Night

Clash by Night is one of five films offered by Warner Bros. in the new Film Noir DVD Box Set #2. It comes out today. The movie is absolutely not a film noir by any definition. Any definition. Instead, it's a somewhat unseemly melodrama about a love traingle, an adaptation of a Clifford Odets play that riffs on similar themes to "Streetcar Named Desire." Fritz Lang directs rather anonymously, and no attempt has been made in the adaptation to make the film less theatrical or "stagey," but it does feature some nice performances and some sharp dialogue.

It's just, you know, it has nothing to do with film noir, really, and it's being sold in a Film Noir box set. Which is kind of strange. I guess it just has a good film noir kind of title.

That's Marilyn Monroe and Paul Andres in that still from the film, but don't be fooled. They're minor supporting characters. It's just that, with these old 50's movies, it's not easy to find a quality photo online. But if Marilyn Monroe's in the movie, even if it's just one scene, you'll be able to find tons of images and reproductions.

The real stars are Barbara Stanwyck, Paul Douglas and Robert Ryan. Stanwyck plays Mae, a complex and troubled woman returning to her home town after 10 years of failed romances and lost ambition. Andres plays her brother, who takes her in, and Monroe plays his girlfriend Peggy.

Douglas is Jerry, the kindly, heavy-set lug who falls in love with Mae, and Ryan is Jerry's best friend Earl, a boorish loudmouth drunk.

Mae's the sort of woman who craves comfort and security, and Jerry seems to live surprisingly well for a self-employed fisherman, so despite some initial reluctance, she soon agrees to become his wife. Unfortunately for Jerry, she's also the sort of woman to grow bored easily, and it's not long before the company of woman-hating projectionist Earl starts to sound pretty good.

Talk about being crushed by inertia! More than five minutes of stasis and Mae's bouncing off the walls. I suppose you could say the film's depiction of a restless dreamer is over-the-top and almost surreal. In one scene, Mae turns on Earl at the exact moment when their love is realized. He proves his devotion to her and BAM!, she's ready to drop him. But the performances (particularly by the reliably fierce Stanwyck) are so convincing, so utterly devoted to the material, that it works in spite of its overenthusiasm.

So I guess that's how they justify it as a noir. It's about a woman who done done some guy poor sap wrong. In a way, it's a similar character to the one Stanwyck played in Billy Wilder's somewhat definitive noir classic Double Indemnity, although here she's less conniving and more befuddled.

And, of course, no one tries to kill anybody. Jerry comes somewhat close, when he discovers that Earl's been having relations with his wife, but he stops short of committing any actual violence. He's a pretty sensationally good guy, and Odets and the adaptation by screenwriter Alfred Hayes really punishes him for his kindness. The story seems to insist that not only do nice guys finish last, but they deserve to for never standing up for themselves. Maybe Mae would respect Jerry, and maybe Earl would respect Jerry, if he weren't such a doormat.

It's kind of an interesting perspective, highlighted by the film's observation that women tend towards men who behave violently towards them. Monroe's Peggy is seen being mock strangled by her boyfriend, and he occasionally will threaten her verbally with a beating or worse. As well, characters constantly read news reports about violence towards women and sometimes even young children. (In one scene, Jerry's father wonders aloud about the remains of a 4 month old baby found under a bridge).

This is where the similarities to Streetcar kind of come into play. The whole notion of male violence as somehow attractive to women, as neccessary in the formation of animal lust, runs through the entire film. In the scene where Earl and Mae first come together, Ryan wears a decidedly Kowalski-esque pant and wife-beater ensemble. (In what must have been considered provocative at the time, Stanwyck slips her hand inside Ryan's shirt as they kiss, rubbing his bare back). And Jerry, of course, is asexual, the kind of fat oaf who declares loudly, without a hint of self-aware irony, that he "could drink beer all night!"

It's one of those ideas that runs through a lot of the films of the 50's. I can't help but see it as a counter-stream to all the newfound feminist leanings in a lot of younger women. When society's women started to reconsider their traditional roles, and the way their lives neccessarily developed, these films presented an alternative history of womanhood, based not on serving men in the household but on manipulating them for money, power or privilege.

Mae knows she's "bad," because her entire life has been about serving herself, and even though the film ends in a reconciliation and apology, there are lingering doubts about whether she can control her selfish, wild impulses and remain settled down. It was, after all, this exact choice, between the fierce individuality of rebellion or marriage and family, that spurned the feminist revolution in the first place.

Monday, July 04, 2005

July 4th, 2005

I just drove back home from Koreatown, where I was visiting a friend. The fireworks are going absolutely insane over there. The entire trip from my car to his apartment, I felt like I was in Khe San. At one point, these kids set off an explosive in a crosswalk so powerful, I half-expected it to emit gamma radiation rather than brightly-colored lights. (Although I haven't become enraged since the explosion, so there's really no way to know...)

It's fun, and there's very little about Los Angeles that I would describe as "fun" (including Universal Studios), so that's nice for a change.

But still, I wish this year's Independence Day had less of an air of celebration and more of a sense of soul-searching. Rather than publishing lame bullshit about how this is, like, a totally super-terrific country, why not use this chance to explore what America is supposed to be all about? Why not take on a little more historical context when celebrating a historical event, rather than filling the Net with more bluster about how this is the best goddamn country on Earth.

So I figured I'd give America a little report card. Below are listed some precepts that America supposedly stands for, along with my consideration of how well we're meeting those criteria. (NOTE: Overall, we're not really doing that well). These are the things our Founding Fathers wanted so desperately, they were willing to risk everything by defying the British crown.

And don't forget, those guys did risk everything. This wasn't some academic exercize for those cats - they became traitors in their home country, a crime punishable by death. John Hancock was rumored to have signed the Declaration of Independence in large letters as an act of defiance towards the British Crown (he didn't...he was just the first to sign it, so he had the most room...) But he was already a wanted man in England, and after signing the document, regardless of the size, he committed treason.

So here goes...These were just some of their guiding principles:

No Taxation Without Representation

This was a big one. The colonists resented Britain's over-taxing them to pay for debts incurred during the French and Indian War, and felt that if they should have to pay taxes to England, they should get a significant say in how the colonies were governed.

Now, America is what's called a representative democracy. We don't all get to vote, but we elect people who represent our views who place votes for us.

But that's not really how it works any more. Corporations and political machines that collect money from corporations and the massively wealthy choose candidates who represent their industry's interests, and then spend their money "selling" these candidates to the American people.

No one in our current government is tasked with truly representing the interests of the common citizen except for the judiciary. The legislative branch has been bought and sold, as has the executive. Because they are all subject to elections, and because elections can only be won with our current communications and media structure by corporate-controlled, monied candidates, these positions have been shut out from having any influence from the public sphere.

And now, because a corrupt President will have the opportunity to place Supreme Court and other circuit judges who are ideologically and financially tied to Big Business and Christian fundamentalism, the American people are about to lose their third and final branch of government...which brings me to...

Checks and Balances

This one is super super super important. The whole reason for 3 branches of government? Checks and balances. No one group can get so massively powerful, they can do whatever they want, because two other groups are always watching them.

But what if you control so much of the media, have united so much of the nation's wealth behind your agenda, that you are able to gain legal influence over all three branches at once? You could, theoretically, game the system - create permanent rules that give your side a constant, unfair advantage. You could, essentially, cause the system of checks and balances to dismantle itself.

This would involve doing things like gerrymandering, changing the districts based on favorable demographics, so your side can always win elections. It can even involve screwing with centuries-old Senate tradition in an attempt to get rid of the fillibuster, allowing your judicial nominees to pass through without the customary debate and approval process. And then, of course, there's trying to nominate someone to the Supreme Court who will overturn a decision like Roe v. Wade, a decision that's called controversial despite the fact that it's supported by a considerable majority of Americans.

Separation of Church and State

Yes, technically, the idiot fundies are right when they say that this is not explicitly laid out in the Constitution. No article actually says "the government shouldn't fuck around with the church."

But the concept of a government uninvolved in religious affairs is all over this document. It's about individual liberty, you dig, including religious freedom. And once you consider atheism as a religion (it is, after all, a system of belief), you realize that the government's not allowed to make a law infringing on my rights as a non-believer.

Now, does this mean that you shouldn't be allowed to hang up a Ten Commandments on the wall of a public building? I'd say you shouldn't, but at least this is an issue that can be reasonably debated. After all, a Ten Commandments on the wall, while really stupid, doesn't really affect me in any way. I realize that those are silly rules from an old book, rules that have very very little to do with my daily life. (After all, who doesn't occasionally covet their neighbor's stuff? What if they have a plasma screen? Even God wants a plasma screen!)

But there is no doubt it means the government should not impose religiosity on classrooms, as morons want to do with Creationism. There is no doubt that laws centered on Biblical concepts with no basis in science or empirical support, laws such as abstinance-only education, gay marriage bans and sodomy laws, should be deemed unconstitutional. And there is no doubt that an Air Force Academy operating under the domination of closed-minded Christian bullies is un American and shameful.

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

Everyone always focuses on the "pursuit of happiness" part, but I'd like to look at the "life" part. I think the Declaration means more than just "the government won't kill you for no reason." I think, first off, it means the government won't kill you. And even though the Founding Fathers almost assuredly thought capital punishment was the way to go, I'd say we've outgrown it as a concept. We know it doesn't prevent crime, right? No one still thinks it acts as a strong deterrent. We know a lot of innocent people (a lot!) are executed.

Isn't that enough right there? It doesn't do any provable good, and we know it has done terrible, terrible wrongs. Why not get rid of it? Don't we want to preserve an, ahem, culture of life, as the Late Great John Paul II was fond of saying?

Also, I really think we ought to have universal health insurance (not health care, which is what they have in Canada, but universal insurance...there's a difference...) Cause, I mean, if you want Americans to have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, you've got to be sure they can get hit by a car and afford a doctor. That's kind of key.

Point Blank

John Boorman's Point Blank and Brian Helgeland/Mel Gibson's Payback are based on the same novel, a Donald Westlake pulp thriller called "The Hunter." (Westlake wrote it under the psyeudonym Richard Stark). They tell the exact same story, and yet they are extraordinarily different movies.

I got the opportunity to interview Gibson and Helgeland when Payback was initially released to theaters. Their intent was, near as I could tell, to siphon all the grit out of this story, all the ugliness and negativity, and channel that into an action noir film as violent and darkly comic as it was bleak. It's a mostly successful film, an angry, bitter little thriller in which the ads urged you to "root for the bad guy."

What really amazes me is how much more Boorman was able to extract from the same story. His film shares with Payback a wry, and pitch-black sense of humor, and a penchant for bloody fisticuffs, but beyond that there's very little to connect the two. Gibson and Helgeland's film is pulpy mainstream entertainment, buoyed by one of the world's biggest stars and goofy cameos by the likes of Lucy Liu and Kris Kristofferson.

Point Blank is nothing less than a meditation on morality, memory and death as seen through the twisted mind of a man obsessed with revenge.

So here's the story of both films. A lifelong criminal named Walker (Lee Marvin in Point Blank, Gibson in the newer film) is double-crossed after pulling off a large caper with his friend Reese (John Vernon in Blank) and his wife Lynne (Sharon Acker). Reese shoots him in the back while Lynne takes off with the stolen money.

But Walker is not dead. Some time later, he reappears in the criminal underworld with the intention of getting back at Reese and getting back the $93,000 stolen from him.

But things are not so simple. Reese has given the money over to a mysterious, corporate-like criminal syndicate, operated by three shadowy figures known as Carter, Fairfax and Brewster. In Gibson's version, he elongated this section of the movie, allowed you to get to know Carter, Fairfax and Brewster and how their little organization worked. In the end, he managed to pull of a twist in which Walker takes out the entire Syndicate in one grand explosion.

Boorman's film doesn't come together quite so well, structurally. He never bothers to show us the inside of the Syndicate, or even to properly explain what it is that they do. All we see is Walker cutting a bloody path through their operation, making increasingly hostile demands for the return of his $93,000.

Along the way, he manages to recruit his sister-in-law (Angie Dickenson) to help him, and of course they start to fall for one another. Gibson scuttled this entire sub-plot, having Walker take up with an old prostitute friend, but I can't imagine why. There's far more inherent drama when you make the two girls sisters rather than strangers.

But explaining the story doesn't go very far in explaining Boorman's film and its impact nearly 40 years later. He tells the story in a fractured style, entirely from Walker's perspective. Steven Soderbergh ripped off the technique entirely for his Terence Stamp revenge thriller The Limey, and he admits as much on the audio commentary with Boorman on the new Point Blank DVD.

Each time Walker is forced to hurt someone for information (which is often), he flashes back to other violent incidents in his recent past. Whenever he gets close to someone, he reflects on the last few girls he's been with. Sometimes, these quick flashbacks give us more insight into Walker's past or his motivations, but most of the time they are simply disorienting (as they would be in real life).

It becomes questionable whether Walker is even completely aware of what he's doing at any given moment. The film's opening five minutes, for example, is a dizzying cavalcade of imagery, from Walker's face obscured by psychedelic party lights (an image repeated later in the film) to the moment of Reese's betrayal of Walker, to the moment of Walker's ultimate victory. As in The Limey, could it be that the entire film is Walker's mental recollection of these events, rather than a faithful retelling of them?

I also have to mention the fantastic LA cinematography of Philip Lathrop. He shot a lot of famous films, like Days of Wine and Roses and Americanization of Emily and The Driver, another great-looking movie which I previously reviewed on the blog here. Los Angeles takes on real menace in this movie, even during the bright, sunny days, where the shadows from palm trees partially obscure everyone's faces. Visually, I was reminded of Stephen Frears' The Grifters, a film scripted by "Hunter" novelist Donald Westlake himself.

So, okay, I've praised the movie but I haven't told you that it's just a ton of fun to watch, an amusing and unexpected 60's noir with a terrific, really amazing performance from Lee Marvin, ranking among his best. It comes out on Tuesday on DVD.

Hard Labor

Tried to enjoy sleeping in this morning, as it's a federal holiday and I have a miraculous day off from work, but it was to no avail. The Demon in the apartment below me, taking the form today of a young Mexican girl, started loudly singing the Care Bears song to herself about an hour ago. I assume she's giving some sort of theatrical Care Bears musical performance, possibly at Carnegie Hall, in the next week, as she's practicing this theme song like it's the Rach 3.

Anyway, I've been up for a while, so I came across this interesting post on Atrios.

During my summers doing temp office work I was always astounded by the culture of "face time" - the need to be at your desk early and stay late even when there was no work to be done and doing so in no way furthered and company goals. Doing your work and doing it adequately was entirely secondary to looking like you were working hard as demonstrated by your desire to stay at work longer than strictly necessary.

It's a small, simple observation that has the benefit of being 100% true. At least, it was entirely true at the office where I used to work.

At my old post-production office, the ONLY way employees were evaluated was by their time clock. If you were occasionally 5 minutes late, or you liked to leave a minute or two before everyone else, well, I hope you didn't want a bonus this year.

This was regardless of the amount or quality of your work. The earlier you showed up, the later you stayed, the more valuable you were as an employee.

Now, this worked out great for the soulless wage slaves with no personal lives, who wanted nothing more out of a day than to churn $4 extra out of overtime, the better to feed their 500 cats. But for those of us who saw the job as a silly distraction from the real business of living life, as a neccessity for food and shelter but not much else, it meant you simply didn't get raises or promotions.

There was one guy, we'll call him Jeff. Because that was his name. Even though work tended to start at 9, Jeff liked to show up at 7 or 7:30. And he wouldn't leave until 6:30 or 7 at the earliest, even though everyone else left at 6.

Now, if Jeff really were, like, the super-busiest guy around, I wouldn't begrudge him his extra hours. I would think, "Wow, that really sucks for Jeff, to have such a busy job that he has to work 60 hour weeks." But Jeff was no more busy than anyone else. He'd spend the actual work day farting around at his desk. IMing his boyfriend, messing around with the settings on his computer, shopping at Anything but actually working.

And then he did the actual work during those early and late hours, so it always looked like he was really busy. This plan worked like a charm. He got repeatedly promoted above just about everyone else in the office.

So why does this work so well? What's the secret? Why do bosses just assume that longer hours = better employee. You would think that, considering the expense of paying employees overtime, they would realize an employee who could complete his duties within the 8 alotted hours of the day was a more valuable employee than the one who dicked around and took 10 hours.

I have a theory: the managers at my office were way lazy, possibly even more lazy than me.

So, if you're exceptionally lazy, and part of your job is evaluating the performance of 10 different employees, what are you going to do? You could contact the clients they work with an ask about their performance, look over their work from the past several months for accuracy and efficiency, even ask their fellow employees if they are having any problems with your work, if you feel it's a really important issue at the time.

Or, if you want to do it in five seconds, you could just look at their time sheet. I believe this is what happened.

"Wow, look at that! Jeff was here 65 hours last week! That guy is a dynamo!"

Our business work, particulary I've observed in entertainment, is obsessed with long hours. I guess you could say that the entertainment industry is somehow "busier" than every other industry, but I think this might be a causal relationship. Maybe much more is going on in the entertainment world because they are able to convince everyone who works in the industry that they need to work 60-70 hour weeks. And if insurance companies were glamorous enough to convince their employees to do the same, that would be one of those immensely busy, 24 hour a day businesses.

Every job interview I've ever had at an entertainment company repeatedly comes back to the "long hours" question. They're all proud of how hard they are on young interns, on how punishing your schedule is going to be. "Well, just so you know, this is a hard job. You'll be here all the time. Many people go insane."

Is that a way to get the best employees? I know these places think that they want to scare off all but the most committed people, but they're probably scaring off the smartest, most stable and most interesting people, because anyone with a life outside of working some lame low-level entertainment job is going to bolt for the door. Or not even show up for the interview in the first place.

It's really a way of perpetuating an old system, I guess, or of weeding out everyone who's not going to feed the massive egos of the people at the top.

I once had an interview at a talent agency. I know! What was I thinking? Me, working at a talent agency? Marijuana really does rot your brain!

Anyway, the guy who ran the place, at my third and final interview, kept me there for 90 minutes. He spent most of the time trying to scare me away from taking the job. Here's an example statement:

"I mean, let's say it's 6 at night, and we desperately need you to go get something from Orange County, but you've got tickets to a rock show that night. You're going to have to go to Orange County all the same."

That in and of itself is not so outrageous. Occasionally, working people need to sacrifice something fun to keep their job. I understand this.

But bringing up such a specific example at the interview? You just know that old bastard couldn't wait to spoil my evening, that the only part of the job he really enjoyed was bossing around his young lackeys and taking advantage of their burning, white-hot ambition and desire to work in his industry. He didn't even know if I enjoyed rock shows (I did and do) before he regaled me with his imagined "cancel the concert" scenario.

We have a name for that kind of treatment. It's called Indentured Servitude.

I don't know...Lots of people have entertainment jobs, and they work really hard, but they still seem to enjoy what they do. And that's great. I don't begrudge people who are willing to work extremely hard at some job to attain their goals. I just feel like our time on this planet is so limited, there's no way I can justify sitting in a cubicle for 12-14 hours a day receiving commands, even if some modicum of respect and a halfway decent paycheck comes at the end of the week.