Aaaaaaaaand we’re back

The blog is back to its old and beautiful self, and I’m too busy to write on it.  I’ve been working full weeks doing the teaching thing, trying to write at night, and nursing a cold, so blogging has not been foremost on my mind.  Here are a few things that have been:

– My new screenplay.  This holiday season, I finally had a draft that I was ready to show others.  I’ve already given it to two of my usual readers, one of those being my wife.  I’m not too far from the finish line with this one, and that’s exciting.  It’s a romantic comedy, not at all political, and perhaps that’s for the best, given the current climate.  More on this, to be sure …

– Israel.  I don’t have time to do justice to this subject now, but the recent conflict has certainly been foremost in my thoughts.  Specifically, I continue to be outraged at the double standard the international community applies to Israel’s self-defense. If a European country were under rocket attack from one of its neighbors, nobody would be talking about “proportional” responses.  On the other hand, I continue to be frustrated by Israel’s inability to properly anticipate and shape world opinion.  5.5 million Jews and not a single PR genius?  Why didn’t the world know about these rocket attacks before Israel’s counter-attack?  Why wasn’t Israel screaming bloody murder in the UN and the international media?  The terrorists know how to work the press.  Why not Israel?

– MLK.  If Martin Luther King Jr. were alive today, I have no doubt that he’d want us all to go to work on Monday and skip work Tuesday to watch the inauguration.  Sigh.  The idea of a Tivo-ed inauguration just doesn’t seem as romantic.

– Football.  Is there a more exciting offensive player right now than Larry Fitzgerald?  Is there a more exciting defensive player than Troy Polamalu?  Very much enjoying the playoffs, even though I no longer care who wins at this point.  I’m also looking forward to the end of NFL madness so I’ll be able to be more productive with my Sundays.

– Weather.  Has been wonderful.  Highs in the low 80s in LA all weekend.  This makes me happy.

– Lyrics.  I recently bought Seal’s album “System,” and I really want to like it.  I love his first three albums and much of his fourth, but I’m having trouble with this one.  Part of it is the electronic clubby danciness of it, but a big stumbling block is the lyrics.  Example: “What have we done? One of us came undone. Which one?”  Urg.  And what about the radio track: “I want you to always feel amazing”  Really, Seal?  The word “amazing” is about as lyrically imaginative as the word “great” or “nice.”  Lyrics like these feel phoned in.  And while we’re on the subject of lyrics, I am irked every time I hear that Killers song that asks: “Are we human, or are we dancer?”  What? Is that supposed to be playful like Beck or deep like Radiohead or just specifically designed to annoy me like Howie Mandell?  Perhaps this lyric wouldn’t bother me so much if only I could get it out of my head.

Slumdog Millionaire.  Finally saw it.  Loved it.  Danny Boyle rocks me.  Great script too. Simon Beaufoy plays two of the most classic story archetypes to perfection: the rags to riches story and the love conquers all story. Add in an electrifying score, the rich canvas of India, and stellar performances, and you have a prescription for a worldwide phenomenon, the sort of movie everyone will tell their friends to go see.  Go see it.

The Survival Plan

Imagine this: a little-known congressional candidate is desperate for attention.  He intentionally crashes his car and fakes his own disappearance.  Then he concocts an amazing story of survival which involves him swimming a frigid river, hiking until he loses consciousness, and enduring 27 hours in a snowy New Hampshire forest.  He hopes this story will jumpstart his campaign.  It doesn’t.

Here’s the kicker: this actually happened.

An old high school friend forwarded me this article in Backpacker magazine about Congressional candidate Gary Dodds.  I can’t believe this is the first I’ve heard about this ridiculous episode.  Click here to read the unbelievable story.

Obama “Assasination Plot”: Newsworthy?

For those of you who haven’t heard the news, the ATF recently broke up a plot by two spectacularly daft Neo-Nazi skinheads to assassinate democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama (click here for story).  Their plan: to rob a gun store, commit a Columbine style massacre at a predominantly black high school, then go on a national killing spree, and THEN kill Barack Obama by — get this — driving, “their vehicle as fast as they could toward Obama shooting at him from the windows.”

Brilliant.  How could it fail?  My question: does this actually qualify as news?  Doesn’t a potential criminal mastermind need to clear some competency bar before he/she/they are rewarded with free publicity and their photos on the network news?  I mean, c’mon.  These guys never even got so far as step one: “rob a gun store.”  Incidentally, if you’re looking for an easy store to rob, I wouldn’t put gunstore on your list.  Usually armed robbery works best when the robber is more heavily robbed than those he is robbing.

We should all consider ourselves lucky that racism and stupidity go so neatly hand in hand.

We Can’t Drive Sixty-Five

We went car shopping this weekend, and encountered a curious and frustrating new phenomenon. At three consecutive dealerships, we were told that test drives could include street driving only.  No highways.

When we balked at this restriction, two out of the three dealerships bent the rules for us, but the third one stood firm.  As I don’t recall having this trouble when we shopped for cars last year, I can only assume this is a new policy, one that is the product of skittish new insurance rules.

I’m not sure what astounds me more: that a car dealership would expect someone to purchase a vehicle they have never driven on the highway, or that customers are ostensibly playing along.  Who in their right mind would buy a car they have never driven over 35 mph?  When we got the final “no” from dealership number three, we told them politely we wouldn’t be wasting any more of their time.  Or purchasing any of their cars.  And we left.

A test drive that never leaves third gear isn’t foreplay.  It’s a tease.