Tuesday, November 25, 2008

robert redford on drilling

Robert Redford has been blogging at The Huffington Post and last night appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show to talk about "quiet" legislation that would open up land in Southern Utah, in and around many National Parks, such as one of my favorites, Arches. i hadn't known much about the move, which Redford calls "cynical." i wouldn't go with "cynical," myself. "devious," to be sure. nevertheless. it's a minor criticism of Mr. Redford's critical prowess. because where he gets it completely is in his understanding of the ironic rhetoric of the legislation. he argues:

Words alone cannot do justice to the beauty of these places, but they do capture the absurdity of the Bush plan. Oil and gas drilling in Desolation Canyon? Industrial development along the meandering Green River? The thought makes one wince.

speaking of clunky rhetoric: a few days ago, i saw a woman getting in to her car at the Sam's Club parking lot. she had a bumper sticker that read "DRILL HERE. DRILL NOW. PAY LESS!" it made me sad. you might say that it hurt my feelings. because, i mean, i can be as Darwinian as the next guy, but come on. there are limits to my greed (i like to think). and is it so easy to declare one's contempt for unspeakable beauty, and, oh, the future? i suppose that when you're driving away, it is.

but so, learning about the obnoxious move to pass drilling legislation that bypasses environmental protections and the National Park Service and the Endangered Species Act and basic human decency (i've seen this before -- upper adminsitration makes Big Ugly Move during Summer months, when faculty are away), i'm sadder.

but so now, to contact my representatives.

Monday, November 24, 2008

on passion

@ however fallible, i see that someone 's been reading about Philipe Petit, which reminds me to once again promote the amazing documentary, Man on Wire, which is currently on a few shortlists for Academy Award contention (so deserving). i'm secure in thinking that all i need do is share this clip (also linked at hf):

Sunday, November 23, 2008

come on!

trailers ... (w/ pre-spectation reflection)

when i watch PSH, i think that i have no business believing that i can or ever will act. that's a pretty dark assessment and it's a lot of negativity to associate with a person i admire, but there you go. "sublime," he is, as an actor.

i am not a serious fan of martial arts films, and war sagas often leave me depressed and at the same time empty, abmivalent. but Wong Kar Wai makes such aesthetically moving films -- they work almost beyond content, and as i watch this trailer, i kind of want to get lost in this film.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

electric car. 2 years off? not.

GM says its "plug in" car will be "ready" in 2 years. GM, the automaker who produced a successful electric car in the 1990s, the same automaker who, according to Chris Paine, "killed" the electric car.

from a New York Times article by Micheline Maynard, we don't hear much about GM's earlier electric car (and its untimely "death"), except for this:

G.M. reportedly spent about $1 billion in the 1990s to develop the EV1, which it dropped after saying it could not make money on the cars. The EV1, which was available only in lease deals, sold for the equivalent of up to $44,000 but cost G.M. about $80,000 apiece to make [...]

... which might have us believe that GM simply pulled the plug (sigh) because of simple corporate economics. it wasn't making any money on the car; it was losing money on the car. but the documentary, Who Killed the Electric Car? explores the question in a tougher journalistic mood, so i'm promoting it, here (although it's doing fine on its own and enjoys a certain following).

i don't see much criticism of this tentativeness coming from automakers regarding the "availability" of technologies capable of generating an electric or otherwise non-combustible engine car. maybe director Chris Paine will get, (is currently?) after it. we do have the blog, Revenge of the Electric Car, which seems promising. what is not so encouraging is that in the context of talks for govenrmental "salvation" of the Big 3 automakers, what we hear about the combustible engine and oil dependency (foreign or otherwise) is so frequentrly tempered by a sort of grandfatherly "wisdom" that would have us believe that we simply cannot do what we have already done. what i mean to say is that, yes, it's all very complicated. but to portray a timeline for production of a "plug in" car as a long and difficult road (ugh. sorry) seems like a pretty clunky rhetorical trick, the kind of move that is reserved for election politicking. still, documentarian Paine is optimistic and supportive of GM's current moves, with only a tiny hint of (articulated) reservation.

so but until the new electric car movie is made/comes out, enjoy this clip from Chris Paine's 2006 documentary, Who Killed the Electric Car? ...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

sundance 2009

so the opening night film is announced, and it features some of my favorite actors. i wish i could go to the ball, but i work a theater gig all day, every day, during the festival. so, my second wish is that Philip Seymour Hoffman decides to visit our theater instead of making exclusive appearances with Mary and Max. i can't see why he wouldn't. i mean, come on.

Friday, November 14, 2008

dear people planning to boycott SFF 2009,

Sundance is not the enemy of gay people (watch the documentary Fabulous! The Story of Queer Cinema for evidence). and well obviously Prop 8 didn't pass because of Sundance.

yes, Sundance is in Utah. and yes, the LDS (Mormon) Church, which is centrally located in Utah, does seem to have been quite persuasive in the California vote for Proposition 8. but just as sweeping and derogatory claims about gay people (and their fitness for marriage) are wrong-headed, so too is it rather clunky to plot a boycott of the Sundance Film Festival by virtue of its location in Utah. not everyone in Utah is a member of the Mormon Church (i dare say that many SFF staff and volunteers are not). and well but so as with any religion, there exists a complicated spectrum from absolutism to ambivalence regarding the degrees to which members believe in and adhere to Church dogma. and then beyond the relative "size" of the Church in terms of this complex spectrum of belief and buy-in, pointing at an entire region as a way of categorizing a people is just silly (although i admit that prior to my move here i envisioned bonnets and dour faces and was instead pleasantly surprised to see difference and diversity). so look, Utah's a big state. lots going on. lots, and much of it far beyond the devious orchestration of an LDSified campaign for Proposition 8.

i must also tell you, dear would-be boycotters-who-likely-believe-that-you-are-united-in-a- holy-type-struggle, it is similarly unreasonable to boycott the festival because some SFF films are shown in Cinemark Theaters (only 4 Park City venues out of the 14 total SFF venues, which are located in Park City, Salt Lake City, Sundance Resort in Provo Canyon, and Ogden). True, Cinemark's Chief Executive may indeed have contributed a large sum to the campaign to pass Prop 8, but he did so as a private citizen and not as a representative of Cinemark. but so i'm pretty sure that your plans to boycott Sundance because of location and the donations of one individual are not well reasoned.

think it through. in fact, if you study the films that Sundance routinely supports, you will find that Sundance (the Institute, the Festival) is and has always been remarkably, paradigm-shatteringly supportive of independent queer cinema. i'm just saying.

film update

in case you're following my progress on the documentary . . .

dear future grad student,

i'm flattered that you wrote me to ask about possible grad schools where you can do supercool work like the work you read about in those 2 articles by Geoff Sirc. i too felt a near-religious high when first i encountered Sirc, so i can relate. but perhaps, in your euphoria and guided by your supercool mentor who encouraged you to write me, you presumed an intimacy between us that doesn't exist. and i do regret that in my response to you i felt it necessary to point out that your casual tone ("'sup!") was a tad inappropriate because who wants to be that crankity with a student who's all inspired and gushing and just aching to find someone who can ID and point her toward more of the supercoolness? but then, this morning, i realized: hey! i do some writing. and while it may not approach Sircian levels of joyful, fantod-inducing glee, you might have given me a shout-out. so i guess i'm not only regretting my comments about your tone but also recognizing that i might also have shared some pointers regarding audience consideration and how even though we don't like to admit it (especially if we are. actually. supercool), in the legendary words of Love and Rockets, "people [do!] like to hear their names ... i'm no exception ..." (No New Tale to Tell).

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


beyond the obvious rhetorical lessons -- he takes us to school
on pathos and delivery -- i love the passion he brings to the
matter of gay marriage and the passing of Proposition 8.

nostalgia ... passions ...

every now and then i'll get clear on the powerful relationships between past and present, memory and inclination. recently, i found myself inexplicably singing the tune to the "Lite Brite" commercial. sure, it falls into the category of Things I Cannot Love ... this, by virtue of having gone with the ostensibly "catchier" nontraditional spelling that wants to rise to the level of "skillful wordplay," a hideo-marketing technique that inspires all manner of personal affectation (eye tics, palpatations, yelling ...). but so i must have developed my contempt for such attempts at marketing wit post-Lite Brite because i did want me some. but for some reason, my parents wouldn't get it for me, even though "OH GOD how i want to make that sailboat!". once, though, i spent the night w/ Susan Council (the name now striking me as remarkably important and just right; although here, i could wish for the alterna-spelling -- "Counsel," as in "advise and ..."). and but so you know what she had. that's right. and it was Heaven. bliss. her image-form papers were worn, but we still made The Clown. The Sailboat (cue Heavenly Choir).

so but now that i'm a little filmmaker, i see the jingle as prescient and telling and wonderfully sophisticated (for kids in the '70's? "makin' things with light"??!). here:

Thursday, November 6, 2008

cartograms (by Mark Newman)

my sister says it makes her brain hurt, but i like it for its comprehensive representation-value. it's a document containing several models of a different kind of electoral map. see the full document via the link, but to get a sense of what you'll find, the map above "represent[s] the effects of the electoral college by scaling the sizes of states to be proportional to their number of electoral votes." nice.

thanks to Patricia Freitag Ericsson for sharing this on the WPA listserv

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

relief ...

... over Obama's win, but also over the Grant Park crowd's reaction to Obama's nod to McCain. that is to say, thank God they didn't go by way of the McCain crowd when John applauded Obama. i get it. you lost. but classy it up. jeez. you're at the Biltmore. and, um, to the frat boy who shouted over McCain, "Sarah Palin, 2012!" ... um, really?

[deleted fashion critique in favor of joy and relief]

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

dear pop culture moment,

stop suggesting that women who wear glasses want to be (like) Sarah Palin. that's just stupid.

stand up straight & let me get a look at you

It's awards show Sunday, so i'm giving Margot. I'm through with the wishfulness and angst and regret, and Margot, more than an...