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Video of the Day

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011 - by PJ Lifestyle

When the image breaks down:

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Gibson Guitar Plants in Nashville and Memphis Raided Today

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011 - by Ed Driscoll

The image of the electric guitar player as outlaw is alive and well, but this can’t be helping the economy much at all:

Federal agents are in the process of raiding the offices of the Nashville-based Gibson Guitar Corporation.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents began executing search warrant this morning on guitar factories and corporate headquarters in Nashville and Memphis, according to Nicholas Chavez, special agent in charge with the Fish and Wildlife.

Chavez said the raid included both the corporate headquarters on Park Plus Boulevard and a factory on Elm Hill Pike.

* * * * * *

Gibson was also raided in 2009 for possible violations of the Lacey Act, which bans the importation of endangered plants and wildlife. Federal officials seized ebony and other woods they said were prohibited under the act. Gibson has said in the past it was “fully cooperating” with the investigation.

Yeah, this’ll do wonders for the nation’s unemployment rate, particularly when it causes the next millionaire thinking of investing in a new business or salvaging a century-old one to have second thoughts.

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Psychiatrists about to Normalize Pedophilia? Please say it ain’t so.

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011 - by Kyle-Anne Shiver

“Conference aims to normalize pedophilia.”

This Daily Caller headline sent me into an emotional tailspin this week. I had to read the article several times and do a little Googling to ascertain whether this title was just tabloid sensationalism. It’s not.

From the Daily Caller’s lead paragraph:

If a small group of psychiatrists and other mental health professionals have their way at a conference this week, pedophiles themselves could play a role in removing pedophilia from the American Psychiatric Association’s bible of mental illnesses — the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), set to undergo a significant revision by 2013. Critics warn that their success could lead to the decriminalization of pedophilia.

I myself was raised by an avid acolyte of Dr. Alfred Kinsey and had my own “sexual repression” yanked out of me by repeated oral rapes beginning at about age 6. My father loved to talk about how he was raising a “sexually liberated” daughter and how fortunate I was to have this opportunity at forced fellatio. So, I am much more aware than most how pedophilia actually works in practice. I’m also aware of the lifelong psyche-scarring pain that results.

So, please forgive me if I do not cheer the efforts of mental health “professionals” and their lobby group of “Minor Attracted Persons” to lend even a shred of normalization to this strictly opportunistic desire to abuse children. As to the fantasies of sexually aberrant people, these are acted upon by scores of pedophiles every day – both in public and in private. And there is not a single incident of satiated pedophilic desire that does not involve a child victim, whether she or he is abused in person or through photographic or video-graphic exposure.

Pedophiles seem to believe that they can lay claim to the path paved by homosexuals, but they fail to understand – apparently – that there is one huge whopper of a difference between consensual adult sex and sex with a child, which can never – by sheer definition of childhood – be truly consensual. If pedophilic attraction does not cause the effected person distress, then that in itself would seem to indicate a mental disorder.

Psychiatrists and other mental health professionals must hold the line on this.

If they don’t, society is about to become much more dangerous for a great many more children.

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Showbiz Assassin: the Sheen Convergence, Andy Dick Gets ‘Stern,’ and More

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011 - by Kathy Shaidle

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1. KATY PERRY’s roots are showing.

Her “preacher’s kid” roots, that is.

This week, the long-time-ago gospel singer (and daughter of two Protestant pastors) took a break from her vocation as a human cartoon and tried to get serious – with explosive results.

Following the most recent terrorist attack on Israel, Perry tweeted, “My prayers are for you guys tonight, SHALOM!!! #prayforisrael.”

In minutes, supporters of Oz Narnia Palestine were tweeting less than peaceful responses like, “GO to Hell with ISRAEL B**ch” and “I hope your private jet crash lands into Palestine so they can stamp on you like the whore you are.”

Perry back-peddled a bit, pleading neutrality – which then led hundreds of pro-Israel commenters to condemn her as a coward.

At this juncture, it’s helpful to recall that the fellow who once poignantly asked, “Why can’t we all just get along?” is an alcoholic career criminal who ran over his wife with a car.


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Motorsports, Nepotism and Envy

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011 - by Ronnie Schreiber

Photo courtesy of PPG

Paul Menard’s NASCAR Sprint Cup recent win in the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has gotten people talking about buying your way into top levels of racing, so let’s talk about motorsports and nepotism… and envy.

I’m kind of confused about people complaining about Paul Menard being a member of the lucky sperm club. Though as far as I know, Keith Crain and Dutch Mandel’s publications have had the good taste to avoid that particular topic, it did come up in interviews with Menard after the race. Yes, his father is wealthy, a billionaire (though he made his money himself and seems to have done it honestly) and yes, NASCAR markets itself to middle class Americans, so I can understand some resentment, but all I have to do is mention some family names besides the Menards’ and I think most folks will immediately see how silly it is to single out Paul Menard for inheriting his spot on the grid.


And those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head.

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When he’s not busy doing custom machine embroidery, Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth and contributes to The Truth About Cars and Left Lane News

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Video of the Day

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011 - by PJ Lifestyle

Get down with your bad self, Domo-Ballmer-san!

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Protecting Yourself While Divorcing Someone With Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011 - by Helen Smith

I just got a press release about a new book co-authored by Randi Kreger, the author of Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder. Her new book is called Splitting: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing Someone With Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The book is described as follows:

SPLITTING is a legal and psychological guidebook that everyone seeking a divorce from a persuasive blamer should own. Written by Bill Eddy, a family lawyer, divorce mediator, and experienced social worker, and Randi Kreger, BPD expert and author of the bestselling Stop Walking on Eggshells, it offers readers help for navigating the entire process of divorce: hiring and managing a divorce lawyer, reaching a reasonable settlement, protecting oneself and one’s children from emotional and/or physical abuse from the former spouse, resisting false accusations, and getting enforceable court orders. The book also delves into the difficult-to-understand, aggressive behavior of persuasive blamers, offering readers psychological explanations for their former spouse’s actions and help for coping emotionally with the spouse’s extreme mood swings and impulsivity.

If you or someone you know is thinking of divorce from a wife or husband who has either or both of these disorders, this book could potentially be a huge help with the emotional and legal fall-out.

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Two Men Say They’re Jesus, One of Them Must Be Wrong

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011 - by Ed Driscoll

H.L. Mencken, in The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche wrote:

NIETZSCHE was a preacher’s son, brought up in the fear of the Lord. It is the ideal training for sham-smashers and freethinkers. Let a boy of alert, restless intelligence come to early manhood in an atmosphere of strong faith, wherein doubts are blasphemies and inquiry is a crime, and rebellion is certain to appear with his beard. So long as his mind feels itself puny beside the overwhelming pomp and circumstance of parental authority, he will remain docile and even pious. But so soon as he begins to see authority as something ever finite, variable and all-too-human – when he begins to realize that his father and his mother, in the last analysis, are mere human beings, and fallible like himself – then he will fly precipitately toward the intellectual wailing places, to think his own thoughts in his own way and to worship his own gods beneath the open sky.

As a child Nietzsche was holy; as a man he was the symbol and embodiment of all unholiness. At nine he was already versed in the lore of the reverend doctors, and the pulpit, to his happy mother – a preacher’s daughter as well as a preacher’s wife – seemed his logical and lofty goal; at thirty he was chief among those who held that all pulpits should be torn down and fashioned into bludgeons, to beat out the silly brains of theologians.

But while Nietzsche declared that “God is Dead” in 1882 (God would seem to provide a rejoinder 18 years later), everyone in pop culture seems determined to pose as His son. The most recent example was spotted at Glenn Beck’s perhaps appropriately named Website, The Blaze. “Atheist Comedian Ricky Gervais Poses as Jesus in ‘Blasphemous’ Mag Cover:”

The late George Carlin posed sitting next to the empty seat of Jesus at the Last Supper for his 2004 book cover:

Just in time for Christmas of 2004, Morgan Spurlock, who consumed 5000 calories a day and then was apparently surprised he miraculously became Super-Sized was photographed as Jesus; as James Lileks wrote at the time:

But still: is it possible that some people in the overculture lack an elemental understanding of what this holiday means to some? I know, I know. Madness. Bear with me.

I don’t think people in the Evil Coastal Godless Baal-Loving Media hate Christianity. I’m sure some hold it in disinterested contempt, the way they view NASCAR and Simplicity dress patterns and those giant salad forks some people inexplicably used as kitchen-wall decorations. But for many – yes, the dreaded inexact “many” – religious ideas don’t register at all, so they don’t know how their actions might seem to those who take the whole God thing seriously. A perfect example was found in a recent Entertainment Weekly, which ran the annual list of up-and-comers. For Morgan Spurlock, the wonderfully named filmmaker who did the “Supersize Me” doc, they used this photo:

A couple of years later, Rolling Stone, perhaps struggling to overcome its crossover demographic with AARP’s magazine, photoshopped Kanye West as Jesus. West, who was described by an earlier Time magazine cover as “Hip-Hop’s Class Act” and “The Smartest Man in Pop Music” until he wasn’t, is crucified by Pontius Wenner for his remarkably self-inflicted sins:

In 2008, perhaps as an unintentional homage to Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crowds, Portland Oregon’s Willamette Week magazine was keen to show a first-term Illinois senator as miraculously walking on water, trusty unicorn behind him:

In Mencken’s profile of Nietzsche, there’s a passage that’s very much a dual-edged sword:

[If] we admit the indisputable fact that Nietzsche died a madman and the equally indisputable fact that his insanity was not sudden, but progressive, we by no means read him out of court as a thinker. A man’s reasoning is to be judged, not by his physical condition, but by its own ingenuity and accuracy. If a raving maniac says that twice two make four, it is just as true as it would be if the Pope or any other undoubtedly sane man were to maintain it. Judged in this way Nietzsche’s philosophy is very far from insane.

Or to put it another way, Nietzche was far from all right, but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.

Near the bottom of the New Humanist cover that Ricky Gervais posed for is the headline “9/11 ten years on — ‘The greatest change has been the reinvention of Islam.’” And yet, in the years after 9/11, in contrast to the ease of publications gleefully crucifying celebrities, most magazines were reluctant to run images parodying another messianic religious figure back then. I wonder why?

(Cross-posted at Ed Driscoll.com)

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Video of the Day

Monday, August 22nd, 2011 - by PJ Lifestyle

A day late, and a trillion dollars short, it’s the Sundays:

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Dante’s IKEA

Monday, August 22nd, 2011 - by Charlie Martin

In April of 1981, I was rolling through the aisles of a fascinating store in Freiburg im Breisgau, in (West) Germany.  I’d moved to Germany on the day of Reagan’s inauguration, and after some months in a residential hotel I was moving into my own 12 square meter (129 square feet) apartment.  I needed to furnish it, and my German friends had pointed me to this new store on the edge of town, a Swedish firm called IKEA.

I loved the stuff, and still do: the simple clean Scandinavian look has always appealed to me.  It had other advantages: it was cheap, it could be broken down and packed if I decided to take anything back to the States with me, and it was cheap.

When I eventually came back to the US and moved to North Carolina, there was an IKEA store built between Richmond and Washington DC, a feasible drive in itself and also something I drove past fairly regularly, as my grad school was largely funded by DARPA and similar agencies.  I’d almost always at least stop in and buy some elegant unnecessary plastic objects, kitchen stuff, a lamp, and eat in the cafeteria which specialized in things like Swedish meatballs and smoked reindeer brisket.

So, IKEA finally decided to build a store here in the Denver area, in Centennial.  (James Michener fans: the town of Centennial, Colorado, is named after the fictional town of Centennial, Colorado, from Michener’s novel about Colorado history, Centennial. The  fictional Centennial was roughly 50 miles north and roughly corresponds to the town of Greeley.  Don’t say you haven’t learned anything today.)  I was anxious to look it over, plus I’ve just moved into a house and need more furniture. Specifically, I wanted a really simple, round glass-topped dining table, and I was willing to bet IKEA would have it.

My mother decided she wanted to see it. (Insert sinister foreshadowing music here.)  She’s 76, has great trouble walking due to hip troubles, has breathing troubles, is nearly blind, and has a continuing assortment of leg injuries from walking into things and/or falling.

This makes the IKEA trip into an Adventure.  I checked, and IKEA does provide wheelchairs; I informed my mother we were getting a wheelchair. I get her in my car, we drive to IKEA about a half hour away, arriving at around 11AM.

Now the adventure begins: the store has so much traffic that there are temp workers in orange tabards, directing traffic with orange plastic wands into the parking lots.

Outlying parking lots.

The temp workers don’t know how to get to the Handicapped spaces, but they all either think they do or they don’t want to cope with the increasingly annoyed middle aged man driving: they direct me hither and yon and say “Oh I’ll radio ahead,” although to whom was unclear.  We finally find a parking place close enough that Mom says she can walk that far. Park, get her out of the car.  Start walking.

Surprise: the big sign that says ENTRANCE is just directions.  The actual ENTRANCE is probably 200 years further through the parking garage — which is half-empty, there apparently being a special privilege sticker for garage parking that I don’t have. Um, 200 yards further, Freudian slip  After several rest stops, we finally got into the ENTRANCE — which was actually the elevator lobby below the actual ENTRANCE.

There was a quotation above the elevator: “Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate.”  It’s now about 11:30.

Up the elevator, and having now walked further than she probably has in years, Mom was ready for the wheelchair.

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Dilbert on Corporate Relationships

Monday, August 22nd, 2011 - by Charlie Martin


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The Week In Blogs

Sunday, August 21st, 2011 - by PJ Lifestyle

Taken from PJTV, Stephen Green explains to us the conspiracy behind Herman Cain’s run for President. Plus, union thugs, the existential threat of cheese, England riots, and the insanity of Janeane Garofalo. Why does he do it? Because he cares.

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The links to the items Steve mentioned:

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Two Shot, One Beaten at 49ers-Raiders Preseason Game

Sunday, August 21st, 2011 - by Ed Driscoll

Because they compete in the two separate conferences that make up the NFL, Bay Area rivals the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders rarely meet in the regular season. But competitions between the two teams are a near-annual preseason event, in much the same way that exhibition games featuring intra-conference interstate rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles, and the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans are scheduled almost every year.

Despite living in the same general area in Northern California, the worldviews of many 49ers/Raiders fans tend to be light years apart. Since at least the early ’80s, when Bill Walsh transformed the ’49ers into a Super Bowl powerhouse for the next 15 years, Niners fans were known for enjoying sushi, brie and white wine, while Raiders fans have long had a blue collar, Budweiser sort of ethic.

Yes, there are exceptions to both rules of course, but you get the picture. I certainly did a decade ago, when 3Com still owned the naming rights to Candlestick Park. I was invited to a press event at the game to announce plans to equip the stadium with an early Wi-Fi system, to be announced at one of the few regular-season match-ups between the 49ers and the Raiders on October 8th, 2000. Unfortunately, once arriving at the stadium, I took a wrong turn on the way into the parking lot.  I had to traverse from the parking area of the Niners’ fans to the lot dominated by the Raiders fans, before I found the press entrance. The Niners’ fans would happily tell me where I needed to go to park. The Raiders’ fans pounded on my car and happily told me where to go. I wasn’t all that surprised — the night before, a local sportscaster said, “It’s going to be a physical game on the field — and a physical game in the parking lot.”

But that was nothing compared with last night’s game, which if initial press reports are true, may take some of the bloom off the effete image of the Niners’ fans:

In a violent night, two men were shot outside of Candlestick Park on Saturday night right after the San Francisco 49ers played the Oakland Raiders in an NFL preseason game and one man was assaulted inside a stadium restroom.

The shootings happened around 8 p.m. after the 49ers’ 17-3 victory.

San Francisco police said one victim, a 24-year-old man wearing a T-shirt referring to the 49ers with an obscenity, suffered life-threatening injuries and a 20-year-old man was hospitalized with less serious wounds.

SFPD Sgt. Frank Harrell said that the 24-year-old was shot two to four times in the stomach. He drove his truck to a gate and stumbled to security, Harrell said.

The other man was shot before that in the parking lot and had superficial face injuries, Harrell said.

“We are treating it as separate shootings, but we believe they are related,” Harrell told the Associated Press.

Harrell said police took a man in a Raiders jersey off a party bus before it left the stadium and were calling him a suspect.

The suspect and the two victims had all attended the game, Harrell said.

The shootings followed a violent incident inside of the stadium in which a 26-year-old San Rafael man was assaulted and knocked unconscious in a restroom.

Police said he was hospitalized and a suspect was arrested. There was no immediate indication that it was connected to the post-game shootings.

Henry Kissinger is often attributed with the saying that “Academic politics are so vicious because the stakes are so small.” But unless you’re actually a player competing to make the team, there’s nothing with smaller stakes than a preseason football game.

Ten years ago, NFL Films ran its Lost Treasures series on ESPN, streaming episodes of which are now online at Hulu. Looking at the footage NFL Films shot of mid-1960s-era games when the League’s then-nascent film division were still learning their craft,  I was struck by how conservative and dignified most mid-’60s fans looked. There was little or no team merchandise available, so fans arrived to stadiums on Sunday looking like they had just come from church (which many no doubt had), rather than wearing rainbow-colored wigs, Darth Vader Helmets, or cheeseheads. No doubt, the games had their share of hecklers, but it’s a safe bet that in general, fans of the past were much more subdued than today’s members of Raiders Nation, the Philadelphia Eagles’ crazed fans, or…as we’ve seen in recent years, the courtside fans of the NBA’s Detroit Pistons and even at L.A. Dodgers’ baseball games.

But somehow, and without really thinking consciously about it, society has created the notion that sports arenas are a place for fans to go almost literally insane, rather than merely observe the hometown team in person, cheer for them and then go home celebrating the win, or thinking, we’ll get ‘em next time.

Readers, what happened to the average sports fan?

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The More Decisions You Make A Day, the More You’ll Suffer ‘Decision Fatigue’

Sunday, August 21st, 2011 - by Belladonna Rogers

There are many who consider themselves night owls.  They believe they peak at 3 A.M.  But a new study, discussed by John Tierney in today’s New York Times Magazine  (I know: the paper is the pits, but even a stopped clock is right twice a day) tells of a fascinating Stanford-Ben Gurion University study on the effects of “decision fatigue.”  Despite your feelings about the Times,  this one piece is worth reading.  Excerpt:

…There was nothing malicious or even unusual about the judges’ behavior, which was reported earlier this year by Jonathan Levav of Stanford and Shai Danziger of Ben-Gurion University. The judges’ erratic judgment was due to the occupational hazard of being, as George W. Bush once put it, “the decider.” The mental work of ruling on case after case, whatever the individual merits, wore them down. This sort of decision fatigue can make quarterbacks prone to dubious choices late in the game and C.F.O.’s prone to disastrous dalliances late in the evening. It routinely warps the judgment of everyone, executive and nonexecutive, rich and poor — in fact, it can take a special toll on the poor. Yet few people are even aware of it, and researchers are only beginning to understand why it happens and how to counteract it.

…The more choices you make throughout the day, the harder each one becomes for your brain, and eventually it looks for shortcuts, usually in either of two very different ways. One shortcut is to become reckless: to act impulsively instead of expending the energy to first think through the consequences. (Sure, tweet that photo! What could go wrong?) The other shortcut is the ultimate energy saver: do nothing. Instead of agonizing over decisions, avoid any choice. Ducking a decision often creates bigger problems in the long run, but for the moment, it eases the mental strain. You start to resist any change, any potentially risky move — like releasing a prisoner who might commit a crime. So the fatigued judge on a parole board takes the easy way out, and the prisoner keeps doing time.

“The best decision makers,” social psychologist Roy F. Baumeister says at the conclusion of Tierney’s article, “are the ones who know when not to trust themselves.” Is “decision fatigue” something that affects you? What do you do to overcome it, or at least help to reduce the odds of making bad decisions?

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Your Saturday Nightcap

Saturday, August 20th, 2011 - by Stephen Green
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When Bob Dylan released “Things Have Changed” over a decade ago, it earned him an Oscar for Best Original Song. Back then, its decadent fin de siecle vibe matched our own worries as the Dot Com Bubble went pop.

Today, the song is even more appropriate than ever. But as something of a closet conservative, maybe Dylan already knew something the rest of the world is only now learning today.

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The Scott Brothers and a Tale of Two Remakes

Saturday, August 20th, 2011 - by Ed Driscoll

At Big Hollywood, John Nolte notes that the Ridley and Tony Scott are each planning to remake an iconic motion picture:


Scott is a top-shelf filmmaker, the concept is sound and the source material as good as it gets. This one, unlike “Austin Powers 4,” feels right. The most positive aspect is that Scott apparently has a real fire in the belly for the project. He’s been fiddling with the original — director’s cuts, etc… — since the beginning of home video, which is a good sign the creative energy and inspiration are in plentiful supply.

Furthermore, Scott can do any picture he wants. He’s not some “auteur” on the downslide and desperate for a return to the glory days of yore. Translation: he’s doing this for all the right reasons: passion, love, creative energy…

Yep, this feels right.

On the other hand…




The original is not only a masterpiece, it’s a director’s masterpiece. “The Wild Bunch” IS Sam Peckinpah. You might as well remake the Mona Lisa. There’s no way this doesn’t turn out as flat and uninspired as Tony Scott’s remake of another lightning-in-a-bottle masterpiece: “The Taking of Pelham 1,2,3.”

There are films that transcend earthly constraints, that capture something unique — be it a time, place, feel, performance — that can never be recreated.  Sure, the picture might make money, but as we saw with the remakes of “Psycho,” “The Longest Yard,” and too many others — just stop.

The Wild Bunch was also one of the last manly ensemble pictures Hollywood made before the 1970s Sensitive New Age Guy Syndrome took the blunt edges of its actors. Perhaps if the Coen brothers can successfully remake John Wayne’s True Grit, anything’s possible, but good luck trying to put together a cast today with the grizzled combined gravitas of William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan, Edmond O’Brien, Warren Oates and Strother Martin.

As for Blade Runner, Ace of Spades wonders if familiarity will breed contempt for its cinematic replicant:


1. It was a neat-looking world.

2. The original was meh and still needs a story worthy of the look.


1. The original looked great because of the terrific model-work and innovative photographic effects. The new one will of course be almost all CGI.

2. The Seinfeld is Unfunny effect. Blade Runner has been so influential in terms of design and look of the future, it doesn’t seem as original anymore. Since so many ripped off bits and pieces of it.

I hadn’t heard of the “Seinfeld is Unfunny” meme before Ace’s post; but I fell victim to the same thing myself when I saw Citizen Kane for the first time, decades after it was originally released. It took me a long time, and repeated viewings to come to grips with what I was watching, and how it must have looked to 1941-era viewers — not to mention, the rest of Hollywood, which began to absorb its myriad lessons. Looking at something revolutionary through the rear-view mirror can be painful, because so many of its techniques quickly become integrated into the artistic language. The Blade Runner production design was — and is — awesome, but we’ve seen so it times since in the Batman movies, A.I., The Crow, Dark City, and a host of other movies.

Still though, it’s a helluva dystopia. I’d be willing to head back there for a visit once again. How ’bout you?

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Video of the Day

Friday, August 19th, 2011 - by PJ Lifestyle

Same as it ever was:

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(For the Politizoid gang’s note-perfect Oba-era parody, click here.)

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Conspiracy Theory: The Curious Case of the Obama-Osama Movie

Friday, August 19th, 2011 - by PJ Lifestyle
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Should we be troubled by Kathryn Bigelow’s (The Hurt Locker) latest project, a film about the death of Osama bin Laden that’s slated for release one month before the 2012 elections? Roger Simon and Lionel Chetwynd look into the controversy in the latest edition of PJTV’s Poliwood.

“There is every reason to believe that this Administration is pressuring legitimate arms of the government to assist popular culture in the making of a propaganda film.” –Lionel Chetwynd

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‘AMC Network In No-Win Situation’

Friday, August 19th, 2011 - by Ed Driscoll

Lawrence Meyers of Big Hollywood has an interesting look at how Mad Men’s success has been a financial mixed blessing to cable channel AMC. It has negatively impacted other shows on the network, whose transition from a channel primarily running old movies (in other words, relatively cheap to program) towards a network with numerous independent productions (much more expensive) has been fraught with difficulty:

There’s good news and bad news about the content that AMC has created.  The good news is that the content has been outstanding.  Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Killing, Rubicon are all terrific, unique shows.  The executives who have developed these programs along with their creators deserve kudos for their strong storytelling sensibilities.  The bad news is that the network is a victim of its own success because while it has been able to extract good affiliate fees (what cable/satellite provider doesn’t want to provide Mad Men?), Hollywood talent and their agents will always try to maximize their cut of the pie by holding producers hostage.

Now, there’s no doubt that Mad Men creator and showrunner Matthew Weiner is one hell of a talent, has a vision for the show, and has executed it with aplomb.  And, if the show were on HBO or a major network, Mr. Weiner’s agents would be able to reach into some mighty deep pockets.  Indeed, given that Mr. Weiner was a senior producer on The Sopranos, he likely wanted the mega-zillions that creator David Chase was repeatedly awarded.   But AMC is a basic cable network whose pockets are not that deep. Nevertheless, Mr. Weiner’s agents negotiated an outstanding $30 million deal for him, as they should.

The problem with this approach is that, as Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter tweeted, “…it was bad business…[Mad Men] held AMC hostage, broke their bank, budgets were slashed, shit rolled downhill to Gilligan and [Darabont]“.   The problem with the Mad Men deal is that Mr. Weiner’s deal would have been a blip on the income statement if AMC were still wrapped up inside Cablevision.  Instead, a chunk of that deal will appear as a large expense on AMC’s own income statement, which means it flows directly to the bottom line earnings per share.  So instead of a bug on a melon, it appears as a large slice cut off from a pie.

The result?   Panic.   Understandable panic, but panic nonetheless.   And the press has been hard on AMC Head of Original Programming, Joel Stillerman.  Frankly, I think Mr. Stillerman is in a no-win situation, and was put there by the Dolans and the stupid IPO deal. Panic is also evident in the story reported at aintitcool.com by Eric Vespe.

Mr. Stillerman had to offset these huge new Mad Men expenses because the pressure is on him to get that net income number up (especially if he owns shares!).  He did so by adding additional commercials to the show to generate more revenue (also something Mr. Weiner reportedly fought).  He cut the budget of the one show AMC actually owns (it licenses the others), The Walking Dead.  That show, which was already expensive by even network standards at $3.4 million per episode, had to get by on less.  Now, in the hands of a very experienced TV producer, the show could be done for less.  However, Mr. Darabont is primarily a feature film writer/director, so he is used to larger budgets, and his vision for the show is an expensive one.  If Mr. Sutter is to be believed, Mr. Darabont made mistakes and was fired.  He was likely taken out of his comfort zone.   As Mr. Sutter also suggests, will other talent be scared off from AMC because of its recent behavior?

Read the whole thing.

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Video of the Day

Thursday, August 18th, 2011 - by PJ Lifestyle

In honor of a not-so-magic bus tour coming to its conclusion.

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Carolina Waterspout

Thursday, August 18th, 2011 - by Charlie Martin
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A Siberian Husky is Still Tired This Morning

Thursday, August 18th, 2011 - by Dave Swindle

Pictures of Maura that April took this morning (she often climbs into the bed after we get up):


Now awake in the dark:

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Video of the Day

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011 - by PJ Lifestyle

Gabba gabba hey, we’ve all had days that felt like this:

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Cigar of the Day—Tatuaje Lancero (Brown Label)

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011 - by Tony Katz

Exiting out of my comfort zone, I went to a place I never thought I would find myself — with a Lancero.  A Lancero is, traditionally, a 38 x 7.5″ cigar — long and thin and all together not looking anything like a cigar at all.  It’s a skinny Churchill.  It’s far too European.  Interestingly enough, the Lancero size is one of the most popular sizes in Europe.  In America, we think it’s effeminate…in Europe, it’s dignified.

For the Tatuaje Lancero — it’s amazing.

Pete Johnson is the force behind Tatuaje cigars.  Since they came into existence, the Tatuaje (TAH-tu-WAH-hey) brand has become synonymous with incredible smokes.  Flavor, construction, burn — all remarkable.  I’ve had many Tatuaje cigars, and never had a bad experience.  But this is my first experience with the Lancero size.

Turns out Johnson is also a huge fan of the Lancero.  From a Cigar Aficionado article in 2008, Johnson said of the Lancero:

“Love lanceros…They were part of my original six brown-label sizes five years ago. I was making this in early 2003 when everyone was running from them, except maybe Carlito.”

Carlito is Carlos “Carlito” Fuente, of the Fuente family.  That’s good company to be in.

The cigar itself is fairly attractive, a warm, deeper brown.  Some prominent veins running through it, but I can’t complain about the construction.  The binder and filler are Nicaraguan, while the wrapper is an Ecuadorian Habano.  The flavor combination is remarkably smooth, and rather rich.  Many comment that the flavors include some leather, mocha and coffee tastes and a bit of pepper.  I’m taken at just how much flavor there is, and that is a function of the Lancero size.  So much flavor comes from the wrapper, and the Lancero size offers the most wrapper possible. The ash burns a very nice white, but I wasn’t able to get a long ash (which I’m sure has something to do with putting it down ever 10 seconds to write this.)

Much of the enjoyment of a cigar, for me, is how it feels in your hand.  The Lancero doesn’t work for me in that regard.  It’s just too small in my fingers to rest comfortably.  It’s something that I’ll have to get over to smoke this again, because the flavor is just too good.  If you are new to cigars, feel free to start here.  The more you get into the cigar, the more the flavor you’ll get, but nothing here is too hard to take for the first time smoker.  If an experienced smoker, you know how good Tatuaje cigars are.  Now, get out of your comfort zone and give the Tatuaje Lancero a try.

No one will look at you funny, and you’ll be too busy enjoying to notice.

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