#OWS as a Judd Apatow Movie

What if Occupy Wall Street incorporated as an investment bank and an attached savings bank?  And what if at #Occupy demonstrations around the country, protestors could walk up to a little table and sign up as board members of the Occupy Corp investment bank – and then go over to a different table (crossing over what used to be that pesky regulation which Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act dissolved). And there, the poorz set up accounts on the customer-facing table: Occupy Trust. The “bank” would immediately issue a lien against the empty account, so that the bank would eat the future earning potential of these protestors.  In this way, the bank gobbles up a bunch of toxic assets. Then they bet against the value of the debt on the market. Of course, insolvency looms. Then they demand and get a giant bail-out. The bail-out is split up among the millions of “board members.”  The B-Story is about cops and a forbidden love affair between a protester and a cop. And there’s a bit with a dog. read more

Gian Francesco Poggio Bracciolini

When Rome fell and libraries were burned, all the works of Epicurean poet Lucretius nearly disappeared. It’s understandable that the Church would go after Lucretius, as he excoriated religion. His master work was called “On The Nature of Things.”

The Dark Ages snuffed out the book, and with it, most details of Epicuranism – the view that the universe is atomic, made of matter, and our behavior should be based on the idea that fear destroys, and that a balance of knowledge and humility is the key to happiness (though you can’t get enough of both). read more

The Heart of Catch-22

“And don’t tell me God works in mysterious ways,” Yossarian continued, hurtling over her objections. “There’s nothing so mysterious about it. He’s not working at all. He’s playing or else He’s forgotten all about us. That’s the kind of God you people talk about—a country bumpkin, a clumsy, bungling, brainless, conceited, uncouth hayseed. Good God, how much reverence can you have for a Supreme Being who finds it necessary to include such phenomena as phlegm and tooth decay in His divine system of creation? What in the world was running through that warped, evil, scatological mind of His when He robbed old people of the power to control their bowel movements? Why in the world did he ever create pain? … Oh, He was really being charitable to us when He gave us pain! [to warn us of danger] Why couldn’t He have used a doorbell instead to notify us, or one of His celestial choirs? Or a system of blue-and-red neon tubes right in the middle of each person’s forehead. Any jukebox manufacturer worth his salt could have done that. Why couldn’t He? … What a colossal, immortal blunderer! When you consider the opportunity and power He had to really do a job, and then look at the stupid, ugly little mess He made of it instead, His sheer incompetence is almost staggering. …” read more

All The Shah’s Men – The Movie

In 2006, I thought George Clooney should make an Iranian CIA movie, adapting the book All The Shah’s Men, but he did Argo instead.

After watching Syriana again, I poked around into the book All The Shah’s Men, and then I wrote a long blog post right here in this space all about how the rights to the book All The Shah’s Men really should be optioned and developed with Sam Rockwell in the lead as CIA agent Kermit Roosevelt, the badass Jamshid Hashempour as Mohammed Mossadeq, Danny Pudi as Mohammad-Rezā Shāh Pahlavi, and either George Clooney or Stephen Gaghan directing. read more

Tech and Self

Fun art installation idea about how technology can obfuscate one’s projection of self:

Cinemagram makes moving gifs of a few frames. There’s this feature where you can edit out a portion of the gif and overlay a static shot that “fills in” the deleted area. The right side of this window, for instance:

What if you can do the same thing but with a video feed? So instead of a gif of the guy walking, there could be a live video stream of a street corner?

Some artist hangs a smartphone-scannable QR code on telephone poles at street corners.

And that URL is a video feed of a nearby surveillance camera – a camera with a bird’s eye view of that corner. Live. Traffic visible in the street in the background. read more

Ira Glass and David Foster Wallace

I immediately thought of itsasickness when I read this:

“Almost anything you pay close, direct attention to becomes interesting”
– David Foster Wallace, ‘The Pale King’


– Ira Glass on the art of the interview:
“Most people aren’t great storytellers in general, but if you stumble on the thing that really means something to them, you’ll get a great story out of them. This is one of the insights of therapy, actually. If you read all the early Freud stuff—you know how when he stumbles onto the central issue with his patients, suddenly stories flood out of them in pure narrative, with these incredible poetic images? That’s what happens when you’re working out in your head something that isn’t totally resolved and then you speak about it. It comes out as narrative.” read more

Departures Magazine: “The Coolest New Website on the Internet”

This was nice of them to say:

The Coolest New Website on the Internet
By Eric Klinenberg, Sep-2010

The creators of the networking site itsasickness.com are betting our obsessions will be the Internet’s next big thing. Behind the scenes at Departures’ photo shoot, the three founders—including actor Alan Cumming—discuss their own “sicknesses” and why our fixations are what make us most interesting.

“This is how we use the Internet already—we just don’t admit how wonderfully weird and funny it is,” says Barnaby Harris, referring to his new website, itsasickness.com, a portal for anyone who’s obsessed with something and wants to “geek out” about it online. “We encourage people to acknowledge their sickness,” Harris says, “and help them see that other people have it, too.” read more

Slavoj Žižek on WikiLeaks

Every lefty’s favorite Slovak philosopher looks into the WikiLeaks story and knocks it out of the park.

First he dissects The Dark Knight movie in a way that basically seconds the general thesis of my Wild West script about media and theatre:

The Joker wants to disclose the truth beneath the mask, convinced that this will destroy the social order. What shall we call him? A terrorist? The Dark Knight is effectively a new version of those classic westerns Fort Apache and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, which show that, in order to civilise the Wild West, the lie has to be elevated into truth: civilisation, in other words, must be grounded on a lie. The film [The Dark Knight] has been extraordinarily popular. The question is why, at this precise moment, is there this renewed need for a lie to maintain the social system? read more

Against Ambient Awareness

“Our suffering comes from the fact that we are attached to the outer form that something assumes in a given instant rather than the movable conversation that stands behind it. Keeping up with what is occurring rather than lagging and getting caught in things that no longer exist, is one of the the great disciplines of life.” ~David Whyte, The Three Marriages

“Litany” by Billy Collins

You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker,
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general’s head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk. read more

Sociopathic Tendencies

When I see a bankster shilling on the teevee for his crime boss overlords’ right to break laws, I think about Robert Penn Warren’s image of the clammy, sad little fetus that cowers inside industrialists:

It was like the second when you come home late at night and see the yellow envelope of the telegram sticking out from under your door and you lean to pick it up, but don’t open it yet, not for a second. While you stand there in the hall, with the envelope in your hand, you feel there’s an eye on you, a great big eye looking straight at you and dark and through walls and houses and through your coat and vest and hide and sees you huddled up way inside, in the dark which is you, inside yourself, like a clammy, sad little foetus you carry around inside yourself. The eye knows what’s in the envelope, and it is watching you to see you when you open it and know, too. But the clammy little foetus which is you way down in the dark which is you too lifts up its sad little face and its eyes are blind, and it shivers cold inside you for it doesn’t want to know what is in that envelope. It wants to lie in the dark and not know, and be warm in its not-knowing. The end of man is knowledge, but there is one thing he can’t know. He can’t know whether knowledge will save him or kill him. He will be killed, all right, but he can’t know whether he is killed because of the knowledge which he got or because of the knowledge which he hasn’t got and which if he had it, would save him. There’s the cold in your stomach, but you open the envelope, you have to open the envelope, for the end of man is to know. read more


The 'Do It For The Fat Lady' scene from Franny & Zooey by J.D. Salinger "I'll tell you a terrible secret — Are you listening to me? There isn't anyone out there who isn't Seymour's Fat Lady. That includes your Professor Tupper, buddy. And all his goddam cousins by the dozens. There isn't anyone anywhere that isn't Seymour's Fat Lady. Don't you know that? Don't you know that goddam secret yet?"

The Second Coming by W.B. Yeats

Bumped back to the top.  I was trying to think of something to write about the election until I remembered that I already said what I wanted to say back in January.  I’ll merely add that the number of voters who can’t tell the difference between a fireman and an arsonist only increases.

Here is my comment on the 2010 midterms:


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity. read more

With Apologies to The Onion

this is something i keep wanting to quote:

Soulless Cultural Wasteland ‘On The Grow’ In Southern California Desert

Los Angeles to Be Hellish Megalopolis by 1950

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The soulless cultural wasteland in the California desert, considered one of the bleakest and most God-forsaken stretches of uninhabitable scorched earth in the nation is “on the grow,” West Coast sources say, as the burgeoning city of Los Angeles continues its cancerous expansion.

Originally a tiny villa called Los Diablos, a coastal settlement of no distinction save for its capacity of heartlessness, the boomtown is now bigger than ever. Despite its lack of any life-sustaining natural resources, the city, which has no reason to exist at all has all the earmarks of a spectacular soulless cultural wasteland on the rise. read more

The Thicket of the Law

Something about Alberto Gonzalez and James Comey made me think of this scene from A Man for All Seasons. Who would Sir Thomas More be?

ALICE – He is! Arrest him!

MARGARET – Father, that man’s bad.

MORE – There is no law against that.

ROPER – There is! God’s law!

MORE – Then God can arrest him.

ROPER – Sophistication upon sophistication!

MORE – No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what’s legal not what’s right. And I’ll stick to what’s legal. read more

Contemplative Prison Films As Zeitgeist

Socio-political Film Studies was one of my favorite things from College. Here is the newest of my regular series.

There were so many Prison Dramas in the 70s that are of a certain similar flavor, it bears noting how and why these similarities were printed and what it suggests about the zeitgeist of the era. Prison films in general boil down to a struggle between men, machines and the mincer.

In “Papillon,” Steve McQueen the one intent on escape, says to his buddy, the crooked guards’ best-friend, the dutifully bribing Dustin Hoffman character: read more

The Final Shot of Three Days of the Condor – NSA Considered

Yeah, um, remember in 2004 when The New York Times sat on the NSA Wiretapping story until AFTER the most important election in generations? Remember why?  SPOILER ALERT: Because the criminal exposed in the story asked them to. He was afraid the story would cost him the election if his crimes were revealed. Then, after he won reelection, the White House let The Times publish. At that point, who cares? They were in for four more years – safe and sound. It really is that simple.

Why did The Times not print it? As The Times tried to explain it away: read more