Saturday, July 16, 2005

Evil Empire

Those of you who were readers of my old blog may remember the story of Zach, the gay kid who is being kept against his will in a heterosexual "boot camp" in an attempt to cure his gayness.

It was the sort of confession that a decade ago might have been scribbled in a teenager's diary, then quietly tucked away in a drawer: "Somewhat recently," wrote a boy who identified himself only as Zach, 16, from Tennessee, on his personal Web page, "I told my parents I was gay." He noted, "This didn't go over very well," and "They tell me that there is something psychologically wrong with me, and they 'raised me wrong.' "

Physical contact among clients other than a handshake is forbidden, and so is "campy" talk or behavior, according to program rules that Zach posted on his blog before he began at Refuge. Occasionally, recalled Jeff Harwood, 41, a Love in Action graduate who still considers himself gay, some participants would mock the mandatory football games.

The blogs have put a lot of eyes on this program, and a lot of people seem to have this kid's back. He's still there, with one week to go. But guess what. He made the New York Times.

"Their identities are still in flux," said Dr. Jack Drescher, the chairman of the committee on gay, lesbian and bisexual issues of the American Psychiatric Association, which in 2000 formally rejected regimens like reparative or conversion therapy as scientifically unproven. "One serious risk for the parent to consider is that most of the people who undergo these treatments don't change. That means that most people who go through these experiences often come out feeling worse than when they went in."

Thanks to Tennessee Guerilla Women for the above "snippets" and for being on top of this.

This is kind of a weird interview to link to

...being as I've seen almost none of Maggie Gyllenhaal's films since Cecil B. Demented, in which I don't remember her.

Really the most I know about her is that she is rather sexy in photographs and that her brother Jake is also an actor. With whose work I'm approximately as familiar. She also impressed me on an episode of the IFC's Dinner For Five, a show I really like.

It's kind of the way you (or me, anyway) wish all talk shows could be but 99-98% of them aren't. I enjoy Craig, Jay, Dave and Conan at various times and to varying degrees but only rarely do they actually engage their guests in conversation. They are putting on a show. They know it, the guests know it, the audience knows it.

What makes Dinner For Five one of the best is simply that it is so simple: Host Jon Farveau invites four guests from the world of filmmaking (actors, directors, what have you, even--gasp!--the odd writer or two) and dines with them while exploring their unique and common experiences. Cameras film all this and the highlights are edited down into a half-hour show. Ba-da-boom.

Anyway, on her guest appearance (here is video from that appearance), Gyllenhaal impressed me as an actress who passes the "15 minutes" test.

For those of you who may have forgotten, this means I think I could spend more than 15 minutes talking to her without only thinking about how to get her kit off.

So, after a prelude (that was much longer than I expected it to be when I started writing this), here is the interview that sparked it all, and here's just a couple of the things she had to say:

Most people in the world are interested in seeing 27 year old women in movies somehow connected to sex, especially little movies that have trouble getting made.

When I first started I thought “I’m making these movies for me.” I didn’t care if people saw it. I was younger so I had a different point of view about it. Now I do want people to see my movies, I make them because I believe in what they have to say and I want to have some effect on the way the world works in whatever way I can. I also want to have the power to help get the movies that I think are important made.

Charity begins at home

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If you're amazed at the quality of posts on this site (I know I am), please consider making a small donation to the Buy Ben Those CDs He Can't Score Through The Ink 19 Gig Fund.

I thank you.

Cartoon cartoons

Is it just me, or when you look at this cartoon, does anybody else hear the voice saying "There is no Dana. Only Zuhl?"

Over on the old blog, I've gone to this metaphorical well a couple of times. About time somebody else figured it out.

Only a conspiracy theorist would point out that 333 is half of 666

So, James, you wanna take this one?

My, this is fascinating

At times the whole situation with Joe Wilson's wife becomes less compelling than the reporting going on about it, specifically the amount of that reporting that seems to be false.

Friday, July 15, 2005

That sound you hear is me banging my head against a wall

Aspiring screenwriters, take note: According to Don Roos, it's a snap to get your script sold.
"Write something that an actress wants to do -- my entire career is built upon actresses wanting to play a role," says Roos


Of course, what he doesn't mention is how the hell do you get that something to those actresses?

In ancient rome there was a poem about a dog...

"If our jobs teach us anything it's that we don't know what the next President's gonna face. If we choose someone with vision, someone with guts, someone with gravitas who's connected to other people's lives and cares about making them better, if we choose someone to inspire us, then we'll be able to face what comes our way and achieve things we can't imagine yet." --Toby, "20 Hours in America," The West Wing. Written by Aaron Sorkin.

Ten cents worth of information, facts and opinions about The White House, Rove et all

If you can stomach it. Here's some important information to have. A Talking Points Memo reader responds to The White House's defense of Rove:

By being scattershot and offensive, they...create a level of confusing noise that makes the passive public stop trying to understand.

Speaking of that defense, sometimes I think nothing prepared me better to be a blogger who pays attention to the politcal scene than the years I spent getting into flamewars with genre fan trolls on Usenet. Seriously.

For one thing, it taught me to be sensitive to a little trick called "answering charges nobody made." This came up a lot when debating Joss Whedonites who were sure with a firey passion that "the lesbians" had said this or made that demand or ultimatum, but couldn't actually point to any examples.

Here's David Neiwert on the completely unrelated Republican response to The Plame Affair.

Rep. Peter King, who's been selected as the House point man for defending Karl Rove...was on MSNBC's Joe Scarborough show the other night and, according to the MSNBC transcript, had this to say:

And Joe Wilson has no right to complain. And I think people like Tim Russert and the others, who gave this guy such a free ride and all the media, they're the ones to be shot, not Karl Rove.

Just wondering: Have any Democrats in Congress -- or Joe Wilson, for that matter -- suggested that Karl Rove be shot?

Then, Digby remembers one or two things Michael Isikoff and other members of the press corps would rather you forgot:

I woke up this morning thinking about Michael Isikoff, which isn't my favorite thing to think about first thing in the morning. Last night he told Jon Stewart that Pat Fitzgerald had better have something really, really strong to justify this investigation taking the turns its taken. It had better be about something really important --- it had better be about national security. He was quite fierce about it.

The idea that Michael Isikoff, of all people, is laying down the gauntlet --- warning Fitzgerald that if he's thinking of prosecuting someone for perjury, say, or obstuction of justice, he will lead the chorus denouncing him as an overzealous prosecutor --- is stunning. I don't know what is in the Chardonnay in DC but it's causing a lot of people to have severe problems remembering things --- and seeing themselves in the mirror.

Michael Isikoff was practically Ken Starr's right hand man in the media. He performed at only a slightly less partisan level than Drudge or Steno Sue Schmidt. He admits in his book that he became convinced that the president treated women badly and therefore needed to be exposed. He didn't seem to think that throwing a duly elected president from office for lying about a private matter was overzealous in the least. He was on that bandwagon from the very beginning and one of the guys who drove it.

Broadening our scope a bit, John A. at AmericaBlog has a rundown of some of the sloppier reporting (imagine that) going on about the story, and a reminder of the facts of the issue.

Rove claims he learned about Plame being CIA from other journalists and not from government sources. Even were that true, it's irrelevant to a senior government official leaking the name of a CIA agent - it doesn't matter how he found out. He knows better, and he flagrantly risked national security for petty revenge.

Getting back to my "Everything I Need To Know About Politics I Leaned In Usenet Flame Wars" thesis, among other things, they taught me just how many people have a great deal of trouble distinguishing the difference between "facts," "lies," "opinons" and "things they desperately want to be true".

For some reason, knowing people tend to do that comes in handy in viewing the political world.

Here Josh Marshall keeps his eye on the ball.

And nothing was done amiss? If Rove et al. didn't do anything wrong, why have they spent two years lying about what they did? No law was broken? Then what is Fitzgerald looking at? Why is a grand jury investigating Rove? A prosecutor like Fitzgerald, a Republican appointee, wouldn't be throwing journalists in jail unless he thought he was investigating a serious crime.

Thursday, July 14, 2005


Actually that's a picture of Emmy Rossum, who has nothing to do with the Emmys, nominations for which were announced today. I'm just still so excited about being able to pretty up my blog with images. And you gotta admit, pretty it up she does. So enjoy, enjoy.

Thoughts on the actual nominations:

I'm kinda surprised to see "Will & Grace" so recognized--I gave up on it around the time I realized they were going to give me another cliched romance/wedding/separation/divorce for Grace before they'd even dream of showing Will in a comitted realtionship. I say that not so much for political reasons as for artistic ones--as an audience member, I swear to you, I've seen every single variation on straight relationships imaginable on TV. I can't say that about gay ones.

I am very glad to see HBO's "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers" so recognized--I watched it again on DVD recently and it still holds up, and the commentaries and deleted scenes are uncommonly informative.

24 getting a nod for best drama is great, of course. And although I don't watch the show I'm delighted to see that Kathryn Joosten, the beloved Mrs. Landingham of "The West Wing's" first two seasons, recieved a nomination for a guest star part on "Desperate Housewives".

Also in the category of pleasant surprise is Hank Azaria's recognition for "Huff", a show I recently discovered and really like (Oliver Platt and Blythe Danner got nods too, as did the excellent opening theme music). In fact Azaria's category of lead actor in a drama series turns out to be the fight in which I have the most dogs, as it were--he'll be up against James Spader for "Boston Legal" and Kiefer Sutherland for "24."

Dissapointments? Sure, but not really surprises. I did have my fingers crossed that "Gilmore Girls" or "Veronica Mars" would be recognized in some way. But given their shows ratings and demographics, I knew it was almost certainly a false hope.


Luxuriate in the intoxication of the beating Bush is taking in the polls. You can fool most of the people some of the time, but...

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Good point

Quoted verbatim from

Now that the entire Republican party has settled upon their spin to try and simultaneously smear Joe Wilson and defend Rove, there is one short sentence that is guaranteed to stop the spin, dead in its tracks.

This is a criminal investigation, undertaken by the Bush Justice Department, independent of Congressional Democrats, MoveOn, and Howard Dean.

This one's for you, James "the" Mann

Hey, get me, I can include images in my posts on this blog!

(click to enlarge image)

Rats. Sinking ship.

This is beautiful. Republican Congressmen are avoiding Karl Rove the way most of them avoided military service (John McCain excepted, of course).

Oh no. Oh dear god no.

The Nashville City Paper reports (via Political Wire:)

"Gore’s name is already out there for the presidential election in 2008" and some think that Gore’s popularity could make him a less "divisive candidate" than Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY).

You see it coming, don't you?

Gore/Kerry in 2008.

Sure, you're smiling to yourself now, but ask yourself: Are the Democrats just that stupid?

Why yes. Yes they are.

Careful with that axe, G.W.

I don't know who writes the editorials for the Boston Globe, but they have a knack for a turn of phrase:

It's time for President Bush to take Karl Rove to the woodshed and show him the ax. And if Bush doesn’t get better answers than the public has, he should use the ax.

They also sum up one of the neater ironies of Rove's defense.

Rove, it appears, is trying to avoid a legal problem by contending that referring to someone as ''Wilson's wife" did not identify Valerie Plame, even though Wilson has only one wife.

Depends on what the definition of "is" is.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Lay down the law, shout out for more

You the the very least...the people who are inclined to be sympathetic to the sins of our current military prison system (Guantanao Bay, etc) might be expected to have this idea:

Sure, we might be keeping a few innocent people locked up, but on the bright side, we must be succesfully keeping at least a few of the guilty, right?

Well, guess what.

For some reason this struck me as quite indecently funny. They really are complete, total and utter incompetents.

Run and hide, Scott McClellan, run and hide

This is beautiful. Y'see, a couple of years ago, White House Spokesman McClellan went out on a limb and responded to the question:

Q: When you talked to Mr. Rove, did you discuss, "Did you ever have this information?"

A: I've made it very clear, he was not involved, that there's no truth to the suggestion that he was.

Well, guess what.

Monday, July 11, 2005


I've been meaning to write this post since two weeks ago. At that time, an article appeared in the New York Times (now hidden in their for-money archive) by a guy who thinks NewsRadio ruined Dave Foley's career. To which my first reaction was "huh?" --and now, after having completed watching most of the new DVD set of NewsRadio's first two seasons, my reaction is...HUH?

Of course, it doesn't help that the guy doesn't seem to have liked NewsRadio very much, while I think it was the best new sitcom of the '90s. Oh, Friends and especially Seinfeld got all the hype, but Newsradio was consistently smart, sometimes surreal and above all funny for five years.

And unlike Friends or The Drew Carey Show (the second-greatest new sitcom of the '90s), it ended its run while it was still fresh. Albeit not by the creative teams design--they were cancelled. But given a choice between shows that run for five years and leave me wanting more and shows that stagger zombie-like towards their graves for the last several years of their run, you know which side I'm on every time.

I also can't agree when he says that Foley was ineffective as the star of the show, even though he does it while praising supporting player Stephen Root's performance, and I stand behind few people in my admiration for Root (he's one of the only good things in Kevin Smith's Jersey Girl).

NewsRadio had an outstanding supporting cast--in its way the equivilent of 24 or The West Wing's ensembles--but Foley's Dave Nelson was the necessary eye of the hurricane. Think Kermit on the Muppet Show, Alex on Taxi or Andy on WKRP (NewsRadio's most obvious spiritual ancestor). You can't just have a bunch of crazy people running around without one character who at least appears sane (although, as Kermit the Frog said when so complimented: "Me not crazy? I hired the others!").

But not only that, if the show has any dramatic arc at all--and that is a big if, as with almost any sitcom--it is about a young man who comes to New York from Winconsin and learns how to whip a big city radio station into shape. That man was Foley's Dave Nelson.

Finally, it is ludicrous to say that NewsRadio "ruined" his career. It allowed him to do some of the best work of his career, certainly equalling in another medium his work with The Kids in the Hall. It also allowed the late Phil Hartman to do hands-down the best work of his career.

The DVDs, obviously, are highly recommended if you missed the show's runs on network or in syndication--and for fans there's what I believe you call your treasure trove of goodies. A gag reel, featurette and commentaries on something like two-thirds of the episodes with all the living cast members, many of the writers and creator Paul Simms in various combinations.

When Foley and most of the rest of The Kids in the Hall made an appearance at a video store where I used to work, Kevin McDonald, who guest-starred on the show, described a Newsradio taping as being a lot like going to a Rat Pack party that was only occasionaly broken up with bursts of acting. The commentaries lend creedence to this. These people obviously enjoyed each other and their show and now, with the benefit of hindsight and rose-colored glasses, they're like frat guys and co-eds getting together for a reunion.

Hey, "Bagdad" Jim McDermott--you're on the list, buddy!

There's a new book, about which you may have heard, that purports to list the 100 worst Americans from a republican POV. Among them, my Congressional Representative, "Bagdad" Jim McDermott.

Now, fair disclosure--even if I didn't respect McDermott anyway, which I do, his office recently did a signifigant service for my mother--they got Social Security to cough up money she was owed. But why is he on the list? According to The Seattle Times:

The book assails McDermott's pre-Iraqi war statement that President Bush "would mislead the American people."

Um...well, that does seem to be the consensus of the entire world, now including the American people, but hey, thanks for playing.

But, good news! Know who else is on the list? Your humble blogger. Okay, not me personally, but the entire city of Seattle, which according to the same story in the Times is described as:

home of more "progressive loonies than anyplace else on the Left Coast."

Now personally, I can't believe we've beaten San Francisco in the progressive loonies department--although, you know, I have been away a long time. But I have to say I like the style of the president of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, Steve Leahy, who said:

"Perhaps this will give us a whole new tourist slogan: 'Loonies? Just another part of Emerald City's charm.' "

The full title of the book is "100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (and Al Franken Is # 37)," the author is one Bernard Goldberg. Now, I have read the award-winning, best-selling Franken's book "Lies And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right." Specifically the relevant chapter "I Bitch-Slap Bernie Goldberg," in which Franken lays out a pretty convincing case for just how far Goldberg will reach to score a dubious point. So you'll forgive me if I assume there just may be some petty score-settling going on here.

Speaking of stretching (the truth) to make a point:

In an interview, Goldberg said that he wasn't just including McDermott because of what he said on the eve of the Iraq invasion, it was where he said it — Baghdad.

Right. Never mind that what McDermott said was--provably, rationally, and by any reasonable standard, true--it's just that he had the indecency to say it while standing in a place where we were about to kill thousands of people for no reason. What a prick.

One final note: If Jesse Taylor at Pandagon's experience is any indication,

the marketing technique of writing a book that sounds funny and then openly calling out an actual funny person on the cover is backfiring

I do recommend checking out the list, though--if nothing else, it's an excellent way of telling who you should be listening to. If they're shooting at you, you know you're doing something right. President of People for the American Way? Check. Krugman? Check. Carter? Check. Executive director of the ACLU? Check. Moore? Check.

Adieu and a rant

Digby making the case that Karl Rove should resign.

It makes no difference for our purposes whether Rove is legally culpable because he did or did not know that Plame was undercover. He was a very, very, very high level official in the White House and he shouldn't have been telling anyone anything about CIA agents for political reasons, particularly ones he knew worked in the field of weapons of mass destruction, period. He may have broken the law; the investigation will proceed apace whether we think he did or not. But regardless, the fact is that Rove conducted a smear operation in which a CIA agent was outed.

ETA: In a related entry from news from me, here's Mark Evanier's thoughts on reporter Judith Miller going to jail as a result of the same leak investigation. I think I agree with him, especially when he says:

the whole notion of Anonymous Sources seems to not mean what it once meant. Once upon a time, they were officials, mostly lower-ranked, risking their careers to make sure the public learned what was really going on in their government. These days, it's more often a matter of higher-ups being able to plant news stories of questionable accuracy without attribution. So much of this went on in The New York Times for a while that the paper felt it necessary to apologize for it and to promise that there would be less reliance on unnamed sources. If they've cut back, I sure haven't noticed...and by the way, though they didn't apologize specifically for her, the Times reporter who was most guilty of this -- of serving as a blind conduit for government smears and fibs -- was Judy Miller.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Maybe I'll lose my feminist credentials for this

I mean, as if the "Jessica Biel's tits" joke below hasn't gotten me into enough trouble. But reading this LiveJournal and blog both adressing the same funny, funny t-shirt, I can't help thinking of Twain's comment that analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog--it can be done, but the subject tends to die in the process.

I'm saying I think they may be overreacting. But, in recognition that I'm a man and may just not get it...ladies? Your thoughts?

It's times like this I'm ashamed my family is from Virginia

Well, my mother at any rate--I'm from California. But in Virginia, it seems the far-right has an old-fashioned way of promoting their old-fashioned values. They burn down churches.