Hit me with your best shot

9 09 2014

I blame alcohol, George Clooney, and a coupla’ migraines.

For my being missing in action, that is. I could come up with more reasons, and there may actually be other reasons, but the first line is my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

Onward!

1. It should come as no surprise that I am uninterested in the newest Apple product, be it a smartphone or, yeesh, a smart watch—oh, excuse me “smartwatch”.

Really. A “smartwatch”.

I have a mere smart watch. It’s a Timex. It keeps time, and looks good—looks smart—doing it.

It cost me somewhere between 30 and 40 bucks and will last for years. It costs me ten bucks every coupla’ years to replace the battery.

The Applewatch (!) costs 350 bucks and will last, well, that doesn’t matter, since it’ll be ditched for ApplewatchII in 13.45 months (I made that up), and which battery likely cannot be replaced.

If you like your gadgets to do absolutely everything and Apple gives you faraway eyes, then enjoy your smartwatch.

I’ll be in the cave with my many devices, each of which does one thing, and cursing because I can’t find the right one.

2. I was sorely tempted to join the Democratic Party just so I could vote against Andrew Cuomo in the New York state primary.

I couldn’t, in the end, force myself into the Dems: I am pragmatic enough to vote for them, but leftwing enough not actually to become one.

Anyway, Andrew Cuomo is a conniving asshole who hates New York City and he almost certainly will be my governor for the next 4 years.

Better than Scott Walker, yes, but about par with a migraine and much worse than alcohol or George Clooney.

3. Speaking of Scott Walker, I would most like to win the lottery so I could drop a barge-full of money on the Badger state advocating for his opponent, Mary Burke.

I so so so want him to lose lose lose. Not only because I think he’s making Wisconsin worse, but also because that should put a stake in his presidential aspirations.

4. It has occurred to me that I might be better off if I just do one, grand, Fisking of all of Rod Dreher’s blog posts and be done with it.

I don’t think I will—see: migraine—but it might help to stop the mutterings and splutterings after reading him.

Of course, not reading him would also help to stop those mutterings and splutterings, but let’s not get all logical here, all right?

5. And logic? Please call Andrew Sullivan. In today’s “Best of” post (to which I’m not linking, because I still haven’t ponied up the double sawbucks for unlimited access and don’t want to waste a click), he states that:

I’ve never really felt totally comfortable identifying with a whole lot of what’s called gay culture.

This, from a man who runs a “Beard of the Week” feature.

Who gushes over Pet Shop Boys.

Who complains about the artifice of Lady Gaga by comparing her, unfavorably, to Miss Authenticity herself, Madonna.

Who has repeatedly mentioned how club culture and insta-fucking helped him feel more at ease with (gay) men of all races.

But because he doesn’t want to march in “lefty lockstep orthodoxy”, somehow he’s outside of a whole lotta gay culture.

Uh huh.

(To his credit, he does note the irony of writing this after having returned from his annual summer sojourn to Provincetown.)

6. Finally, I was going to write something about Joan Rivers, but wasn’t at all sure what to say.

I was huge fan in high school (Can we talk?) but my delight in her fell off rather considerably over the years: what had seemed daring later, to me curdled into mean, and I rarely laughed at her jokes anymore.

Still, she did help to form my sensibility that comics really ought to be able to say anything, and the only thing that mattered to the craft was: was it funny?

(And, it should be said, that bit on her reality show in which she got high with a friend was fucking hilarious. It’s not as funny on second viewing, but oh did I laugh the first time I saw it. Go here, and fast forward to about 26:05.)

Anyway, I read this, which seemed about perfect.

h/t Scott Lemieux, Lawyers, Guns & Money





It’s all about the peace, baby

6 11 2011

I love the move The Peacemaker.

Not as a guilty pleasure, not ironically, not contrari-wise. And no, not (just) because of this guy:

Devoe, Tom Devoe.

Or my general attraction to tormented Eastern Europeans:

Marcel Iureş , as Dušan Gavrić , the man who'd bring the Bosnian war to the US

Nope. I love The Peacemaker because it takes bureaucracy seriously.

Seriously.

Now, no, this is not a documentary and all the usual suspensions of belief—getting information at the last minute, getting out of the car/truck/church just before it goes up in flames/falls off a bridge/explodes—apply, as do the usual tropes of the roguish operative who clashes with the beautiful and smarter-than-he-is woman. It’s a combo spy-action flick, not Godard.

But unlike so many spy-action flicks, the hero and heroine (a likably brittle Nicole Kidman as Dr. Julia Kelly) work for and more importantly within agencies. She’s a part of the Executive Office of the President, thrown into the interim position as adviser to the president on nuclear issues; he’s a lieutenant colonel in the US Army Special Forces, and while both rely upon their wits and experience as they try to prevent 9 Russian nukes from ending up on the open market, their authority is clearly drawn from the positions they hold within their respective agencies.

Kelly discovers that the alleged accidental nuclear explosion was deliberate by looking at spy satellite photos provided by the NSA. Devoe gets information on the corrupt Russian officer from his contacts within government. They fly to Europe on a jet filled with staffers, and Devoe acts on the information he and Kelly find by calling the army and setting up a special op (which he commands, natch).

And then the crucial scene, at the launch site of the special op: three choppers would have to cross Russian air space in order to intercept the nuke-loaded truck before it enters Iran and almost certainly disappears. They can’t do it, however, without authorization. Devoe pushes, says, hey, at least let us get in the air, “it’s only jet fuel”:

Up he goes, to the border, and. . . waits. He waits! He doesn’t do the I’m-a-motherfucking-warrior-god and order the crews across, but sits on the border, however impatiently, waiting for authorization.

Which he gets, of course. Duh. (Around the 6-6:45 minute mark)

Kelly and her team trace payments to an address in Sarajevo, wherein IFOR (the NATO-led Implementation Force operating in the former Yugoslavia)—not some punk kid or homemaker-slash-freedom-fighter freelancer or burned-out ex-spy roused to one last sacrificial act—find Gavrić’s tape explaining his final act.

On the flight back to New York, the team notes that, again, they need authorization to shut down the airports. Once in New York, the military works with the city police to block off traffic (too successfully, as it happens). The team works with airport security to track Yugoslavian passengers, realizing they missed their man when an airport official notes that official delegations do not go through customs. At the hotel where Gavrić is staying, a State Department official cautions that internationally-agreed-upon protocols mean they can’t just barge into delegates’ rooms.

(The hotel scene also provides the biggest groaner of the film: Really, you have a man with a backpack nuke staying there, and you don’t think to cover all entrances and exits—including all elevators?!)

The Department of Energy tracks radiation concentrations, and a special agency (NES?) team is tasked to deal with they nuke. They get stuck in traffic, of course, so it’s up to our heroine to defuse the nuke.

Which she does, just in the nick of time. Of course.

Okay, so not a great movie, and one with more than a few flaws. But it’s grounded movie, one which tries, not always successfully, to remain tethered to political and bureaucratic realities.

And physical realities: In an early scene, Kelly is swimming when summoned to the White House by an officer. The next scene shows her at the office with her hair still wet. Not a big deal, I know, but one which rings truer than a scene in which an adviser to the president takes the time to dry and style her hair before responding to a nuclear emergency.

This is too much for what is, really, just a diverting B-movie, isn’t it? Maybe I am too overcome by Clooney and those tormented Eastern Europeans, and maybe I adore Armin Mueller-Stahl (as a scene-stealing Russian office) just a little too much. And yes, I do have a weakness for nuke movies.

But I also believe in the necessity of government and thus, by extension, of the necessity of the bureaucracy. I get all of the complaints against both—I’ve made more than of few, myself—but if you want government to work then you need agencies within the government to work. You need bureaucracy.

It’s nice to see a movie which gets that.