September 30, 2008

Review: Let The Right One In

I'm sick of vampires.

Well, more specifically, vampire movies. I've just seen so many and I feel like it's all been done and it's so cliched and the metaphors of vampires for sex or vampires for AIDS or whatever.

I'm just tired. Sick and tired.

Where are the new monsters, people?

When I got to Comic-Con this past summer and saw the signs for HBO's new series "True Blood" plastered all over the place, I think I rolled my eyes for five days straight. And the only reason I even bothered Tivo-ing the pilot episode of the show is because my roommate is an obsessive fan of Christine Feehan's Dark Series and I figured she would like it.

OK, so, maybe I'm not THAT tired of vampires.

I totally overlooked the social metaphors inherent in the Sookie Stackhouse stories, and I have to admit that True Blood has been one of the more consistently compelling hours of TV drama I've seen in the while.

It's good stuff.

So, when I got the invite to check out the Swedish vampire flick "Let The Right One In" as part of's inaugural Movie Night here in Los Angeles, I was already primed for something good.

It didn't hurt that the film had gotten a nice mention on American Movie Classic's horror movie blog, MonsterFest, as a part of their emerging thesis that all of the good horror is coming from places other than North America (a thesis, with a few notable exceptions, that I tend to agree with).

I must say, even though I found parts of the pacing to be excruciatingly slow, "Let The Right One In" is an incredibly haunting film. It kind of takes the notion of Claudia from "Interview with The Vampire" and explores it to it's full potential. What would it be like to 12 years old... forever? And what's the inherent heartbreak of knowing you can only truly find love with a child, who'll always grow old, always disappoint, always become less than what they were, while you stand still in time?

In many ways, it's heartbreaking, even though it appears to have a happy ending, because we already know what the REAL ending is.

Which, of course, is not to say that it doesn't have it's crazy, only-in-a-vampire-movie moments. The vampire/house cat battle royal has to be seen to be believed.

And I cannot say enough about the two young leads, especially Lina Leandersson. You can totally understand how, even knowing exactly what she is, a lonely young boy could just completely lose himself in her pleading eyes, eternal hellfire be damned.

If you have the patience, it's definitely worth it.

Class War

I wish I could remember who said this first, but I read where some old social scientist said that the problem with democracy is that, eventually, the majority figures out that they can pass a law that just gives them all of the money in the society.

Consider that as you think about the current credit crisis. Eight years ago, we had a massive surplus in taxpayer revenues. Today, we're on the cusp of the biggest deficit in our history, and the vast majority of that money has gone to private entities with no oversight or competitive bids. And now they want to give an extra trillion on the way out the door.

I'm sort of in agreement with Randi Rhodes - we may be witnessing the biggest bank heist in the history of mankind.

And it's an inside job.

September 26, 2008

But, then again, what do I know?

Well, I clearly seem to be in the minority opinion tonight. Just about everybody else gives the victory to Obama by varying degrees.

Which, frankly, is fine by me. I'll take the "w".

If everyone else thought this was a great performance, here's hoping they're all pleasantly shocked when he delivers the coup de grĂ¢ce in the final debate just before the election.

Now, on to the REALLY juicy one - the VP debate. I think it will be akin to how one sportscaster once described a Mike Tyson fight: it's thrilling because literally anything can happen.

Knives in GunFights

I remember back in college watching Shaquille O'Neal play for LSU during the NCAA tournament. He was an absolute monster - at one point, it seemed as though the entire opposing team was defending Shaq as he stood under the basket, and the other four members of the LSU team all just stood outside of the 3 point line WITH THE BALL, completely dumbfounded as to what they should do next.

They passed the ball to Shaq through quadruple coverage, and he still dunked it for the score.

He was a freight train. And if it wasn't for the other scrubs on that team, he would have been completely unstoppable.

In 1995, Shaq lead the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals in only his 3rd season in the league.

And this unstoppable superman and his team got swept by the Houston Rockets and one of Shaq's idols, Hakeem Olajuwon. Swept and embarassed.

Shaq admits that this was only the second time in his life that he cried openly. And he said he father told him "I think you paid Mr. Olajuwon a little too much respect."

I watched tonight's debate literally screaming at the TV.

McCain left himself open to at least a half-dozen areas of attack tonight, and Obama didn't take a single one. Not one. Meanwhile, McCain built an argument across the entire debate, like a prosecutor making a case - "Senator Obama just doesn't understand A, B, and C", and concluded that Barack doesn't possess the wisdom or judgement to be president.

And all the while, Obama opened damn near every statement with "John is right about this".

Like Al Gore said, you've got to be ready to rip your opponent's lungs out in a debate.

Obama is brilliant, and charismatic, and has the collective hopes and dreams and positive wishes of an entire generation behind him.

But, as my roommate pointed out, "they still crucified Jesus."

That debate performance may have just cost us the election.

God help us.

President? But why?

I have a Democratic friend who, to this day, is still violently pissed off over the 2000 election. He emailed me a message that had been forwarded to him by a mutual acquaintance by some anti-gay zealot and asked my opinion.

Now, anyone who's a longtime reader of Macroscope knows, I have very strong feelings in favor of gay rights: In my opinion, the way we as heterosexuals brought up in Christian traditions treat homosexuals, personally & politically, is the very definition of putting your faith in action. And I don't think God will look kindly on those who use anachronistic scriptures to justify their bigotry, while ignoring those very same scriptures on things like personal hygiene.

In other words, I have no patience for gay bashers of any stripe, and it really offends me when other people of faith defend or exalt them.

So, when I responded to my friend, I pretty quickly dissected the zealot's argument and dismissed it. At which point my friend responded by forwarding the response of our mutual acquaintance to MY response (Yeah, I know - read it again if it's confusing), where he basically called me a bunch of names.

I was pretty pissed off, and responded in kind. And my friend had the nerve to respond, in so many words, "why are you so angry?"

In other words, he'd asked my opinion out of the blue. I gave it. He then forwarded me, unsolicited, an insult in response to my opinion, and then was perplexed that I might be a tad miffed.

That whole exchange just showed me that there are some people who actually really love to fight. I have an ex who once told me that the way her family showed that they loved each other was that they'd scream and yell and argue with each other until everybody started crying. And then they'd hug and make up.

It's like "Fight Club" - some people need to be punched in the face to feel alive, so they'll go around punching other people in the face just to earn a new knuckle sandwich.

I don't enjoy fighting. I never have. It simply doesn't feel good.

That's why I had to stop seeing that girl (which was, shall we say, messy).

That's why I stopped arguing politics with my brother, the Republican.

And that's why I stopped responding to the e-mails that this particular friend sends me that are political in nature.

It just doesn't feel good.

And, ultimately, fighting just for fighting's sake is a waste of time. I'm much more interested in having a discussion where both sides are open to being swayed. If you can change my mind and I can change your mind, well, that's a conversation worth having.

Conversation, mind you. Not argument. Not even discussion. Conversation. Dialogue.

But I can see the Fight Seekers coming a mile a way, now. On both sides of the aisle, someone will post something provocative about one or the other candidate, just to get a rise out of their supporters, and then it will just be ON!

And far too many of us non-combatants fall into this vicious cycle - we think this is the only way to participate and respond: with verbal fists.

Is anyone, then, still surprised at how poisoned our political process is today?

So, here's my challenge to you all:

Tell me why YOU are voting FOR your candidate. And not just "because we need change" or "I believe in strong defense", because, frankly, those aren't answers. Tell me what you think is the most important, concrete, actual THING you expect either Barack Obama or John McCain to do once either one gets into office, and why.

And be forewarned, McCainites - if your response is "He'll win the war in Iraq", I expect you to say both how you define winning, and how you expect him to achieve it. No more of this Nixonian "I have a secret plan to end the war" bullshit.

(And, let's be honest, if MCain really does have a plan, why hasn't he shared it with the President? I'm sure he'd appreciate the help)

Personally, the single most important thing I expect Obama to do as president is begin planning & implementing some sort of phased withdrawal of our combat troops from Iraq. Why?
  1. It will stop the unnecessary drain of literally billions of dollars from our treasury during a time of fiscal & economic chaos.
  2. It will free our military to deal with the REAL terrorist threat in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  3. It will stop the series of accidental Iraqi civilian deaths at the hands of American soldiers, which just generates more potential terrorists.
  4. It will show the world that America, in the end, does finally learn from its mistakes.
So, what about you? What do you want from President Whomever in January?

September 20, 2008


You know, I try to keep my inner "crazy-conspiracy-theorist" in check, but sometimes....

So, if the United States government assumes sweeping authority to actually take ownership of millions of mortgages, essentially becoming the landowner for vast tracks of the American landscape....

I mean, isn't this kind of "eminent domain" taking to its absolutely worst extreme?

September 17, 2008

Tina Fay as Sarah Palin was great, BUT....

...what I'm really waiting for is for Saturday Night Live to bring back Jon Lovitz so he can do John McCain as Tommy Flanagan, Pathological Liar.

"Yeah, when I said the economy was strong, I was talking about the biceps on the workers. Yeah, that's the ticket."

Living in a Post-Rational World

So, before all of you liberals, progressives, and Democrats start doing the electoral victory dance because the failing economy has turned the tide presumably in Obama's favor, let me make one observation:

Although most people don't want to admit it, the vast majority of the electorate does not cast a vote for a specific policy or issue, even when they say they do. They're not voting for the issue, but for their emotional response to the issue.

They're not voting FOR a pro-life platform - they're voting because aligning themselves with the pro-life platform makes them FEEL better about their relationship with God.

They're not voting FOR environmental platform - they're voting because aligning with conservationism makes them FEEL like responsible stewards of the planet.

They're not voting FOR gun control - they're voting because the idea of gun control makes them FEEL safer.

As I mentioned earlier, Republicans figured this out a long time ago and decided to just cut out the middle man: they don't even really bother to run on issues anymore. Their campaigns are almost like reality TV shows, with characters cast in the roles as candidates to elicit specific emotional responses.

"The Maverick"

"The Hockey Mom"

"The Guy You'd Like To Have A Beer With"

Bill Clinton got it. He was "The Man From A Place Called 'Hope'".

Obama gets it, too. Just look at the early speeches.

The point is, if you're pinning your hopes for the election on convincing people with a rational argument about taxes and incentives and plans and such, I've got news for you: the average American is not listening.

They're feeling.

And if you want to win, you'd better start feeling and sharing and eliciting those feelings right along with them.

September 12, 2008

The Place Where Dreams Are Born

Let me wax poetic for a moment.

A few days ago, I wrote a blog post about the use of both negative and positive manifestation through the manipulation of collective emotional energy in the election process. I titled it "Before Sunrise", to hearken back to my Election '04 postmortem, "The Sun WILL Rise" (with a little nod to Richard Linklater), but also because so many of us seemed to be in a dark, scary place during this part of the election cycle, and, as they say, it's always darkest before the dawn.

But what else happens in the dark before the dawn?

We dream.

One of my dreams as I wrote that blog was that there would be a place where people could share their dreams and hopes and aspirations for the future of this country and the world, and where that collective, beautiful, joyous energy could coalesce into powerful, inspired action.

So, imagine my shock when a friend pointed me to this brand new blog:

Change. Hope. Dream.

Yes, a new blog, inspired by MY blog, that does exactly what I was hoping for.

Talk about a manifestation!

Dreams do become real.

So, GO THERE. Share your dreams. Share the blog. Help us all conjure the real magic that will transform the world around us.

September 10, 2008

Before Sunrise

I love logic.

That comes from my training and natural inclinations towards math, science, and the rational process. I like to know how and why things work.

I have also always been a creature of faith.

Perhaps it's the rural roots of my family and our own brushes with the esoteric and unseen.

And I don't consider these to be mutually exclusive.

One of my all-time favorite books is "Fire In The Mind" by George Johnson. In it, he examines a pair of seemingly mutually exclusive systems of thought in Santa Fe, New Mexico - the nuclear physics labs in Los Alamos and the traditional religions of the local Native American tribes - and shows that, in many ways, they have much more in common than the average person would think. After all, whether it's a sky god or an electron, they both use a series of instruments and tools to predict the behavior of things we cannot experience directly with our 5 senses, but which they both assume have a direct impact on your everyday life.

So, let's start with a somewhat lazy logical argument:

I'm an enormous believer in Arthur C. Clarke's so-called Third Law of Prediction:
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic"
And by "technology", I'm pretty much in agreement with Wikipedia's initial definition that it is "a broad concept that deals with a species' usage and knowledge of tools and crafts, and how it affects a species' ability to control and adapt to its environment."

Now, if that's true, than the logic student in me would also posit a corollary - that anything that appears to be magic is simply the usage and knowledge of a series of tools and crafts that the observer does not fully understand.

In short, magic is simply a science you haven't figured out yet.

Which is why I'm a big fan of John Dee.

For those of you who don't know, Dee was, officially, the queen's surgeon, as in Queen Elizabeth I of England, way back in the 16th century. Not only was Dee a scientist and a mathematician of the first order, he was also a specialist in mysticism and the occult. So, not only did the queen turn to Dee for his scientific acumen, but she relied on him to interpret her dreams, to check the path and influence of the stars, etc. Because, of course, back in those days, if you were a scholar, you studied everything and treated it all with equal weight based on the actual results, without having a bias to one system of thought over another (e.g. rational science over mysticism).

But, you'll notice, individuals in positions of power almost always have someone next to them, just behind the scenes, who is doing.... something that the average layman doesn't quite understand.

Every King Arthur has a Merlin behind him to "work the roots", as they used to say back in "the country", to help him stay in power.

Now, I'm sure some of you have read this and said "wow, Day really hides his insanity quite well. I had no idea he was such a madman."

And that's OK, because I needed to put what I'm about to say in some context first.

I want to talk about Karl Rove.

I know what you're thinking.

And, yes, you're 100% right - I AM saying that Rove is to Bush as Merlin is to King Arthur or Gandalf is to Aragorn and so on and so on.

And it didn't fully click for me until today. Here's why.

Right after the 2004 Presidential election, I wrote a post called "The Sun WILL Rise", in which I said the reason why Bush won was because he was, literally, The Candidate of Fear (tm). The entire electorate had bought into the fear paradigm - Republicans were afraid of what might happen to them if Bush lost, and Democrats were afraid of what might happen if Bush won. But the fact of the matter was that everyone's attention and emotional energy was all focused on Bush. Our collective national fear put him in office.

So, as I wrote in a 2006 blog called "The California Democratic Party Sucks", I was no longer going to vote out of fear ever again, even if the absence of my vote for Phil Angelides meant that Arnold would get re-elected governor. I was only going to vote FOR what I believed in, not AGAINST anything.

And, yes, Arnold was re-elected, but, if you look at his record since then, for all intents and purposes, he may as well have been a blue-dog Democrat for the last two years.

Now, consider what's happened this year - there had been a tremendous amount of positive energy flowing in Barack Obama's direction. He figured out that it wasn't enough to have good policies. You also had to inspire people and activate their hearts. Luckily, he also has the skills to do that. The Democrats were on their way to a landslide victory.

Until McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate.

Oh, wait - let me clarify that.

Until Karl Rove and his surrogates who are now running McCain's campaign forced him to choose Sarah Palin as his running mate.

And, while everyone on the left and in the media is screaming "but she's completely unqualified!!! She's a right-wing ideologue!!! She has a history of misuse of power!!!", they've all completely missed the point.

The Rovians made McCain pick her BECAUSE she's unqualified. BECAUSE she's an ideologue. BECAUSE she has a history of misusing power.

They picked her because she terrifies us.

Sarah Palin is The New Candidate of Fear (tm).

And now, instead of all this talk about hope and the future, we get Democrats and Obama supporters running around with their hair literally on fire over the possibility of President Palin.

I mean, people who've been completely silent over the course of this entire campaign have suddenly been bombarding me with crazed e-mails, sounding like Randy Quaid in "Independence Day":
"We've got to stop them!!!!!!"
The entire focus of the campaign is now on her - those who love her, and those who're afraid of her. And, at the moment, our collective national fear is putting her in office.

The manipulation of the emotional state of a group of people as large as a voting electorate is a science that Rove has employed for decades to adjust and control the political landscape to his liking. A science that the average person simply doesn't understand.

It's magic.

So, for those of you who support Barack Obama like I do, here's the plan - remember how you felt when you saw this?

Don't be misled by the news or the opposition: Our candidate gets it. He knows the power of the collective American spirit is what has propelled him this far and is what can bring him to victory.

So, from now until Election Day, stop forwarding all of those e-mails about how crazy Sarah Palin is.

Instead, tell me stories about the America you dream about.

The President and leadership you hope for.

The Future you believe in.

Write about your own faith in tomorrow, and forward THAT email to everybody in your address book. Re-ignite your belief in the horizon and pass those on to everyone you know.

There's a reason why this is Obama's logo:

To paraphrase Harvey Dent, it's always darkest before the dawn, but keep dreaming about the warmth of the sun on your face, and I promise you, THE DAWN IS COMING.

And remember to vote FOR Obama.

September 01, 2008

Lords of Illusions

I think both the haphazard process McCain employed to pick her as well as her own general lightweightness as a national candidate, not to mention McCain's proposed trip to the Gulf Coast while local officials are trying to prepare for a freakin' hurricane.... all of this simply reinforces the reality that the modern Republican party (at least, at the national level) is far more interested in symbolism and appearances than in actually, you know, doing what they're elected to do.

Let's LOOK like I'm doing something to respond to the hurricane.

Let's LOOK like I actually vetted my potential running mate.

Let's pick someone who literally LOOKS like she could appeal to the Hilary voters.

Let's drill for oil off our shores so that we LOOK like we're doing something for high gas prices.

Let's pass a law called "No Child Left Behind" so that it LOOKS like we're not leaving any children behing.

Let's pass a law called "Clear Skies" or something so that it LOOKS like we're doing something about the environment.

The GOP is just a massive sleight of hand being perpetrated on the American populace. There's no "there" there.