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Saturday, June 6, 2009

Guest Posting: Jake Thomas on "Tango & Cash"
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- One of the smartest -- and certainly one of the funniest -- pieces of filmyak that I've read in a long time is something I found not in the pages of Slate or The New Yorker but on Facebook, posted there by an actor-friend named Jake Thomas. After smiling my way through it, I asked Jake if it'd be OK with him if I Guest Posted it here on 2Blowhards. He was happy with the idea, so here it is. *** WHY "TANGO & CASH IS MY NOMINEE FOR MOST 1980s ACTION MOVIE by Jake Thomas First of all, let's define our terms here. When I say "most" definitive film in regards to a decade/era, I'm not talking about quality, or "best," nor am I talking about most indicative of the zeitgeist. What I'm thinking of is how movies were made and why they were made. I want a movie that WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN MADE in another decade. For instance, if we were talking about just regular old movies and I asked what movie would be "most 80s" a frequent contender is "The Breakfast Club." Now, "The Breakfast Club" is definitely a very 80s movie, however, if it had never been made and someone pitched that movie at a studio (updating a few cultural references, of course), people would make that movie. However, "Adventures in Babysitting" is another story. There's nothing you could do to update the trends or cultural references that would make that movie any less 80s, it is 80s in its bones, and they wouldn't have made it the 70s or the 90s or any other era. Only in the 80s. This means that most of these movies aren't "brilliant." A lot of them are, or at least feel like they are, written by committee. And as we all know, when people do something by committee it usually aims to the lowest common denominator, plays it safe, thinks in terms of marketing as opposed to art and they frequently attempt to be "hip" while actually being as edgy as a guidance counselor. However, fortunately for us, and fortunately for "Tango & Cash," sometimes committees also go absolutely INSANE. How did they go insane in this particular instance? Let's break it down, 80s style. COCAINE Tons and tons of cocaine. I'm frankly amazed "Cocaine" does not receive a writing credit on this movie. This is a staple of the 80s. Everything feels rushed and excited and AWESOME and extreme, because everyone had cocaine pouring out of their eyeballs. This also causes movies to feel a little erratic. Or, in the case of "Tango & Cash," all the hell over the place. HOW THIS MOVIE IS MORE COCAINE THAN OTHER 80s ACTION MOVIES Have you watched it? You can practically hear the coked up pitch while you do. "There's a tanker truck, and a sports car and a helicopter! And then Sly... SHOOTS THE TANKER! And there's COCAAAAAAAINE!!!! And then Kurt Russel... posted by Michael at June 6, 2009 | perma-link | (26) comments

Friday, June 5, 2009

Economics Today
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- Finally, a little economic justice. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at June 5, 2009 | perma-link | (5) comments

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Evo-Bio-ish Linkage
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- * Roissy lays out the vision behind Game, and gets in some nice mentions of a couple of 2Blowhards favorites, Gregory Cochran and Randall Parker. * Read our recent interview with Gregory Cochran here. * Randall Parker explains why a slower rate of growth means bigger trouble than you think. Scary fact: "In the last 7 years Medicare's expected insolvency date has moved up 13 years sooner." * FeministX asks what it would take for HBD to catch on with a wider public. * What's it like when women are in charge? Upsides for da dudez: Men live better where women are in charge: you are responsible for almost nothing, you work much less and you spend the whole day with your friends. You're with a different woman every night. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at June 3, 2009 | perma-link | (57) comments

Tyler, Steve, Razib
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- Tyler Cowen ventures some thoughts about Steve Sailer. Though the Steve-o-sphere is largely up in arms about the posting, I think that Tyler deserves a lot of credit for admitting that he has read Steve. How many mainstream people have the guts to do that? GNXP's David Kane responds. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at June 3, 2009 | perma-link | (19) comments

Random Linkage
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- * T. aka Ricky Raw has some appreciative things to say about Vice magazine, and some not-so-admiring things to say about the new binge-drinking young gals. * Bhetti shares some thoughts about binge drinking in the U.K. * Alias Clio thinks that the helplessness of the victims helps explain the Catholic abuse scandals. The comments-thread on Clio's posting is an informative gem. * John Hill gives the thumb's up to a new book that occasional Blowhard Francis Morrone has co-written. * Martin Regnan offers some tips about how to be an asshole. My favorite: "Take every opportunity to say inappropriate things for little reason." * Medical doctor MD thinks that "Scrubs" is the most accurate portrayal of the medical profession on TV. * Alex Birch sees some virtues in a radical ecologist's book. * After decades of being demonized, lard -- rendered pig fat -- is now not only considered healthy, it's downright chic. * MBlowhard Rewind: I dissed "Angels in America." Best, Michael... posted by Michael at June 3, 2009 | perma-link | (18) comments

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Shrewdly Managed Painting Competition
Donald Pittenger writes: Dear Blowhards -- Back in April, James Gurney posted about the French Prix de Rome competition, the winner of which gained a good deal of prestige along with a scholarship to study art in Rome. You should read the whole thing if the subject interests you (it's well-illustrated). Here are some excerpts to provide the gist: To enter the Prix de Rome competition, you had to qualify by winning the concours d’esquisse, where students composed a painted sketch based on a theme provided by the professors. If you made it this far, you had already been sifted out of a large bunch of aspirants. Then you went on to a captive sketch competition called the the concours de dessin, or ‘en loges,’ (the loge was an area of cubicles, illustrated above.) The finalists were ranked and then sequestered into the little stalls. They were all assigned the same surprise theme, usually from Greek or Roman history, mythology, or the Bible. They were given twelve hours to complete an outline drawing. They could not leave their cubicles, nor could they talk to anyone. (I assume they were given some bread, water, and a chamber pot.) ... When they finished the session, the professor signed and stamped their entry. ... Then the students each were given 72 days to complete their paintings, using the full benefit of models, costumes, and props. But they could not deviate in any significant way from their sketches. ... Success in this competition required the ability to draw figures and compositions from memory and imagination. It also required a familiarity with hundreds of possible stories from the standard myths and biblical texts. What I find interesting is the psychology underlying the competition, assuming that it was a conscious part of the way it was set up. Lots and lots of us are prone to dither and dally when having to commit to something important. We'll keep coming up with ideas -- some bad, some good, some excellent -- but none of them perfect. Thus the process could go on endlessly, barring deadlines. The competition described above had seriously short deadlines and related rules that forced even the most indecisive young artists to come up with one idea and then work out its execution rather than churning and stewing and yielding no result at all. Later, Donald... posted by Donald at June 2, 2009 | perma-link | (2) comments

Why Financial Instruments of Mass Destruction Still Walk the Earth
Friedrich von Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards, I don’t know about you, but the Great Recession is forcing me to use most of my limited mental firepower to run my small business under, shall we say, challenging conditions. Nonetheless, out of some perverse habit, I keep reading and stashing items on my hard drive about the continuing closeness between Washington and Wall Street. Or, as Satyajit Das, the risk management consultant who presciently warned against the impending problems associated with unregulated financial derivatives in a 2006 book, calls it, The Finance-Government Complex. Despite the ubiquity of calls for greater regulatory oversight of this wondrous public-private nexus in which the profits are all private while the losses are passed on to the taxpayer, the American government in its majesty has chosen, at least so far, to implement no changes whatever to its regulation of Wall Street. Derivatives, to take one egregious example, remain almost completely unregulated, despite their central role in the $180 billion taxpayer bailout of AIG (sums that have, in turn, been passed through to its counterparties on Wall Street and around the world.) Now I suppose asking Congress to both think and act diligently on any topic, whatever the seriousness, is wildly optimistic, but I would note that we’re closing in on the second anniversary of this latest little externality the Street has inflicted on the rest of the world while lining its own pockets. You’ve got to wonder how even Congress could be so impossible derelict in its duty, right? I mean, the AIG bailout alone is equivalent to the cost of a year or two for the Iraq War, which Congress at least feels required to take an annual vote to prolong. Well, I think the answer can be found, among many other places, in the June 1 edition of the NY Times. Here we learn that “Even in Crisis, Banks Dig in for Fight Against Rules”: The nine biggest participants in the derivatives market -- including JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and Bank of America -- created a lobbying organization, the CDS Dealers Consortium, on Nov. 13, a month after five of its members accepted federal bailout money. To oversee the consortium’s push, lobbying records show, the banks hired a longtime Washington power broker who previously helped fend off derivatives regulation: Edward J. Rosen, a partner at the law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton. A confidential memo Mr. Rosen drafted and shared with the Treasury Department and leaders on Capitol Hill has, politicians and market participants say, played a pivotal role in shaping the debate over derivatives regulation. Today, just as the bankers anticipated, a battle over derivatives has been joined, in what promises to be a replay of a confrontation in Washington that Wall Street won a decade ago. Since then, derivatives trading has become one of the most profitable businesses for the nation’s big banks. Golly, you wouldn’t think that the recipients of such public largesse would still have much clout after the... posted by Friedrich at June 2, 2009 | perma-link | (42) comments

Monday, June 1, 2009

Matt and Derb
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- Back here, Big Hollywood's Matt Patterson talked to me about conservatives and the arts. Today Matt explores the same topic with John Derbyshire. Best, Michael UPDATE: TownHall's Ned Rice profiles Big Hollywood's Andrew Breitbart.... posted by Michael at June 1, 2009 | perma-link | (11) comments