Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Obama-Nation


As Barack Obama seems to be cruising to victory, it crossed my mind the other day that he is spectacularly positioned for what is referred to in the wrestling business as a "heel turn." I'm not trying to suggest that on day one he's going to smash Nancy Pelosi in the face with a folding chair. But from a storytelling standpoint, if you were going to have a character morph unexpectedly into a tyrannical despot, you'd be hard pressed to come up with a better setup than what seems to be developing.

There's an almost mystical sense of convergence between this man and this moment in history. He's a transformational figure without even doing anything. The mere fact of his skin color represents a tectonic shift in American society. There's not a few people who are already looking at the dude to be some kind of Messiah. He's looking to ride into office with a big majority, cruising a tidal wave of economic anxiety. The Democrats might pick up enough seats to not only crush the Republicans in any vote, but to prevent them from even blocking a vote. It would only add dramatic irony that he's following on a President who made jabs at seizing dictatorial power, but ultimately proved hapless at everything. 

I'm not speculating that something like this might happen, I'm just speaking as someone who likes to invent compelling storylines using the available components. I personally find it hilarious that the Republicans are spinning apocalyptic visions of a popular Democratic mandate. They ask us to imagine a nightmare scenario where a single party controls both the executive and legislative branches, its power unchecked, running roughshod over the constitution, remaking the country in its image, emptying the treasury in the service of its long-held obsessions and mad utopian fantasies, all the while funneling obscene amounts of cash to its friends and cronies. I mean come on. It's a compelling argument, but I can't see anything like that ever happening in reality. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Economic Crisis: Two Views























"Mr. Paulson argues that the approach [to the bailouts] combines pragmatism with an intense focus on moral hazard, or letting people pay for failure. 'I don't believe in raw capitalism without regulation. There's got to be a balance between market discipline, allowing people to take losses, and protecting the system,' he says."
The Economist, Sept. 20th 2008


"Why aren't we acting like those Wall Street guys are just out-of-their-minds addicts? I feel like the brother with the straight job, and you're a guy who hangs out at the track. I just wanna know this, of the 700 Billion we gotta chip in, how much is going to hookers?"
Ron Bennington

Get Your Bauer On

I've been catching up on some old 24 DVD's, and I thought it would be fun to do some sketches of Keifer Sutherland. Turns out it wasn't. I did a billion of these and I'm really frustrated with my efforts. I got so depressed about it I didn't post at all for several days. Finally I decided to just put up the least embarrassing ones so I could move on to something else. I'm doing this blog as a learning experience, so perhaps there is value in posting my failures as well as the stuff I'm okay with.







Random thought on watching Season 5 of 24: It seems that in the closing hours of the season they're starting to drop suggestions that Jack Bauer could permanently "go upriver" at some point. I don't know what happens in the next two seasons, but I think it would be fascinating if the dude started to really lose it. 

The character has always been about having to do the wrong thing for the right reasons, but we see him at least once do something really wrong for pure revenge. Jack Bauer's answer to everything is always to bend or break the rules and let the chips fall where they may, and he's invariably proven right. But it would be so easy for that tendency toward expediency, toward street justice, to become the dominant aspect of his personality. Particularly after all the shock and trauma he's put himself through over the years, his finer judgement could just start to go. We know all too well that the guy's never going to hang it up and retire to a quiet life in the suburbs, but it would be very interesting to explore the possibility that things could end really bad for him.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Self-caricature

Studies for a character based on myself, for a project I'm working on. I suppose this expresses how I prefer to see myself: part worker drone, part mad scientist.


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Ask me about Sarah Palin!




Say Hello to Senor Wences

I listened to the V.P. debate on radio, so I didn't get the benefit of the arsenal of winks, eye-batting, hair-flipping and whatever else was deployed on that stage. But it must have been really something to have distracted anyone from the horseshit that was coming out of her mouth. 

It's been interesting to watch this woman blazing her beautiful arc across the political landscape like a patronizing, brain-damaged comet, firing up the base from coast to coast. I can't help but be reminded of eight years ago when a lot of us looked at George W. Bush and thought, "well, there's a guy I wouldn't trust to park my car." Not to say I told you so, but I feel that at this point I've demonstrated a certain ability to read character. If anybody wanted to know, I'd be happy to tell them that my heightened sensors are flashing red reading "INSANE" and "WILLING TO DO OR SAY ANYTHING". (As a biological male, I'm proud to say that "somewhat doable" falls considerably farther down the list.)

Perhaps there should be some kind of volunteer corps made up of people who saw through Bush the first time around. I'd be more than willing to wear some kind of badge or sticker, so that anyone who's getting weak in the knees over the winking stuff can walk right up and know that I'm a friend, and I'm here to help.

A conversation.




Monday, October 06, 2008

Palin & McCain

Inspired by this post on Bob Cesca's blog.

Paul McCartney






















Paul McCartney has a new album out with one of the guys from Killing Joke, and it actually sounds punk rock. 

It's always interesting to me how McCartney searches for a collaborator like an Elvis Costello, or anyone who can lend his work the edge that he used to rely on Lennon for. I heard a bit of his last album; most of the songs start promisingly and then instantly sound like he doesn't know where to go with it. The New Yorker ran a profile on McCartney last year, and the writer observes him seeming somewhat frustrated in the studio. He's got the means to hire the best session guys in the world, but he can't find a collaborator who can intuitively plug in to what he hears in his head.

His wealth aside, reading the New Yorker piece I felt bad for him. This guy who everyone knows seems so profoundly lonely. (It can't have helped that his ex-wife was on a scorched-earth campaign at the time.) He tries to be somewhat unpretentious, living and working right in London. He walks the streets with the self-preservation instinct of a military convoy in Fallujah, dodging the cell-phone cameras (and he has to wonder when it's going to be a Mark David Chapman reaching in a pocket). Everyone he meets wants a hunk of bacon off his back. Who could you really be friends with if that's your daily experience?

The loss of John Lennon hangs heavy over the whole piece.  He clings to the small comfort that the two of them had managed to renew their friendship a little while before the murder.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Nick Cave




When I was first dating my wife I was intensely jealous of Nick Cave. 

I didn't know much about Cave besides that my slacker friends from the early 90's were all into him, and like with their enthusiasm for hard drugs I sort of regretted my inability to share in it. Faith used to love to work Nick Cave into any conversation she could, and she had a photo prominently displayed of Nick and Blixa Bargeld, smoking cigarettes and looking achingly cool in a way that no mortal boy could ever hope to live up to. When you're young and head-over-heels about a new chick, you're capable of viewing a 50¢ postcard as legitimate romantic competition, I guess.

Fast forward more than ten years, and I'm playing Mr. Mom this weekend so that Faith and a few other middle-aged housewives can spend it getting their punk rock on with Nick and... and whatever that is that he's let happen to the top part of his mouth.