Saturday, December 29, 2007

Treading Water

Updated: Didn't have any time for commentary before so here goes. Well things look much different since my post about Obama. It seems that was about the turning point of his campaign and now he's giving Clinton a run for her money. Hey, that's politics. I actually think that Hillary would not be the landslide that the media has predicted. She has a lot of baggage and if I were her republican rival, I'd honestly rather be up against her than Obama. I actually think both can be beaten if the right republican is chosen and his campaign plays it right. She will constantly be in the shadow of her husband, who ironically is the only reason she has a chance at running.

She's actually not bad on national security issues, though pre-primary she's been rather elusive, if not inconsistent about her positions and the right will try and point this out until November. I think the left gives her too much credit.

The primaries are almost here and it's gonna be close for both parties:

Thursday, December 13, 2007

No Words

Well if anyone doesn't know and has been living in a cave, there is a strike among writers in the television and movie industry right now. On Nov 1, the contract between the WGA (Writer's Guild of America) and the Sudios expired. The following week, the WGA went on strike. So, what's all the fuss? Well, currently, writers recieve a residual payment whenever a show or movie they wrote is shown in syndication (reruns) or purchased as a DVD. They do not, however, recieve a dime for any of their work which is streamed or downloaded off the internet. This is the central issue for which the writers are striking. They also want a higher DVD rate and they want to bring the Reality TV writers... (yes they do have "writers" for reality) and animation writers, who are currently covered by a different union, into the WGA juristiction. I believe these are relatively minor issues though and if a "good" internet deal was made, they'd have less support from their members to continue the strike.

So, why do I care? Well, some of you may know that I work in the entertainment industry and so this affects me directly so, I care. On December 10, I finished my last bit of work and have been out of work since. Up until then I had been working frantically to make as much money as I can to last as long as it can and hence, my blog has suffered. So, as I can attest, this strike affects many more than just the writers. Without writers, there is literally no work to be done at all. If anything it shows the value of writers in the television and film industries.

So, why start a strike right before Christmas? The DGA (Directors Guild of America) and SAG (Screen Actors Guild) have contracts which expire in June '08. The DGA tends to negotiate their contracts early to avoid work stoppages like these and they are much more diplomatic (meaning they'll settle for less than ideal) than the other two guilds. The WGA wanted to get a jump on them because the first deal struck will be the standard for the rest of the unions. If the DGA got a deal which was not as good as what the WGA wanted, it would be that much harder to negotiate.

The downside has been that the entire industry has been shut down and thousands of people are out of work, most of whom do not work as writers. The AMPTP (the collective negotiating arm of the Studios) appear to be ready to sacrifice the rest of the season to the reality hell of reality programming and the DGA may get to the table first anyway. This thing could last a while.

Deadline Hollywood Daily - Nikki Finke's blog. The most accurate accounting of the facts. She's definately on the side of the writers but she's the first to report insider strike information and it's always turned out to be legit.

As WGA strike continues, writers form online co-ops and some earn millions - This, in my opinion would be the best move for the writers to do. Take the market before the studios have a chance. "Some, ventures, such as Will Ferrell's has seen one no-budget short top 50 million views. At the touted advertising rate of $60 per 1000 views for professional quality video, this would have earned the producers up to $3m, with no notable initial outlay." Yikes!

Sunday, November 4, 2007


I actually like Barak Obama. I probably disagree with everything he stands for politically so I couldn't vote for him for president but I think he has heart, which is admirable. He has an idealism which feels fresh at least and he doesn't seem, well, scary. He's been compared to Ronald Reagan in his skill for connecting with people and when he talks and it really does sound like he knows what he's talking about, even if you disagree. His campaign has been focussed around being a uniter and not a divider. He says he wants to change Washington and I agree that it needs changing...

...but, can he win? Does he even have a chance? Edwards practically called Obama a featherweight in this campaign, though he is not one to talk IMO. Right now the heavyweight, Hillary (and no that's not a comment on her actual weight, in case that needs explaining), has built up a nice lead and is pummelling everyone else in the polls. Obama may just be in the wrong league against Hillary Clinton, whose drive to win as well as political skill seem to be rather effective. Still, that didn't stop her contenders from getting a few jabs in lately by pointing out her double talk on issues and general vagueness on where she actually stands.

It may be too little too late but then again, you never know with politics. You can be on top one day and the next, dead in the water; case in point, Howard Dean. I think if Barak Obama can wear her down a bit more with these kinds of jabs, then perhaps he'll have a shot... but then will he have thrown his idealistic view of "changing the atmosphere of Washington" out the window or does it simply mean he's moved up a weight class? Realistically, I think Hillary will adapt and learn to block those jabs, but that's for another article...

Sunday, October 28, 2007


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I have rather simple obsessions and making paella is one of them. Oh, 10 or so years ago, while I was on an LDS mission in England, I had a companion who was from Spain and he wanted to show us (there were 2 others in our flat) the joy of making Paella. Well, the language barrier and lack of propper supplies made it hard for him to make it properly but he did his best and we had a very good meal. He told us it was nothing like it's supposed to be and you could see the disappointment in his face. Ever since then, I've sought to, not just create what he made but to recreate the paella which he meant to make.

Since then, I've had several failed attempts and a long period of "giving up" on it altogether. That was before I thought of even looking it up on the internet. A couple years ago I resumed my journey once again and it has become an obsession of mine to make the perfect, authentic, paella. I found the authentic recipe and method of cooking it. I even went to the effort and expense of buying an 18" paella pan to take it to that extra level of authenticity. I've gone to, what some (including my wife) may see as, wasteful measures to achieve perfection. Buying medium grained rice instead of using the long grained rice we have. Spending $14 on a seemingly insignificant amount of saffron (hey, it goes a long way).

My next step will be to hunt down a place where I can find rabbit meat around here (shouldn't be too hard I imagine) just so I can have it the way it was meant to be had. Sure, I've experimented with variations as well so I can get a feel for what makes it work (I'm still struggling with getting the rice just right [see, I'm obsessed]) but I really just want one time to achieve the perfect paella. Then I will reach a level of content and probably find a new obsession. So, if you come to visit me or stay a night or two, don't be surprised if I make a batch of paella, and send you home with some of the leftovers. I must say, it is bloody delicious!

The origional paella recipe

Paella: Rice at Its Best

La Tienda - where I got my paella pan

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Our Only Hope?

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Ah, my next victim, Rudy. The frontrunner in the Republican camp. I think that it's safe to say that either he or Romney will be the candidate. Sure McCain is still holding on by a string but I don't think he will make it. Rudy Giuliani has many strong points including the fact that he is a moderate. This leads many to believe that he is the only one who can beat Clinton. This thought ignores the fact that many on the right do not like him. There is even a movement among conservative christians to start up a third party in the case that Giuliani gets the candidacy for the republicans. This would be political suicide in my opinion but it is a possibility. Many evangelicals are begining to endorse Romney because of Giuliani's positions.

He is pro choice, pro gun control and simpathetic towards gay marriage. This doesn't sit well with hardline conservative voters. It bothers me much less so because there is little a president can do with regards to abortion other than appoint supreme court judges who might overturn Roe v. Wade and there is no reason to believe that he will appoint anyone different than any of the other republicans would. In New York he apparently lowered the number of abortions by advocating adoption and results are more important than perceptions.

Perhaps one of his biggest hurdles is his personal life. He's been married three times and apparently his last divorce was an ugly one. In stark contrast to Romney, his children don't apparently even talk to him anymore. He has tried to break this perception by showing how much he loves his current wife by pulling stunts like having his wife call while he's giving speaches.

All his weaknesses aside, I think he does have a good chance of beating Hillary. He is a moderate on many issues but on things like the war on terror and national security he is spot on, in my opinion. He has a reputation for getting things done as mayor and holds a pragmatic view rather than an ideological one. This I think will sit well with the people in the middle and I don't think the conservatives really would defect to a third party. Some would but I hope most wouldn't. I like the ideology of Romney but Giuliani may be our only hope.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Too Perfect?

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I've thought for a while about doing caricatures of all the important presidential candidates for some time and I'm finally getting around to doing it. I've decided to start off with Mitt Romney for a couple of reasons. He and I share faiths and he's still my top pick. I, like many Mormons, have had high hopes for the guy, and still do. That said, my faith in him has been shaken but that's just because the picture perfect image you have in your head of someone is never accurate. Still, I think he's my favorite candidate, despite his apparent flip flop (in the right direction mind you) on abortion and gay marriage, though I don't think it's that cut and dry. Not many people know that Ronald Reagan, as governor of California signed bills which were pro-choice, yet he is held as the model of what a republican president should be by most conservatives. Even Ronald Reagan wasn't "Ronald Reagan" at one point.

So why the angelic depiction? Mitt has an image problem. A very strange one in fact. One of his major problems is that he appears too perfect for the average voter to relate to. He appears to have a good marriage, great kids (heck, they're campaigning for him), he's been extremely successful and his worse "scandal" was that he rode with his dog on the roof of his car on a vacation one time. It is ironic that with all the past scandals with past presidents, it's almost like the public needs to see that the president is like them.

This is not his only issue but it is a major one and I'm not sure he should get over it. It is ironic also that my next victim, Rudy Giuliani, faces the opposite problem, that of one with a poor public perception of his family life so perhaps a good one isn't all that bad.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Austin's Wild Ride

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So we had a quick trip to CA last weekend and we decided to make the most of it and go to Disneyland and California Adventure. The last time we went, Austin (6) became a speed adict... not the drug, the thrill of going fast. This time, he was dying to go on some roller coasters so we got a fast pass to go on California Screaming, a pretty intense roller coaster, and nothing like he'd been on before. Sydney was too little to go and so the two of us split from Wendy and Syd and went to get on the ride.

The first little bit he was tentatively excited and slowly I could tell he didn't expect it to be this intense. When we got to the loop-de-loop, he was not having fun at all. When we got off the ride, he was clearly upset and I tried to tell him how brave he was, etc, but he was done. Regardless of this, it wasn't long before he was rearin' to go on the Tower of Terror ride in which you experience free fall in a pitch black elevator several times... Did we go on it? You bet we did! Sydney fit on this one so she came too!

Thursday, September 27, 2007


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This week President Ahmadinejad of Iran spoke to students at Columbia University. The university among many in the media have declared this a victory for free speech and point out that this guy is a nut job. Less heard but still out there is the opinion that Columbia's decision to allow him to speak only gave him a pulpit in which he gets to use as propaganda back home. The fact that he actually got applause from the students only helps this cause.

The danger of this guy speaking is not that he looks like an idiot to us, that's the view of most Americans already. Remember, these guys don't go home and show the entire tape, they show the bits they want shown. What sounds like crude interpretation to us is elequent Farsi in Iran. He will be able to use this as spin back home to show how he went to America and "showed them the truth". Do you really think the challenging questions will even be shown? The "answers" sure will be and you can bet the farm the applause will be also. The effect in America, Zero. The effect in the Islamic world, priceless.

School of the Absurd - Victor Davis Hansen


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Well, it's not really Wendi's fault. I had just finished shaving Austin's head and I took off the attachment to do the tidying up around the ears and sideburns and forgot about it. Now my hair is shorter than it's ever been. I wouldn't mind so much if it were the begining of summer but fall just hit and my head's been a bit chilly. BRRRR!!!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Toon Journal

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The purpose of this blog is to express myself through the best way I know how, art. I'll try and add to this at least weekly but we all know that probably won't happen. We all have grandiose plans to do a weekly blog and yet most of us don't have the will to keep up on it every week. That said, I will try, though I am the biggest make big plans and never fulfill them guy. My wife can attest to that.

The format will usually consist of some drawing, possibly followed by an explanation or link to an article or something. It may be about something political or something that happened personally in my life that stuck out at me.

Anyway, I'll likely edit this to make it sound better and probably to add a drawing or something but maybe not. Wish me luck.