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Monday, November 19, 2012

Unfilmable books

Super interesting story about making books into movies when the book isn't really "filmable."

The centerpiece of the film Life of Pi is a boy adrift on a lifeboat with a tiger in the middle of the ocean. That's easy enough for Yann Martel to describe in his novel — but hard to make happen on the set of a movie. As it happens, Pi is in theaters with another movie based on an "unfilmable" novel: Cloud Atlas, with six different plots in six different time periods.
Some books are challenging to film because they're challenging to read. Take Ulysses, James Joyce's stream-of-consciousness masterpiece, published in 1922.
"Ulysses was for a very long time considered unfilmable both because of the complexity of the plot and the point of view of the characters," says Maria Konnikova, a freelance writer who recentlyexplored unfilmable books for The Atlantic.
She points out that Ulysses has actually been filmed — not once but twice.
Other novels are considered unfilmable because they're too introspective and heady. Take Joseph Heller's dark World War II novel, Catch-22.
"Both the paranoia and kind of the sense of helplessness in the plot makes it difficult to kind of get out of the head of the characters and translate that to the screen," Konnikova notes.
That didn't stop director Mike Nichols from trying. Critics panned the movie version of Catch-22. And Heller himself had mixed feelings about it, though he also acknowledged that "complex novels don't make good movies."
It's for that reason that David Mitchell never thought his ambitious novel would make it to the screen. Cloud Atlas won a British Book Award and was short-listed for the Booker Prize, but Mitchell didn't think it had a chance for a movie deal.
Cloud Atlas is all over the place, intentionally. It follows six completely different stories, in genres from science fiction to crime thriller to romance.
It took three people to bring it to the screen: Lana and Andrew Wachowski (who made the theMatrix movies) and Tom Tykwer, perhaps best known for Run Lola Run.
As with the novel, there are six movies within the movie, set in the past and the future.
Another reason Mitchell thought his novel would never make it to the screen: the size of the cast it would take. It doesn't cost a writer a dime to add a character, but it can cost a filmmaker a lot to add an actor to a cast. The Wachowskis got around the problem by having actors play as many as six completely different roles. Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Hugh Grant, among others, are transformed to the point of being unrecognizable through Hollywood makeup and costume magic.
By casting it this way, Mitchell believes, the filmmakers also made it easier for viewers to understand his concept, of one soul moving through the many different worlds.
"The directors have played to the advantages of film as a medium," he says.
Playing to the advantage of film as a medium was the only way director Ang Lee could adapt a fantasy novel like Life of Pi. When Lee was filming, the young actor and the tiger were never on the lifeboat at the same time.
"I would have liked to, but I was not allowed to by 20th Century Fox," Lee says. The hesitancy of the studio is understandable. A young boy on a lifeboat with a wild animal is a great tension-filled situation for a story, but probably a liability-insurance nonstarter.
Instead those scenes were shot separately, with a combination of real tigers and computer-generated big cats. Only through editing and special effects does it seem to the audience that the boy and the tiger are adrift on the ocean together.
Technology alone can't make the film Life of Pi as big a success as the novel. Fortunately for 20th Century Fox, Lee brings his extraordinary imagination to the project. He was also given an enormous budget.
Konnikova thinks some filmmakers overuse CGI at the expense of the story. Take the Lord of the Rings films: Even though they've been critically and commercially successful, Konnikova says they've lost the emotional depth of Tolkien's writings to what she calls "special effects plot points."
"You lose kind of the dynamics," she says. "You lose the inner struggles that are happening within each character, which are so finely wrought on the page."
Konnikova thinks it's better to take the spirit of a novel and work it into a new, original movie. The classic example is Clueless — Jane Austen's Emma, reimagined in a Beverly Hills high school in the 1990s.
"Amy Heckerling showed an insight when she did that, to make it so different that she completely, I think, captured the spirit of Austen without dragging it down," Konnikova says.
Ang Lee agrees that some movie versions fail because the filmmakers have tried to be too faithful to the original text.
"There's a saying in the business: Either you ruin a novel and make a great film, or you can be loyal to the book and make a bad movie," he says.
Author David Mitchell cautions against another old Hollywood trope. Be careful, he says, when a filmmaker says, "I won't change a thing."

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Latest movies

I've only gotten to the theater a few times recently, but have seen several  movies On Demand (this is sort of in order of how much I liked them):

That Guy . . . Who Was in That Thing - I stumbled onto this fabulous documentary about character actors, so glad I saw it! Must See for all film lovers. (Only bad thing about it is the awkward title.)

Wreck-It Ralph - maybe the most entertaining film I've seen lately; lots of references to older games (for the older members of the audience) and a terrific story about persistence, friendship, and being yourself.

Game Change - terrific performances of course, but this is really "The Sarah Palin Story," which we mostly already know; I'm glad I watched it, but it could have covered more ground and been more compelling

Arbitrage - definitely a matter of too high expectations; Richard Gere gives a bravura performance (and  Susan Sarandon is wonderful, but rather wasted in a tiny part), but there's not much "there" there - very little commentary on the fiscal behavior of the Masters of the Universe, rather just a tired retread of adultery among the privileged class; really wish I'd waited for this on video

The Secret Life of Arietty - a Japanese film based on a British book (The Borrowers) dubbed into English; charming but not as creative as others of this genre, like Ponyo.

Abduction - in search of family friendly entertainment, we gave this a try; Taylor Lautner is perfectly adequate, and the secondary roles are played by a pantheon of great actors like Sigourney Weaver (who should have demanded a better script), but the biggest problem with this ho hum film is epitomized by the fact that no one is actually abducted - in other words, it mostly makes no sense. Not bad, but certainly not memorable.

Eight Crazy Nights - another attempt to find family entertainment; Adam Sandler's animated film from 2002; not at all what I expected from the title; a rather cliche story of an adult who has never recovered from the death of his parents when he was 12, the only twist is that they died during Hanukkah; several Hanukkah references, which are fun, but otherwise very predictable and nothing special, and some of the humor is way too crude for a family film.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Dystopian books into movies

I'm sort of tickled that I've read most of these - I just finished the Chaos Walking trilogy, The 11th Plague, and Enclave, and I'm finishing Shatter Me right now.  I read Ender's Game earlier this year, as well as Divergent, Matched and Delirium.  I read Uglies a couple of years ago.  I already have Partials, Under the Never Sky, Across the Universe, and especially Legend on my Must Read list.  I think they would all make great movies.  The only one that I have no interest in is The Selection, which sounds like garbage.

'Hunger Games' Success Proves Dystopia Is the New Supernatural

From "Nosferatu" to "Twilight," supernatural movies have never gone out of style. Vampires and their monster homies have enjoyed a constant stream of cinematic exposure since the turn of the last century, but they've never been more pervasive than in the last few years, breaking out of horror confines and sparkling their way into other genres.
We'd be naive to say supernaturals are on their way out — they'll never leave, and we wouldn't want them to. But we'd be blind not to notice the creepy new sheriff in town: Dystopia.

As themes go, it's nothing new ("Children of Men," "Blade Runner"... "Idiocracy") but amidst the insane success of "The Hunger Games," studios are snapping up the rights to similar books the moment they land on shelves — and in a few cases, before that.

So move over, monsters. In honor of "The Hunger Games'" record-breaking opening weekend, we're looking at some horrifying visions of future governments that will soon make the leap from page to screen.

"Divergent" By Veronica Roth

The Gist: Roth's futuristic Chicago is divided into five separate communitiesAbnegation (selfless), Candor (honest), Dauntless (brave), Amity (peaceful), and Erudite (intelligent). At 16, each citizen decides which virtue to embrace — singularly and permanently. Like all dystopian stories, this "perfect system" has a few skeletons in the closet, which Dauntless initiate Tris uncovers (with the help of her hot hottie mentor).

Movie status:
 Summit is developing this, with "Snow White and the Huntsman" writer Evan Daugherty tackling the adaptation. Check outour interview with Roth for her take on the progress.

"Ender's Game" By Orson Scott Card

The Gist: Proof positive that the Dystopian genre is no flash in the pan — "Ender's Game" was written in 1985. Living on a far-future Earth, twice threatened by a species of insectoid aliens nicknamed Buggers, the government of "Ender's Game" puts small children in horrifically violent situations to locate and train the tiny fleet commanders who will one day save the planet. It's a small price to pay for the safety of humanity... unless you believe little kids shouldn't beat each other savagely with weapons, or something.

Movie status:
The film version will be released on March 15, 2013 by Summit, starring Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin and Harrison Ford. "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" director Gavin Hood is running the show.

"Legend" By Marie Lu

The Gist: Day is on the run from a military government in what used to be the United States when he meets June, a military prodigy from an elite family. Though Day is accused of murdering June's brother, the two stumble on the Republic of California's dirtiest secrets together. Warning: You might want to marry Day, even if you're a boy.

Movie status:
 It's being produced by "Twilight"'s Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen, and directed by "Warm Bodies" helmer Jonathan Levine. Check out Hollywood Crush's interview with Lu about the adaptation.

"Matched" By Ally Condie

Dutton Juvenile
The Gist: If "The Handmaid's Tale" and "The Giver" had a clever little baby, it would be Condie's first book in a series of dystopian YA novels. Cassia is a happy, well-adjusted teen living in some undetermined future where mandatory mates are delivered by pictures on digital information cards. It's only when a glitch flashes the wrong boy's face that Cassia considers the relative merit of dating options — and therefore questions the whole nature of her world.

Movie Status:
 Disney snapped up the movie rights —and "Rock of Ages" director Adam Shankman is lined up to produce.

"Chaos Walking" Trilogy By Patrick Ness

The Gist: A post-plague world populated only by men — and polluted by a constant stream of audible inner monologues called "The Noise" — is suddenly turned upside down for teenager Todd when he meets... a girl... though Todd's own government swore they were all dead. Uh oh.

Movie Status:
 Lionsgate's announced plans to adapt "The Knife of Never Letting Go" — the first book in the "Chaos Walking" trilogy — for the big screen, with Doug Davison ("The Departed") set to produce.

"Shatter Me" By Tahereh Mafi

The Gist: HarperCollins has called Mafi's debut novel "'Hunger Games' meets 'X-Men'" and we can't disagree. An invigorating blend of romance, super-powers and post-apocalyptic survival techniques on a police state stage, "Shatter Me" was basically made to be a movie.

Movie Status:
 20th Century Fox bought the rights — read an interview with Mafi about it on theFABlife.

"Delirium" By Lauren Oliver

The Gist: Love is a disease — everyone who's ever been dumped knows this. But in "Delirium," love is literally classified as a disease, and citizens of Oliver's future society receive a mandatory surgery to cure them, for the good of a healthy, sane community. Unless they, like, escape and fall in love with a fellow rebel. For instance.

Movie Status:
 Producers Paula Mazur and Mitch Kaplan are developing "Delirium" for Fox 2000. Oliver talked to theFABlife about her involvement with the movie.

"Under the Never Sky" By Veronica Rossi

The Gist: Aria has lived her entire life in a dome, generations after the outside world was deemed uninhabitable by the government. After she's banished from the dome in a vicious political maneuver, she teams up with a love interest hunter who has his own reasons to challenge those in charge of her home.
Movie Status:"Under the Never Sky" been optioned for film by Warner Bros.

"Uglies" By Scott Westerfeld

Simon & Schuster
The Gist: In Tally Youngblood's society, ugliness is a thing of the past — upon citizens' 16th birthday, they each get plastic surgery that removes unsightly bumps, blotches and, oh, the ability to think like normal, intelligent people. Unfortunately, the surgery is very mandatory, and the penalty for escaping it is steep. Just maybe not as steep as the penalty fornot escaping, you know? We love thinking.

Movie Status:
 20th Century Fox and producer John Davis bought the film rights to the novel.

"The Selection" By Kiera Cass

The Gist: In the former U.S., citizens are separated into a rigid caste system that dictates their love lives, their professions and more. Only one thing can elevate a girl above her inherited station: a "Bachelor"-esque dating competition created by the country's ruling family to find Prince Maxon a wife. Outside the castle, there's civil unrest and a little starvation, but inside: pretty dresses, etiquette lessons and TV cameras. Fun for everyone! Well... everyone inside the castle.

Movie status:
 We think this would make a great movie, but the geniuses at the CW went and made a pilot with the adorable Aimee Teegarden and Ethan Peck — even though the book's not coming out until April. With "Angel" and "Vampire Diaries" writers Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain onboard, we have high hopes.

And more!

These haven't been optioned — yet — but they're a few more excellent examples of dystopian fiction and we'll be monkey's uncles if some studio doesn't snap them up soon: "Partials," "The Eleventh Plague," "Enclave" and "Across the Universe."

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Breaking Dawn Pt 2

For a reason I do not understand, the "midnight" show this year started at 10 pm, which was fine with me.  But it didn't seem as "buzzy" this year as last year, probably because the wedding was the big draw last year, and maybe because there's a little cognitive dissonance this year, due to the franchise ending.

I liked the movie a lot. I thought they did many things very well ~

Things moved along nicely. Of course they left things out, but they managed to hit the highlights of a very busy book.

The way they showed Bella's new sharper senses was terrific.

The love scene between Edward and new vampire Bella was gorgeously filmed - just the right amount of sexy.

The presentation of Bella's shield was very cool - I thought it would be tricky, and they pulled it off.

The big fight scene is great, and so effective, and the "reveal" at the end was wonderful, clever, unexpected, and just perfect.

The scene where Bella finally allows Edward to see her thoughts was wonderful.

The end credits were lovely, especially the last part, with the book pages.

The music was great - the score was excellent as always, and several moody songs were used to good effect.

Things I didn't love ~

The CGI baby Renesme was terrible and totally distracting. In the book, the baby is gorgeous, and this baby definitely wasn't.  I guess they were trying to make the baby look like Mackenzie Foy, but it would have been much better to just use a beautiful real child.

In the book, Bella's dress is in tatters after her first hunting trip,  In the movie, they made one tear at the hem, which was worse than nothing.  And she returns to the house with every hair in place. It would have been so fun to see her disheveled, the way it was described in the book.

I was quite disappointed in the first scene between Charlie and Bella - it's one of my favorites in the book and they left out a bunch of stuff, including Charlie's reaction to Renesmee. Also, they made it seem as if Bella was completed unaffected by Charlie's human-ness, which is not at all the way it went in the book. Like the scene at the Cullen's house between Bella and Jacob in BD Pt 1, they sucked all the emotion out of the scene, and left out many of the best lines.

In the book, Bella learns to fight and use her shield over the course of several scenes with several characters, but in the movie, it's truncated too much.  I really wish they had put just a bit more in about this - Bella becoming a warrior is so much of the fun.

Aro's reaction to Renesmee was totally over the top (weird almost hysterical laughter) and took everyone in the theater right out of the moment.

The many vampire friends are a little under-developed - several of them have no lines of dialog at all. Of course, it's the same as the book, but I had heard they were adding more back story to these characters, and they didn't. Not a major point, but I was a bit disappointed.

The movie does seem a tiny bit choppy. That may be due to cramming so much into 2 hours - as I said above, there's a lot going on in the book. But honestly, I don't think it detracts much from the entertainment value of the movie.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Be better

Wise words:


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Eleanor quote

Hey Israel and Gaza:


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Beauty Pressure

"Here it comes" - film by Dove


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Being the Chosen People

Had a conversation about the Jews being the Chosen People in our class today.  I have two main problems with this - one is that it has caused problems for Jews for hundreds of years, and the other is that I find the concept counter to my most cherished values of humanism and tolerance.

The rabbi suggested that by choosing Judaism, you are, by definition, rejecting everything else.  But  I don't really relate to Judaism as something that I've chosen, it's just something I am, like being female and being white.

He also said that he feels like his choice of Judaism is based on finding "some truth in it," which I thought about quite a bit. I'm not looking for truth. Not in religion, not in life.  I genuinely don't believe there is any truth in religion, or rather, there are many truths, not just one single truth that can be determined or found. Instead of truth, I'm looking for MEANING, which is not the same thing at all.

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Government aid

I've seen similar maps over the years - notice that many of the most anti-federal government states are the ones that get the most aid from the federal government!


Friday, November 09, 2012

Half a century!

Today I turn 50. WTF?


On Facebook, I asked “What have I been doing for 50 years?” - these were the lovely answers:
Sonia Stamm: Creating connections and making your own mark on this planet. Oh, and cultivating a loyal FB following. Happy today!
Adrienne Berger: I've had 3 years to try to figure out the exact same question, and I'm still wracking my brain. But I know you'll succeed a lot faster than I. Plus you have a ginormous number personal and professional accomplishments (and two cute blondies are the proudest ones!). And some of the biggest ones: you still have an enviable passion for life, a sharp intellectual curiosity, and you're a MENSH!)
Stessa Cohen:  I second and third the "mensch" comment!!!!
Janet Shipley: You've been riding the crazy ride we're all riding. Happy Birthday Danielle! Lean into this and make it your own. (Show me how, I'm right behind)
Barbara Humphrey: Happy birthday. I think the more appropriate question is--what the heck are you going to do for the next 50?
Donna Marsh O’Connor: Happy birthday, dear friend. You are an amazing woman, an amazing mom and a comforting friend. I love how we met and that we continue to support the causes we care about. No one is saner. Love you, Danielle!
Maureen Pomeroy: Championing many a good cause!
Diane Immethun: Having known you 43 years, I'd say you've done a ton... Three degrees, motherhood, world travel, survived tragedy, offered us all a glimpse into unconditional love... Happy birthday BEST friend! I'm honored to have you in my life.


Thursday, November 08, 2012

Liberals vs conservatives

Had the oddest post-election conversation with a conservative friend who I generally consider completely reasonable and well educated.  But everything he said was just completely untrue.

For example, when I said something about the gridlock in Congress, he said there is equal truculence and extremism on both sides. I think that's laughable. Who is the equivalent of Eric Cantor or Mitch McConnell? Who is the equivalent of Michele Bachmann or Allen King? What Dems are ever in the news for saying just crazy unreal stuff, like the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the State Dept?  His example of extremism on the Democratic side was Barbara Boxer (as in, "you have to admit that BB is out there.") But when I Googled her policy positions, there's not a single one that I would consider extreme, or even out of the mainstream. She has perfectly ordinary liberal views - she supports unions, and stem cell research, and women's access to safe abortions, and clean air and water, and some kind of sensible wildlife conservation, etc.

There are only a few old radicals left. I mean, Paul Wellstone is dead. And Russ Feingold, who might be amused at the "radical" label, was defeated in the 2010 election. You could make the case for Henry Waxman, who's probably the most high profile liberal House member, and you could reasonably point to Bernie Sanders, who is the only Socialist in Congress, but then, he embraces that label. There are a few other liberal House members, mostly from NY and California, but you never hear from them, or about them, - they're never on the news for the pet legislative fights (things like labor rights and environmental issues).

After this exchange, he asserted that Obama will not be able to achieve his economic plan without imposing limitations on corporate profits. As if this were established policy or something. I said, where are you getting this? It's beyond ridiculous, not even remotely true, and certainly not something actually stated by the Obama administration.

Then we get into a conversation about the auto bailout and how Obama only insisted on a government bailout to save the unions, that Romney's plan for a traditional bankruptcy was so much better.  And I said, the banks were in freefall, the money for a traditional bankruptcy wasn't there, so the only choice was the government, or just let the companies close.  And then he starts on the unions, how they're overpaid, that they earn $52 an hour and isn't that too much - should auto workers make more than I do? Again, where is he getting this? That figure includes the cost of healthcare and other things, a fact that is easily Googled. The average auto worker makes about $26 an hour, which is about $50K a year, not really a king's ransom.

By this point in the conversation, I'm practically shouting.  I mean, WTF?  I'm very happy to defend liberal ideas and policies, but can we start with something that's actually true? I'm sick to death of arguing with all this crazy made-up shit.  How can you even have an intelligent exchange when the underlying premise is so absurd each time. No wonder Barbara Boxer becomes a wild-eyed radical in this scenario.  It's not based in reality at all.  Every position is re-imagined into Marxism and you have to start by getting the conversation back to square 1 before you can even make the case for your position.  That's how health reform becomes a "government takeover of healthcare" when it's really a market-based concept that came straight outta the American Enterprise Institute and was first implemented as a compromise between a Democratic state house and a Republican governor in Massachusetts (well deserving of it's reputation as one of America's policy proving grounds).  And I hate defending "Obamacare" because I don't think it went far enough. I would love to be defending a "government takeover of healthcare" because I would love it if the government would take over healthcare! But I sure don't want to defend something that doesn't exist!

I'm just shaking my head. How can we find a compromise when our positions are misrepresented so egregiously?


Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Post election analysis

Reading a bunch of great stuff this morning.  This from one of my favorite writers, in NY Magazine

The Republicans Bet Everything, and Obama Won It All

You remember the scene in Game Change, when John McCain’s adviser tells him that selecting Sarah Palin is “high risk, reward”? And McCain (or Ed Harris as McCain, or whatever) starts grinning uncontrollably? That is the approach the entire Republican Party has taken in almost every situation it has found itself since 2008. Republicans greeted Barack Obama’s presidency with a calculated wave of total opposition. They would not cut a deal on health care or on the federal budget, each time accepting the risk of total defeat rather than settling for half-measures, like giving Democrats some kind of token health care reform or small tax increase.
The gamble was that by denying Obama any support, they would render his presidency wholly partisan at best, and a dysfunctional failure at worst. They would increase their own chances of denying him a second term, and that their return to power would allow them to claim a full and absolute break with the past. They shoved all their chips onto tonight’s election. When the networks called it at 11:15 p.m., the totality of the right’s failure was clear. And because they bid up the stakes as high as they could, their loss was unusually devastating.
The gamble was not totally crazy, I have argued, because 2012 may have been the last chance to enact an undiluted conservative agenda. The electorate is driving steadily leftward, with the oldest voters representing the GOP’s strongest constituency, and the youngest voters its weakest. Every four years, a new 18–22-year-old cohort arrives that is more liberal than the one that has died off in the interim. The Republicans face a double peril with the youth vote. A far lower proportion of young voters are white, and those who are white are far less likely than their parents or grandparents to vote Republican. White voters over the age of 65 selected Romney by a twenty-point margin. White voters under 30 split evenly.
The financial crisis opened a window of opportunity for Republicans. Obama would be presiding over the worst economic calamity in eight decades, and nothing he did to mitigate the crisis would change the fact that his term would be marked by mass suffering and disillusionment.
At the outset of summer, GQ’s Reid Cherlin spoke with Mitt Romney’s high command, which was overflowing with glee at its coming triumph — “not merely a 51–49 win but a run-the-table walloping that will send Obama into the history books as an undisputed calamity for America.” Hubristic as it sounds now, among conservatives it was no more optimistic a sentiment than predicting a sunrise. They had spent nearly the entirety of Obama’s presidency confidently predicting his demise. Obama was “crashing before our eyes,” his administration “entering its pitiful phase,” Americans turning against him in a “harbinger of doom.” In an eerie replay of the Carter administration, the right’s favorite historical comparison for Obama, the economy was dragging him down and, to make matters worse, he was “a very bad politician.” Romney designed his entire campaign as if this assessment was self-evident.
Obama’s imminent (or ongoing) collapse was to be the seminal event that shook loose his terrifying ascendant coalition. Rather than attempt to pry away his constituencies on the issues that drew them to Obama, Romney and Ryan harped on young voters' disillusionment. Obama had failed to secure comprehensive immigration reform. Young people faced bleak employment prospects. The party’s undisguised goal was to discourage the new voters who flocked to Obama in 2008 from voting at all, leaving the electorate older and, hence, whiter than it had been and probably ever would be again, at least in a presidential election. Those white voters would vote their pocketbooks, which is to say, overwhelmingly against Obama. And then henceforth Obama, like Carter, would be the symbol of failure and big government overreach, a political bogeyman for future Democratic candidates.
The great gamble failed. It failed for many reasons: The economy recovered just enough in 2012, Mitt Romney ran a mediocre campaign, Obama ran a strong one. Among the most important is a factor conservatives seem to have never reckoned with — their party has never recovered the public’s trust.
Fed up though voters may be with bitter partisanship in Washington, and angry though they may be with the painfully slow recovery, they were never eager to hand the keys back to the Republicans. Conservatives would not make the ideological sacrifices needed to reposition the party in the center. They gambled that discontent with Obama alone would be sufficient to propel them back to power.
The policy consequences of that failed gamble are immense: Universal health insurance will go into effect, and when the Bush tax cuts expire on January 1, 2013, Obama will be able to restore a plausible stream of tax revenue without needing the ascent of the unbowed Republican House.
The political repercussions may be just as enormous. While any number of future events could intervene — Obama could lose his second term to a scandal, or a foreign policy crisis — he looks very well poised to consolidate and expand the electoral revolution that helped sweep him into office. The economic recovery appears to be gaining momentum — perhaps not quite soon enough to allow him to have run a Morning in America reelection campaign, but advanced enough for him to preside over a second term that feels like true prosperity. If Obama presides over a strong and continuous recovery, his approval will rise and his policies will be vindicated. He could cement the partisan and ideological leanings of his rising coalition.
Democrats will not keep winning forever. (In particular, their heavy reliance on young and non-white voters, who vote more sporadically, will subject the party to regular drubbings in midterm elections, when only the hardiest voters turn out.) Eventually, the Republican Party will recast and reform itself, and the Democratic Party’s disparate constituencies will eat each other alive, as they tend to do when they lack the binding force of imminent peril. But conservatives have lost their best chance to strike down the Obama legacy and mold the government in the Paul Ryan image. “There is nothing more exhilarating,” Churchill once said, “than to be shot at without result.”


Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Election night 2012

Just so happy with the results, they exceed my wildest hopes.

Obama won over 300 electoral votes, including most of the battleground states (FL is still too close to call, but he's ahead there too). This despite aggressive Republican efforts to disenfranchise voters in several states.

Dems gained 2 seats in the Senate, and elected a record number of women:

Re-elected despite strong Republican efforts: Sherrod Brown in Ohio, Claire McCaskill  in Missouri.

Elected: Eliz Warren in Massachusetts (beat incumbent), Patrick Murphy in Connecticut (beat incumbent), Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, Ben Nelson in Florida, Tim Kaine in Virginia.

Dan Maffei took his Congressional seat back from Ann Marie Buerkle, despite a strong showing by the Green Party candidate, Ursula Rozum.

Al Stirpe also took his State Assembly seat back, from Don Miller.

After 32 straight defeats (pun intended), gay marriage ballot initiatives passed in all 3 states where they appeared (Washington, Maryland, Maine), and the anti measure in Missouri was defeated. A new day for this issue!

Ballot initiatives for recreational marijuana passed in Colorado and Washington.

Other highlights:

Nate Silver predicted all 50 states - he's an undisputed rock start now.

The demographics were fascinating: Obama got even more of the Hispanic vote than he did in 2012, the gender gap persisted - Obama got almost 10% more women than Mitt (Mitt only got 7% more men), and more 18-25 years voted in 2012 than 2008.  Obama got less of the Jewish vote, but still 70%.

This election shows that concerns about the economy just do not trump hateful rhetoric that demeans important constituencies.

A few sad things: Michelle Bachman retained her seat; Bob Kerrey lost the Senate seat in Nebraska (which he held for 2 terms previously, and which was vacated by the retirement of Ben Nelson) - the only Senate gain by the Republicans; Paul Ryan returns to the House and retains his Budget Committee chairmanship; Arizona continues to be embarrassing.


Monday, November 05, 2012


Photo: President Obama is counting on your vote—so make a plan, find out where you'll vote, and make sure you remember to go! Find your polling location here: http://ofa.bo/7Dodnw


Sunday, November 04, 2012

Latest movies

I've enjoyed everything that I've seen lately, both at the theater and on video

Argo - super effective thriller and Ben Affleck doesn't pull his political punches - the back story boldly shows the American role in the Iranian political situation (helping to depose the democratically elected leader and re-installing the Shah)

Here Comes the Boom - exactly what it's billed as, and lots of fun

Wreck-It Ralph - very entertaining, both for kids and adults

Inside Job - don't know why I waited so long to see this movie - it's totally as gripping as I was told, though I wanted to lead a lynch mob after I saw it; wish it was required viewing.

Machine Gun Preacher - not for the faint-hearted, but a very powerful movie based on the true story of a biker (and former felon) who built an orphanage in Sudan.

The Other F Word - surprising gem about punk rock stars who became fathers; besides being wise and just plain interesting, it's a real testimony to how terrific a documentary can be if made by the right person; scenes where thesubjects talk about their (mostly absent) fathers are so moving, and the scenes where they talk about how being a dad transformed them are so beautiful; the only thing missing was a bit of perspective on the wives - who are these women and how do they cope with this strange reality?


Saturday, November 03, 2012

The prez

Love this photo!

Photo: Early voting has started in many states—click here to find out if you can vote for Barack Obama today: http://OFA.BO/rdfpYt


Friday, November 02, 2012

Hurricane Sandy pt 2

This almost made me cry - some people are just so great:


Thursday, November 01, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

This is what I think of when I think of Hurricane Sandy:

Photo: Here are some great ways to help in the Hurricane Sandy relief effort. Please do what you can.


Photo: What an amazing story. As surging tides threatened to wash away her 30-year labor of love, one Brooklyn resident watched in horror. http://thebea.st/TdbP0S