Category Archives: Non-Fiction

You know who would hate George Lucas? Young George Lucas

I thought I was over hating George Lucas. I thought he could no longer make me angry. That there was nothing more he could do to make me think less of him. Then I read this today. George Lucas said that Han always shot first and he just made that idea more clear. That the audience was confused.

This is just a desperate attempt for him to not look like a money-grubbing, fearless, spineless, fool. But, for the people who care it just makes him go to a whole other level of money-rubbing, fearless, spineless fool. It’s insulting to his audience. Soon he’ll claim that there was always that scene with Joba in A New Hope and that they were always in 3D.

Lucas didn’t just make Star Wars. You would be challenged to find a filmmaker in the 70’s that made three better films in a row than THX 1138, American Graffiti, and A New Hope. Hell, it would be hard to find anyone every that mad three films in a row that good. (It’s a fun game actually) He was once a true, honest to god, filmmaker.

Well you know who would really be mad at Lucas? Young George Lucas. These are all quotes from interviews.

From Starlog 1981

The first trilogy will not be as much of an action adventure kind of thing. Maybe we’ll make it have some humor, but right now it’s much more humorless than this one. This one is where all the excitement is, which is why I started with it. The other ones are a little more Machiavellian – it’s all plotting – more of a mystery.

Humorless? That was exactly the problem with Episode I Jar-Jar was too humorless. Again from Starlog

 I’m going to make films that are very experimental. They’re not really theatrical films. They may end up being an hour or an hour-and-a-half – whatever. I want to spend time doing films and exploring ideas, with the opportunity to failwhich you don’t have in the professional film business. 

(Shaking my head in disbelief.)

 From Millimeter April 1990

No. I’ve been amused that people equate what I do with making hit movies. All I ever hope for with my movies is that they break even and make everybody whole again. There’s always this chance that one will be successful and go beyond that, but I don’t create that movies just to make them successful. I make movies to make them good – from that has come the success. But it was all unplanned. 

That’s why he released the Special Editions, a movie pretending to be the fourth Indy movie and 3D versions of the Star Wars films “to be good movies”

And here’s the smoking gun. From 1980 Rolling Stone

They’re rather sleazy, unscrupulous people. L.A. is where they make deals do business in the classic corporate American way, which is screw everybody and do whatever you can to make the biggest profit.

Patton Oswalt has a joke that if he could get in a time machine and change one thing it would be go back to 1990 and kill George Lucas to prevent him from making the prequels. I think if you did that, you wouldn’t have to kill him. You could just tell him about the stuff he would do and he might take care of it himself.

In case you’re wondering: 

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You Become the Things you Hate

                         The ceiling is too low.

 

None of the phones actually work. They are just plastic cases of the phones you would actually buy. To call them phones, however, would be an insult to their capabilities. They can really do remarkable things. They can take better pictures than cameras could 25 years ago. They can capture better video than a video camera could 15 years ago. They can send messages farther, faster, and easier than a fax machines could 20 years ago. They can give you directions from San Diego to St. Louis in less than thirty seconds. And instantly correct if you misstep along the way. They have internet speed in almost every part of the country that wasn’t even possible to get anywhere less than 20 years ago. These are just their built in functions. This doesn’t include the applications you can download that give you almost infinite amount of information, the only reasons I don’t say infinite is because in theory you could count it all, in theory. Even the mere downloading of applications is remarkable. The device essentially evolving new tasks in a matter of seconds. They can tell you how far away your bus is. They let you play video games that used to be only housed in box six feet tall. They let you deposit checks by taking pictures. They are evolving faster than anyone can keep track of. Because each new applications opens the door for more applications that weren’t possible before. They really, truly are one of the crowning achievements of technology in the last twenty years. That is not hyperbole.

All of the phones on display however can’t do any of that. They’re hollow. Their screens that are usually vibrant are static faded paper pictures. That show the home page of each phone, sunny weather, your inbox with new mail from friends, the date and time always on the weekend never the weekday. But, the phones don’t work, they’re hollow. Still attached by a security cable however. Because just the promise of that box is apparently to much to take.

The walls are covered in murals of families and friends outdoors. Not on cell phones, not even holding cell phones. The closest they show are two people talking through a tin can with some string. I fucking kid you not. They are all outdoors laughing with the friends. Unaware of the terrifyingly low ceiling.

           

The first time I came into the store I talked to Danny. I know this not because we advance far enough in pleasantries for me to learn his name. Or him to learn mine. But, because he is wearing a tag with a name on it. He was way to nice to me to have worked there for long. Danny was still under the delusion that he worked at a place that made it’s money selling amazing devices that literally could have saved lives 100 years ago. And probably do save lives now. He is glad to work there, he is glad to help bring people to their truly spectacular devices. Danny hasn’t learned yet that his company doesn’t make it’s money from those devices. Instead it makes its money from my longing for those stupid fucking devices. He hasn’t learned yet that its company makes its money from making me pay a $50 return fee for a phone I bought (in many ways) under wrong assumptions yesterday. Danny hasn’t learned that other people have also learned that about his company, as I hadn’t yet. Danny hasn’t learned that when people come in they take their anger of a rich stockholders and board memebers out on him. Danny hasn’t learned yet that he works for a shit company that really gives him shit benefits and pays him shit. He can’t even get free coverage.

The T-Mobile girl is perfect. Pretty enough for every guy to like her. Just plain enough (Breasts smallish. Nose bigish. Hair brownish) for every guy no matter how hideous to think, “Yeah, I got a shot at her.”

           

            The $50 restocking fee, is also to make sure that the associates give me the phone that will most meet my needs, I’m told by a man in his mid-30’s whom probably has a BA. This is odd considering I don’t think the associate’s going to help pay for it. And two, that the associate quickly talked me into the most expensive phone in the store (which I only learned later) from the phone I had come into the store wanting in a matter of seconds. But, repeatedly tried to sell me insurance and covers for my phone. But, failed to mention the restocking fee. “Oh, but you see it’s rights there.” On my receipt. That I got after I purchased my phone. I ask for a manager and to try and explain the full circumstance of situation. It’s been less than 24 hours. I misunderstood how expensive it was. I’ve been a customer for two years. I would still like a smart phone which with the extra data package my phone will require and my two year contract will equal $480 of extra money for T-Mobile. I’m a human being, etc.

                                                                                   

In phone commercials they never show people trying to change their plan or trying to understand the wording in their bill. Or being hand cuffed to a bed and sodomized.

           

To my knowledge I hadn’t called his grandmother a cunt in the past. Apparently I have. That is the only rational way to treat someone who is trying to give you money and then some more money. I know what has broken him though. He got this job because he loved these miracle devices. He marvels at how they can do almost anything. He loves staying in touch with his friends he went to college with on the east coast over Facebook and e-mail threads. He stays up on the inside jokes and how Charlie’s new baby is up too. He has been broken by a company that in a “declining quarter” makes $1.2 billion. A quarter if you don’t know is just three months out of the year. He of course knows how they did this. By charging families fifty cents for every text they go over. So, when Billy in junior high gets a new, smothering girlfriend with low self-esteem the Patterson’s have to fork over an additional $25.85. Or when Malcolm accidentally goes over on his data plan because he was told at the store, “that should be plenty” he believed them and when he frequently check the wavier wire of his fantasy football league to see if “Vikings Boat Party” dropped a quarterback to pick up a tight end it ended up costing him an additional $53.67. People who come in take their anger out on him. But, he can’t waive the fee even though he knows it’s wrong. Even though he understands more intricately the many ways T-Mobile misleads and deceives and tricks their costumers. He can’t do it because there’s a report that comes out every week. It compares every store in the market on many different metrics. How many upgrades each store sold and what percentages they were. And how much money each store brought in, in ‘Miscellaneous’ revenue. And including the majority of that is “fees” and “fines” and he wants to when the regional contest. Because, he wants T-Mobile to give his store $200 dollars to buy a new sofa for the break room. The one that is back there now is missing a cushion and the ones that are left are cover in some sort of gross soot. That is surely a mixture of sweat, ketchup, mustard, soda, marina sauce and countless more variants of food spillage. They have pitted us against each other. They will win. 

 

In Tanzania you can get a mobile phone coverage for 3 schillings per minute. Which equals .038548 of an American cent pet minute. The cheapest T-Mobile plan cost 8 cents a minute. Over 2,000% difference.

           

If your employer pays you a salary it is almost impossible not to own one of these phones. They expect you to own one of these phones. The except to know that no matter how these choose to ask you about the latest project you are working on that you will get the message immediately. And, any delayed response on your time is neglectfulness or sloth. Extra energy is created on why you didn’t have your phone on you. There aren’t many excuses anymore. No one turns their cell phones off in movies anymore. Service is for the most part spectacular. I was away from my desk. Doesn’t cut it. And god forgive you if you turn your cellphone off.

 

            I cancel my phone plan. I don’t get a new phone. I pay a $50 to give them back their phone. I call costumer service to complain about how I was treated like I was homeless and had shit in the middle of the store. And not someone that was spending in theory a thousand dollars. The man I speak with sounds very sincere and apologetic. He offers me an $125 credit to my account. Which I will take because even though I no longer have a plan my brother-in-law and sister who I share the plan with could use the credit. I discover right before its too late that he was actually tricking me into a two-year contract. I hate these people. Even though I understand. I hate them. I understand. I understand that making a living is making a living. But, fuck those people. I understand that they have to wear a name tag. I understand that they’re in the 30’s and tricking people into get self-sustaining fine and fee devices. When they think they’re getting a device that will allow them to run in fields bare foot with their families. That they’re getting a device that will not just help them have good times but help create those good times. But, fuck them.

 

I have a Sprint Evo 4G now. I love it more than I do   most people. I walk around angry a lot.

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Howard Zinn’s Greatest Generation

I read Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States this summer finally after I had been wanting to for years since Matt Damon told me to in Good Will Hunting. The book drastically changed my view of America and the role of the government. It has sent me reeling trying to redefine all my political beliefs I had developed over my life time. The book is a remarkable achievement using mostly smoking gun quotes to make his case instead of opinion. Like this,

It was an old lesson learned by governments: that war solves problems of control. Charles E. Wilson, the president of General Electric Corporation, was so happy about the wartime situation that he suggested a continuing alliance between business and the military for “a permanent war economy.”

Awesome America! The most stunning chapter is the one on World War II where Howard Zinn challenges the notion (very successfully) that WWII was a “People’s War” and that we fought it to purge the earth of evil. Instead he states that it was a war for economic reasons and we would have never got involved if American economic interests where never challenged. (We did sit on our hands for several years well the Nazi’s invaded all of Europe and began exterminating Jews.) But, I digress.


Since then I’ve been interested in other commentary Zinn had on the the War, which he fought in. The most interesting article I’ve been able to find so far is one Zinn wrote around the time of the release of the best selling book The Greatest Generation. Take it away Zinn:

What makes them so great? These men-the sailors of Pearl Harbor, the soldiers of the D-Day invasion, the crews of the bombers and fighters- risked their lives in war, perhaps because they believed the war was just, perhaps because they wanted to save a friend, perhaps because they had some vague idea they were doing this “for my country.” And even if I believe that there is no such thing as a just war, even if I think that men do not fight for “our country” but for those who run our country, the sacrifice of soldiers who believe, even wrongly, that they are fighting for a good cause is to be acknowledged. But not admired.

Hit’em again Zinn:

I refuse to celebrate them as “the greatest generation” because in doing so we are celebrating courage and sacrifice in the cause of war. And we are miseducating the young to believe that military heroism is the noblest form of heroism, when it should be remembered only as the tragic accompaniment of horrendous policies driven by power and profit. Indeed, the current infatuation with World War II prepares us-innocently on the part of some, deliberately on the part of others-for more war, more military adventures, more attempts to emulate the military heroes of the past.

Zinn purposes if we most honor the action of those in violence we should honor the members of Shay’s Rebellion (not the Founding Fathers), the Seven Civilized Tribes that fought for their land.

Zinn also nominates for the honor of “greatest generation” the men and women of the sixties who marched for civil rights and the end of the Vietnam War.

Interesting food for thought. Read the entire article here.  

More Howard Zinn on Memorial Day.

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A Cinema of Empathy: Spike Jonze and Where The Wild Things Are

by Jonathan Foster

It’s now happened twice, once in the form of a text message and once as an iChat response. And though they weren’t explicitly typed out, I suspect an alternating stream of question marks and exclamation points were more than likely implied: Seriously?!?!?!

That’s code for “Are you out of your mind?” Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe they were genuinely asking. Maybe there was only one question mark. I’m not so sure, though, because when another friend actually heard the news (not all of my interactions are electronic), he simply let out a disappointed sigh. That confirmed it. I was meant to feel shame.

I really wanted to like Where the Wild Things Are. But I didn’t. What’s worse is now I actually do feel ashamed. I experience a quiet pang of jealousy whenever I hear about someone else being swept away by the film. It’s like I’ve been chosen last for Team Nostalgia. No, it’s worse than that. It’s like I’ve been asked not to play at all, to sit on the sidelines and watch the other kids have all the fun. And it’s a terrible feeling. Thanks for nothing, Spike Jonze.

Okay, maybe I’m just being overdramatic. Jonze has given me plenty to be thankful for. He easily could’ve retired after his brilliant debut feature, Being John Malkovich, and still left behind an impressive array of dazzling and inspired music videos and commercials. He’s proven himself time and again to be one of our most gifted high-wire-act filmmakers, and in order to write about what he does so well with any degree of accuracy, I must abuse adverbs. That is to say, his best work is: deceptively simple, hysterically funny, unexpectedly insightful, wildly inventive, richly nuanced, surprisingly emotional. In the case of something like Malkovich, any given scene could be all of these things at once.

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