Sunday, June 22, 2008

Forced Hiatus

To the five people who actually read this blog:

Bye Bye Shadowlands is going on hiatus until the end of July. The reason: My Deadbeat Boyfriends screenplay now has an executive producer attached who wants to pitch it to the major studios. That all sounds great, except for one thing: He wants one more rewrite. Like, now.

It's a daunting task, but an offer I can't refuse. And realistically, the only way I can get it done is to remove all competition for my time. That's why I'm closing Conk Creative, sending my son to Mandarin Camp for two months and renting a room at the Holiday Inn Express in Chaska.

(I kid. I have a mortgage. I have a COBRA payment. I would never willingly go to Chaska.)

All I can realistically do is eliminate small distractions, and since writing BBS is just about my favorite thing to do, it's gotta go... mostly so I have more time to watch every Judd Apatow movie ever made.

See you in a month, by which time I should look something like this:

Friday, June 20, 2008

48 Hours of Pure Fun

Well, the festival is over. We premiered last night at the Riverview to good reviews, but alas, did not win the audience favorite award for the night. No matter, it was a fabulous experience. Tyler Richter, Brian Larson, Pfoser, Jen Manogue, Steve Johnson... you guys are simply the best.

And now, enjoy the film.

Genre: Drama
Mandatory Character: Mr. or Mrs. Perkinson (a substitute teacher)
Prop: a fish
Line of Dialog: "You look very familiar."

Sunday, June 8, 2008

A Special Request for Bill O'Reilly

Dear Mr. O'Reilly,

I've long admired you as a source of unfiltered truth and perspective. We share a common vision of America, and we know instinctively which elements of our free society serve to clarify, blur, obscure or darken that vision. You have never hesitated to shine a spotlight (whether politically correct or not) on the people, trends, schools of thought and ways of life that erode our well-earned exceptionalism. But to my mind, you have never upturned the rock that exposes the dangerous culture I witnessed first-hand last week.

A warning up front: This may shock you as much as it did me. Right here in the Heartland--right here in Minnesota, but also in an estimated 24 states in our union--lives a sect of some 200,000 people who openly turn their backs on this great nation. A complete list of their transgressions is too lengthy (and frightening). So in the interest of brevity, I will highlight only the most egregious.

The most extreme members of this group will not set foot in a Christian church--not only by choice, but by law. Despite the fact that this group has actually lived quietly for generations in this country, its people refuse--to this day--to speak English in almost any circumstance. (Its fundamentalist sect does not even deign to teach its children our mother tongue until the age of 7.)

Not only do these people shun American schools (deeming them unworthy) ... not only have they built their own ... but, in a frightening act of cultural appeasement, activist judges in our own U.S. courts have allowed these sleeper cell institutions to be constructed legally, with almost no oversight, under the guise of "religious freedom." (A frightening precedent for anyone who has witnessed the mainstreaming of the Muslim prayer room.)

In addition to thumbing its collective nose at our language and heritage (and sporting the funny beards that seem mandatory in splinter factions), this society also offers a flirtatious wink to socialism. When a man in its ranks does well financially in any given year, he is mandated (under the laws of the group's own quasi local government) to redistribute his wealth to other men whose work ethics fall short. Expectedly, this hippie-utopian ideal has resulted in an almost complete lack of proper incentive, bringing entire communities to the brink of poverty. I should add that this group does not deem our democratic elections worthy of participation. And, in an apparent attempt to destroy any modicum of accountability, it openly favors what we might call "going off the grid."

Now, if this were an isolated, disorganized society with no blueprints for fortifying its ranks, it would not draw or deserve scrutiny. However, I direct this question to you, Mr. O'Reilly: What would you estimate to be the average size of a family in this sect--four, five, six? In truth, it lies somewhere between seven and eight. As you no doubt are aware, if one ever questions a group's true ambitions and motives, its birth rate is the deadliest of giveaways.

And so, with this evidence presented, Bill (may I call you Bill?), I humbly request that you shine your no-spinescent light on this dangerous, anti-American, anti-English-speaking, anti-Capitalist fringe society. Thank you.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Thank You, Charles Krauthammer

Thank you, Charles Krauthammer. Thank you for demonstrating, in just one commentary, everything that is wrong and downright laughable about the Media Right.

Today’s syndicated effort, “The Radicals Are Back, Now Wielding the Environment” elicits a chuckle just from the title. (Imagine some crazy slobbering commie socialist lefty guerilla charging at you while wielding … the environment?)

But Krauthammer’s obfuscation, conflation, deception and manipulation are really no laughing matter.

1.

“I’m not a global warming believer. I’m not a global warming denier. I’m a global warming agnostic.”

From the get-go, K tries to equate global warming with religion. The device is simple: Use the language of atheists and agnostics (who presumably are “pro” global warming… a nice manipulative conflation) against them. I appreciate the attempt, but there’s one small problem. Religious zealotry is based on belief. Global warming alarmism is based on fact.

One cannot, at this point in time, “believe” or “not believe” in global warming. It’s something you either accept or don’t. And if you don’t accept it, it’s not because you have six close friends who actually study the issue using real instruments and real numbers. Face it, it’s because you just don’t want to. You don’t want to because it means you can’t sustain your lifestyle, you don’t like people telling you what to do, and/or you own stock in, work for or get paid by someone (directly or indirectly) with billions of dollars at stake in casting doubt on the issue.

2.

“If Newton’s law of motion could, after 200 years of unfailing experimental and experiential confirmation, be overthrown, it requires religious fervor to believe that global warming is a closed issue.”

Nice try. Really, Krauthammer is a good writer, and that’s what makes arguments like these all the more insidious. This is the latest example of something the Media Right does incredibly well: Common Sense Nonsense. “Hey, scientists once thought the world was flat, too!” “I can’t predict the weather tomorrow, let alone 20 years from now!” It’s brilliant manipulation.

The stock market can’t be predicted tomorrow, but financial planners make a living predicting its behavior over the long term, based on evidence. Newton’s laws of motion were never “thrown out,” they were given greater context by Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Doctors (who are scientists, people) once thought bleeding with leeches would cure your brain tumor. Today, I’d bet if your doctor told you to start chemo for that brain tumor, you wouldn’t say, “No, you guys once thought the world was flat. I’ll wait.”

(Side note: The threshold of “factual proof” for people like Mr. Krauthammer is so much higher for global warming that it was for going to war with Iraq. Why is that?)

3.

“Guess who does the rationing?”

I actually agree with the context of this zinger (that nuclear energy is an important part of the global warming solution). But K’s point is that the “Church of the Environment” eschews nuclear energy in favor of rationing, because the government does rationing, and liberals love government. I guess then, by the transitive property of logic, that a climatologist working in Britain who thinks knowing your carbon footprint is a good idea must then work for the United States government. (And K must be against the rationing that took place in World War II.)

The Media Right constantly plies its audience with the claim that “liberals love government” but “hate America.” (I’ve never understood the implied contrary point: that conservatives love their country but hate the institution that runs it… except the military.)

But to really understand this issue, consider this: Politics and method acting are the same thing: Look at who’s saying what, and ask yourself, “What’s their motivation?” Nobody loves government. The only motivation to love government is if you’re already in government, and you want absolute power. Academics warning the world about climate change are largely outside of government (especially the executive branch), so that doesn’t make any sense. Besides, if you want to take over the government, there are far more effective means to do so than “wielding the environment.”

The right thinks the left loves government because the left recognizes that in our history, the federal government has sometimes been the tool of last resort to blunt lawless behavior and correct social discrimination. Ending slavery? Had to be the federal government. Giving anyone except land-owning white men the right to vote… to VOTE… the federal government. Punishing corporations who ignore the law? If the industries can prove their moral fortitude and earn the right to self-regulate, great. Most haven’t. Has to be the government.

* * *

Here’s what K doesn’t want you to know. The people who “wield the environment” have little or no financial stake in that position. (Quick quiz: If Al Gore was motivated by money, would he: a) write a book on the environment and do a documentary; or b) become a K Street lobbyist for the oil and gas industries?). The people who keep saying “there’s no proof, we need more study, science is squishy (but it's time for my prostate exam)” by and large have an enormous financial stake in taking that position.

Which one do you trust?