Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Voting in Lexington (pop 6000)

Just got back from the polling booths.

A lot of people were voting for that handsome young man, John McCain.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Lou Dobbs Thinks that it's 1811

I think I might have to switch to Fox News so that I don't have to be exposed to crazy, jingoistic nutjobs.

I'm exposed to a mere 2 minutes of Lou Dobbs tonight and the subtitle scrolling across the bottom of the screen is "Mexico's Meddling". They're running a report on Mexico's President Calderon, who is roaming the United States shaking hands and doing whatever politicians normally do.

The Dobbs broadcast calls this OPERATION DUAL SOVEREIGNTY.

Let me specify, because any sane person would normally think that this is worry about undue U.S. influence over Mexico. No. It's Dobbs and crew worried about Calderon trying to, I guess, turn the United States into a puppet regime.

Though, I think I've discovered the train of logic.

  • Barack Obama is surging in the Democratic primary.
  • If Barack wins the primary it's highly likely that he'll become president.
  • Barack is a senator from Illinois.
  • Illinois has a GDP equal to that of Mexico. (but, you know, still lower than three other U.S. states).
  • Thus, Mexico = Illinois.
  • Thus, Barack is a senator from Mexico.
  • Thus, a Mexican will be president of the U.S.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Super-delegates -- A Nightmare in the Making

It looks like this concern is starting to get public notice, but just to spread it a little wider:

ABC has a write-up of the arcane policy of super-delegates.

The upshot, in my understanding, is that in the Democratic primaries, the ordinary voting folk choose 3253 of the 4049 total delegates (a little over 80%). 796 (19%) of those delegates go whatever direction they please. Any reasonably close race and even some unreasonable scenarios would certainly end up being thrown into the hands of those super-delegates.

My feeling is that if the ultimate winner of the primary is also the winner of either the popular vote or the regular delegate vote, there won't be a problem.

But if the voters go one way and the super-delegates make the primary go the other way, it'd be a catastrophe for the Democratic party.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Microbudget Movies: Locations -- the Convenience Store

I thought I'd share some of my experiences writing for microbudget movies -- in this case Marlowe (working title?), where I got to visit the set last November. I believe it came in at 200k. I'm told they target this number because SAG and the DGA have special contract provisions for films made at that budget. Other breakpoints are 600k and 1.7M.

Needless to say, everything is a challenge to fit into that budget. Actors are actually the easier part, since you can get talented but as-yet-unknown people willing to work to add to their reel and build up their credits -- and they'll work HARD.

Locations are the monster! You can't have very many of them and they can't be expensive.

We had several important scenes set in a Quickee Mart. Since they couldn't afford a big chain store like 7-11 or, my personal favorite, Circle K, they worked with a privately owned store (which actually had Quikee as part of the title--how fortuitous). One thing about mom & pop convenience stores -- they make a lot of their money on liquor, pornography, and lottery tickets. The Lotto was fine and the mom & pop had kids, so not much porn out in plain view, but there was a lot of liquor, and this being a kid's movie all that had to be hidden.

Big movies can make money off product placement. Small movies could too -- if they had the time and connections available to clear all the legal hurdles. We of course didn't -- so we had a bunch of the crew inside the store turning all the candy bars and bags of chips upside down or backwards so that their trademarks wouldn't appear on camera. A distressing number of candy bars have their trademarks printed on the back too! At the last minute they got a product placement deal from the Little Debbie people, so we were able to hide a bunch of stuff behind Devil Squares and so on. Debbie has our undying gratitude.

Another issue was that all the refrigeration units had to be turned off whenever they were recording for sound. The microphones are very sensitive and would pick up the hum. Being a convenience store, many of the refrigerators were filled with ice cream -- so you'd unplug them and have to plug them back in right away when they finished shooting. And you'd have to turn off almost all the power since the entire store is wrapped in refrigeration units!

Since that experience I've been a lot more conscious of using locations that don't involve batteries of brand names staring at the camera (for example, I'm now a big fan of the rural road produce stand -- but not on a paved road, because you need special permission to block those off).

ADDENDUM -- also, our Quickee mart apparently was the number one seller of lottery tickets in California!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Heh, heh, spin states, heh, heh


As we all know -- it's a cliche -- new communication technologies catch on for the first time when they are used for the distribution of pornography. -- Charlie Stross