Open Forum

Our new bi-weekly tradition continues.

Feel free to start up conversations on topics not covered in posts by OTB front-pagers in the comments below.

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FILED UNDER: Open Forum
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Kylopod says:

    Rhode Island isn’t an island. Iceland isn’t covered in ice. Greenland is. French fries aren’t French. English muffins aren’t English. Root beer isn’t an alcoholic beverage. Peanuts aren’t nuts. Sweet potatoes aren’t potatoes.

    Sea lions aren’t lions. Mountain lions aren’t lions. Flying squirrels don’t fly. Guinea pigs are neither pigs nor from Guinea. No centipede has exactly 100 legs, and no millipede has 1000 legs. Stomach flu isn’t a form of flu. Red hair is orange, not red.

    Chinese checkers is neither Chinese nor a form of checkers. The Pennsylvania Dutch are German, not Dutch. American Indians aren’t from India. Caucasians aren’t from the Caucasus. Anti-Semitism isn’t hatred of all Semitic people. Homophobia isn’t a phobia.

    White people don’t have white skin, and black people don’t have black skin. Being born in America doesn’t make you a Native American. An Asian isn’t someone from Syria, eastern Russia, or even the place called Asia Minor.

    The American South doesn’t include Arizona or New Mexico which touch the Southern border. It does include West Virginia, which shares latitude with New York. The War of 1812 ended in 1815. Pencil lead isn’t made of lead. American football mostly uses one’s hands. Reality TV is artificial.

  2. Douglast says:

    Farewell to Google Plus. Doug M’s posts on G+ are how I found and followed this site.

  3. Kathy says:

    @Kylopod:

    You left out common sense.

  4. Kathy says:

    Does anyone feel that air travel keeps getting worse every year?

    I mean specifically the ever-growing fees for things which used to be complimentary. Yes, I realize these were included in the price of the ticket, and not everyone took advantage of them. I recall many flights, not that long ago, which included two checked bags, where all I carried was a laptop bag.

    Still, not that long ago you could pick your seat without restrictions, and once airborne you could switch seats if any were empty. Then the seats with most leg room, the exit row seats and bulkhead seats, became available only for a fee, and woe onto you if you switched from a regular seat to an empty exit row one.

    Now some airlines, not all, are charging a fee for seats farther forward, even though they have no more leg room than those farther back.

    When checked bag fees became standard for the second bag, and then for the first, more people brought carry-on luggage to the cabin. Now some airlines are charging for that as well (allegedly to speed up boarding).

    Some ultra-low cost airlines charge a fee for paying through a call center or online. But not if you pay at the airport, though payment isn’t received at all airports.

    I’m sure there’s more, like disappearing in-flight screens.

  5. Teve says:

    Oliver Willis
    @owillis
    ·
    10h
    not only did trump not build the wall, he tripled the mexicos. promises not kept, indeed.

  6. Mister Bluster says:

    American football mostly uses one’s hands…

    Like my mama asked me as I watched NFL games when I visited her on Sundays.
    “Why do you watch football? All they do is run and fall down?”
    “That’s pretty much it mom. That’s what I like to see. All those guys running…on their feet!”

  7. Franklin says:

    @Kathy: I just took the family for a trip on American Airlines. They wanted to charge an extra $50+ per ticket to be able to guarantee we could sit together. Screw them. I figured no reasonable stranger would want to babysit my 5-year-old, and heck if that didn’t work I’d pay the stranger a hundred bucks to switch seats and I’d still come out ahead of what AA tried to charge us.

  8. EddieInCA says:

    Pursuant to my comment on a different thread, I’d like to ask people about their favorite movies, and what makes them different.

    I have an forever-evolving list of my 10 favorite movies. Currently it stands (in no particular order):

    Casablanca – Simply one of the two best scripts ever written (pretty much by consensus).
    Chinatown – The other best script ever written (used, along with Casablanca, to teach screenwriting at most film schools and universities.
    American Graffiti – Because it made me want to make movies and TV for a living.
    Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – Paul Newman at his finest. Redford wasn’t bad either.
    Jesus of Montreal (French Canadian Film) – Showed a different take on religious obsession
    Oldboy (Korean Action Film) – Damn. Just Damn.
    Godfather and Godfather II – Best sequel ever.
    Heaven Can Wait – (Warren Beatty version) – Because I was a Rams fan when it came out, and loved the story.
    Rashomon – Because it made me start questioning my own beliefs and judgements.
    Hard Boiled (John Woo) – In my opinion, the Hospital sequence is the 2nd best action sequence of all time. (Oldboy above being first). Both are one shot that last several minutes. No editing, no CGI or visual effects.
    Life of PI – Turning that novel into that movie is truly a work of art.

    Honorable mention:
    On the Waterfront
    Seven Samurai
    The Conversation
    Cinema Paradiso
    Pulp Fiction
    Midnight Cowboy
    Slumdog Millionaire
    Hurt Locker

  9. Mister Bluster says:

    Chinatown has always been tops on my list.
    And when I am asked what I’ve been doing my reply is always: “as little as possible”

  10. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: I only fly internationally (partially because of the things you mention but mostly because I like train travel when it’s available) so my experience is that flying has been getting a little nicer, at least since I stopped flying United.

  11. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Hard for me to do this question as I usually only watch movies for the brain deadness value they give me. (Same with television.) But as I think about it, I would have to say that two of my all time favorite movies were Traffic and Play Time, or maybe My Uncle. All by Jacques Tati. I also saw a really good documentary on Huey Long. These days, I watch movies only on airplanes and always end up thinking “boy I’m glad I didn’t spend ten or fifteen dollars watching this in a theater” (as opposed to spending a thousand to watch it on an airplane, but it’s not the same).

  12. EddieinCA says:

    @Kathy:

    Re: Travel

    I’ve been on the road on average 8 months out of the year since 2008, with my longest stint away being 19 months in South Florida.

    Yes. it has gotten worse…. for the average traveler. For the business traveler it hasn’t changed all that much. I’ve had, at minimum, Platinum status with American since 2009 and when I have to fly non-American or American Airlines Partner, I suffer because I’m used to getting the perks associated with my frequent traveling. I was Executive Platinum for two years, and, damn, what a difference.

    For the average traveler. Most don’t know how to act or behave when dealing with TSA, with baggage size and weight limits, with how small plane seats have become, with boarding groups, with the lack of free amenities. If you haven’t traveled in more than five years, you’re in for a shock in how much it’s changed.

    Upgrades? Better have points, miles, or be Executive Platinum, or Diamond.
    Free Food? Only in First and Business.
    Entertainment? Still free on many airlines. Others won’t even give you a screen to view = anywhere on the plane.
    Baggage? Gonna have to pay for any checked bags, and on some airlines (Spirit, Frontier, etc), you’ll have to pay for a carry-on other than your backpack or purse.

    Yes, Kathy. It’s gotten way worse.

  13. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Quarterly fiscal statements require increased revenue. Capitalism demands it.

    As a result, airlines are all about monitizing what used to be service.

    Consumers flock to the lowest cost carrier. And for air carriers to compete in a battle-to-the-bottom, they charge for what used to be free.

    If you want to experience air travel as it was, you have two choices:

    1) Pay for it up front by purchasing economy plus or business/first. Then you get no nickel-and-dime surprises. Or…

    2) Pick an airline and stick with it. An affiliate credit card will usually get you free bags (often for everyone in your party). Get to know Google Flights and make some fun runs to rack up some status.

    On Monday, I’ve got a 3 day trip to Dallas. Already the airline has upgraded me to first, and I never worry about bags. TSA precheck (free from affiliate card) makes the check-in at airport a breeze, and the airline club (also free from affiliate cards) makes waiting easier.

    Bottom line: only buy the economy saver fare if you want to feel like an untouchable.

  14. Mister Bluster says:

    John Houston makes Chinatown different. Rank evil personified.
    “I don’t blame myself. You see, Mr. Gittes, most people never have to face the fact that at the right time and the right place, they’re capable of ANYTHING.”

    Your two lists include at least 9 films that I have seen, 4 of which I have on DVD and watch often.
    Chinatown, American Graffiti, Butch Casidy and the Sundance Kid, Godfather, Heaven Can Wait (Beatty), Midnight Cowboy and The Conversation I know I saw in theaters. I was living in San Francisco when The Conversation was released which gave the experience an extra kick.
    Casablanca and On the Waterfront are two movies that I have seen on the small screen chopped up with commercials. I have Casablanca on DVD but I know it still isn’t the same as a movie house.
    One film I have seen on the big screen 47 years ago that you do not mention is Citizen Kane.
    Why did I think that it was on everyone’s top 10 list?
    I’m no film critic but I have it on DVD and watch it frequently.

  15. EddieInCA says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    One film I have seen on the big screen 47 years ago that you do not mention is Citizen Kane.
    Why did I think that it was on everyone’s top 10 list?
    I’m no film critic but I have it on DVD and watch it frequently.

    One of the things I love most about film and television is that it’s all opinion. I’m in the minority of “film people” who doesn’t think much of “Citizen Kane”. It just never touched me in any way. Heck, it wasn’t even my favorite movie of 1941, much less my own top ten. 1941 had “The Maltese Falcon”, “Sullivan’s Travels”, and “Suspicion”, all of which I enjoyed much more than “Citzen Kane”.

    But film appreciation, like painting, photography, sculpting, and music, is completely subjective. My top ten list is just that. My list. And I love hearing about other’s ideas of good movies, bad movies, movies hat matter, movies that truly suck, and especially the rare gem (“Snabba Cash”, the original Swedish, not the American remake.).

    You’re welcome.

  16. Kit says:

    @EddieInCA: I’ve never looked to films as anything other than escapism. My faves either keep my laughing or keep me dreaming. Most of these films have been on my list for years, while a few are more recent discoveries, and probably will not stand the test of time.

    Comedy:
    A Fish Called Wanda — perfect comedy
    Get Shorty — we all love films, and we can all dream about being a part of it
    Dirty Rotten Scoundrels — great team
    Young Frankenstein — another perfect comedy
    My Cousin Vinny — an unforgettable couple
    The Other Guys — it’s like a couple of writers opened up their notebooks containing years of jokes and discovered that they could string a movie together

    Other:
    White Men Can’t Jump — a love of language
    Bull Durham — I don’t even know where to start
    Lost in Translation — strangely beautiful film about alienation whose popularity surprises me
    Cabaret — a wicked wit runs through this that seems so far from our more cautious age
    The Fabulous Baker Boys — great cast, great story
    Strictly Ballroom — a sweet story wrapped around such a strange little world that it must be based on reality
    Ocean’s Eleven — so effortlessly cool and stylish that I wonder why Hollywood doesn’t try more often

    Adventure:
    Raiders of the Lost Ark — adore this
    Matrix — the Wachowskis shopped this story around for some time, constantly polishing it until they had every camera angle down, and that polish shows; Fishburne is the beating heart
    The Man Who Would Be King — they don’t make em like this any more
    Enter the Dragon — still shines
    Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon — beautifully filmed, stunning choreography, and about much more than fighting
    Sherlock Holmes (Downey Jr) — great casting, great visuals, great music and just so much better than it had any right to be
    Big Trouble in Little China — just so much fun
    Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl — a gem that no number of sequels can diminish
    Scaramouche — everything is dated, but that very fact lends the film a certain (sophisticated) innocence and purity that suits the story in a way that no modern take could hope to capture
    The Long Kiss Goodnight — fun
    Star Trek (2009) — stunning reboot that boldly went where few established properties dare
    The Man from UNCLE — stylish fun
    Guardians of the Galaxy — a gem
    Point Break — Patrick Swayze gives off a dangerous charisma
    The Quick and the Dead — great cast and lots of fun

    Musical:
    My Fair Lady — if you don’t like this, you are dead to me
    Moulin Rouge — what a burst of creativity
    Grease — Travolta!

    Animation (watching with young kids)
    The Incredibles — best of Pixar
    Kung Fu Panda 2 — funny (unlike the first)
    Puss In Boots — sweet and funny

    Noir
    Usual Suspects — I’m not even sure why I love this so much
    Reservoir Dogs —

    Foreign
    Three Musketeers (Russian) — ridiculous and dated and irresistible
    Diner de Cons (French) — delicious comedy that could never be made in Hollywood

    Samuel Johnson says somewhere that it’s remarkable how seldom we meet new people and care to share their company again afterwards. Films are much the same: I tend to enjoy the films I watch, without ever thinking of watching them a second time. But the films on my list keep me coming back, often for a variety of reasons. A few seem like perfect gems, while others resonate with a single quirk that speaks to me.

  17. CSK says:

    Has there been any word on Doug Mataconis?

  18. wr says:

    @Kylopod: Oh, and French Bulldogs are actually English.

  19. wr says:

    @EddieinCA: “Free Food? Only in First and Business.”

    United has gone back to giving free food to premium economy.

  20. @CSK: Unfortunately, nothing to report.

  21. Kathy says:

    @EddieInCA:

    One of my favorite movies is Tron, the original.

    The story’s not much, the plot device of going into the computer is silly, as is the notion that programs are sentient, the acting is ok (and Bruce Boxleitner appears with Peter Jurasik). But the look and feel of the movie is unique.

    It was a very labor-intensive look, which is why I assume it was never repeated, not even in the sequel. All the inside the computer scenes were filmed in black and white, legend tells us, and hand-painted with water color.

    The effect is of a very dark landscape that, one realizes, is made up almost entirely of light (this tends to fall flat when I mention it).

    There was an arcade game of Tron in the 80s, which looked close to the movie. It wasn’t much fun to play, not even the light-cycles portion. I last saw one in Vegas in 2010 at the Pinball Hall of Fame (all games, mostly pinball, are playable).

  22. Teve says:

    (and Bruce Boxleitner appears with Peter Jurasik).

    Jeez, get a room.

    😛

  23. MarkedMan says:

    Re: Biden’s “inappropriate behavior”. We’ve had two walk backs in the past few hours. First, the former Bernie campaign official who started it all, Flores, has “clarified” her statement to make it clear she wasn’t implying sexual harassment but only that he had invaded her personal space. Imagine! How could anyone think she was implying sexual harassment!

    And the subject of one of the pictures someone (no doubt other Bernie people) have been circulating to the media had this to say: ““The Joe Biden in my picture is a close friend helping someone get through a big day, for which I will always be grateful,” Carter wrote. “So, as the sole owner of my story, it is high time that I reclaim it — from strangers, Twitter, the pundits and the late-night hosts.””

  24. Kathy says:

    @EddieinCA:
    @Liberal Capitalist:

    The apologia of the industry is that at no time in the past have so many people been able to afford to fly, plus that flying has never been safer.

    This is true, but it’s also something we’ve been hearing since the 1980s. It was truer then, as airline deregulation allowed for lower fares which enabled more people to fly. Today we’re just on the long continuation of that trend. As for safety, that’s an ongoing effort decades long; where, for a change, we found a good means for increasing safety and we’ve stuck with it.

    Seat width in single-aisle coach hasn’t changed, much, since the 70s. It was mostly 3-3 seating then as it is now (I recall a few 727s or DC-9s with 3-2 seating). Leg room keeps vanishing, though, and partly to preserve some of it seat padding has suffered.

    I won’t go into the meal and entertainment situation.

    Instead I’ll claim that one factor which has contributed to an inferior experience, is the increasing efficiency of jet engines.

    How? By allowing smaller, single-aisle planes to carry out longer flights.

    At one time a 4-hour flight on a narrow body was considered long. Today that’s up to 6 hours. Going from Mexico City to NYC in the old days meant a wide body. Aeromexico still flies a 787 on that route sometimes, but also a 737. their low and ultra-low cost competitors fly A320s. That’s a 5:30 hour trip.

    While the coach seats on a wide body are little different from those on a narrow body, on a wide body jet, with it’s twin aisles and lavatories and galleys scattered around the cabin, there is room to move around, and places for people to gather. This option simply does not exist in narrow body, single-aisle planes (in some versions of the 757, there are midship lavatories which kind of do, but that model is well on its way out).

  25. MarkedMan says:

    @EddieInCA: I really try to avoid picking favorites, and certainly try to avoid picking bests, but I’ll give it a try.

    For instilling a lifelong love of movies:
    Star Wars – as hokey as it seems now when “A long time ago in a galaxy far far away…” seemed to roll over our heads, followed by that incredible spaceship, it was like nothing I had ever seen before.

    Raiders of the Lost Ark – Had no idea what I was going to see but saw it in a theater with one of the first wrap around sound setups. I felt like I was in that jungle with all the exotic bird noises coming from all sides. Amazing. And then when that giant ball rolled down, I was in heaven.

    Most profound effect on me
    The Deer Hunter – It’s an incredibly intense movie, and I’m old enough to have seen some of my friend’s older brothers come back from Viet Nam in a bad way, so I felt like I was getting an immediate window into things I had only read about. But at least part of the effect had to be the odd way I saw it. I was in college and it was one of the rare first run movies the Student Group would put on. It sold out right away, as did a second show, and me and my friends finally got tickets to the third showing. It was a long movie, so that started at like 2am. The dorms were separated from the academic side by a raised quarter mile walkway and about 1:30 we headed over. The walkway had a steady stream of students but they were all quiet, very unusual for college students. There was a small forest on one side of the walkway and athletic fields on the other, but a weird low lying fog had rolled in and filled it up, so it seemed like we were walking in a sea of smoke, plodding from streetlight to streetlight. When we got to the steep sided bowl of a theater everyone just sat there in silence waiting for the movie to start. I was a third of the way to freaked-out before the theater even went dark.

    Schindler’s List. No drama in getting there, but when my girlfriend and I left the theater we actually had to pull over into a parking lot for 15 minutes to process.

    Will rewatch over and over again:
    Lord of the Rings trilogy, extended edition. Alone, as a family, with random strangers, I would watch those movies anytime anytime, anywhere. And I’ve listened to every Directors/Actors/Set Designers/Special Effects dialogue while watching. Four sets of dialogue for each movie. I’ve watched all the extras, including the completely unrelated one about the New Zealand high school kid who won a local student film contest Peter Jackson and his wife judged. Well, unrelated except that it explains the Annie Lennox song that plays at the end, “Into the West” and what it’s really about. Have to admit to having watery eyes for that one.

    A Knight’s Tale – Love it, my family loved it when the kids were tiny and still loves it now that they are adults. And for a ridiculous bash and crash sword movie, it is surprisingly historically feasible. Even the part about the woman being in the metal workers guild and making his armor (which the other smiths don’t feel is real armor).

  26. grumpy realist says:

    @Kathy: I watched Tron when it originally came out along with all my Comp Sci friends. Which meant I got to hear a LOT about the computer animation and how certain things were done. There were also a lot of squeals of glee at some of the dialog, I remember….

    (The Solar Sailer in the film was totally programmed in Lisp, for instance.)

  27. Michael Reynolds says:

    @EddieInCA:

    2001: A Space Odyssey – Stunning imagery, a philosophical foundation..
    Star Wars (the original) – Pure, stupid fun. Great cast, great action.
    Galaxy Quest – A tight comedy screenplay, brilliant casting.
    Casablanca – A romance with a larger meaning. Also Bogie and Ingrid Bergman.
    The Big Sleep – Largely I just admire Chandler.
    LOTR trilogy – Peter Jackson not only didn’t fck it up, he improved on Tolkien.
    A Clockwork Orange – Brilliant manipulation. We like Alex, we hate him, we like him.
    The Shining – Two little girls, fully-lit, just standing there and I get goose-bumps just remembering.
    Psycho – Oooh, a new Janet Leigh movie. Oh, wait. What? Jesus Christ!
    Duck Soup – the best political satire ever. Chicolini may look like an idiot. . .
    Network – the second best political satire ever. Prophecy.
    LA Confidential – New noir.
    Baby Driver – Cool idea, well-executed.
    Die Hard – Never go barefoot, that’s the point. Sensible shoes.
    Mad Max Fury Road. Imperator Furiosa and an hour-long chase.
    Borat – OK, that was original. And funny.
    Monty Python and The Holy Grail – Coconuts and ‘strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government.’

    I could go on, but that’s some of the basics for me.

  28. Joe says:

    While I see many movies above that I really enjoyed (The Man Who Would Be King, The Quick and the Dead) and several that would be on my top 10 (Cinema Paradiso), how do we get through this many movies without someone naming The Graduate?

    The Graduate (along with Cinema Paradiso) has a special place for me because my son, who just shot a feature length movie in my house, refers to both of these movies that I showed him as pivotal in his career choice.

  29. CSK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I suspected as much, but it’s unsettling that someone could just drop out of sight. He must have family, friends, neighbors, clients–someone who would mark his absence.

  30. @CSK: I concur.

  31. Kylopod says:

    Dramas:
    Pulp Fiction
    Fargo
    The Shawshank Redemption
    Glengarry Glen Ross
    Do the Right Thing
    Brazil
    Dog Day Afternoon
    One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
    Casablanca
    Ed Wood
    Quiz Show

    Comedies:
    Groundhog Day
    The Big Lebowski
    The Princess Bride
    A Fish Called Wanda
    Modern Times
    The Great Dictator
    A Shot in the Dark
    The Naked Gun
    Duck Soup
    Moonstruck
    Annie Hall

    Horror/Thriller:
    Jacob’s Ladder
    Psycho
    Vertigo
    Silence of the Lambs
    Jaws
    Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
    Misery
    Night of the Living Dead
    The Sixth Sense

    Childhood favorites:
    The Empire Strikes Back
    Back to the Future
    The Wizard of Oz
    Raiders of the Lost Ark
    Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

  32. Mister Bluster says:

    …how do we get through this many movies without someone naming The Graduate?
    Because I do not have Total Recall.

  33. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: Shortest trip I’ve taken in the past 4 years was 12 hours, longest 16. This level of the travel industry is significantly nicer than it was both back in 69 when I went to Ireland and at least as nice as it was when I took my first trip to Korea in 2008–although the food on that Korean Air flight was exceptional.

    Outside of those situations, I never flew on an airplane from about maybe 79 until 2008. Either didn’t have the time or, mostly, didn’t have the money or the reason to travel. I’ve never traveled on business.

  34. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: It is all a matter of taste, isn’t it? When I saw

    Lord of the Rings trilogy, extended edition.

    I thought “ewwwww.” One of only a few movies I’ve ever been sorry I paid to see was The Twin Towers. My Dinner with Andre was another. I think it was one of two movies I’ve walked out on. The other was one where Michael Ontkean (?) was an aspiring singing star.

  35. CSK says:

    Elvira Madigan: Most. Boring. Movie. Ever.

  36. Guarneri says:
  37. @Guarneri: Using Zero Hedge for an April Fool’s joke is like using the Onion–no one thinks it is serious in the first place.

  38. Kit says:

    @Kylopod:

    Back to the Future

    Here, here! That should have been on my list. To paraphrase a review from the time: If you don’t like Back to the Future, maybe your problem is that you just don’t like movies.

  39. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    The longest trip I’ve taken in the past 30 years is about 3.5 hours, Mexico City to Las Vegas.

    My last long haul trip was in 1985, London to Houston, on a Continental DC-10. That was a great trip. The plane was 2/3 empty, so we could snag a whole middle row, raise the armrests, and lie down to sleep.

    I barely flew between 1991 and 2006. Since, I’ve flown once or twice a year on business, usually flights under 2 hours.

    This dates me quite well: the last time I flew an American carrier it was Pan Am in 1991.

  40. wr says:

    @CSK: “Elvira Madigan: Most. Boring. Movie. Ever.”

    Man, you can hold a grudge for a loooong time!

    I think that’s the first time I’ve seen this movie mentioned in thirty years!

  41. Michael Reynolds says:

    I’ve been flying a bit less this last year, but prior to that I was going back and forth to London at least twice a year, plus more local trips. I simply stopped flying economy. I just won’t do it anymore on a flight over an hour. There is literally nowhere I need to go badly enough that I will cram my 6’2″ and 210 pounds into a fcking sardine can. It would have to be a matter of life and death. And I’ve also reached the point where I avoid shitty airports insofar as it’s possible. Just sick of the whole rotten experience.

    Even when I have to pop down to LA I prefer whenever possible to drive. I put the top down, pre-cut some cigars, update my podcasts and audiobooks and music, and drive down to Paso Robles, check into the Allegretto, drink some wine, and drive into LA the next morning. That’s how far I’ll go to avoid airports and lousy planes.

    If I have to wander one more goddamned airport looking for an electrical outlet they’ll have to have security haul me out screaming. It’s 2019 FFS, literally EVERY passenger needs juice. Just like we need toilets and coffee. And air.

    And as for Air Alaska? I will never spend a single penny on their airline. Why? They destroyed Virgin America in an act of corporate vandalism, the greedy a-holes.

  42. Mister Bluster says:

    San Francisco Dreamin’
    I can’t remember the neighborhood theater I took my quadriplegic friend Joe to so we could watch the documentary I.F. Stone’s Weekly. It was late 1974 I believe.
    Even in California handicapped accessibility was barely getting ramped up at the time so if we were thinking at all we would call ahead for information.
    Some places had removed a seat or two, usually in the back row to accommodate a wheelchair and whoever was with them would have a seat next to them.
    The film was entertaining and informative. What sticks in my mind is that the small auditorium had an aisle down the middle. One side was the smoking section and the other was non smoking.
    Another night at the movies I remember while living in The City was a double feature my girlfriend Ruta Volodka recommended we attend. Women in Love followed by Lawrence of Arabia. I think I finally got out of that showing last week.

  43. CSK says:

    @wr: Some things you don’t forget. After 25 minutes of watching two fools rolling around in the grass and giggling, I told my date that if he wanted me, I’d be in the bookstore next door to the theater. Jesus, that was fwcking excruciating.

  44. grumpy realist says:

    Sometimes it’s not the movies themselves; it’s the pairing that makes the experience memorable. I remember one vacation where we watched two movies in successive evenings. One was “The Black Hole” (teeth-clinchingly bad. bad bad bad. I was counting the physics errors while my roommate was counting the errors in theology Disney had managed to produce.) Followed by “The Marriage of Maria Braun”. VERY interesting….

    My favourite movie at present still remains “Metropolis”.

  45. grumpy realist says:

    P.S. Results of next round of Brexit voting in Parliament. They broke down the 8 choices offered last week to 4, hoping that at least one would gain a majority. Nope! Continued snit-fits on the parts of the HoC, who continue to do nothing but throw their toys out of the pram.

  46. Guarneri says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Kinda like here, right?

  47. Tyrell says:

    @EddieInCA: I like your list and would put “High Noon” near the top: flawless performances by nearly every cast member. And the clocks. I love “The Magnificent Seven” – one of the best casts ever assembled. What, no Hitchcock films? I would go with just about any; my favorite is “North by Northwest”. I remember that people couldn’t wait for the next Hitchcock movie to come out. No other director has achieved that kind of a following.

  48. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Guarneri: I would have to agree. We take what you say about as seriously as an article in the Onion; only your not as clever.

    ETA: Have you found a solution to your squatter problem yet?

  49. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @grumpy realist: Yeah. I’d forgotten that one. I saw either a colorized or tinted print (can’t remember which now) in the 90s. The colorization or tinting didn’t add anything to the experience that I could tell. Great movie all around.

  50. Kathy says:

    I hate it when a product is advertised as “sugar-free” or “zero sugar,” and about the first ingredient you find is high-fructose corn syrup. It is very deceptive.

    Also, the gluten-free fad is going too far. Yes, I know about Celiac disease (very serious), and I’m willing to believe in gluten sensitivity. But, really, to advertise that raw beef is “gluten-free” is just stupid, unless you believe some cows are made of wheat.

  51. @Guarneri: I really find the practice of regularly visiting a site for the sole purpose of being jerky about said site.

    What is the goal/point?

    I have no respect for Zero Hedge, and therefore I do not frequent the site. If you have a similar view of OTB, why hang around?

  52. EddieInCA says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    As someone who visits and comments at Hot Air, Rod Dreher, The Resurgent, National Review, and a few other right leaning sites, it’s become obviously clear that too many on the right, the ONLY thing that keeps them in the “conservative” camp is the ability to troll liberals, or to use their parlance: “to pwn the libtards”. That’s it. So they will often post positions that run diametrically opposed to positions they held previously just to piss off liberals. If you want to see it in government, see Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham for examples one and two.

    Say what you will about McCain, he hated Trump the candidate and he hated Trump the president. At least he was consistent. Meanwhile, other stalwart “constitutional conservatives” keep throwing away their legitimacy by ignoring their previous beliefs to now support Trump. (Erick Erickson, David French, Rich Lowry, and Glen Beck Come to mind first and foremost).

    I have newfound respect for Bill Kristol, Max Boot, and Stephen Hayes – even though I disagree with most of their positions – because at least they were consistent and direct in their criticism of Trump and have stayed unabashedly anti-Trump, even when it has left them with professional problems. I still don’t like their Neo-Con positions, but I respect the stand they’ve taken in regards to Trump’s fitness for the presidency.

  53. Kylopod says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Don’t get me started on colorization. Aargh!

    I hope no one has the misfortune of having watched a good B&W film for the first time in colorized form. I know I did a couple of times (Arsenic & Old Lace is one). It just depends what’s showing on TV at the time. But over the years I developed a policy of never watching colorized films if I had the choice. I feel like it kind of ruins the film. Of course, when I was a kid the colorization process used to be pathetically bad; it looked like someone took crayons to the picture. It’s gotten better since then. But I don’t believe it is ever justified, and it always detracts from the viewing experience.

    Roger Ebert wrote a wonderful essay on this topic:

    I have no doubt there are sincere people who believe that colorization “improves” a movie, that a black and white movie is somehow missing something. These people are sincere, but they are not thoughtful. They have never looked inside to ask themselves what their standards are, why they enjoy what they enjoy, why certain movies work for them. Everyone has seen many black and white movies. Were they not enjoyable? Did they not seem appropriate in black and white? Were they missing something? Were they, for example, missing an ugly overcoat of “colors” slapped on top of the blacks and white and grays, to provide a tarted-up imitation of color, like cosmetics on a corpse?

    There are basic aesthetic issues here. Colors have emotional resonance for us. Reds have passion, yellows speak of hope, green is sickly. On a properly controlled palate, a color movie can be a thing of wonder – although many of the earliest Technicolor movies look silly today because such an effort was made to throw in lots of bright colors to get the studio’s money’s worth.

    Black and white movies present the deliberate absence of color. This makes them less realistic than color films (for the real world is in color). They are more dreamlike, more pure, composed of shapes and forms and movements and light and shadow. Color films can simply be illuminated. Black and white films have to be lighted. With color, you can throw light in everywhere, and the colors will help the viewer determine one shape from another, and the foreground from the background. With black and white, everything would tend toward a shapeless blur if it were not for meticulous attention to light and shadow, which can actually create a world in which the lighting creates a heirarchy of moral values.

    Ebert came from an earlier generation than I, and I don’t think he totally understood why people raised in the ’80s or later often find B&W hard to get used to (and I say this as someone who probably grew up watching more B&W films than a lot of kids in my generation, since my parents used to rent Chaplin, Marx Bros., and old musicals for me and my brother). People who see mainly color films are habituated to think of B&W as quaint, unnatural, and at a certain level not as pleasing to the eye as color.

    But Ebert was absolutely right that B&W cinematography has its own qualities; it isn’t just the absence of color. And colorizing means you’ve got to add a lot more information than was in the original image or was ever meant to be there; this is extremely difficult to do and make it look completely natural, but even if you succeed at making it look natural, you can’t escape the fact that it was not filmed that way, so you’re detracting from the filmmaker’s original vision. B&W movies were filmed using B&W techniques, which get lost when changing them to color.

    In a way, it has parallels to the dubbing of foreign films. I can understand why some people who have trouble reading subtitles would prefer the dubbed versions (not a problem for me as I’m a fast reader, but I’ve had friends with dyslexia or who just find it distracting to read captions while watching a film), but it intrinsically brings a certain falseness to the movie that’s hard to get around. Colorization has that sort of effect, only with a lot less justification, as nobody “needs” to watch movies in color, it’s just a matter of what you’re willing to get used to, and I can tell you from experience: it’s not hard to get used to B&W, and the rewards are many.

  54. An Interested Party says:

    I have no respect for Zero Hedge, and therefore I do not frequent the site. If you have a similar view of OTB, why hang around?

    I guess he needs the shits and giggles between making all those billion-dollar deals…

  55. Kathy says:

    @grumpy realist:

    My favourite movie at present still remains “Metropolis”.

    I had a DVD of the original Fritz Lang shoot, no colorization or modern music (BTW, I love Bonnie Tyler’s rendition of “Here She Comes”). I also read the book by Thea von Harbou.

    It’s ok. Visually way ahead of its time (like waaaaaaaay ahead). Historically, it had a huge influence on the whole SF Dystopian genre.

    But, you know, I always think of Silverberg’s “The World Inside” whenever I think of “Metropolis.” Probably because they’re both dystopias set within a futuristic urban environment.

  56. Teve says:
  57. MarkedMan says:

    @Kylopod:

    I hope no one has the misfortune of having watched a good B&W film for the first time in colorized form.

    For a different kind of colorization, I heartily recommend Peter Jackson’s “They Shall Not Grow Old”. He took silent, black and white, hand cranked film from WWI and speed matched it, cleaned up the dirt and scratches, and used modern techniques to restore sharpness, contrast, white balance, etc. Suddenly the cartoonish herky jerky soldiers marching across Europe are real people. And for about a third of the hour and a half documentary he colorized it and the effects are magical. These are not just real people, they are your neighbors, your children, your spouses. Of course, it wasn’t a crude colorization. He consulted for more than a year with historians and collectors to make sure every uniform, every insignia, every vehicle was just the right color. He visited a number of the real locations to get the color of the soil and the right shades of green in the vegetation. Truly amazing.

  58. Kathy says:

    @Kylopod:

    Well, people shot movies in black and white because that was what the technology of the time allowed. Later some filmmakers chose to use B&W, either as an aesthetic choice (Citizen Kane), or monetary considerations, or even as a plot device (Pleasantville).

    I agree, though, that colorizing B&W movies tends to ruin them. Accept that some movies are not in color and either watch them or don’t, but leave them as they are. Classics like Casablanca, Macario, Citizen Kane, The Elephant Man, and many more won’t improve with color.

    As to dubbing, I refuse to watch anything dubbed into any language for any reason. Simply because it destroys the original performance, whatever it may have been. Also because some terms simply don’t translate well, and make for terrible dubbing (though that’s an issue with subtitles as well).

    Trivia: for their early talkies, Laurel and Hardy would shoot the original in English, and then they would reshoot in French, Spanish, etc. using different casts of people who spoke these languages. Laurel and Hardy would memorize their lines phonetically.

  59. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy:

    I refuse to watch anything dubbed into any language for any reason.

    I avoid it, but there have been times when I’ve had little choice. For instance, I wanted to watch La Cage aux Folles (the basis of The Birdcage), and all Amazon Prime offered was the dubbed version. I know there’s a subtitled version out there, but I was not going to hold off watching the film until I could track it down.

    I also went through a phase watching Jackie Chan’s Hong Kong movies, which feature amazingly bad dubbing, the kind of laughable out-of-sync dialogue that give way to all the stereotypes about Asian cinema. (To give you an idea how poor the translations are: One of the movies is called Wheels on Meals. Another is called Operation Condor II even though it came out several years before the movie called Operation Condor.) But then, these films are supposed to be awful: you watch them for the stunts, not the plot. They’re kind of like circus acts.

    When Ang Lee’s film Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon came out in theaters, I was pretty relieved to find it subtitled, not dubbed. It enabled me to appreciate it in a way I had trouble doing for Chan’s movies, despite Chan’s considerable talents as a stuntman, martial artist, and physical comedian. (Reportedly the accents in Crouching Tiger were all wrong, but that’s not something an American with no knowledge of the Chinese languages is going to notice.) But later when I saw it playing on cable, I discovered it was a dubbed version. I realized how fortunate I was to have watched the subtitled version. It can make all the difference in the quality of the moviegoing experience.

    Laurel and Hardy would memorize their lines phonetically.

    I have heard of actors doing that for films. Ron Perlman did it in The City of Lost Children even though he doesn’t speak a word of French in real life. Reportedly the guy who played the Shaman in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom spoke no English. The imdb says the guy who plays the Dutch businessman in Hostel spoke no English, but truth be told, I’m not sure whether to believe that; it’s pretty incredible if true, because he has lengthy monologues that sure sound like he understands what he’s saying, and it’s a good performance. I guess it’s actually possible for an actor to convincingly fake language comprehension.

  60. Kylopod says:

    @MarkedMan:

    For a different kind of colorization, I heartily recommend Peter Jackson’s “They Shall Not Grow Old”. He took silent, black and white, hand cranked film from WWI and speed matched it, cleaned up the dirt and scratches, and used modern techniques to restore sharpness, contrast, white balance, etc. Suddenly the cartoonish herky jerky soldiers marching across Europe are real people.

    That’s pretty fascinating, I might check that out.

  61. Kit says:

    @Kathy:

    As to dubbing, I refuse to watch anything dubbed into any language for any reason. Simply because it destroys the original performance, whatever it may have been.

    I agree, but what one gains in hearing the original voice, one loses in missing the facial expressions due to having to focus on the bottom of the screen.

    I’m guessing that Hollywood (or whoever is responsible for dubbing) does such a poor job because Americans generally shun foreign films, and so it is not popular enough to demand real quality. In countries such as France, dubbing is a profession. It starts with serious translators who take care that the new words to fit the movements of the mouth, and ends with specialized vocal actors. In addition, these actors tend to be permanently paired with the original actor across all films. This adds a little something, and I’ve occasionally heard people who claim to prefer certain dubbing actors over the originals. While the voices never attempt an actual imitation, on my first trip to France, I remember turning on the hotel TV and finding a Sylvester Stallone film playing, probably Rambo. I found the voice so convincing that I wondered if it belonged to Stallone himself.

    I know that actors such as Jodie Foster sometimes dub themselves.

    And I remember an Hungarian colleague once telling me about some cartoon series (The Flintstones ?) that was basically reworked top to bottom into a completely different show.

    And that’s all I have to say about dubbing.

  62. MarkedMan says:

    @Kit:

    profession. It starts with serious translators who take care that the new words to fit the movements of the mouth

    I gotta think this will be soon solved by technology. CG-ing a mouth to match dialog is certainly feasible now (and I believe has been done) and sooner or later it will be cheap enough to do on a regular basis.

  63. Kathy says:

    @Kylopod:

    I avoid it, but there have been times when I’ve had little choice.

    I wanted to see the movie “All The President’s Men,” which I found on Google Play, but dubbed in Spanish. I still would like to see it. I’m very inflexible in this regard.

    As to phonetics, I’ve seen something very much like it. Namely people who don’t speak Hebrew read a phonetic transliteration of prayers, specifically the Kadish, they absolutely have to be able to utter at certain times. They literally have no idea whet they’re reading, though they may recognize some words here or there.

    I also know people who can’t speak English at all, again except for a few words, who can memorize song lyrics of popular songs. I find that even funnier when they sing along to the radio, no clue what they’re saying.

  64. gVOR08 says:

    Off the topic of dubbing, in Godel, Escher, and Bach, Douglas Hofstadter has an interlude quoting Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky with translations into French and German:

    Il brilgue: les toves lubricilleux…
    Es brillig war. Die schlicten Toven…

    I suppose the concept of translating gibberish was more striking forty years ago, before French and German media translated Trump’s tweets.

  65. Kathy says:

    @Kit:

    I agree, but what one gains in hearing the original voice, one loses in missing the facial expressions due to having to focus on the bottom of the screen.

    I suppose it depends on how fast you read, and how fast you can learn to recognize common words and phrases. Until age 15 or so, I read subtitles in English movies (99% of all movies I saw), and didn’t feel I missed anything.

    As to dubbing, Mexico has a long tradition of quality dubbing. Local channels have been showing mostly US series dubbed into Spanish. I find them unwatchable.

    And I remember an Hungarian colleague once telling me about some cartoon series (The Flintstones ?) that was basically reworked top to bottom into a completely different show.

    Do you know an animated show called “Top Cat” form the early 60s? It was a huge hit in Mexico, all thirty episodes, in the 1970s in reruns. It was like a staple of TV viewing, always on daily in some channel. The dubbed version is completely different, from the names of the characters, to their accents, to some of the dialogue.

    The Flintstones, also a huge hit and staple, was pretty much unchanged, aside from the names. Likewise The Jetsons.

  66. Teve says:

    Trump is now saying on Twitter that right after the 2020 elections, when the Republicans win back the house, the Republicans will unveil a great healthcare plan.

  67. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kylopod: I don’t feel as strongly as you do, but the first “colorized” movie that I saw was The Maltese Falcon. I thought colorization added nothing to the overall experience. The colors seemed too muted and as a consequence detracted from the “noir” qualities of the movie.

    Everything was beige.

  68. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: I’m almost tempted for the sake of the amazing face plant that would become. I know that the “faithful” (47% of the electorate, btw) would not change their minds, though, so the comic antics would be all for naught.

    If it’s not going to destroy the GOP and cause realignment in the Conservative Movement, it’s not worth doing. (And no, I don’t think either of those things is coming any time soon.)

  69. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy:

    Namely people who don’t speak Hebrew read a phonetic transliteration of prayers, specifically the Kadish, they absolutely have to be able to utter at certain times.

    People only do that if they don’t really have a choice. Reading Hebrew isn’t an easy skill to pick up if you weren’t taught it as a kid. For some people, these transliterations are their only reliable way of determining the sounds of the language at all.

    Of course Roman script can only approximate what Hebrew actually sounds like, and if you attempt to read the transliteration without any knowledge of what Hebrew sounds like, you’re unlikely to sound anything close to the real thing. And that’s not to mention the fact that Artscroll has a curious practice of combining Ashkenazi consonants with Sephardi vowels in its transliterations, producing a hybrid form of Hebrew that no one uses; it’s sort of like if you taught someone to speak half like an American, half like a Brit.

    I find that even funnier when they sing along to the radio, no clue what they’re saying.

    Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

  70. Kylopod says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    The colors seemed too muted and as a consequence detracted from the “noir” qualities of the movie.

    Ironically, some neo-noir films in the modern age have used B&W to help better capture the genre (The Man Who Wasn’t There, Memento, Sin City).

  71. MarkedMan says:

    Re; colorization. I recommended the Peter Jackson documentary that colorized the WWI footage. Reading the comments above gave me a “duh” moment. Of course a meticulous colorization of such footage would make it better, because the goal of everybody involved, from the original cameraman to Jackson’s crew, was to make it represent real life as closely as possible. On the other hand, in a movie, choosing the color palette and designing the costumes around that palette is significant enough that the director has to approve it and important enough that it has an Oscar category. But in a black and white movie that process never took place. There is no reality to achieve. Rather it is someone showing up decades later and adding their own artistic vision to the original.

  72. Josh Goldberg says:

    any updates on Doug?

  73. grumpy realist says:

    @Michael Reynolds: When Star Wars first came out I managed to convince my father to come and see it with me–which he did, along with one of his friends. They chuckled quite a lot and told me afterwards that the movie contained a lot of cliches found in WWII movies and that they loved the dogfights.

    Oh, and in the Japanese version of Star Wars, when Leia first meets Luke, her line is “you’re a cute stormtrooper!”

  74. James Joyner says:

    @Josh Goldberg:

    any updates on Doug?

    Afraid nothing since this post from last week.

  75. Teve says:

    Can we all agree on an abstract image to use whenever the subject is Mitch McConnell? Nobody needs to wake up a little early, have 15 minutes to kill, check the websites, and be hit in the face first thing in the morning by the sight of Mitch McConnell. Or right before lunch. Or when their stomach is already a little uneasy. Or ever.

  76. Jax says:

    @Teve: Ha! Trump, too, for that matter. The orange skin tone, weird hair and the obvious “The lights are on but nobody’s home” look in his eyes is just too much.

  77. Teve says:

    Trump just claimed on TV that his dad was born in Germany.

    I think the Republicans are about to have another Reagan situation on their hands.

  78. Teve says:

    Whale Is Found Dead in Italy With 48 Pounds of Plastic in Its Stomach

    Glad AOC hasn’t been able to accomplish anything environmental yet. Because clearly everything is going really sustainably and fine and we can totally keep this shit up forever without any serious consequences.

  79. Jax says:

    A Chinese national was caught at Mar-A-Lago with multiple passports, electronic devices, and malware on a thumb drive. Wonder how many have slipped thru the cracks that we never heard about?

  80. Kathy says:

    Interesting take on US decline from Foreign Policy.

    If history teaches us anything, it’s that nothing is inevitable and nothing has to happen. And yet, when reading the link, I was reminded of Jugurtha, the Numidian king who spent lavishly on Roman Senators, and who once said of Rome “A city for sale, and doomed to destruction if it should find a buyer.”

  81. Kylopod says:

    Earlier today Trump said “my father is German, was German. Born in a very wonderful place in Germany.” Fred Trump was born in New York.

    This must represent some kind of new threshold for him. With his previous lies, no matter how ridiculous or provably false, at least you understood why he was telling them–from claiming Mueller exonerated him of obstruction to boasting about the size of his, um, crowds.

    But what could possibly be the point of claiming his dad was a native German? It’s a pure non sequitur.

  82. Mister Bluster says:

    @Kylopod:..But what could possibly be the point of claiming his dad was a native German?

    Maybe Fred Trump is not his real father! Let’s see his Tax returns!
    (wait a minute)
    Let’s see his Birth Certificate!

  83. Teve says:

    Today Trump said his father was born in Germany, he twice had trouble saying the word origin, and then he claimed that the noise from wind farms causes cancer.

  84. CSK says:

    @Teve: I actually watched the part of the speech in which he said that about noise. Dear God. Somebody please get the hook.

  85. Kathy says:

    @Teve:

    Didn’t Saint Ronald once claim trees caused air pollution?

  86. grumpy realist says:

    OT: (Your local Brexit news-speaking of splitting): 1. Theresa May is now trying to connive an agreement with Corbyn (head of the Labour Party), resulting in 2. Total screaming from the hard-right Tories and even more talk about “getting rid of Theresa May” which is a bit difficult since their Nov. 2018 vote of no confidence didn’t go through which means that theoretically May can’t be ousted until Nov. 2019. 3. May has also asked the EU for another little extension, resulting in 4. Barnier saying “NON!” and telling her that she has only until April 12 to come up with something, otherwise it’s tits up and lights out. Looks like the rest of the EU has become totally fed up with dealing with the U.K.’s identity crisis and is perfectly willing to kick them off the doorstep.

    Also ran across a great description of Brexit, which I now quote (by Hugo Rifkind):

    The thing is, the best way to understand Theresa May’s predicament is to imagine that 52 percent of Britain had voted that the government should build a submarine out of cheese.

  87. Neil J Hudelson says:

    The EU just rejected May’s extension request. Britain has (for now) 9 days to put together and pass a plan. Buckle your seat belts, folks.

  88. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: How about the cover from Yertle the Turtle by Dr. Seuss? It looks like Mitch but clearly isn’t. linkie

  89. Teve says:

    @Kathy: probably. That dumbass took solar panels off the roof of the white house. The GOP has been pandering to idiots for quite a while.