Thursday, January 31, 2008

Catching up with the State of the Law

There's nothing like an MCLE compliance deadline to catch up on the law. California has a 25 hours over the course of three years requirement (it used to be 36 hours), where four must be general ethics, one on elimination of bias in the legal system, and one on substance abuse. I filled out the missing hour of general ethics last night at a Beverly Hills Bar Association Entertainment Section meeting last night that also gave me time to chat with Marybeth Peters, the Registrar of Copyrights.

I first met Marybeth about 20 years ago, when I worked with attorney Charles D. Ossola on behalf of the American Society of Magazine (now, Media) Photographers lobbying on copyright issues, particularly work made for hire. At that time, I think Mary Beth was chief counsel to Ralph Oman, who was the Register of Copyrights when I lived and worked as a photographer in the D.C. Area. I also met Bill Patry, who at that time was also a lawyer at the Copyright Office, and who remains one of my favorite writers on copyright law matters.

I've run into Marybeth a number of times over the years, but it has been a while. Since I started working at the community college, it has been more difficult for me to get to MCLE events, which often take place during the day--sometimes all day. That's why I haven't been to "The Copyright Office Comes to Los Angeles" in four years, despite the fact that it is one of the most interesting MCLE programs for a copyright lawyer to attend. It's an intense look at litigation, regulation, and legislation dealing with copyright and Mary Beth is always there with a crack team from her office.

We chatted about the people we knew in common, such as Chuck Ossola, former ASMP Executive Director Richard Weisgrau, ASMP legal counsel Vic Perlman, and current ASMP Executive Director Gene Mopsik. Then I asked her about current legislation, particularly the Orphan Works provision, the current and possible future chairs of the House committee overseeing copyright law, and Lawrence Lessig.

Distressing to me was learning that Rep. Howard Berman wants to leave his chairmanship of the copyright committee to take a different chairmanship. I first met Congressman Berman several years before I met Marybeth and I am beside myself that this friend to creators will no longer head the committee. In his place, Rick Boucher of Virginia, who is much more broadcaster-inclined. I wish there was something which could be done to change Congressman Berman's mind. He always recognizes me when we are at the same event. I've always felt comfortable calling his office with issues and he's always made sure I get attention. And I don't even live in his district out here in California.

The Orphan Works provision is one that photographers have actively worked against, because the result appears to be that there will be no real economic recourse for work which is used without permission. Marybeth told me that the problem with photographs is that they are rarely filed with names--the most common registration, because of the sheer number registered at one time by photographers, is done with sequential numbers. And she said that her department is under some sort of order to set up a filing system with the actual registered works. I said that I thought the office got rid of stuff after three years. She said they actually kept unpublished work for longer and now no longer destroy it. I did express concern about the band width and other storage issues they must face trying to come up with solutions and she told me that very few people actually understand what kind of technological problems they do face.

Lawrence Lessig is now an adviser to Barack Obama, which is kind of scary to me since Lawrence Lessig is no friend to copyright owners. I don't think he knows how to make a distinction between big corporations and individuals who create copyrights and live by them. After all, he gets paid by Stanford University to teach, so he doesn't have to make a living by writing and collecting royalties. Mind you, I agree with Lessig that the latest term extension to our copyright act was not necessary--I think that the life of the copyright creator plus 70 years is a long-enough monopoly--but I think Lessig wants to reduce the length of time from that standard. He's apparently not terribly concerned that might pull us out of compliance with international copyright conventions.

Alex Albrecht from Diggnation was on the panel dealing with new media delivery. He was a fun addition to a stage of lawyers and an agent. He looks a lot like Blake Lewis from last season on American Idol. He was described as "Internet Star." After a brief description of the Diggnation show, a friend sitting next to me said it sounded like "Wayne's World" and I had to agree.) During that part of the program, on New Media Distribution and Delivery, there was discussion on the amount of money currently being spent to advertise and the expectation of future revenues (many billions in about 3 years.) Currently companies spend 7.5% of their advertising dollars on the Internet. Seems to me there's money to share with the companies

I guess I should check out Alex's show sometime. Diggnation started with three people and a camera (there is now a studio with more than 20 employees.) It did make me think that I should set up a video camera on Len and begin airing episodes of "Len in Comicsworld." He's got great stories to tell about working in comics, since he met or worked with so many of the Golden and Silver Age creators and editors (he is actually often included in the ranks of Silver Age writers.)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Mitt Romney in his concession speech last night said something like we face increased competition from "other countries like Asia and India." I was driving or I would have made a note to get it all right. I promise you the last five words are exactly as he said them.

Do Republicans have to go out of their way to find people who are so inept on their feet? When I mentioned the statement to my son this morning, his response was "potato." Well said.

Robert Heinlein said "intelligence is not a crime, but most people treat it as at least a misdemeanor."

In general, and I think this has been born out by real research I have read, the Democrats mount smarter and better educated national candidates than the Republicans do. You have to wonder how George III could have gotten into Yale and Harvard Business School without legacy protection. Isn't it amazing when people who are so against affirmative action are the beneficiaries of affirmative action for rich people?

The last Republican candidate I might have been interested in dining with was Herbert Hoover. He and his wife both graduated from the geology department at Stanford University and, according to a recent Final Jeopardy question, spoke Chinese to each other when they wanted to have a private conversation in the White House. Hoover got hit with the full blame for the Depression (most likely the fault of the two prior Republican administrations), but his record prior to the presidency (and, frankly, after the presidency) show a record of public service and compassion much more progressive than any subsequent Republican. (I suspect I would have liked Teddy Roosevelt as well.)

I have had dinner at the Lou Henry Hoover House at Stanford University. The wife of then-president Richard Lyman invited graduate student wives up for a Chinese cooking lesson and tour when I was married to a graduate student there. Mrs. Hoover designed the house and, after her death, President Hoover deeded it to the University where it serves as the President's house. It's a beautiful building with a fabulous view of the Bay area. On a clear night such as the one when I was there, you can see all the way to the city of San Francisco.

Back to the election. Rudy Giuliani dropped out. Hooray. No friend to the Constitution there. Did anyone not notice how badly he was panned by the New York Times the other day? We're still looking at the possibility that Mike Huckabee could wind up as a co-runner. Do we need the possibility of such an unchristian minister in the White House? I've got a real fear of anyone who thinks the Constitution needs to be rewritten to reflect a narrow religious view. That's terrorism to me. And isn't Huckabee one of those Republicans who doesn't believe in evolution?

I'm sorry John Edwards dropped out before tomorrow night's debate and next week's primaries. I still haven't decided on a candidate for next week. I just resent having fewer of them around.

Friday, January 25, 2008

A Touch of Capra

Capraesque. A movie that generally makes you feel better about the world when it's done, even if more sophisticated viewers call it sentimental. It often involves an improbable situation where one man makes a difference. It is guaranteed to bring a tear to your eye but there is always a good helping of laughter as well.

The best of the films from which this term arose are Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Meet John Doe, and It's a Wonderful Life. Two of them starred Jimmy Stewart and one had Gary Cooper, both of them quintessential American men you never wanted to see in a costume drama except for a Western. Frank Capra directed them all (from scripts by different writers), hence Capraesque.*

Kevin Costner has starred in a number of Capraesque pictures, the most recent of which we saw last night in a sneak screening conducted for audience input. Personally, except for a little trimming for time, I think the film was pretty near perfect and should be left alone.

The film is called Swing Vote and is currently slated for an August 1 release, indicating they don't expect it to make a lot of money or have a long shelf-life. I'm thinking that it should be released right after Labor Day to tie in with the elections and give everyone a civics lesson in why it is important to go out and vote, which is what the film is about.

Costner plays Bud Johnson, a single parent with a drinking problem who works at an egg-packing plant in a very small town in New Mexico. His daughter Molly is a very grown up fifth grader who is torn between life goals of being a veterinarian or Chair of the Federal Reserve when she gets older. She's got the brains to do either or more. The film opens on election day, pitting sitting Republican President Kelsey Grammer against Democratic challenger and community college president Dennis Hopper. Molly's trying to make sure Bud votes in the election because it is his civic duty and because she's got a school project to do and her efforts (not at all slapstick) lead to the improbable result of Bud having to recast a ballot to keep the election from going to the House of Representatives for a resolution. Hilarity ensues, as does a requisite growth in Bud's character.

Loved it, loved it, loved it. But then, I also loved The Postman (which got panned by the critics.) Costner plays everyman Americans as well as Stewart and Cooper did and probably better than anyone else of his generation. He's great in Bull Durham (possibly the best romantic comedy ever made other than those starring Katherine Hepburn in the 1930s and 1940s), Field of Dreams, For Love of the Game, and Tin Cup. He does great sports films and has a wonderful sense of timing for comedy. He's pretty good at Westerns as well (Open Range, Dances with Wolves, and even Silverado) and he's also a decent director (although the beset-with-problems Waterworld is a miss, Open Range and Dances with Wolves were quite good, the latter good enough to garner a directing Oscar(R).)

What Costner should never do again is a costume piece set somewhere other than here. Robin Hood was painful (as I think I've written before), although he did look great in those costumes and all men's looks are improved by long hair or extensions. Errol Flynn gets me to believe every time, but Costner was definitely out of place in medieval England. I don't want Kenneth Brannaugh to get the idea of casting him in something Shakespeare, either. Wouldn't work. A Yank in Great Britain he could do, but not a Brit anywhere.

Sometimes, when we see a screening this far in advance of release, changes are made which don't improve the film. What Dreams May Come is my personal best example. Loved the screening and couldn't figure out why the studio made the changes to the release leaving the film less comprehensible and affecting. Other films which were clearly subject to some studio idiot's whim and which now have the benefit of being restored include Frank Capra's Lost Horizon and Ridley Scott's Blade Runner. The restorations are far superior. (Let's not come to the conclusion that restorations are always better. After all, we all know that Han shoots first!)

In August (or when it does come out) make a point to see Swing Vote, written by Jason Richman and Joshua Michael Stern, directed by Joshua Michael Stern, starring Kevin Costner, newcomer Madeline Carroll, Kelsey Grammar, Dennis Hopper, Nathan Lane, and Stanley Tucci. Willie Nelson, Richard Petty, Arianna Huffington, and Lawrence O'Donnell all have cameos.

And be sure to vote in your upcoming primary.

*Capra's autobiography, The Name above the Title, is definitely worth reading but it did take the blood, sweat, and tears of the writers to create 120 pages of script upon which Frank could put "the Capra touch."

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Oscar(R) Snores

The Oscar(R) nominations were announced on Tuesday morning and for the first time that I can remember, we did not set the TV to go off to watch at 5:30. Perhaps it is the WGA strike which made them slip under my radar or maybe the fact that I could go to a website and download the information at a civilized hour (as Len did) or maybe because it was the first time since New Year's Day that I didn't have to get up early enough to drive Michael to his job before I was due at work. In any case, Len and I didn't talk about the nominations until last night and he said he's not that excited about the nominees.

This may be due to the fact that we've seen so few of them. With a day job and responsibility for Ace, I just don't have the time to go see movies like I used to. We managed to catch a few during the screening season and we've gotten something like 15 screeners to watch at home, so there is hope. But I just can't get excited about some of the films. I hear Atonement is as endless as The English Patient, three hours of my life I will never get back. We missed the opportunity to see No Country for Old Men with the Coen Brothers, but we do have the screener; unfortunately, I hear it is quite violent. That makes it easier to watch on a small screen than a big screen, as far as I'm concerned.

We did love Juno, starring Kitty Pride and C.J. Craig. Aragorn was great in Eastern Promises, but the odds of him actually winning the statue are pretty small since Daniel Day Lewis seems to be favored. I'll be rooting for Viggo anyway, who should also have been nominated for A History of Violence.

Enchanted, which had Cyclops in a major role, has half of the nominations for original song. We managed to catch the film on Monday (because I had the day off and it was raining) and we absolutely loved it, even if I didn't know I was supposed to be looking for my sister in the crowd scenes. My friend Melinda called Enchanted "Galaxy Quest for Disney geeks" and I think that sums it up nicely. Len and I laughed until we cried. I will say the rats and roaches in the kitchen were really creepy to me, much like the scene where the rats escape the house in Ratatouille (also up for multiple Oscars(R).) One rat in the kitchen, o.k. Hundreds? No thanks!

Eventually, I expect I will see the entire nomination list and make my picks. We usually have a party to watch the Oscars(R), but, unless the strike ends, what kind of a party will that be? Maybe we'll get to do a black-tie picket line instead. I think we should gather to watch the SAG Awards, which may be the only show with actors we can count on this year.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Did the DGA Screw the Writers--Again?

The WGA has jettisoned its demands on behalf of animation and reality writers at the "informal talks" with the AMPTP which started this week. That sucks. And so does the pressure mounting from people who think the DGA agreement is something the WGA should accept. This is without seeing the actual agreement.

I've got a really major complaint about that agreement based on the summaries I've seen: the DGA sold out for too little on the Internet by agreeing to flat rates and a window of opportunity for the studios to (a) take all the money that comes in during the first couple of weeks of Internet availability while (b) there is no guarantee that the material will actually remain available after that.

I'm sorry, but if the DGA wanted a guarantee of payment, it should have stuck to a demand that any flat fee be an advance against a residual percentage of money from Download One. That's basically how the publishing industry has worked for centuries (although the vertical integration of media has meant that there is an attempt to steal those royalties from writers.) And why won't the studios agree to a reasonable percentage-based residual like that? Because I am willing to bet they've seen the future killings they will get by limiting creators to flat fees and barring them from participating in any way in the most valuable period of availability--the first three weeks of release. As David Letterman says "the AMPTP: cowards, cutthroats and weasels." And as Viggo Mortensen puts it, " it would be noble and only fair if those corporate decision-makers in the entertainment industry who are spending considerable funds on their reasonably successful campaigns to put the Writers Guild in a bad light as party-poopers would spend that money on a fair contract and fair compensation to the writers..."

I wish the negotiators the best, but I hope to god they stay firm with a demand for a percentage of download that does not include a black-out for the writers and shows some semblance of making up for the fact that there will be fewer and fewer reruns on network TV in the future. No more rollbacks.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Lisa Jane Got Married (to Andy)

Our friends Lisa Jane and Andy got married on Saturday night at a grand event at a the "Pretty Woman Hotel." I've been to a number of functions there in connection with my law school or the bar association, but none was so much fun.

LJ looked fabulous in her mermaid gown. I whispered to her that my Barbie Doll wanted her dress back. I could also have suggested Cher. Andy, as always, looked great in his tux. All men look great in a tuxedo. Since the invitation said black tie, we were a little surprised to see a youngish man show up in something other than black tie or a suit (he was a musician who did three numbers as a favor to the happy couple) but not at all surprised that Harlan Ellison did not wear a tux (Andy said Harlan could wear a bunny suit, but he wore a nice dress suit with an orange tie and shoes instead.)

The wedding cake replicates an album cover which I think my husband identified over in his blog. As you can see, it's an armed-dillo (yes, it is an armadillo transforming into a tank.) And to think how scandalized people were when the wedding cake from my first marriage was chocolate under that white icing! We don't have normal friends, thank goodness.

Part of the fun was the photo-booth which was set up so guests could take pictures of themselves and add them and some choice words to a book for the happy couple. It's a little hard to sit on someone's lap when your dress fabric is slippery. I almost wound up on the floor.

The biggest disappointment may have been that the centerpieces were too big to be taken home by elderly guests such as myself. I'm sure I was the oldest female at our table, which is usually the criterion for these things. The arrangements were about 3' across, with white roses and other white flowers (the decor was white stick trees with hanging flowers and tea lights) sitting on water-filled pedestals that must have been three or 4 feet high. That way, you could see the guests around the tables. We did decide that kissing fish would have been a really nice addition to the pedestals.

We were so honored to be a part of the festivities and we wish LJ and Andy long, happy lives filled with much laughter. They're off to a good start.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Horse Talk

All things considered, this latest change in barns has been the easiest one on The Arabian Prince.

He has been weathering our latest rain and wind storms in great comfort. His new home is positioned in such a way that it minimizes the effects of the wind and, as I hoped, he stayed nice and comfortable and dry when it rained. His shavings are deep (since they don't blow away), so the sores on his hocks have healed up. And he's moving quite well with the pads on his newly shod feet cushioning him from rocks.

While I cleaned his stall the other night, he had a grand time thundering across the arena. He still needs a turnout buddy, but that kind of thing requires I spend a day at the barn meeting all of the other boarders and seeing if anyone is amenable to testing the relationship of two horses. Maybe Monday, when I've got the day off and if it doesn't rain, I'll be able to work something out.

It's not like he's alone when he's turned out, since all of the stall runs open into the arena. He's able to mutually groom the horses he likes and the other horses all like to hang out and watch the action. When the barometer was changing last week, several of the other boys were bucking as he'd zoom on by, kind of like parallel play.

Despite the wind, my trainer ponied (literally, since Gayle was riding a pony) Ace out on the trail yesterday. I would have like to see him being towed by a much smaller horse but I hear it went quite well. He's been losing muscle tone since he hurt his foot in December, but with the shoes it is back to work. Since the wind has died down (some areas had close to 100 m.p.h. gusts), I'm planning on walking him on the trails on Sunday and Monday. I can use the exercise more than he does.

I had a chance to talk with my friend Melinda yesterday and Vento (see my December 20 entry) has settled into his new home in New Mexico where he is the darling of the stable. The barn workers told her that he likes to stand outside and catch snowflakes with his tongue and then eats all of the snow off the fences. I guess they don't have much snow in Brazil. Melinda sounds happier than she's been in the 18 months since Steppi died. Vento's definitely a love match.

I discovered two blogs devoted to horses yesterday and I've added them to my places of interest list.

Blogger had listed Teachings of the Horse as a blog of note, so I paid a visit. The writer has lovely photographs and delightful entries about her two mares. Like me, she bought a horse for herself to fulfill a life-long desire. Unlike me, she gets to keep her girls in her own back yard. While I have no wish to return to the winters of the Northeast, she's had some great opportunities to photograph the horses in the snow.

From there, I followed a link to Grey Horse Matters, which has a great piece on "How to Fall." There's a bit of wisdom which says the only way to avoid falling off a horse is to not get on a horse. Sooner or later it will happen and it is a lot harder on older riders than it is on youngsters.

My worst spill was an early one, though not the first. I had owned Ace for 9 months and we had a difference of opinion as to the direction to travel combined with someone coming out from behind a wall. After I was suspended in the air like Wile E. Coyote (my sister's description, since she watched it happen) I tried to stop the earth from coming up at me. I was trying to avoid hitting my head on the equipment that someone had put in the arena. I broke my ulna, dislocated the radius at the elbow and broke it at the wrist. And, after the cast came off, the doctor discovered I had also torn my rotator cuff. This kind of an injury has its own special name. The doc said "I've read about them, but I've never seen one before."

A year or so later, I went flying off Ace one day in a group lesson, but the arena was soft and I was determined to hit the ground in a totally relaxed state. I landed like I would to make snow angels and I got up, got back in the saddle, and finished the class.

Then there was the day I passed out in the saddle in a Harry Whitney clinic. All I remember is people asking me my name, my horse's name, and my birthday and seeing Harry on Ace's back getting him past things. We did go to the hospital to make sure I didn't have a concussion, but I was back in the saddle the next day.

I'm still visiting the chiropractor for the spill I took in August. Nothing broke, but there's one lingering ouch that shows up after a day at work or when I wear high heels. I'm convinced I would have just walked away if the arena had been properly maintained--it would have been a softer landing. I've never had the wind knocked out of me before that flight. It was scarier than breaking my arm.

Len has a hard time understanding why it is never the horse's fault and I'm determined to get back in the saddle again. It's a girl thing.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


The word is out, but no details: the Directors Guild of America has reached a new contract with the AMPTP. The only thing we're waiting to find out is how badly the WGA is screwed.

It will be interesting to see if the DGA members who are also WGA members will be happy with the results. In features, the director is likely to be in a position to negotiate a better than minimum deal, but there are only a relatively few feature writers in this position (if the Swamp Thing movie is ever made, Len is likely to see far more money from his creator's deal with DC than he will for the back end of his contract with Warner Bros. for writing the script.) That's why the WGA negotiations are so important for most writers.

OTOH, if the deal the DGA struck is so onerous, the WGA may not be willing to take the scraps offered. In that case, directors will find themselves putting their respective creative touches on 120 blank pages. It doesn't start with the director. It starts with the writer.

More Len Wein Promotion

I should have mentioned this yesterday along with the Swamp Thing DVDs. Len's new comic book from Bongo Comics came out this week. The Simpsons' story is called "Tsunami, Tsunami, Baloney" and Len is quite proud of it. I've uploaded the cover for your enjoyment. Go out and buy it and let him know at his blog what you think of it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Shameless Swamp Thing Plug

Swamp Thing: the Complete First Season will be released on DVD by Shout! Factory this coming Tuesday. My spousal unit, who created the character with artist Bernie Wrightson, is featured in the trailer, which you can see here. If I've done it right, there's a little more of Len here, before an interview with Dick Durock. I love the fact that the trailer uses Len's lovely alliterative description of Swampy, the "muck encrusted mockery of a man." Not a bad turn of phrase for a young writer.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Know Your Enemy, Part 2

See, I told you it might be an ongoing topic.

Today's award for Worst Persons in the World go to MSNBC News and, belatedly, to ABC News, both organizations which have excluded Dennis Kucinich from the presidential debates.

Has anyone excluded Rudy Giuliani yet for his poor performances? How about Fred Thompson? I don't think so.

But somehow, a candidate who addresses serious issues (and who, frankly, is saying things that real Democrats should not be afraid to say) who has not dropped out of the race, is judged by the broadcast media as not worth of addressing the American people.

I do not want the media deciding who I get to hear, no matter if this has been a successful tactic in the past. See what happens when you let conglomerates take over your news sources? Vertical integration makes a mockery of our anti-trust laws. Where is Teddy Roosevelt when you really need him?

I have not yet determined just who I am voting for. I thought that Richardson actually had the best resume for the job of President. Of the remaining candidates, I'm still undecided. Hillary Clinton and Dennis Kucinich both have long records as public servants. I like John Edwards and I like Barack Obama. I'm not that familiar with any of the remaining Democratic candidates (I think there is at least one other who hasn't dropped out of the race,) but I think I should be able to listen to what they have to say. It was a big mistake to loosen the equal access rules.

In addition to MSNBC's shameful conduct on the Kucinich matter (they've appealed the judge's ruling that the much include him--but what can you say about a company which won't work out a fair deal with writers either,) they've permitted Chris Matthews to flaunt his sexist attitudes toward Hillary Clinton. I'm deeply offended by his comments about what happened in New Hampshire last week. Exactly what is this man so afraid of? Emily's List has mounted a writing campaign about it and I sent an e-mail off earlier today. Please join in by linking here.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Strike Effects

I've always found the Golden Globes to be incredibly boring, so as far as I'm concerned the WGA and SAG did the world a favor by not granting a waiver. Exactly how boring things really are, without the glitz of the red carpet was readily apparent last night. We turned on the "news conference" to find out who the winners were and Globe favorites, who may or may not have a chance in hell of winning the Oscars won. A number of the winners were for actors of whom I've never heard or productions I've never watched. And Europeans (even ex-pats) have an advantage over U.S. performers, as is usually the case.

For the idiot who wrote "the Golden Globes are the only time you see performers from both TV and film" I recommend you watch the SAG Awards, which are given for both TV and film and, most of the time, all the nominees attend. Most people really prefer peer awards, in case you haven't noticed.

The Weinsteins signed an interim agreement with the WGA last week. (While Harvey Weinstein is not a nice man, the enemy of my enemies is my friend.) No matter how AMPTP wants to spin things, the big studios will be very happy that the independents have material in the pipeline when the big studios need to make distribution money and they don't have product available because of the strike. I can't imagine that the bigger members of AMPTP will really refuse to distribute independent films because the smaller production companies reached an accord with the WGA.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Know Your Enemy

This may be an on-going thread, sad to say.

A friend directed me to an article in yesterday's L.A. Times entitled "Chamber of Commerce vows to punish anti-business candidates." The head of the Chamber is President Tom Donohue, who is quite proud that he was able to find a loophole in campaign advertising finance which permitted the Chamber to funnel $60 million into anti-candidate ads in the last election cycle without identifying the companies funding those ads. If you are looking for the organization which is fighting against the interests of the middle and lower classes, look no further.

Yesterday, Mr. Donohue called a press conference to announce plans to attack "candidates considered unfriendly to business." That means all of the Democratic candidates, running not only for president but also for other national and state positions, and at least candidate Huckabee on the Republican side. No doubt, Mitt Romney is the ideal candidate to Mr. Donohue. He's no "populist," which appears to be a dirty word equivalent to "liberal" in the lexicon of big business.

Mr. Donohue's plan is "to keep Democrats from power for at least 40 years." Let's hope he has a huge failure, bigger than the one the Republicans had in the last Congressional elections. Without George III and his minions in the White House after January 20, 2009, Mr. Donohue must be frantic about a repeat of 2006. Why would the Chamber of Commerce want such an hysteric in charge of its operations? I'm glad I've never felt the need to join the Chamber of Commerce if it is headed up by such an emotional, unstable man.

Since John Edwards is at the forefront of the populist movement which is terrifying Mr. Donohue, it might be a good time to make a contribution to the Edwards campaign. And it might also be a good time to contact the Federal Election Commission and Congress to close out the loophole of which Mr. Donohue is so proud.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

And You Think You've Got Stress?

Hillary Clinton chokes up on the campaign trail and the reports sound like she's having a nervous break-down. Just how much do people hate smart, well-educated, accomplished Democratic women in this country? Give me a friggin' break. I don't recall the press stopping for a minute to report on the Reagans' abilities to tear up on cue, which I had the distinct displeasure to observe on an assignment one day back in the 1980s. Hillary's appears to have been an honest moment in a hard-fought campaign. It's tough to watch something you've worked for and you know you'd be great at slipping away.

I'm also really pissed at the commentators who think that things are all over with these two contests which represent less than 2% of the electorate. I'd suggest waiting until after Super Tuesday, when places like California get to check in, before drawing conclusions. Since I still think that Dennis Kucinich is the only candidate speaking like a true liberal, I'm more than irritated that the networks think they can limit candidates access to debates (that's you ABC.) I also think that it's questionable journalism that skewed the coverage after John Edwards came in second to Barack Obama by saying it was a race between Barack and Hillary. And the report I heard saying Hillary had lost Iowa by double digits was also unfair. She lost to Barack by single digits and was right on John Edward's heels. Only by combining the Obama and Edwards numbers does she lose by "double digits."

This race is exciting as it is. I know it is impossible for Fox Noise to be fair and balanced, but that doesn't excuse any of the rest of the journalists out there.

John Stewart and Stephen Colbert returned to the airwaves last night and did a great job of spreading the word on the WGA strike by bringing on guests who could intelligently talk about labor relations and the monetary issues at stake. We roared with laughter at "The AMPTP, pronounced NAMBLA" and Stewart getting jibes in about the companies lying either to the writers or their stock holders. Colbert's feigned lack of understanding about where the words on his monitor come from was priceless, as was the lack of "The Word."

I so wish the WGA would issue those shows interim agreements, but I do understand why they won't--so far. Unlike David Letterman, who owns his own show, I'm pretty sure Viacom owns "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report." Without the rest of the company signing on as well, it isn't a move in the right direction. Sigh.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Strike Lines 2008

It's back to the picket lines for my writer friends and family. At least the rains have stopped this morning and there's blue sky to be seen. I know the WGA wanted a good turn out today and I hope they get it.

I haven't checked the other websites yet, but there was rumor that United Artists, currently headed by Tom Cruise, was ready to sign the WGA agreement. United Artists hasn't been a powerhouse in a long time, but it got its start with performers Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, as I recall. It is the kind of place which would seem a likely candidate for solidarity with the writers.

How long will it take for stockholders to look at what the studios, networks, and AMPTP are doing before they start yelling "enough!"? The WGA is willing to negotiate and the terms they are asking are fair and reasonable. The late night comics are now reaching middle America, which may or may not have had a clue about things before last week (although I think it probably did--even in middle America box office returns are discussed on Monday morning.) AMPTP is looking pretty bad and the WGA and SAG have managed to pretty much scuttle the Golden Globes ceremony (as others have said, at least something good is coming out of this strike.)