It pleases me to be the first!

No one else is blogging it, so let me announce that “Nobody Summons Megatron!” – a collective composed of Ezra Klein, Megan McArdle, Julian Sanchez, Brian Beutler, and myself – dominated Wonderland’s trivia contest last night. Out of a possible 70 points (and a few bonus questions), we scored 65. And it would have been higher if I hadn’t been convinced that Barry Goldwater never speculated about the government’s cover-up of UFO sightings, or if any of us remembered that the tourists in Jurassic Park ate Chilean sea bass, which makes sense, and not pirhanas, which makes no sense. Our finest hour came in a round where contestants were handed a sheet of “dicks,” and told to name them, plus a bonus “cock.” We named all 10 – Philip K. Dick, the Mason-Dixon Line, Nordic Trac, etc. – and nailed the bonus, which was some science thing that Brian knew.

I’m hopeful that the secret to our success was not my long, untamed, Samson-like hair, because that’s getting mowed today.


Ezra’s commenters point out that there are no pics of the food from bloggingchefs. Well… I had the only camera, and I was a taster, so I wasn’t whipping the camera out while food was being served and I was being filmed. Not to worry; there’ll be shots of the food when the videos go up.

Oscar time

If I don’t hurry, I can’t be embarassingly off base! And while I don’t think any of the nominated films was as good as Pan’s Labyrinth or Children of Men, I did greater diligence this year than ever before, seeing all five of the nominated live-action shorts. Little-known fact: The shorts are not very good. “Binta and the Great Idea” is thinly-veiled Unicef propaganda; “West Bank Story” is a slapstick student film, “Eramos Pocos” and “Helmer & Son” are beautifully shot one-joke goofs that would fail as SNL sketches. Only “The Saviour,” about a Mormon missionary having an affair with a woman he’s failing to convert (OMIGOD RELIGIOUS BIGOTRY OOOO) seemed “Oscar worthy.” But Little Miss Sunshine isn’t Oscar worthy, either.

I think Tim will basically be proven right at the end of the night, but here’re my guesses.

Picture: The Departed (Should win.)
Director: Martin Scorcese (Should win.)
Actor: Forest Whitaker (Should win.)
Actress: Helen Mirren (Should win.)
Supporting Actor: Alan Arkin (Should win: Eddie Murphy, who will instead win an Arkin-style pity award for a weaker performance in 2032.)
Supporting Actress: Jennifer Hudson (Should win.)
Original Screenplay: Little Miss Sunshine (Should win: The Queen)
Adapted Screenplay: The Departed (Should win.)
Foreign Film: Pan’s Labyrinth (Should win.)
Animated Feature: Happy Feet (No opinion.)
Documentary: An Inconvenient Truth (Should win; it’ll be funny.)
Cinematography: Pan’s Labyrinth (Should win.)
Editing: Babel (Should win: The amazing Children of Men.)
Art Direction: Pan’s Labyrinth (Should win.)
Costume Design: Dreamgirls (Probably should win.)
Original Score: The Queen. (No opinion.)
Original Song: “I Need to Wake Up” by Melissa Ethridge. (“Patience” from Dreamgirls should win, but AL GORE!!!!)
Sound Mixing: Dreamgirls. (Sure.)
Sound Effects Editing: Letters from Iowa Jima. (Sure, ok.)
Makeup: Pan’s Labyrinth (Should win.)
Visual Effects: Pirates of the Carribean. (Ehhh.)
Animated Short Film: The Little Matchgirl. (??)
Live Action Short Film: Eramos Pocos (Should win: The Saviour.)
Short Documentary: Two Hands (Total, total guess.)

If I’m right, note the takeaway story: A foreign film (nominated in that category) wins the most overall Oscars of the night for the first time ever.

Arcade Memories and Caviar Dreams

They’re on SNL tonight and Matt has tickets to a DC show and here’s my thing with the Arcade Fire: I know one of the guys in it. Will Butler, multi-instrumentalist and younger brother of Win Butler, was a year behind me at Northwestern. I dated a girl for about three months who had a very cool friend named Will who acted in student films and played in goofy bands like Sandpiper Air, named after the airport in “Wings.” They dressed like flight attendents and played covers and threw peanuts out to the audience; they, of course, won a battle of the bands to play at our 2003 Dance Marathon.

Like I said, I only dated Will’s friend for a few months, but before we broke up* we were walking up to her house and Will rolled up in a van. He and some band had just gotten back from Montreal. This seemed pretty cool. And it was; the fucking Arcade Fire were in that van.

I didn’t keep up with Will apres l’affaire and I’ve never tried to pump him for tickets or backstage entry or anything; honestly, if the memory of performing with David Bowie didn’t shove the memory of hanging out with me right out of his head, I’d be pretty ashamed of him. I’m just really, really proud of his success – Will’s exactly the kind of gregarious, art-for-art’s-sake kind of guy you hope succeeds. I’m pretty satisfied listening to the band’s records and knowing this guy is on them.

UPDATE: Holy shit: Sandpiper Air still exists! They ditched the joke name for “Citizens on Patrol.” Related issue: I also hope NU alum Alex Thomas gets famous.
*Not being coy: I was dumped.

We Want No Kings

Jonah Goldberg is right:

Odds are Bill Sammon is simply having some fun with  this story, but you’d think the Dems he talked to would work a little harder to quash the idea of filling Hillary’s Senate seat with her husband.  It’s undoubtedly true that Bill would love the Senate boy’s club. But is it really the case that a President Hillary wouldn’t satisfy the public’s appetite for all things Clinton? Do they really think that we’d need another Senator Clinton too? Also, the idea feeds the idea that the party and the country really are playthings for the enjoyment of the Clintons. Hillary already has an arrogance problem and this doesn’t alleviate it.

Yes. I don’t want Hillary to be president for multiple reasons, but this purely procedural reason keeps climbing to the top of the pile. I just don’t like the idea of two families running the country, especially since the natural rule of presidential forgiveness – the way voters remember every president better and better as the years since his retirement lengthen – will inspire a strong “Draft Jeb!” movement in 2012 or 2016.

There’s got to be a reason for my angst apart from generic bad feeling, right? Well, I’d like to think that it’s a bad thing that these families will hire most of the same people every time they win back the White House. The Bush allies will spend a few years at AEI, then cycle back in; the Clinton allies will take on some university jobs, etc. But the last times we had an entirely new group of people take power were generally pretty bad scenes – the 1977 Carter takeover and the 1993 Clinton takeover. (The 1981 Reagan administration was a mix of his longtime allies and some thawed out Nixonians.) So it really might just be that I don’t like faux dynasties.

Cold B Gone

A little secret for nuking a cold; in addition to vitamin C, eat some wasabi peas; or if you can’t get them, wasabi. Sneezing out your central nervous system seems to wreak havoc on the virus.

Let’s Get Tet


Doall those Democratic Senators running for President really want to vote to disapprove the surge even as it seems to be showing some initial, tentative, possibly illusory positive effects? Or, as Instapundit suggests, would a “no surge” vote put them in the position where a military success would be “politically … dangerous?” I’ve previously argued that the wording of an anti-surge resolution would leave the Dems some escape routes–but what if the public doesn’t pay attention to the wording? What if they just pay attention to the vote? What if it comes up in a debate: “And you opposed the increase in troops which is what finally brought relative peace to Baghdad…”

If I was paranoid and/or crazy, I would think the troop surge was a ploy to make the Democrats own the failure in Iraq. It’s December 2006, and Bush and his advisors are huddled around a desk, palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy. If they listen to James Baker, they pull out, Iraq continues imploding, and Bush et al get the blame. But if they try sending more troops, the Democrats will obviously try and block it. Hell, maybe defund it. And when that happens, they get blamed when the inevitable happens, we pull out, and Iraq continues imploding. Easy spin: “We were this close to winning the damn thing and the liberals stabbed us in the back! Again!

However, I am not crazy. This didn’t happen. Bush clearly thinks the surge has/had a chance, for pretty clear psychological reasons. But there are obvious political benefits to what Bush decided, and they’ll be benefits even if (I think when) the violence in Iraq continues and we start to pull out. It doesn’t need to be “the surge that finally brought relative peace to Baghdad.” It can be “the surge that was working until Murtha and the hate-America first crowd plunged the knife into Bush’s back.” This will be the case unless the surge obviously has no impact whatsoever, which doesn’t seem likey.