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    Sunday, November 11, 2007

    Viewing Tip: Ellroy Vision

    November is guest programmer month on Turner Classic Movies. Each night, the best network on television hands over the reins to various luminaries. There are some nice surprises scattered throughout the lineup – Charles Busch picking the underrated showbiz melodrama The Hard Way, Tracey Ullman opting for Kes, an early Ken Loach film, and 1959’s I’m All Right Jack – along with the occasional dud. Like Donald Trump night. With TCM’s vast library at his disposal, the Donald selects warhorses like The African Queen, Gone With The Wind, and Citizen Kane. Nice to see his talent for the thuddingly obvious isn’t limited to real estate. (“Slap some gold trim on there. People love that crap.”)

    The night I’m waiting for is this Tuesday, November 13, when novelist James Ellroy takes to the air. His choices include a trio of California-set crime dramas from 1958, all of which are new to me:

    Stakeout on Dope Street, the debut feature by Irvin Kershner (The Empire Strikes Back), with a cast that includes Roger Corman staple Jonathan Haze;

    Murder by Contract, a hit man drama with Vince Edwards;

    The Lineup, a cult favorite directed by Don Siegel.

    I can unreservedly recommend Ellroy’s last pick. Armored Car Robbery is a crackerjack heist film from B-movie maestro Richard Fleischer, starring one of noir’s great tough guys Charles McGraw.

    Clips from all four films can be seen at TCM’s website, along with a brief interview with Ellroy. He doesn’t tone down his act for the network’s gentlemanly host Robert Osborne. When asked why he chose Dope Street, Ellroy replies, “Because it made me want to shoot big H and crawl back into the gutter from which I emerged.” All that plus a shout-out to the czar of noir himself, Eddie Muller. The fun begins Tuesday at 8PM Eastern, 5PM Pacific.

    TCM keeps up the noir theme after Ellroy’s picks end. At 1:45AM Eastern the network will be showing another Richard Fleischer gem, 1949’s Follow Me Quietly. This thriller about the hunt for a serial killer known as “The Judge” contains one of the creepiest shots I’ve ever seen in a movie. Quietly runs a mere 59 minutes, and is worth setting the DVR for.

    TV: This Week’s Reason To Love 30 Rock

    Jack Donaghy reading an official NBC ratings report: “Look how Greenzo is testing. They love him in every demographic. Colored people, broads, fairies, commies. Gosh, we’ve got to update these forms.”

    That line was scripted. Which brings us to ...

    News: Strike Stuff

    Expect this to be a semi-regular feature until this mishegoss is over.

    Lawsuits are all-American, but strikes still make some people uncomfortable. Tool around the web and you’ll find wags condemning the walkout, usually citing an Ayn Rand free market libertarianism often influenced by business practices in the start-up world. John Rogers handily demolishes those arguments. Make sure you read the comments, where he does it again.

    Variety’s blog Scribe Vibe has far outstripped the paper’s coverage of the work stoppage. I’d link to this entry, in which several top talents weigh in on the strike from Friday evening’s Jack Oakie Celebration of Comedy in Film, even if it didn’t contain some interesting comments. I just love that the Motion Picture Academy still has an event named after Jack Oakie.

    For those coming in late, screenwriter Howard Michael Gould lays it all out.

    If you’ve got a minute, why not sign this petition in support of the writers? It probably won’t do any good. But it’s certainly not gonna hurt.

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    First, John Rogers misportrays Ayn Rand. She is NOT a Libertarian. She rejects them entirely, even though two of their founding members were her students. Those two, and most Libertarians, took her notion of Freedom without the proper understanding of the ideas and logic that underpin it.

    One would think that a professional writer would read well enough to grasp the difference between Rand and Libertarians. Given the number of articles and books written about her ideas, based on an incorrect understanding of them, apparently a very great many writers do not read very effectively.

    Second, in a proper free market, contracts would be upheld by the courts. America's founding fathers tried to set that up, but the American academics in Law produced practitioners who misconstrued honesty, integrity and justice in thousands of different ways.

    Third, a Union of writers would be just fine provided there are no laws to give the Union the coercive power all Unions now have.

    The upshot is that Rogers, & you by uncritically repeating his words as gossip, are advocating more of the same wrongdoing without properly expressing why it, and the factors that make it necessary, are all wrong and un-American.

    America, as originally intended, is sliding to Hell in a Handbasket. Ayn Rand sought to save it, but too many American minds are already too confused or dishonest to grasp what she grasped so clearly.

    Writers ought to be foremost among Americans in understanding philosophically what they write. Free speech is not an automatic thing any more than freedom is taken to be by Libertarians. Whether Ben Franklin said it or not, the point is a good one: "It's a Republic, if you can keep it." Writers ought to be a part of keeping it!

    If you advocate ideas that undermine individual freedoms, someone is bound to accept the same faulty premise and one day use it against you!


    Far be it from me to defend either Vince or John Rogers, as I know they can defend themselves, but...

    Richard, you've come here and said John Rogers is wrong and Vince can't read, but I've just read the Rogers piece and I can't see anywhere in your boiler plate that looks like a refutation of what's being said.

    If anyone has problems with reading for comprehension it seems to be you. How about you read what's being said and come up with an argument against any one of the points being made that doesn't appear to come from an automatic text generator.

    Do that and the adults might let you have a place at their table.

    You know, if capitalism and the free-market are such great things, why is it those with the capital feel the need to resort to such underhanded methods?


    Ayn Rand is not a libertarian. She was fully against them from day one:



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