Come for the Politics, Stay for the Pathologies

Monday, January 31, 2011

Sundance 2011: It’s a Wrap

232x333Houses in Old Town, behind Main Street, after the Sundancers left.

Hello, Friends of Dewey. This is MOTUS, your cub-entertainment reporter with a wrap up from the Sundance 2011 Film Festival. I would have loved to have filed many, many more movie reviews but as it turned out, my day job got in the way. And, as usual at Sundance, so many little  movies, so little time.

Because I’m covering a week’s worth of movies, er…a… films,  all at once I thought it might be helpful if I categorized them for you. You may recall I covered  the Media Navel Gazing Category last week with reviews of Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times  and Miss Representation.  So I’ll just jump in with my next category:

Category: Dysfunctional Families (Lifetime Achievement Category)

My Idiot brother:

my idiot bro

Well intentioned but ne’er do well brother Ned (Paul Rudd) just got out of jail and is passed between his 3 sisters as he tries to find some visible means of support. Oddly funny.  Mainstream comedy funny, but you won’t need your hernia belt. Proves again that there’s comedy gold in everyone else’s dysfunctional family.

Another Happy Day:

be22b2c5a93e47e5ebf0a19150c2aa07_defPIBs Ellen Barkin (mom), Demi Moore(step-mom) and Kate Bosworth

article-1350667-0CE99E12000005DC-707_468x662 Demi Moore taking a tumble outside the Eccles Theater: Why we don’t wear stiletto heeled boots in Park City.

My Idiot Brother didn’t stand a chance for claiming the “dysfunctional family” prize against this  film that falls into both the “ black comedy” and  “intergenerational wedding weekend angst” genres.

Here’s the setup (I’d do this quickly except it’s complicated): Lynn’s son, who was raised by Lynn’s abusive ex-husband and his second snotty wife, is getting married at Lynn’s parents lovely estate. Lynn and the 3 children she did raise attend. Her teenage son is a drug abuser with serious emotional issues, her youngest son has Asperger’s syndrome and her college age daughter is a cutter - who suffers from not insignificant, unresolved issues with her father. Lynn’s own mother treats her as a bit of a loser while still warmly embracing her slug of an ex, and pretending that all is normal in this tangle of fragmented emotional wrecks. Oh, and there are two sisters in attendance as well whose roles in Lynn’s life fluctuate between critical and unhelpful.

More of a painful journey to the next exit ramp than the typical family- drama-to-catharsis. Don’t watch this on days you’re feeling emotionally fragile, unless wallowing in others misery makes you feel better. A very dark comedy floating amidst a turbulent sea of emotional flotsam. Reinforces the old saying: “Family - Can’t live with them, but sure as hell can live without them.”

Category: Totally Alternate Life Styles

Pariah- which I previously reviewed definitely falls in this category: black lesbian coming of age flick . Who can’t relate?

Becoming Chaz: owns this category. It’s a documentary about  Cher’s daughter, Chastity’s, surgical and hormonal transformation to a man named Chaz. It ain’t pretty and neither is Chaz. If you’re curious about these things, there must be better medical information online. But I guess it turned out OK from Chastity/Chaz’s viewpoint. No word from Cher, who was last seen attempting to turn back time.

APTOPIX_2011_Sundance_Portraits_Becoming_Chaz_UTGS149.standalone.prod_affiliate.81 Chaz and his girl friend: healthy, happy, re-hung


Codependent Lesbian Space Aliens Seek Same: Finally! A fun alien-lesbian film set in Manhattan! How long have you been waiting for that?

Three aliens from Planet Zot are sent to earth to have their hearts broken which will somehow neutralize their sex  hormones which allows them to return home, no longer posing a threat to the planet’s ozone.  (Do I detect a covert message directed at gas-guzzling SUV drivers who use up more than their share of carbon credits?) This plot could never work if the Zot’s  were heterosexuals. Metaphors, stereotypes and sheer nonsense earns CLSASS the Sundance 2011  “camp”  award, along with honorable mention in the  “Yes You Can Make This Crap Up, But Drugs Help” category.

Category: Anti-Religious Agitprop

Several contenders, as always, but here are the leaders:

Martha Marcy May Marlene: a cult-escape drama. The main theme is an exploration of the depravity that results when individuals surrender their innate sense of morality to a “supposed” greater good. Kind of like what happened with the Obamabots.

Weird. Creepy, chilling. Skip it. But it is the debut of Elizabeth Owens, the Owens boys little sister. She appears to have inherited her fair share of the family DNA.

Redstate: And here we have the most hyped of all the Sundance movies this year. It’s a religious horror movie, because that’s what Hollywood thinks of religion. It’s all about a group of  gay bashing fundamentalist torturers. If you still want to know more, you probably shouldn’t be reading my blog. The short review: Yuck, yuck, yuck – and I don’t mean as in funny.


Michael Parks, Red State’s evil deranged fundamentalist preacher man, above; Kevin Smith writer, director, auteur, preacher man below.


Kevin Smith,the director, used the premiere as a publicity stunt to auction off the distribution rights to himself for $20. (The premiere was also boycotted by the  Westboro Baptist Church who,  in turn, were counter-boycotted by Kevin Smith and fans. Hard to know which side of that sludge pond to stand on.)


He than used his bid platform to spout off about everything wrong with the movie business today. While he raised some valid points, it seemed to boil down to the fact that he, as artistic director, did not get a big enough piece of the pie. So who can fault him for that? Let’s move on to the next perennial Sundance film category:

Category: Anti-Capitalism

Margin Call: This story tracks one fictional investment firm’s 24 hour crisis in late 2008 as they realize their mortgage backed security arm is about to go belly-up, dragging the firm behind. They have to decide who to screw: their investors or the firms owners and employees (because  with capitalism it’s always a zero-sum game,, at least here at Sundance where the artists care nothing about capital). The movie was written and directed by J.C.Chandor,  a film maker by training, but whose father worked at an investment house so, as he said, he “had insider information.” Almost as good as staying at a Holiday Inn Express.

He has enough knowledge to be dangerous, but not enough to make the evil machinations of wall street understandable to the average viewer.  Way too many financial jingoisms for the man on the street to wade through. Not to worry though, they will still grasp the general gist of the heist. You just won’t enjoy it much.

Chandor did assemble an incredible cast: Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, Demi Moore and Stanley Tucci (someone had connections) and managed to make a whole movie for just $2 million. Lionsgate and Roadside Productions, who bought the distribution rights jointly, will probably have to spend ten times that to entice people to come to a theatre to see it.

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold: Here we have the Sundance return of Martin Spurlock of Super Size Me fame. The man who has proved that he would do anything for commercial success has produced a film about the world of product placement, marketing and advertisement in the film business. This time his shtick is that his film has been financed exclusively by product placement, marketing and advertising.

20110125__7%20morgan_GALLERYMartin Spurlock and his amazing Technicolor ® coat 

The doc follows Spurlock as he negotiates terms with the companies for their product placements in his movie, including non-disparagement clauses which must have been written a little loose.  Like Super Size Me, it’s an amusing trip of trivial content, mostly because it’s fun to watch Spurlock bite the hand that feeds him – but you didn’t see that coming, did you?

Category:  We’re killing the Earth! Send Help!

If a Tree Falls:A Story of the Earth Liberation Front: If I remind you that ELF is a eco-terrorist group that ruins stuff and burns things down that don’t belong to them,you would probably know that they were the bad guys, right? Not so fast.

This is a blatantly sympathetic documentary about a group that burned down two vacant U.S. Forest Service ranger stations, an Oregon timber plant, an Oregon tree farm, a horse slaughtering plant, an SUV dealership, a $12 million Vail, Colo., ski lodge, and quite a bit of the University of Washington’s property. While the documentary pretends to “critically”  examine the future of the environmental movement, it’s real points is to question whether this group, ELF,  was unjustly classified as "domestic terrorists" under “Bush-era legislation.”  Because after all, they were simply trying to instill “social justice” as they saw fit, and they never “targeted  individuals” or injured anyone.

And aren’t they damn lucky they didn’t? 

Oh, and in case you think this is harmless drivel by and for like minded individuals, you may wish to consider this:

Winner of the Documentary Editing Award at Sundance, "If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front" is slated for broadcast later this year on PBS' POV series and will remain an evergreen title in educational settings as well.

Your tax dollars at work, people.

The Last Mountain: If I tell you that Robert Kennedy is one of the main spokesmen in this documentary, would you guess that it ends up with a fevered pitch for windmill energy? Of course you would.

last-mountainwebActivist Maria Gunnoe 

But about the documentary itself: another one that claims to try real hard to be fair and balanced but apparently doesn’t know how to. Let’s stipulate from the offset that Mountain Top Removal (MTR) coal mining isn’t pretty. But this is yet another documentary made by people who want to live with all the comforts of modern society without having anyone,  anywhere along the line, pay the necessary price for the creation of those products and services. To call them hypocrites is to imply they are intelligent enough and moral enough to realize their value conflict. Tough call.

This doc presents the usual bleeding heart reasons for not allowing this type of mining: “contaminated air, soil, and water; coal dust, cancer clusters and toxic sludge are all by-products of this widespread energy source.” So to be clear, although this is ostensibly about MTR coal mining, it is clearly about the mining and use of coal in all forms. Unfortunately, our economy runs largely on coal fired electric plants today because the Robert F. Kennedy do-gooders of yesteryear shut down the development of nuclear generation in this country – still the singularly cleanest and, yes, safest form of energy production in existence.

And until such time as we can replace coal energy with natural gas and/or nuclear, there are many people in West Virginia who would prefer to have themselves and their family members mining coal on top of the earth rather than below. But I digress. Watch for this one on PBS too.

(Oh, and by the way, coal companies are required to remediate the land when the coal is gone, creating flat land that’s good for building things on. It’s not perfect, but in time it isn’t ugly either.)

There are many other categories that show up year to year such as Crazy Music and the Musicians that Make it, Criminal Injustice in the Criminal Justice system,  Politics (of course) and Stupid Teenagers,  and this year’s Sundance collection included entries in all of the above and much much more. I didn’t even get around to telling you about the Troll Hunters, a breakout film from Norway:

trolljegeren.jpg Troll Hunters: the Movie

but I’ve already wasted enough of our time. So until next year, this is MOTUS, your cub entertainment reporter signing off.

Back to you, Dewey.

PS  Just in case you still haven’t had enough and missed my other reviews: Cedar Rapids and Project Nim.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Lord What Fools These Mortals Be

enegma puzzle The enigma puzzle

As Woody Allen put it:  "More than at any time in history mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness, the other to total extinction. Let us pray that we have the wisdom to choose correctly."

Egypt is like that: an enigma, wrapped in a conundrum, inside a problem. Even if you don’t subscribe to the “everything is gray” school of moral relativity, life often presents complex dilemmas with no ideal choice.

Choosing  between the lesser of two evils makes us decidedly uncomfortable, especially if by so choosing we shut off  access to the other option. It’s arrogant to assume that we can always determine the optimal solution in tricky situations like Cairo’s current uprising. Although generally we come down on the side of our allies, if they have disregarded our demand for reforms – first made and ignored in the Bush administration - despite the injection of huge sums of foreign aid  to support their economy, it renders the relationship precarious. But throwing them overboard doesn’t exactly sent the right message to our other allies, current and potential, either . 

The primary reason there is no optimal solution in this political crisis is because the entire Middle East – minus Israel - operates with its right foot planted in the 21st century and its left mired in the 13th. When the majority of your population adheres to a religion that still believes women are chattel, Jews are dogs and jihad is the directive of your supreme commander, Jeffersonian democracy is not really an option.

It’s always tricky for the U.S. when the citizens revolt against a totalitarian regime. Our moral compass tells us we should support such uprisings and do what we can to ensure their success (unless they belong to a subversive organization like the Tea Party). But when all of the governments in the region - including Iraq - are totalitarian and likely to remain that way, the question we must ask ourselves is, which form of totalitarianism do we care to support?

We’re not a fan on any form of authoritarian state, including Mubarak’s, where poverty and corruption are simply a given outcome of  the power structure.  Yet history tells us that Islamic Extremism loves a power vacuum, and more likely than not will be swept in to fill it in the event of the collapse of the Mubarak government. Good conscience dictates we search long and hard before facilitating that outcome.

So far it appears that our foreign policy, at least officially, is to stand and watch while the Egyptians make their own choice. That’s what we did last summer when the Green Revolution rose up against the theocracy of Iran.  Unfortunately, in Tehran, the choice was far more clear cut, as they were already ruled by an Islamic fascist government that’s been in place pretty much since we allowed the last totalitarian regime of the Shah to fall in 1979. But at least we’re consistent.

It’s certainly hard not to sympathize with the Egyptians who are revolting. Their country is socially, economically and politically closer to the 13th century than the 21st, and with the advent of the internet, they now know that. The ruling class is wealthy and everyone else is poor. Poor beyond our comprehension and in ways that would simply not be tolerated in this country.  That’s unlikely to improve under the control of another Islamic theocracy.

If the military government in Egypt is overthrown or co-opted by the Muslim Brotherhood, there will be a social transformation. along the same lines as the transformation that took place in Iran after the fall of the Shah and Lebanon after the fall of Beirut.

Poverty will not be eradicated, disease will not be eradicated, joblessness will not be eradicated and  corruption will not be eradicated.   But I can tell you for certain what will be eradicated: homosexuals. Just as they have been in Iran, as Ahmadinejad famously told his otherwise rapt audience at Columbia: “In Iran we don’t have that phenomenon.”

The Obama Administration has, by not insisting on changes in Mubarak’s government in the past 2 years, allowed itself to be placed in a catch 22 position: on one path stands our major Middle East ally with all his despair and utter hopelessness, on the other,  the Muslim Brotherhood – and  total extinction.

Choose wisely, weedhoppers.

Parting thoughts for your consideration from my Michigan Representative, Thaddeus McCotter:

America must stand with her ally Egypt to preserve an imperfect government capable of reform; and prevent a tyrannical government capable of harm.

For if Egypt is radicalized, all of the reforms sought by the Egyptian people and supported by the United States with them – including consensual and constitutional government; free elections; open and unbridled media; and Egyptian control of their natural resources – will be lost. Nascent democratic movements in the region will be co-opted and radicalized. The world’s free and open access to the Suez Canal’s vital commercial shipping lanes will be choked. And the Sinai Accord between Egypt and Israel – which must be protected as the foundation and principal example for Mideast peace – will be shredded.

Though many will be tempted to superficially interpret the Egyptian demonstrations as an uprising for populist democracy, they must recall how such similar initial views of the 1979 Iranian Revolution were belied by the mullahs’ radical jackbooted murderers, who remain bent upon grasping regional hegemony and nuclear weaponry…

This is not a nostalgic “anti-colonial uprising” from within, of all places, the land of Nassar. Right now, freedom’s radicalized enemies are subverting Egypt and other our allies.

I confess, if it were up to me to decide, I would have to come down on McCotter’s side.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Miss Representation: the Documentary

Steve Griffin  |  The Salt Lake Tribune
Jennifer Newsom, director of "Miss Representation" with her husband California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, as they attend the Sundance premeire of the movie at the Yarrow Hotel in Park City Saturday, January 22, 2011. Gavin and director Jennifer Siebel Newsom at Miss Representation premiere.

Miss Representation conceived and directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom “Explores the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America, and challenges the media's limited portrayal of what it means to be a powerful woman.”

Wow. This is almost as big an expose as Wikileaks.  More, from the official Sundance Film Guide:

Like drawing back a curtain to let bright light stream in, Miss Representation uncovers a glaring reality we live with every day but fail to see. It’s clear the mainstream media objectifies women, but what most people don’t realize is the magnitude of that phenomenon and the way objectification gets internalized—a symbolic annihilation of self-worth—and impedes girls and women from realizing their full potential.

Not much hyperbole there.

In a society where media is the most persuasive force shaping cultural norms, the collective message that a woman’s value and power lie only in her youth, beauty, and sexuality is pervasive.

Ms. Siebel Newsom, the film’s creator,  is the 2nd wife of Gavin  Newsom, who was Mayor of San Francisco until earlier this month when he left to become Governor Moonbeam’s Lieutenant Governor. Two things you should know about Ms. Siebel Newsom: 1) she’s 35, an age when woman are just broaching the peak of their self-conferred powers and cannot  yet imagine losing their looks and sex appeal. And 2) she is an actress, but has never gotten a really good Oscar contention part, probably because there “just aren’t that many good roles for women.” Ironically, Ms. Siebel Newsom’s  project looks like it was made by woman a  little too full of her self and her power.

Her Documentary,  Miss Representation, “takes to task the media for its limited and often disparaging portrayals of women.”

Yeah! You give  tell ‘em  Jenny – give them hell!

Not to undermine her  message, but rather, I assume,  to clearly illustrate it, Jenny has starred in a few of these “limited” and “disparaging portrayals of women” herself;  for example: The Trouble With Love in which she provides the acting for a  full nudity, raunchy three-way. I’m sure that was good for her self-esteem.

She does not address her role in The Trouble With Love directly, but writing about the release of the documentary on her blog we may infer that Ms. Siebel Newsom has had a change of heart since that movie was made – way back in 2008:

“When I gave birth to our daughter, Montana, I felt the stakes rising. I was frightened for her to grow up in a world that was so limiting for girls and women.”

Where the hell do you live Jennifer, Tehran?

Progressives are constantly trolling around for the next victim group to use for their purposes. Feminism has now been around so long it’s fair game for exploitation again. That must make Gloria Steinem feel really, really old.

Steve Griffin  |  The Salt Lake Tribune
Gloria Steinem attends the Sundance premiere of "Miss Representation" at the Yarrow Hotel in Park City Saturday, January 22, 2011. Davis stars in the movie. Gloria, at premiere of Miss Representation

So I’ll buy the fact that the media continues to objectify women, duh. But just because the country is littered with morons obsessed with celebrities, and most female celebrities aren’t suitable role models for barn cats does not negate the fact that women are functioning quite effectively in every career, industry and political party in this country. Can we stop whining and get on with it?

Apparently not. Miss Representation is a screed against all the usual suspects in the exploitation of women: the entertainment business in general: movies, TV, news rooms and the advertisers that enable them, the fashion industry and of course the FCC for not regulating it adequately. Particular scorn is heaped upon reality shows, no-talent celebrities famous only for being skanks, and fashion magazines. Yawn.

The documentary contains dozens of statistics (many of which are suspect, if you have an inquiring mind) supporting it’s thesis, zillions of images that demonstrate exactly the female objectification Ms. Siebel Newsom is talking about:  egregiously hyper-sexualized eye candy  (Well, she is looking for a distribution deal.) It also contains dozens of  interviews with a fair and balanced panel of experts: Nancy Pelosi, Katie Couric ,Rachel Maddow, Gloria Steinem,Diane Feinstein, Jane Fonda – and just to balance things out - Condoleeza Rice.

The last 15 minutes of the doc was spent presenting Ms. Siebel Newsom’s solutions to the age-old problem of female exploitation. Many documentaries don’t feel compelled to offer solutions. Because this one seems  like a thesis in Women’s Studies, it’s probably appropriate for it to attempt a resolution. Unfortunately, the documentarian isn’t quite up to the task; most of the suggestions are silly and/or obvious. But then, if it were easy I suppose a caveman would have done it.

Beyond the doc’s premise, Miss Representation has other issues: an unseemly amount of self injection and reflection by Siebel Newsom, and the gratuitous clips of Gavin Newsom are unsettling, as you imagine them to be there simply for use in future campaign footage. And a strange absence: in a bombast on the objectification of women in the media, not one word about the extremely misogynistic music/video business that thrives on such drek.

In our very less than perfect culture the burden falls on parents to neutralize the poison that permeates pop culture. Parents are the ones who can and  should shape and form their children’s values. Until the disintegration of the family has been reversed, don’t expect any mandated or voluntary action to reverse the swill coming out of Hollywood. Pop culture will respond when the majority demands something better. We aren’t there. Until then, teach the children well.

I understand Gavin and Jennifer are expecting their second child. Congratulations. Stop being “frightened for her to grow up in a world that was so limiting for girls and women.” It isn’t. And you’ve got a lot more important things to worry about than that.

Page One: A year inside the New York Times

32070 Page One: hot off the presses

There is nothing that filmmakers enjoy more than a good documentary about themselves. Absent that, they’ll settle for one about their kissing cousin: the media.  This year’s Sundance documentary lineup includes two documentaries from this branch of the family. Page One: a Year Inside the New York Times is a narrative on the the importance of print media in the age of the internet, and Miss Representation, which is an expose of the rampant sexism in the print and film media.

I’ll start with Page One, as described in the official Sundance Festival catalogue:

Page One chronicles the media industry’s transformation and assesses the high stakes for democracy if in-depth investigative reporting becomes extinct.

At the media desk, a dialectical play-within-a-play transpires as writers like salty David Carr track print journalism’s metamorphosis even as their own paper struggles to stay vital and solvent. Meanwhile, rigorous journalism—including vibrant cross-cubicle debate and collaboration, tenacious jockeying for on-record quotes, and skillful page-one pitching—is alive and well. The resources, intellectual capital, stamina, and self-awareness mobilized when it counts attest there are no shortcuts when analyzing and reporting complex truths.

The documentary is as full of hot air as the synopsis. And never mind the fact that in-depth honest investigative reporting went the way of the dodo bird at the NYT years ago. It’s apparent from the puff piece that the director, Andrew Rossi, holds the NYT in high regard; no doubt due to his Yale and Harvard education. Even more apparent however is that no one holds the NYT in as high regard as they do themselves.

If you think “a year in the life” implies a chronological documentary that has a point you’d be wrong on two counts. Instead of a chronological examination of  the state of the newspaper business today it’s a disjointed trip through the process of story assembly meant to impress with its seriousness of purpose. The common element running through a lot of unconnected stories and tangential asides is David Carr, an old line writer and ex-coke head, on the media desk. We mostly follow him through the process of  getting a story and getting it out. He’s also the true believer and  senior proselytizer of the  "New York Times exceptionalism." New York Times exceptionalism, yes. American exceptionalism, no.

Interesting gambits, such as the NYT decision to publish the initial Wikileaks documents last April promise to be interesting but are dead ended. There is no access to top brass who might shed light on the paper’s belief that it was the right thing to do. Instead we see the reporters hashing  the decision out amongst themselves which doesn’t advance the argument much beyond the hackneyed and inaccurate comparison of Wikileaks to the Pentagon Papers.

Ultimately, the documentary is too little core story and analysis and too much hopeful belief in the eternal flame of print media as embodied by the Old Gray Lady. By the time you’ve figured that out, you’ve grown weary of all these self-important twits anyway. Their craft was once vitally important. With the new-media, sorry, not so much.

However it would seem that Mr. Rossi, and certainly the subjects of the documentary, disagree. Their conclusion is more or less the newspaper equivalent of  “rock and roll will never die.” Ok, if you say so. After all, it is the paper of record.

Page One has been picked up for distribution by Magnolia Pictures and Participant Media. Watch for it soon at an art theatre near you that screens “important,” socially conscious films. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cedar Rapids: the Movie

Cedar Rapids: it’s the sort of comedy that always leaves them holding their sides at Sundance: mature men acting like morons. Hijinx ensue. How can you ever grow tired of that? From the film guide synopsis:

a comedy about a group of insurance salesmen who use the opportunity to attend an annual convention in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, as a way to escape their doleful existence . . . like Vegas but with corn.

Tim Lippe has been living in a small town his whole life and gets a rude awakening when he arrives in the "giant" metropolis of Cedar Rapids. However, his boyish charm and innocence eventually win over his fellow conventioneers, but he becomes disheartened when he uncovers corporate corruption.

Ah yes, corporate corruption. Always a good theme at Sundance too (more on that later). The film has been hyped as another 40 Year Old Virgin, as if that was a good thing. In truth, I’m not going to waste any more of your time on this movie, other than to say that it was picked up for distribution by Fox Searchlight, because flicks about idiots (of either sex) are guaranteed box office gold. 

Here’s the trailer if you’re curious about the elite fare that draws thousands of people to the snowy mountains of Utah every year. Cedar Rapids (directed by Miguel Arteta of The Office, Ugly Betty and Freaks and Geeks TV fave) stars Ed Helms  (The Office), John C. Reilly, Anne Heche, Alia Shawkat and Isiah Whitlock Jr. (the Wire) with a bit part by Sigourney Weaver.

And remember, trailers always include all the funny parts.



If  the state of Iowa gave this movie any tax incentives for filming in state, I’d ask for a rebate. Unless you want people thinking that the state is populated by clueless rubes.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Project Nim: the Documentary


snow on main  Snow on Main

The year: 1973.

The plot: A Columbia psychology professor decides to raise a chimpanzee as a human child.

The cast: A self-aggrandizing professor, full of himself , but with plenty of hubris left over. An innocent chimpanzee plucked from it’s mother shortly after birth on a chimp farm. A hippie-chick (prof’s one time lover) eager to “adopt” an adorable baby chimpanzee to raise as her own child. Multiple other do-gooders.

What could go wrong?

nim Unfortunately for Nim, everything.

Project Nim is a documentary that tracks an arguably unethical, appallingly ill conceived and sloppily executed experiment in the nature of language. It was intended to settle the nature/nurture controversy delineated by Skinner (nurture) and Chompsky (nature).

Skinner’s behavioral psychology model held that language skills are acquired through training and could -  at least in principle - be learned not just by humans but also by some other species. Chompsky believed that the ability to develop language is hard wired into humans exclusively.  I can think of many of Chompsky’s political theories that I would challenge, but his theory of semantic language ability: not even in the top 25.

Here’s the short version of the cautionary tale: Herb Terrace, a Columbia psychology professor decided to raise a chimpanzee as a human in order to disprove the theory that only humans are wired for language. His harebrained  hypothesis: if raised as a human child, the chimp could learn to communicate syntactically with sign language.  And while Terrace wanted the glory of  “redefining what it means to be human” he didn’t really want to do any of the heavy lifting. That’s where the hippie chick comes in.

Stephanie (ex-lover) took Nim in to live with her and her husband, Wer LaForge. She proceeded to raise Nim like her child. Indeed, she raised him just like many hippie parents of the 70’s did: no boundaries, no borders, no discipline.  And with pretty much the same result - she created a monster. Nim smoked, drank coffee, and brought Stephanie kleenex when she cried. He also threw fits, destroyed things and bit people and other animals. And if Stephanie was a bad mother, she was an even worse scientist. She didn’t follow directions, plans, protocols and refused to keep records.

Through archival footage, interviews with participants and recreated dramatic sequences, filmmaker James Marsh tracks the life of  Nim Chimpsky (is that too cute by half?).  In doing so, the filmmaker may have inadvertently captured the precise moment at which American higher education began its death spiral into irrelevancy.

For this was a self-indulgent, taxpayer funded research project with little in common with serious scientific inquiry. It was initiated by Terrace for self-serving  purposes (to be the first academic to “redefine what it means to be human”). The project itself was  inadequately prescribed upfront, conducted with slovenly protocols and inadequate record keeping. In addition to that there was little regard for the harm that was likely to be inflicted if in fact the hypothesis was wrong. Not altogether unlike Global Warming “research,” although Terrace did eventually concede that his theory was wrong.

While the first part of  the film is often charming and funny, the rest of the documentary is rough to watch (note how frequently this can be said of films at Sundance). Nim is removed from Stephanie and sent to live on an estate with a series of handlers where his behavior grew more violent and unpredictable. From there he was sent back to the chimp farm where he was born, where he had problems with other chimps as well. The farm owner eventually sold his chimps to a biomedical lab –gastly footage - and Nim’s former handlers managed to rescue him for a more dignified “retirement.” The least they could do for a poor animal  they set up to fail.

So how did a well loved,  obviously intelligent (for a chimp), coffee swilling, cigarette smoking chimp end up back at the ranch? Apparently  anthropomorphizing  is a tool better left to poets than scientists. A tiger doesn’t change his stripes. Grizzly bears will eat you if they’re hungry no matter how long you’ve “communed” with them. Chimps will go ape-shit and bite your face when they’re having a bad day. They’re incapable of weighing the consequences, let alone the moral implications. They may be sensate, but they are not rational.

Socializing a chimp as a human is so wrongheaded its hard to know where to begin. Nim was so irrevocably harmed and altered by his well-intentioned betters that he was unfit for either human or chimp society. Score another one for the ivy league elitists who are sure they know  how to run the world. 

Ultimately, Terrace conceded that language is probably the exclusive realm of humans (file that under “duh”). Although Nim allegedly learned 125 different signs that he was able to string together, he never learned to use them with correct  syntax . Terrace concluded that Nim learned to mimic his teachers and handlers sign language,  but was incapable of constructing a  “human sentence.”(In this regard, he may have been qualified to run for Congress)

So we’ll give this round to Chompsky, who came down on the right side of reason on this one. A pity he tired of linguistics and wondered into political philosophy, where he has found numerous ways to make up for his excellence in the realm of language.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Pariah: the Movie

Pariah-1-606x340 Adepero Oduye, plays Alike, a 17 year old lesbian

If you were thinking: “what Sundance really needs are more black lesbian coming-of-age flicks” then this is your lucky year. Pariah opened Thursday to (predictably)  a “hugely enthusiastic reception.”

Because this is what they read in the Sundance Festival 2011 catalogue about this film:

At the club, the music thumps, go-go dancers twirl, shorties gyrate on the dance floor while studs play it cool, and adorably naive 17-year-old Alike takes in the scene with her jaw dropped in amazement. Meanwhile, her buddy Laura, in between macking the ladies and flexing her butch bravado, is trying to help Alike get her cherry popped. This is Alike’s first world. Her second world is calling on her cell to remind her of her curfew. On the bus ride home to Brooklyn, Alike sheds her baseball cap and polo shirt, puts her earrings back in, and tries to look like the feminine, obedient girl her conservative family expects.

So far it sounds like a natural for Oprah’s new network.

Alike (Adepero Oduye) struggles (see above) with coming to grips with her sexuality. She knows she’s a lesbian, she just doesn’t know what kind of a lesbian: the butch type that her friend Laura  (Pernell Walker) wants her to be or the sensitive type that her new friend,  Bina (Aasha Davis), thinks she’s destined to be. The main premise seems to be that the path down which a black teen lesbian’s life must necessarily travel is tough enough, without your conservative parents layering on additional expectations and guilt. Keeping your overt sexuality – no matter which way it goes -  in check until you’re maturity catches up with your teenage libido is apparently never an option any more. Neither in Hollywood nor the real world.

Ms. Rees (who is both screenwriter and director) dug way down in the stereotype bin to come up with  a sketch for a “conservative” family: children living with both of their biological parents who expect their daughters to go to school, study, get good grades, stay out of trouble and go to church on Sunday. Oh yes, and a completely intolerant, unyielding mother who cannot come to terms with her daughter’s budding homosexuality in any healthy way.  She’s driven mad by her daughter’s sexual orientation. Because that’s how conservative parents behave when they find out one of their children or grandchildren is gay, right? Just ask Dick and Lynn Cheney. Or Barry Goldwater.

The Dee Rees movie started life as a short film made for her NYU film school thesis under the tutelage of Spike Lee, the school’s artistic director. With help from the Sundance Institute - cuz that’s what they’re here for - it was turned into a feature length film that many here have already dubbed this year’s “Precious.”

Precious was  a 2009 Sundance feature about an obese, abused, illiterate black teenage girl pregnant with her second child - by her own father. Not quite as earth wrenching as a teen living with a loving nuclear family and trying to figure which side of the lesbian equation to settle on, but not bad.  Precious  went on to win awards everywhere it was screened.

What the two movies have in common, aside from being about black teenage girls, is that they both make people cry and are what has come to be known as “difficult” movies to watch. Which is to say they’re very unpleasant to watch. The depiction of sick, twisted behavior on screen is ostensibly to develop the viewers “understanding” of the characters, but in fact it’s there to manipulate the viewers emotions. Some people think that’s what art does. But they’re wrong: real art is, well, real. There’s no need to manipulate. Real art can shock without grossing everyone out in the process.

But filmmakers will generally stick with the gross out, because it is an effective technique for today’s audience. Hollywood, in conjunction with the rest of the MSM, has created a population trained to have their emotions revved while their intellect sits in neutral. Emotional Reaction ‘R Us. But it pays off.  Precious  was nominated for 3 Oscars and took home the Best Supporting Actress statue.

Don’t  look for anything similar from Pariah. Although all of the other Sundance reviews will praise it’s honesty, rawness and ability to tell it’s own story, the reality is it’s too long,  too grim, too black lesbian-coming-of-age and way, way  TMI. Do you really need to see a teenage girl’s first experience with a strap-on? I think not.

Plus it also has other real flaws, like insufficient character development (for example from whence does  the fear and loathing that Alike’s mother has for her daughter’s homosexuality come from?  Are we to presume it’s because she goes to church?) and loose ends in the script. Technically, it’s not ready for prime time even though most of the acting is fine.

Pariah’s supporters will say Hollywood is just not ready for serious gay films. More to the point, they’re not ready for seriously bad gay films.

Nevertheless, look for IFC or one of the other cables to option it.

Friday, January 21, 2011

college is a waste of time

From  Allahpundit: Good News. Study Shows Confirms that College is Pretty Much a Total Waste of Time

He suggests you needn’t read the whole thing but simply look at this column

FireShot capture #032 - 'Report_ First two years of college show small gains - USATODAY_com' - www_usatoday_com_news_education_2011-01-18-littlelearning18_ST_N_htm_csp=hf&loc=intersti

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Must See TeeVee: In case, like most of us, you don’t watch GMA. UPDATE

“ It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”


‘nuff said. And no, it’s not a SNL skit.

h/t Chickaboomer

UPDATE: OK. We’ve established the fact that she’s a moron. Now the only question is “what kind of a moron is she?”

Mall worker who fell in fountain has criminal record.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Pragmatism Of Hate Speech


Michelle Malkin recently did a roundup of the type of civil behavior the Left would have us emulate. Warning: it’s pretty, uh, uncivilized.

She followed up today with The Hate Speech Inquisition.

It’s strange, ironic even, that the same people who deconstructed speech to the point where many words mean absolutely nothing (e.g. “racist”) now tell us how desperately “words matter.”

With apologies to George Orwell, in our brave new world all words are important, but some words are more important than others. And while normally their words of proclamation are the most important, pragmatism dictates that they step aside temporarily and give that status over to the opposition for awhile. This week, “hate speech” is the most important speech.

There isn’t a shred of evidence that deranged Tucson massacre suspect Jared Loughner ever listened to talk radio or cared about illegal immigration. Indeed, after 300 exhaustive interviews, the feds “remain stumped” about his motives, according to Tuesday’s Washington Post. But that hasn’t stopped a coalition of power-grabbing politicians, progressive activists and open-borders lobbyists from plying their quack cure for the American body politic: government-sponsored speech suppression.

Because that’s how we roll around here now. Never, ever let a good crisis go to waste.  We’re back to seriously talking about the “fairness doctrine” – an odd misnomer if ever there was one. And the leftwing victims groups are hauling ass to the finish line for their win:

Make no mistake: The Hate Speech Inquisition is real. And it’s being fought on all fronts. Last week, using the non-radio-inspired Tucson massacre as fuel, the National Hispanic Media Coalition called on the FCC to gather evidence for the left’s preconceived conclusion that conservative talk radio “hate speech” causes violence. It’s Red Queen science — sentence first, research validation later.

But then, that’s how we do all science any more. It’s far more pragmatic that way. Because that’s what we need around here: fewer standards and more pragmatism.


Pragmatism: A form of relativism that holds that any belief that is useful is true and any truth that is inconvenient is necessarily untrue.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

In Defense of Incivility



Is that possible? To defend incivility? I realize that in the minds of the left, who are all of a sudden demanding civility, it’s probably uncivil to even ask. But if I may quote the words of a great man whose birthday we celebrated yesterday:

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” - Martin Luther King

And if that means that those of us who simply don’t believe that  socialist-Marxism is the last-best-hope of humanity feel compelled to be a bit strident about it, well, so be it.

As Vanderleun notes in Civil Myass: How About We DON’T Tone It Down for a Change?  accepting the left’s charge of incivility violates William F. Buckley’s first principle of debate: Never accept your opponent’s premise. Get your opponent to accept yours.

Aficionados of Buckley’s classic “Firing Line” shows will recall the master’s method of reducing “infallible arguments to fallacious premises.”

He points out that instead of employing that tactic the right is, predictably, falling for the oldest trick in the book:

The left not only expects the “nice guys” of the “rational right” to come around to their way of thinking, they depend upon it. And they should since that’s been the pattern of these things for as long as I can remember.

I’ve even tried this a couple of times but, alas, no longer. My nice, reasonable right guy is all used up these days. I've got compassion fatigue. I see the left dealing, once again, from the bottom of their media marked card deck (when do they do otherwise?), and I’m not feeling too civil about them and their plans these days. I've seen enough of their "handful of 'gimme' and mouth full of 'gimme more'."

Speaking for myself -- in a calm and rational tone as I reach to upset their crooked card table and draw my metaphoric popcult pistol -- I have to say, “I know what you're thinking. ‘Did he fire six insults or only five? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as we're playing for the future of the Republic, and being as this is a 2010 iMac, the most powerful personal computer in the world, and would blow your premise clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk? ”


This message has been brought to you by the Clint Eastwood, ex-Mayor of Carmel-By-The-Sea fan club.


Dirty Harry ran his 1986 campaign for mayor of Carmel on the sole platform of  legalizing the sale of ice cream cones from storefronts. A true American hero.

Not clear where our nanny-state loving POTUS and FLOTUS  would come down on this, as they would have to be somewhat conflicted.

fc4376dc-e014-4a6d-a608-fecf26b9eb78  amo ice

PS. If you haven’t seen Grand Torino (shot in Detroit) yet you really must. It’s rough, but good. Kind of like Detroit used to be.

Duke: What you lookin' at old man?
Walt Kowalski: Ever notice how you come across somebody once in a while you shouldn't have f***ed with? That's me.

Sorry, that was rather uncivilized of me.

h/t Larwyn

Monday, January 17, 2011

Remembering a Great Black Leader

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” MLK

Today was set aside to honor Martin Luther King, the country’s first national Black leader.

He still stands head and shoulders above other opportunistic would-be Black leaders.



Read Stilton’s Hope n’ Change commentary on RightNetWork regarding the place for rhetoric – even the rancorous kind – in our national discourse.

Meanwhile, it appears that CAIR has cynically hijacked MLK Day for their own purposes, in Washington state, knowing that Black demagogues like Jackson and Sharpton will voice no objections, in order to appear to be “inclusive” of other “oppressed” peoples.


They should be ashamed of their complicity with such a sham.

Martin Luther King would not appreciate it. Especially considering the fact that some Muslims think that Blacks still make great slaves.

“Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.”

h/t Larwyn

Sunday, January 16, 2011

An Ill Wind Blowing

Driving across country in the dead of winter is not for wusses or wimps. Even with clear skies overhead, fierce winds out of the south and west blow unabated across miles and miles of fallow fields in Iowa, Nebraska and the Dakotas. Winds of 25-50 mph are common, 50-60 mph not uncommon and gusts around 80 mph are no strangers to this landscape. Snow that has already fallen and should be earthbound takes to the air again as it’s aroused and freshly provoked. The wind’s velocity whips it into a reincarnated blizzard. Once again visibility approaches zero and highways become ice glazed within the time it takes to travel between exits.

81-800 Old snow, wearing itself out in Nebraska

There’s long been a saying on the Plains that: “Snow around here doesn’t so much melt as it wears itself out.” You don’t want to be on the road while it’s exercising itself to exhaustion.

As you leave America’s bread basket (Is this term still operative? Or is it an anachronism now that we’ve shifted our subsidies to the growing of corn for ethanol?) via I –80 in west Nebraska you enter Wyoming. Here the hazard of flatlands snow and ice is anted up in spades. By the time you reach Cheyenne, which is located just inside the extreme southeast corner of the state, you’ve already climbed to 6ooo feet. The rest of the trip across the state takes you up to 9ooo feet and back down to 6000 feet multiple times as you climb and descend through a series of mountain passes that transport you across the Continental Divide. The danger of ice slicked roads on top of the world is a fact apparently lost on the would-be ice road truckers who have to settle for ice-glazed highways to live their dreams. Many are underpowered and drop to 20 mph (or slower) in order to make it up grade, and then - in order to conserve fuel – barrel down the declines at breakneck speed. It’s an unusual winter trip where you won’t see several jackknifed trailers strewn along the trail. 

There are few cities or towns along the entire length of the Interstate that traverses Wyoming east to west, and you best plan accordingly because this is fool’s territory. There are still places where your cell phone is silent, and even satellite radio has trouble broadcasting with all the rocks.

To be sure, we have been fools in the past. We’ve been making this trek, in one direction or another, 4 times a year for over a decade. We gradually learned how to access the most reliable weather forecasts (NOAA – so don’t say I’ve never said anything nice about the federal government). Then we learned that its equally if not more important to check for wind forecasts  along with precipitation. And finally we learned, late one April as the highway closed behind when we stopped for the night, that the high, dry dessert gets the majority of it’s snowfall in March and April. Easter is perhaps not the best time to travel.  Even armed with all this information, it’s still a crap shoot. The vagaries of weather over the span of a 3 day cross country hike make planning somewhat irrelevant, but the one constant you can count on in Wyoming is wind.

So it’s not the least bit surprising that several of the largest U.S. wind farm projects are in Wyoming.

FireShot capture #011 - '12-35_PC_RenewableEnergyFlyer_pdf (application_pdf Object)' - www_pacificorp_com_content_dam_pacificorp_doc_Energy_Sources_12-35_PC_RenewableEnergyFlyer_pdf

Wind Farms located in Wyoming

The winds along the Rocky Mountain ranges in the Cowboy State are some of the strongest and most reliable in the country, so you’ll see ample evidence from the highway of these corporate wind “farmers”  “harvesting” all that “free, green” energy. In an affront to both physics and aesthetics, these mindless monsters sprout from the mountain tops like perpetual steel geysers top-mounted with 747 fuselages and rotors 46 feet long. They rise like a temple to modern man’s ability to built things with erector sets. An artifact of the age of matter over mind.


They are pretty big suckers: height of 126 feet, with a rotor radius of 46 feet. This illustrates one of the Foote Creek models. They come much larger: some are 400 feet tall, with 130 foot blades.


   Foote Creek wind farm in WY Rockies: a triumph of might over right

Never mind that these monsters fail to perform their appointed rounds much of the time – due to machinery malfunction or lack of adequate wind (although in fairness, that’s less likely in Wyoming than in some locations that have fallen for windmills’ clean energy charm).  And never mind that Wyoming is filled with reserves of oil and natural gas that - in terms of thermodynamics - “delivers more bang for the buck.”

Windmills just make us feel good because we’re told they’re green. And renewable.

Some find them lovely to look at:  I suppose beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But for environmentalists, so offended by the sight of gas wells,  it’s hard to imagine how they justify the landscape pollution of these monstrosities. In addition to thrusting themselves into the air 400 feet, they make an awful lot of noise, kill a lot of birds and bats


and - if operating improperly, which is apparently not that rare - throw off huge ice sheets that can cause tremendous damage to buildings and people. And while not one life has ever been lost due to a malfunction in a nuclear reactor in the U.S., the wind turbine industry - darling of clean, green safe energy - suffers dozens of deaths each year, primarily as a result of falls during assembly and maintenance. Because, as you can see, their working parts are really a long, long way off the ground.

uphigh_windmill manual_inspection

Never mind that from a thermo-dynamic stand point, wind generated electricity is not very efficient even if the fuel source is “free.”  The upfront cost of building the turbine generator is 80% higher than for conventional electricity generation facilities. And since the power generated is not storable and unlikely to be generated anywhere near a location that needs the electricity,  it requires massive capital to build electric grid transmission lines and/or astronomically expensive and inefficient batteries for storage.

802023Nobody here but us truckers

Add to that the fact that any market relying on wind generated electricity also needs to arrange for reliable, alternate sourced generation capacity because nature is fickle and we don’t always know which way the wind blows.

Nor is wind energy as clean and simple as the Greens would have you believe. Although the technology for wind turbine generated power is not anywhere near as complex as (horrors!) a coal fired generation facility or a nuclear plant, crap still happens:

'A faulty sensor on a giant wind turbine is being blamed for huge shards of ice flying off its blades and crashing into nearby homes and gardens.'

Despite assurances from the American Wind Industry that turbines shut off when there is any ice build up on the blades, all you need to do to disprove this is a search on YouTube for “Wind Turbine Ice Throw.” Here’s one example. Other problems can be found under Wind Turbine Explosion or  Wind Turbine Fire.

In a fair and balanced nutshell, from America’s Economic Report - Daily, the current status of alternative energy sources:

There is nothing wrong with solar and wind energy. They are clean, renewable, and spur domestic investment. However, they are also disproportionately costly, and they take up a lot of space. Wind and solar power offer weak comparisons to old-school oil, gas, and coal, which have large infrastructures already in place and are the “tried and true” means of producing electricity.

While Wyoming, and nearly every other state that can claim any wind at all, is being littered with turbines, proven gas and oil reserves in many parts of the nation are untapped for a variety of reasons, but not insignificantly due to Federal regulatory restrictions. The Gulf of Mexico drilling ban  is just the tip of the iceberg.

Obama’s Interior Department last December removed 250 million acres of federally owned land from gas and oil production by “deeming” it to be a “wilderness study area” area.  70% of the Green River Formation reserve in Utah and Wyoming are now off limits to production due to this land grab by “unelected central planning ‘experts’ in the Obama Administration.” This formation just happens to contain the largest reserves of shale gas in the world ( 1.5 trillion, yes, trillion, barrels of oil equivalent). In the bureaucratic sweep of the Interior Czar’s hand, the boom that Wyoming has been enjoying in the middle of a very, very bad recession is about to come to a screeching halt.

A good number of the jobs created as a fallout of drilling activity in this state are about to dry up like the parched landscape here and blow away with the tumbleweeds.


Allow me, as a drive-by observer of the landscape, to document my evidence of how “trickle down” economics actually work in the real world - removed from the input of our intellectual betters dwelling in Washington and universities across the country.

Fueled by a previously healthy gas and oil drilling industry in the state of Wyoming, many other jobs emerged. Here are my observations:

  • Huge stock piles of timber logs gathered around the rail yards outside Cheyenne. One might initially assume that it’s surplus lumber due to the virtual death of the new home market, but no...
  • As you travel further you’ll notice that what was once a completely empty and barren landscape but for the occasional herd of grazing cows is now being strung with miles and miles of new electric lines: hence the purpose of the log poles. Someone logged and transported them. And someone else installed them and someone else hooked them up to an electricity grid.
  • Keep looking and you’ll see the purpose for all these new lines in the middle of nowhere: operating wells. Natural gas wells. To produce some of Wyoming’s vast reserves of shale gas (“unconventional gas”) that can now be brought to market with a relatively new technology called hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and horizontal drilling. (To those concerned about environmentalists’ objections to fracking allow Bernard Weinstein to put your mind at ease.) All of this activity requires a lot of engineering work and drilling rig construction, which requires roustabouts and other well operators, including senior engineers and supervisors.
  • Further along you’ll notice construction  off in the distance. From the looks of all the stockpiles of cast iron and PVC pipe dotting the landscape from time to time, it appears that gathering and transmission lines are being built in order to move the natural gas to  market or possibly new storage facilities – which also require a lot of workers to build and then maintain. There are pumping stations required all along the line as well. More jobs.
  • In the past couple of years, and despite trends to the contrary in nearly every other local we’ve visited in the past few years, there is a definite building boom going on in Wyoming. Most visible along the I-80 route outside Cheyenne, Rock Springs and Green River. Not mini-mansions, but hundreds of multi and single family structures springing up new every six months as we pass through. All these new workers need a place to live.
  • And they need services too. Everything from groceries to restaurants, barbers,dentists and doctors. Increase one segment, and you increase many. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. Just ask anyone back in Michigan.

So once again, kudos to Obama and the Liberals. They’ll soon have another state contributing to the country’s unemployment rate.

Or maybe they’re planning to re-deploy them all into the windmill business? After all, it is free, clean and green!

VedauwooEast Winds, wearing the snow out, on I-80 outside Vedauwoo, WY

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Lunatic is in Your Head

giffords killer2 Ramirez via iOwntheWorld

You might want to read Professor Jacobson’s take on the Arizona affair: Hijacking a Tragedy,

as well as VanderLeun’s Lunatic (with music! By Pink Floyd!):

Insanity is an "occupational hazard" of being "the smart monkey."

Dewey will be back on duty as of tomorrow.

h/t larwyn