A Million Little Gods Causing Rain Storms

Arcade Fire will be live streaming their August 5th Madison Square Garden concert on Youtube.

Hee hee!

I may have to see if I can commandeer my friend's big-ass home theatre set-up for that one. Even though he doesn't actually much like the band, he might do it just for the novelty of it.

Going Deeper on Inception

I'm not going bother with a real review, and I'm assuming if you're reading this then you've already seen it. If you don't want it spoiled, bugger off.

Coming out of the theatre, there seemed to be two main theories among the audience as to what had happened in the movie:

1) Cobb's mission planting an idea in Fischer's head was successful, and he also successfully rescued Saito, and he was re-united with his children at the end.

This is of course nonsense. The top keeps spinning. He's still in a dream.

2) Cobb's mission planting an idea in Fischer's head was successful, but he didn't escape from limbo, instead dreaming he was reunited with his children.

This is the theory most of the smart people seemed to be leaning towards. It explains the too-pat happy ending, the fact that his children don't seem to have aged a day from his memory of his last look at them, and the top still spinning away on the table when the movie ends and the screen cuts to black.

It's also just as wrong.

Let's go back to basics for a second. Inception is about Cobb, a former architect, who now makes his living extracting ideas from people's heads by constructing shared dream scenarios and placing his targets into them. As the film progresses we learn some of the rules, including the fact if you drop too many levels down into dreams, you get dumped into a limbo of the unreconstructed subconscious from which no one has ever escaped with their sanity intact (except, apparently, Cobb.)

We also learn that when you are in a target's mind, they will create projections as defense mechanisms that attack you and try to drive you out.

You getting it yet? No? Then we'll continue.

During the set-up for the mission to incept (plant an idea, rather than extract one) Fischer, Cobb spends a good chunk of time running around like he's James Bond, dodging the assassins sent by a disgruntled former employer. In fact, we never even find out the identity of this former employer - they and their goons evaporate once their plot purpose is served.

Hmm. Odd that an architect can pull that off, isn't it? Even Mal (Cobb's dead wife, who keeps re-appearing as a guilt-driven projection to disrupt his missions) comments on how improbable it is, how dream-like it is.

Which, of course, brings up another point. Projections are supposed to be defense mechanisms against intruders. How can projections from Cobb's head - not just Mal, but also things like the train that hits the getaway car and plows through traffic in level 1 of the mission against Fischer - be projections from Cobb's subconscious defending someone else's mind?

They can't, of course. Any more than an architect can dodge trained assassins.

There's plenty of evidence throughout that what's going on is all a dream, that at no time are we in waking reality, and that the dream is Cobb's. The fact that different characters echo each other's dialogue. The absolutely ridiculous way Mal frames Cobb for her suicide and forces him to go on the run, separating him from their kids (you're telling me that no one in this post-CSI world of ours could prove that they were on opposite window ledges when she fell? Puh-leez.) The fact that, just when Cobb needs a new architect, his father happens to be teaching one even more gifted than he was?

Or how about the inconsistencies in Cobb's stories of his and Mal's life together in limbo? They build entire cities from their imagination, they grow old together... yet when he finally plants the idea in her head that it's all a dream and that suicide is their only escape, suddenly they are young again.

But if what happens in the movie is a dream (within a dream within a dream...) of Cobb's, that introduces a few other questions:

1) Is anything we see real, or based in reality?

2) What is the titular inception?

3) Who's doing the inception?

The second question is the easiest. The target of the inception, of course, is Cobb himself.

Before I start spinning my theories on the rest, though, I want to see the film a second time.

It's an Idea

Booman wants the Dems to tack left on the Bush tax cuts, and revise them to lower taxes on the bottom 98% and raise them on the top 2%, to either be revenue-neutral or (preferably) to increase revenue in order to start hacking away at the deficit.

This would, of course, immediately set off a new round of "Marxist wealth redistribution!" from the right. At which point the Dems should just run ads featuring the chart that's been making the rounds recently:

and say, "You're damn right it's wealth redistribution! Wealth has been massively redistributed upwards for over a decade now. The free ride ends today, bitches!"

But for that to happen Dave Chappelle would have had to have been elected president, and not Barack Obama.

OK, Vilsack Can Stay

His apology seemed genuine. No sacking necessary.

Now it's time to end Breitbart. Just wipe him off the media map. Bury him so deep his reputation will never recover.

The way to discourage this sort of behavior is to make the costs for doing it too high. Anderson Cooper's intro to his show tonight was a good start.

Vilsack Needs To Resign

...and he can apparently take Cheryl Cook with him.

Right after restoring Shirley Sherrod to her post.

Anybody stupid enough to get suckered by Breitbrat even after the ACORN video fraud does not deserve their government job, and especially not a cabinet post.

Quick Thought on Inception

Yes, it really is that good. And very much from the writer/director of Memento and the Prestige.

UPDATE: I want to say one more thing in advance of me writing something longer about the movie. This is Nolan is puzzle-box mode. The easy, surface explanations for what happens (or what you think happens) are never the right ones. And Nolan always gives you the answer at the end.

If that's not enough, I'll give you one more clue. The target of the titular inception is not Robert Fischer.

He's Ba-a-a-a-ack

You know Sully's returned from his vacation, because he responds to Weigel's slam at his Trig coverage with a 56 million word piece (that's a conservative estimate) about it, bless his bald head.

And in the middle of his torrent, gold:

The more revealing point Dave makes is that what truly matters in journalism is not truth but "reputation." Almost every single one of my peers in September 2008 told me not to ask these questions because it would hurt my "reputation". Many of them privately conceded that there could be something fishy here (many privately outright disbelieve Palin's stories) but one's "reputation" as a "serious" journalist forbade one from even inquiring.

Let me simply state my view: these people are a disgrace to journalism.

We journalists are and should remain the lowest of the low life forms in a political democracy. We should not be hobnobbing with the powerful, let alone bragging about it, and begging for scooplets to get Politico-style pageview moolah. We should not be garnering our reputations and angling to get on cable or playing water-slides with the people we cover.

We should be asking the most uncomfortable questions of the many frauds and phonies and charlatans who are in public office - and enjoy being despised by the legions of true-believers who actually credit the endless bullshit shoveled out into the public by frauds like Palin.

And then the killshot at the end.

I am, after all, not claiming something for which there can be no proof. I am not claiming something after contrary proof has been provided (as in Obama's birth certificate). I am merely asking to clear up a question for which there must be a mountain of readily available medical records, and which Palin could have released almost two years ago - and still refuses, even when asked in a friendly attempt to kill off the rumors once and for all. In this refusal to provide information, Palin's key allies are in what now passes for the press. And you wonder why we knew nothing about John Edwards or Eliot Spitzer or Stanley McChrystal or ... well, WMDs in Iraq or torture, until it was all over and done with.

Until this syndrome of "reputation" is abandoned, this democracy has no functioning adversarial press.

Fuckin' A, Sully. Fuckin' A.

On the Front Lines

LGF had this up earlier, but didn't quote what I thought was the scariest part of the news piece:

She said she had planned to cook salsa with her son on Sunday and was making preparations when she got a call from a television reporter, looked out the window and saw that her pickup was gone.

She said she then checked the locked safe where she kept her guns, all legally purchased and owned, and found that they were also missing.

Janice Williams said she kept the guns because "eventually, I think we're going to be caught up in a revolution." But she said she had told her son many times that "he didn't have to be on the front lines."

She said she had no explanation for his actions.

"Something snapped," she said. "His life is over. He will go back to prison for the rest of his life. Our lives are over."

How long will it be until someone just like Byron Williams, convinced by Megyn Kelly's hysteria over fake Black Panthers and Beck's mourning for a dying America and Rush's constant fulminations that the end is truly nigh, snaps and takes some shots at someone higher up the food chain than members of local law enforcement?

You want to watch the country tear itself apart? Have someone make an attempt on Obama's life, and miss -- and hit Michelle or the girls instead.

To Answer JC's Question...

Things like seepage don't get explained because the stenographers who work for the corporate media don't have the curiosity to get an explanation for things they are told, and that they don't understand.

I don't even think you can say that there's a systemic incentive not to investigate. I just think the system is geared towards promoting extremely uncurious people. Asking impertinent questions, or going to outside experts to check facts and such, doesn't get you an invite to the next rodeo.

Not Worth the Wait

So, last night I finally got around to watching the Ed Norton re-boot of the Hulk, and, umm, yeah.

What a shitty movie. I appreciate that Marvel wanted to tie the franchise in to their burgeoning universe a little tighter, but that didn't really justify it.

Here's what I liked about it:

Tim Blake Nelson as Dr. Samuels / The (future) Leader. But I like Tim Blake Nelson in almost anything.

Yeah, that's the whole list.

Norton wasn't as good as Eric Bana, and Bana was pretty wooden in Ang Lee's version -- but at least you got a sense of some anger bubbling below the surface. At no time did Norton seem like a guy with anger issues.

William Hurt was a terrible General Ross, and vastly inferior to Sam Elliot. Granted, the script made him a two-dimensional idiot, but Hurt brought nothing to the role. At least with Elliot's performance you got a sense of his conflict between duty and his love for his daughter. Here, the only conflict was between Hurt and the dialogue he was being asked to mouth. And Hurt lost.

Liv Tyler was her usual empty dress as Betty.

Tim Roth wasn't terrible as Blonsky, but he didn't have much to do.

The effects were meh.

Downey's obligatory post-credit cameo at the end was pointless.

The faux-Cloverfield sequence after Blonsky becomes the Abomination was painful to watch.

Oh, and hey, let's not forget the end of the climactic battle, where the Hulk knocks the Abomination out, then jumps away and leaves Betty and all the puny humans just standing around in case the Abomination (and his already-established accelerated healing rate) wakes up and crushes them. Brilliant!

Basically, the only aspect of it that was better than Ang Lee's version was that it ended in an actual fight instead of a metaphysical battle of wills that wasn't really appropriate for a Hulk movie.

Now that I've seen it, I've got no objection to Norton, or even the Hulk as a character, being tossed out of the Avengers movie. The Hulk's a loner anyway.