About Me

A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Joan of BP

Besides the excellent Toy Story, I saw three other movies over the weekend, and all of them are worth seeing.

First up, at the IFC Center screen 4 on Saturday June 19 was Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work. I've never been a Joan Rivers fan but I haven't been opposed either. I've seen her as a personality famous for being a personality, kind of like what Harlan Ellison is these days. The movie shows enough of the early Joan doing actual comedy and enough tribute to her accomplishments in the field to give her some context. But it doesn't overdo it. It avoids the common documentary mistake of assuming the appropriateness of the subject without defining within the parameters of the film -- I.e. if you don't know why the subject is important before taking your seat you won't know after. And it avoids the other mistake of
becoming hagiography.

We see her current act and she's actually quite funny. We also see that she is a nest of insecurities. If she isn't working 24/7 she isn't working. We see all of this in a tight 90 minutes that covers a lot of ground. But she is confident enough in her insecurities to let us see them very up close and very personally. It's an intriguing combination of character traits. The film succeeds in part because of its craft but also as a matter of luck capturing a good rebound year for Rivers, which is the kind of thing you can't know in advance. Then again luck is the residue of design and this is a very well designed film. It also has a very good coming attraction. I'm not sure all the deservedly good reviews would have gotten me info the theatre if the trailer hadn't given me a good taste of what might be in store.

And now to pause for a moment or two to talk about a political issue of the day.

What do we do in the Gulf?

Here's the thing, the last penguin or pelican or national park or backyard, ultimately none of them will be safe because we need every drop or chunk of fossil fuel we can get. Our world revolves around fossil fuels. Nothing we can do is likely to change that. Nothing will totally substitute.

Should we try and use more wind power and solar power and maybe even nuclear power? Yes. Should we try and conserve and save where we can? Yes. That will do us all a lot of good, it will help relieve cost pressures, it will delay the day when the last penguin in the Arctic is battling with the last drop of oil underneath the Arctic shelf. But we'll still face more and more inexorable battles over resources.

Equally inevitable are regulartory capture issues that we have with Minerals Mining in the US Government. Though it is possible to run a system with more or fewer of those issues popping up depending on the level of leadership and the kind of people you hire. We need a good regulatory system because we need to drill, maybe not tomorrow but sometime, and it's pretty clear from Deepwater that too much of that drilling is done without a lot of regard to safety.

But the most important thing we need, and which we're not going to get, and which we don't have political leadership advocating for, and which too many special interests are lined up against, is a carbon tax. We all need to look in the mirror and recognize that our own decisions drive our need for gas, coal, and other energy, and without a carbon tax to help price our electric use properly, we're not going to have a serious enough incentive to change

While I'm sitting in the office, my apartment has a microwave and a range with stand-by clocks, two thermostats for my HVAC, a DVD player, a TV, a DVR/set-top box, a router, a telecom equipment box, two phone handsets, all little vultures sucking at little pieces of power. The set-top box is the worst offender, because my provider pays for the box while I provide the electricity, hence the cable companies and their box makers are able to fight off efficiency rules without cost for them. As I further settle in to my apartment, I'll have a computer and a printer and a clock radio, all eating up standby power in greater or lesser degrees.

Even though I turn my lights off and so far have only turned on my HVAC when I had people working in the apartment and don't drive and am oh so virtuous, I'm still using a lot of power. And I don't want to reach a day when I can't have all these gadgets because we don't have the power to run them, when I can't fly somewhere because there's no fuel for the plane. But in order to put those big sacrifices up, we need to get way more serious than we are about finding things to do here and there that leave more stuff for us to burn up tomorrow. Railroads, anyone, to reduce demand for airplane trips within 500 miles? Not leaving store doors open to the sidewalk when the AC is running? Setting up a drying rack in your utility room instead of using a clothes dryer?

So if you need to drive to your local theatre to see Joan Rivers, which is worth seeing, maybe find someone to go with or think for a few seconds on what else you can do efficiently while driving there and back.


Anonymous said...

Can We Talk? Joan Rivers new flick gave me a new outlook on life. To really appreciate the ups when they come. She’s a woman who has had a rollercoaster life yet she still strives on, claiming she still hasn’t reached her peak.

phillip said...

I haven’t been to the movies in a while, but I ventured out to see Joan Rivers’ documentary, and I’m glad I did. It was a really insightful film