I started writing a treatment for a feature-length screenplay yesterday. Why? Hell if I know; it’s hard to imagine a piece of writing with longer odds on ever earning a paycheck than a screenplay. My zombie colleagues have been talking about what it would take to make an ultra-low-budget feature hereabouts, and you can’t start without a script, but that’s not the reason. It just seemed time. I’m not one of those loony fiction writers who just claims to be a medium: “the story chose me to tell it,” etc. But every so often you get an itch, and it needs to be scratched.

Here’s what I like about screenplays, though — the structure. A good script is a trip down a well-traveled road, but every drive is different. Unless you’re Charlie Kaufman or Quentin Tarantino, there are rules of beginning/middle/end that must be heeded. There’s not nearly as much time for meandering; in fact, meanders are strictly discouraged. Scenes need to climb a tidy staircase toward a climax. The plot must be moved along. As a writer, I get far more of a sense of forward motion writing a screenplay than I ever do with just plain fiction, as evidenced by the fact I have one completed feature-length script in my drawer and several shorts, and zero finished novels.

Also, writing scripts helps you appreciate movies. I still remember the night I came home from my rewrite class at Michigan, plopped in front of the TV, and found “The Fugitive” just getting underway on HBO. The class that night had been about the challenge of raising the stakes with every scene, and it’s hard to think of a movie that does it better than that one. Each turn of the action puts Dr. Kimble in greater jeopardy and goads him closer to the climax. Every question the books say a writer must ask and answer — what does the hero want? what is standing in his way? — is evident. My favorite scene is the one where he saves the kid in the ER with the broken sternum. Totally implausible, but so well-acted you don’t notice, and even it raises the stakes, as Tommy Lee Jones is left to consider that this wife-killer he’s chasing risked arrest to sneak a dying kid off to emergency surgery. Not that he says so; you just see it on Tommy Lee’s smart, craggy face.

What I hate about screenplays: The rewrites. It’s like giving birth, then stuffing the kid back in and doing it all over again. Although I must say, my rewrite prof, who was a working screenwriter himself, had a wealth of fascinating teaching material. Did you know that the early drafts of “The Truman Show” had the story taking place in New York City? That Truman was a fat, sweaty creep whom we see having sex with prostitutes? Now recall Jim Carrey making his way through Seaside, Fla., in the opening scenes. That was a movie that had some rewrites, I’d say.

Anyway, I have the first act down. Now comes the hard part: the rest.

Quick bloggage before I drag my lardass off to the gym:

Via Kevin Knuth: Stay classy, Harlan, Indiana! You ignorant putzes.

Richard Cohen on Jane Mayer on you-know-who:

Until two cruise ships steamed up to Alaska two summers ago, the record for the silliest statement by a journalist had been held by Lincoln Steffens, in his time a famous American radical. Sent in 1919 to see how Russia was doing under the communists, Steffens supposedly reported, “I have seen the future, and it works.” In 2007, several conservative journalists got off their cruise ships and met Sarah Palin. They saw the present, and she was a babe.

The cruises were sponsored by the National Review and the Weekly Standard, journals of significant influence in conservative circles. The ships disgorged some top conservative editors and writers, who on two occasions were invited at the governor’s mansion. Almost to a man, they were thunderstruck.

No! Really!?

Who thinks the story of the call-center walkouts is legit? Discuss. I’m off to work my flabby ass.

Posted at 9:30 am in Current events, Movies |

54 responses to “Untitled.”

  1. Lex said on October 28, 2008 at 9:54 am

    Nance, got any quick/good references on screenplay writing? (Not for me, I promise.)

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  2. Suzi said on October 28, 2008 at 10:02 am

    The call center is hiring, “AGI values a good work ethic”:

    Americall Group – Hobart, IN

    Customer Service Reps Needed for our: AGI, Teleperformance is an end-to-end customer lifecycle management and teleservices outsourcing company. AGI offers a full range of services, from customer acquisition, through customer care and growth, to receivables management. Since 1984, we’ve been providing high quality customer care to our clients, and have made it our priority to understand their business and help make them more successful. The company has won recognition as one of the fastest-growing teleservices agencies in the United States while maintaining its reputation as a quality-driven, client-focused outsourcing partner. AGI Teleperformance is hiring! We are looking for quality-oriented individuals to handle customer service and sales calls for our clients. AGI values a good work ethic… See job listing . . .

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  3. Another Connie said on October 28, 2008 at 10:09 am

    Do you really believe the presidential race in Indiana could go to Obama?

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  4. brian stouder said on October 28, 2008 at 10:33 am

    Another Connie – I dunno.

    BUT – it is VERY heartening that the McCain campaign is spending resources here this year!! (those people certainly ‘feel the fear’)

    Indeed, hardly the day goes by that I don’t come to work and find an article on my desk, attacking this or that about Obama. Last week, Nancy Nall her-own-self handed me a (virtual) brickback just at the right moment!

    One of the articles left on my desk was about the fair white maiden who was attacked by a scarey tall blackman, who violently diagreed with her McCain sticker on her car….before we got to lunch time I was able to place an article on another person’s desk about the arrest of the dishonest and troubled racist young lady who contrived the whole thing.

    Come to think of it, that particular fellow hasn’t put anymore articles on my desk since then, but another fellow and I did a similar dance yesterday….

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  5. Pam said on October 28, 2008 at 10:40 am

    Sounds legit to me. You should hear the crap calls we’re getting. That’s Life in a Battleground State! If there’s anything that may need to be fact checked, it’s the number of people who walked out. 30? 40? 10?

    This morning we got a CD on our doorstep with an anti-Obama movie that we were encouraged to watch. It’s now under the coffee grounds and other garbage in the trash can.

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  6. Colleen said on October 28, 2008 at 10:40 am

    That sign is repugnant.

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  7. Jeff Borden said on October 28, 2008 at 10:55 am

    Re: Scripts.

    When I was working on a screenplay, one of the scripts we studied was “Casablanca,” which I honestly believe may be the most perfect example of a wonderful script.

    Our instructor talked about “character wheels” and how a great script gives all the players something to desire, to chase, something to want. When you look at all the characters in the film from Rick and Ilsa through Inspector Renault and Major Strasser to Ugarte to even minor character actors who play the employees at Rick’s saloon, they all want something and we understand clearly through the script what they seek.

    What’s remarkable about the writing is that we see Rick heroically, when he is really pretty much a selfish shit. It’s Victor Laszlo who is to be admired, who has stood up to the Nazis and suffered the consequences, while Rick has devoted himself to self-pity in Casablanca, but we tend to want to see Rick fly off with Ilsa. That’s some wicked great writing.

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  8. LA Mary said on October 28, 2008 at 10:58 am

    Robert McKee’s book is the bible of screenwriting, I hear.

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  9. Dorothy said on October 28, 2008 at 11:08 am

    I can’t believe you’re talking about rewrites, and in my theater class, we’re doing the same thing. Next Tuesday I turn in my Problem 4, which is Plot. We were told to find a source for a story, and then turn it into a brief play (5-6 pages max). Use a published source but give them credit, of course. My choice? The song “Can I Change My Mind?” Specifically the version by Roy Buchanan, which has Billy Price singing it. (It’s from the “Livestock” album) I had fun making a twist at the end. I have chosen my actors and will direct the mini-play. They perform on the 11th. Did I mention I’m loving the hell out of this class??

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  10. Jim said on October 28, 2008 at 11:39 am

    I’ve never written a screenplay, but much enjoyed “Adventures in the Screen Trade: A Personal View of Hollywood and Screenwriting”
    by William Goldman.

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  11. Jeff Borden said on October 28, 2008 at 11:46 am

    I know this isn’t particularly helpful to aspiring screenwriters, but one of my favorite books about the film business is “The Devil’s Candy,” written by the film critic of the Wall Street Journal. She was given complete access to the filming of “Bonfire of the Vanities,” directed by Brian De Palma, and her chronicle of the process that produced this expensive flop is one of the most clear-eyed assessments of how Hollywood works in existence.

    From the miscasting of Tom Hanks to the rewrites to the interactions with Bronx elected officials to the decision by star Melanie Griffith to get a boob job in the middle of the project, it will give you a great deal of insight into how these big budget projects proceed.

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  12. Catherine said on October 28, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    And if we’re talking books about the entertainment industry, let’s not forget, “Hello, Lied the Agent.”

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  13. Andy Nill said on October 28, 2008 at 12:16 pm


    This blog focuses on the agent/pitch part of the screenwriting process, but I found it to be very helpful.

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  14. Catherine said on October 28, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    Oh no, we’ve lost Tony Hillerman. His mysteries are a master class on how to make the setting another character. Nice Washington Post obit, with the closing line: “His first agent advised him to take out “all that Indian stuff.” He declined.”

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  15. caliban said on October 28, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    What Ted Stevens said:

    This verdict is the result of the unconscionable manner in which the Justice Department lawyers conducted this trial

    Does he mean the Justice Department fashioned by Kommissar Karl Rove? Under the bus, Ted.

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  16. Yvette said on October 28, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    It’s not that I don’t believe such an anti-Obama script can exist, it’s just that I question that people walked out in HOBART. Maybe they just worked there and didn’t live there.

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  17. Dexter said on October 28, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    Catherine…Imus went on for a long time today at what an expert on the Navajo Hillerman was…here’s a link to an unofficial homepage:

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  18. brian stouder said on October 28, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    From the article:

    The script coincided with this robo-slime call running in other states, but because robocalling is illegal in Indiana it was being read by call center workers.


    We’ve been getting one or two robocalls per week from McCain-Palin, attacking Obama.

    If all they want to do is whack Obama – those things are cheap and fast….and if they’re illegal (which I doubt), maybe we can our state AG to leave the voters of Lake County alone, and go after the outlaw GOP campaign!


    an excerpt

    Secretary of State Todd Rokita said today that a preliminary investigation by his office has found evidence of “multiple criminal violations, including possible state and federal racketeering laws,” in conjunction with hundreds of fraudulent voter registration applications filed in Lake County.
    The findings and a request for prosecution are detailed in a letter Rokita, Indiana’s top election official, sent last week to Lake County Prosecutor Bernard A. Carter, U.S. Attorney David Capp and Michael Welch, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Indianapolis office.

    Excuse me, but ‘cough cough bullshit cough’ – ain’t that jes’ precious!

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  19. Jen said on October 28, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    Ahhh, the joys of not having a landline. I don’t have to worry about the robocalls. Thank goodness!

    That sign from Harlan made me cringe. It’s ass-hats like that (on BOTH sides) who really make me hate the election cycle. Only one more week!!!

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  20. Julie Robinson said on October 28, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    Nancy, you’re being coy–what’s the subject of your screenplay?

    And I can’t wait for the end of the political commercials. I really miss all the ED ads.

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  21. Jolene said on October 28, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Joe the Plumber auditions for Secretary of State in McCain Administration.

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  22. moe99 said on October 28, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    print share 10.28.08 — 3:18PM // link | RECOMMEND

    RECOMMEND (24)

    Quite a Piece of Work
    Not only was Indiana’s minority-vote suppressing Secretary of State Todd Rokita one of the foot soldiers credited with shutting down the Florida recount. He’s also got a way with words that may reveal some of the mindset that leads to his penchant for vote suppression. Back in 2007 he said …

    During a speech Thursday at a Republican event, Todd Rokita said 90 percent of blacks vote for Democrats.
    “How can that be?” Rokita said. “Ninety to ten. Who’s the master and who’s the slave in that relationship? How can that be healthy?”

    –Josh Marshall

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  23. alex said on October 28, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    Brian, my condolences to you regarding your hostile workplace.

    That sign in Harlan makes me embarrassed to be a Hoosier citizen.

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  24. alex said on October 28, 2008 at 5:10 pm


    Rokita has also been the subject of gossip on gay web sites. The foot soldier is reputed to be a butt pirate.

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  25. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 28, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    Two very important points (not that those posted earlier are not) —

    First, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” is on ABC at 8 pm. You know you want to watch it.

    Second, more Pumpkin Lovin’ for the election season — http://www.politico.com/blogs/anneschroeder/

    (Now, back to appalling church signs — read that either way — and personal innuendo when their own quotes defame themselves more than sufficiently.)

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  26. alex said on October 28, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    Ah, too late to edit.

    The above should read “butt pirate supporter.” He’s been known to solicit gays—for votes.

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  27. Dexter said on October 28, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    I know someone in the Obama campaign from Illinois. I emailed the picture of the church information board in Harlan.
    Illinois contacted Indiana, and the Indiana campaign does NOT mess around…calls were made or will be made tomorrow complaining of the message.
    I received the invitation mentioned in this link about the million-person rally in Chicago, election night. I am not going but my brother and his wife, strong Obama people, are…our contact is reserving good seats for them…


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  28. paddyo' said on October 28, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    Catherine —

    Tony H is such a loss . . . years ago, when I worked for The Denver Post, I got to go down to Albuquerque to do a Sunday magazine profile on him. It was just when he was getting really big-time.
    On the appointed day, I showed up at his modest address in Duke City, a little ranch-style place, and NOT trendy adobe . . . he invited me in, told me to make myself at home, he was meeting his wife and a real estate agent (his success was allowing them to get a nicer house) and they’d be back in an hour or so.
    It was as if I was an old chum or family friend . . . “make yourself at home”! Amazing. Naturally, I used the time to observe (NOT rifle through or pry) all the details of his office and writing space . . . the books on the shelves (including some of his titles, in Swedish, German, etc.), the mementos, the awards and tchotchkes, the pleasant and lived-in clutter, etc.
    When he got home, he gave me another couple of hours, and time enough more for our photog to get a terrifically lit portrait of him in the red-orange desert outside of town (think of the landscape of “Breaking Bad,” except with a roundish, 60-something guy with an impish grin) . . .

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  29. Jolene said on October 28, 2008 at 7:28 pm

    I just looked again at the ACDP site, Dexter, and there’s an update saying that the sign was taken down slightly after noon today.

    I’ve been wondering what is going to happen after Obama is elected. (Let’s assume, for the moment, that he will be.) There is so much hostility toward him and so much fear. I’d like to think that Americans will unite behind him–or, at least, accept him w/ a “normal” level of contempt for a political opponent–but the nuttiness is so extreme.

    George Packer wrote a short piece on his New Yorker blog the other day saying that he thought it would get worse. (See the piece called The End of an Era.) That’s kind of a horrible thought, but I do see a lot of signs of unpleasantness to come–the ugliness that seems to exist around the fringes of the McCain-Palin rallies, statements by undecided voters indicating that they are leaning toward McCain for reasons that don’t seem to have a lot to do w/ either character or policy, the commitment of right-wing bloggers (even at this late date) to finding some potentially damning statement in an eight-year-old interview.

    So what do you think? If Obama is elected, will the fringe right cope? Will Obama’s formidable rhetorical skills enable him to draw in people who didn’t support him–at least enough to ensure a reasonable level of domestic peace?

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  30. Julie Robinson said on October 28, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    There was a good story on All Things Considered tonight which posited that Obama is bringing many of those groups together to band against him. Some even said they were going to vote for him to help bring everything to a head earlier. Creepy.

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  31. brian stouder said on October 28, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    So what do you think? If Obama is elected, will the fringe right cope?

    Jolene, I have been pondering this, also, and I believe the answer is no.

    Sh]t-for-brains Hannity and Uncle Rush (et al) – who I can be accused of paying too much attention to – have really and truly fallen off the edge of the earth. They are all deeply into conspiracy talk about ‘stolen elections’ and ‘secret agendas’ and ‘unholy alliances’…and now even socialism and communism and treason and hostility to the Constitution on the part of the always-lying Obama.

    I remember, many, many years ago (probably something like 28) when I was talking to a meat cutter at the supermarket where I worked (this was back when I had hair, and a mustache! and supermarkets had meat cutters!!), and the subject turned to John F Kennedy – who was literally an iconic presence in my mom and dad’s house, and who I simply took for granted everyone mourned….and the meat cutter (who was probably about 50, and divorced) told me that JFK’s murder saved the country! I remember laughing – his remark was so absurd that I thought he was making a sick joke of some sort – and he stated (quite icily) that he was serious.

    That was the first time in my memory that I personally smacked into such irreconcilable extremism; such unmitigated, cold hate. And this was BEFORE hate-radio and the endless proliferation of internet fever swamps; that guy had to put effort into developing such a hateful attitude (presumeably he was a paying subscriber to some whacked politica rag, or some such)

    By way of saying – Obama cannot help but win over anyone who gives him half a chance; but the “fringes” (right or left) of our society are, in my opinion, more unravelled than before, if only because it is so much easier (and essentially FREE) to find seemingly authoritative “sources” that will re-affirm and augment one’s prejudices.

    Just as, if you wanted to see images of naked people 30 years ago, you had to buy a magazine or go to a dirty movie house*, and now, you’re never more than a click away from such things …so also if you hate the son of a bitch who is about to beat “your” candidate for the presidency, you’re never more than a click away from all the invective you can possibly stand.

    *I still have never eaten at the restaurant that once was Cinema Blue on Broadway…!

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  32. brian stouder said on October 28, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    Say – an uplifting thing


    an excerpt (and you have to see the photo there):

    Three cast members from The Wire — the greatest show in television history (tied with Deadwood) — next took the stage. A fiery Sonja Sohn told the large crowd, “When you look at The Wire, you see how institutions fail.” Passionately, she advocated for Barack Obama because, in her view, he was the candidate who would not continue to ignore those who fall through the cracks. “He said to me, ‘I am my brother’s keeper,’ y’all!” Sohn reminded the crowd.

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  33. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 28, 2008 at 9:31 pm

    Paddyo’, thanks for confirming what i hoped i knew was true!

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  34. Catherine said on October 28, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    Jolene, I am not yet ready to contemplate your question. My grandmother always told me not to count your chickens before they hatch. I am more ready to think about what I would do for a living in Canada, and how I would get a work visa there, and what skills will be in demand (anywhere) when this economic meltdown has run its course. Do you think Canada needs homemade baked goods on crocheted doilies?

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  35. Suzi said on October 28, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    The church sign story made the local news at 6 (Fort Wayne ch 15), they asked for an interview but the church leaders would not appear on camera. Some snarky clown from the church spoke on the phone to the reporter and whined that he was only asking an innocent question and wasn’t referring to anyone in particular. The message got changed to a scriptural quote.

    I’m watching Rachel Maddow – infuriating story about voter suppression on college campuses, almost as nauseating as the Rokita bits. But I’m still laughing about “butt pirates” Thanks, Alex!

    Hear the latest quotes from the McCampaign about Palin? Various folks on their side have called her a diva and rogue and now a whack job, and clueless about policy, and that she does not have trusting relationships with, not just the campaign staff, but her family members.

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  36. Suzi said on October 28, 2008 at 10:14 pm

    More on the Vice Maverick:
    A second McCain source tells CNN she appears to now be looking out for herself more than the McCain campaign.
    “She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone,” said this McCain adviser, “she does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else. Also she is playing for her own future and sees herself as the next leader of the party. Remember: divas trust only unto themselves as they see themselves as the beginning and end of all wisdom.”


    Probably the best way to defuze her would be to set her up with her own Fox Noise talk show. Then she could wink and pontificate endlessly for her adoring, drooling fans and stay out of our hair.

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  37. Dexter said on October 28, 2008 at 11:31 pm

    “butt pirate” always makes me laugh…there used to be a barber I got haircuts from in Indiana. He’d always ask “…ya need any magazines today?”
    I’d always say “no” and never gave it another thought. Years later a friend and I were having small-talk and he brought up this barber…turns out he was selling that really disgusting hardcore porn, and he had lots of gay porn along with the girlie magazines. When a man showed interest in the gay porn, the old barber made his pass at that customer, because he was, in my friend’s words, a “butt pirate”. And so, Dexter learned a new phase!

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  38. Jolene said on October 29, 2008 at 12:06 am

    FiveThirtyEight.com is a great site, Brian. I’ve loved reading their reporting about the “ground game” in all the places they’ve visited. Nice photos too. I wonder what Nate Silver will do w/ his time after the election is over.

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  39. Dexter said on October 29, 2008 at 12:19 am

    thanks for the Harlan update, Jolene…

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  40. Gasman said on October 29, 2008 at 12:33 am

    After moving to New Mexico nine years ago, we gained a new appreciation for the Tony Hillerman stories. His works truly resonate with you once you’ve been on Navajo Nation land. I’ve also have especially enjoyed the Wes Studi portrayal of Joe Leaphorn. Studi is a Santa Fe resident who can be occasionally seen around town. Hillerman was just part of the the Albuquerque community and would pop up on local TV every now and then. He will be missed.

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  41. Terry WAlter said on October 29, 2008 at 12:46 am

    “Some people who see the fraud n what Obama is saying are amazed that others do not. But Obama knows what con men have long known, that their job is not to convince skeptics but to enable the gullible to continue to believe what they want to believe. He does that very well.” Black syndicated columnist Thomas Sowell.

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  42. Jolene said on October 29, 2008 at 12:48 am

    Several years ago, I saw a profile of Hillerman in which he told a story about an incident that occurred on a visit to the Navajo reservation. He was, at the time, in late middle age and somewhat portly. Someone had brought out a horse for him to ride, but the senior member of the group turned and said something to the person holding the horse’s reins, and he walked away. Hillerman turned to his host and said, “What did he say?” The host said, “He said, ‘Go get an old, fat horse.’ ”

    I think it was on the CBS Sunday Morning show, but couldn’t find the video. I did find several videos featuring him, though. Among others, a three-part series on mystery-writing and another three-part series called “Tony Hillerman’s New Mexico.” Just search on “hillerman” at the YouTube site.

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  43. moe99 said on October 29, 2008 at 1:02 am


    Re JFK’s death. I was in 6th grade at Spencer School in Defiance and Mrs. Stratton was my teacher. We used to gather after recess outside her door and the girls would sing,”We love you Beatles, oh yes we do. We love you Beatles, and we’ll be true. When you’re not with us, we’re blue. Oh, Beatles, we love you.”

    Our principal Mrs. Barto came to our class after lunch and told Mrs. Stratton that JFK had been shot. Mrs. Stratton relayed it to the class, at which time, several students cheered or clapped. I can’t remember which, it was so surreal. Defiance was (and probably is) somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun. This was the weekend of my birthday, and I was angry because my best friend slept over Friday night and we didn’t get to watch cartoons in the morning as we’d been planning. It took me probably about 6 months to understand the enormity of what had happened ,when I read a National Geographic article on the assasination. I did see Jack Ruby shoot Oswald on tv however. That was too easily done.

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  44. alex said on October 29, 2008 at 7:26 am

    But Obama knows what con men have long known, that their job is not to convince skeptics but to enable the gullible to continue to believe what they want to believe.

    Looks to me like Obama has won over all the skeptics he’ll need to in order to win in a landslide, Terry. Uncle Tom Sowell is the con man, the one who panders to the gullible. He’s made a career of disparaging his own race so that racists can continue to believe what they want to believe.

    Evidently he brings you much comfort and joy, Terry.

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  45. Jen said on October 29, 2008 at 7:54 am

    A great Daily Show clip, via my husband’s best friend: http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=189163&title=obama-and-palin-rallies-of-fear

    We don’t have cable or satellite, and I miss watching that show a lot, especially during the election cycle. Its commentary is so incredibly clever. Luckily, we’re going over to my in-laws’ house tonight to watch “South Park” (one of my mother-in-law’s favorite shows), and we usually end up watching the reruns of the Daily Show and Colbert Report beforehand!

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  46. beb said on October 29, 2008 at 8:10 am

    ““South Park” (one of my mother-in-law’s favorite shows)”

    Excuse me while I pick my jaw up off the floor. I could neer warm to the show but that’s neither here nor there. I’m glad it gives you a chance to catch up on the Daily Show and Colbert.

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  47. Terry WAlter said on October 29, 2008 at 8:23 am

    Ah yes, it was just too easy for the simple minds on the left. His name is Tom, so we’ll call him UNCLE TOM. I don’t ever recall him disparaging his own race. What he does disparage is the charlatans on the left who have mostly destroyed the black family. Although in saying this, I realize I must overlook towering monuments of The Great Society, like Cabrini-Green. It’s getting chilly out, so that’ll give you lefties a reason to warm up your attack machine. You know, the one that sent 30 lawyers to Alaska to dig up dirt on Sarah Palin. She didn’t tear down the carport on her last house before she sold it. Ooooh, news we can use. Or dredge up Joe the Plumbers grades, all the way back to kindergarten. Or attack the Florida reporter who asked real questions of Joe Biden. Evidently Joe’s given up his plagiarizing ways, since he didn’t want to repeat what his buddy said, in spite of tens of millions having already seen it on TV. Meanwhile, Alex, and I’m sure many others here , I’d suggest you stand in front of a mirror and read my original post until the message sinks in. Gonna be a LOOONG winter. Out.

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  48. jcburns said on October 29, 2008 at 8:41 am

    “Out” indeed, Terry.

    The consensus among TV News Directors I’ve talked to is that if you had an anchor whose husband is a GOP consultant, you do NOT let them interview Biden, McCain, or any candidate…there’s just too much room for a conflict of interest. Journalism 101. As a political reporter, she’s a fine health reporter.

    We clearly need a remedial class on what are “tough” or “real” questions. Hint: asserting untruths like “he has been a benefactor for ACORN” in a question is not what a real journalist does. “How is Sen. Obama not being a Marxist if he intends to spread the wealth around?” is as bad as asking McCain “How are you not a Nazi if…” fill in the blank.

    And when Biden challenged West and said “C’mon. Let’s get real.” She replied “Okay, moving onto the next question. Sen. Obama famously told Joe the Plumber that he wanted to spread his wealth around.” Except…he didn’t. He gave Joe a long, complete answer that could be more accurately summed up as: you won’t pay more in taxes under [Obama] unless after all your deductions and business expenses, you clear more than $250,000…and then you’ll only pay a bit more…back to the Clinton-era rates…on the amount over $250K. It’s hard for me to get down to a soundbite (as most real world things are), but there you are.

    And it is the oldest 80s-era Rovian trick in the book to take THAT and turn it into “he wants to take your money and give it to others.” Fear.

    And, uh, finally, the party that sent dozens of lawyers to Alaska was, um, the Republicans.

    Good morning!

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  49. brian stouder said on October 29, 2008 at 8:43 am

    Alex – Walter Williams is another; not long ago I tripped across some tripe his was shoveling, about all the Americans of African descent who bravely fought against the Union Army in the Civil War. According to him, in the War of Northern Aggression, thousands of black Americans fought to preserve their homelands in the slave-holding south.

    Aside from the flatly false nature of his assertion, and the delusional nature of his premise, the effort to make blacks happy warriors within the Confederate army brings full circle one particularly benighted rightwing bone of contention: how to view Abraham Lincoln?

    Uncle Rush’s (et al) attack on Obama’s reservations about the historical imperfections within the US Constitution (a polite reference to the institution of slavery) and Obama’s allusion to “our better history” which so enraged flabby-assed Limbaugh (thanks to the proprietress for that one!) at lunchtime yesterday brings the same issue into stark relief:

    If Obama’s recognition of the uncompleted efforts to make this a ‘more perfect union’ makes him unqualified to take the Oath of Office (since afterall, one must then swear to protect and defend the Constitution) – then what about the president who take that same oath, and then went on to crush a rebellion and preside over a rebirth of the nation?

    Joseph Sobran is an example of an old-time National Review conservative (and anti-Semite, btw) who considers Lincoln a horrible tyrant and an obscenity in our history; a great liar and fraud….and he is not unique.

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  50. nancy said on October 29, 2008 at 8:53 am

    To be sure, Brian, Sobran is so marginalized within conservatism as to be pretty much shoved into the “crazy lunatic we keep in the attic” branch of the party. He truly is an oily creep, an anti-Semite as well as a racist, and if you were keeping score, I’d count it a perfectly legitimate mark against my former employer that we were among the very last newspapers in the country to keep running his columns. Which were awful. I think Bill Buckley washed his hands of Sobran sometime in the ’80s.

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  51. brian stouder said on October 29, 2008 at 9:06 am

    Speaking of WFB – at the Lincoln Colloquium at Galesburg, I yapped with Garry Wills for a few minutes between panels (one of the great aspects of these day-long events is that one has the chance to mingle with folks like Wills!), and the subject of Buckley came up. Wills somewhat wistfully referred to when he and WFB “had a falling out” – and then he warmed considerably when he talked about their rapprochement; he went on about how very generous Buckley was…by way of saying, Sobran really must be a benighted soul

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  52. Gasman said on October 29, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    Among other things, I am an armchair Civil War history buff. In point of fact, as much as I detest Walter Williams, he is in this instance correct. There were slaves who fought on the side of the Confederacy.

    While to our 21st Century sensibilities this seems odd, remember that as slaves, blacks in the South exercised no free will. It is not improbable that many were compelled to fight for the Confederacy. They also were overwhelmingly illiterate, and as such had no ready access to reliable information. It can be safely assumed that they were fed a diet of propaganda about the devil Yankees and what they would do to the South and the blacks they encountered.

    Confederate Maj. General Pat Cleburne was the first to suggest arming slaves for the south and he was roundly criticized. Robert E. Lee favored arming Southern Blacks:

    “We must decide whether slavery shall be extinguished by our enemies and the slaves used against us, or use them ourselves at the risk of the effects which may be produced upon our social institutions. My own opinion is that we should employ them without delay. I believe that with proper regulation they can be made efficient soldiers.”

    Shelby Foote’s “The Civil War, Vol. III” chronicles the policy’s adoption:

    “After long and sometimes acrimonious debate, the (Confederate) House on February 20 and the Senate on March 8 (1865) authorized the enlistment of Negroes for service in the armies of the Confederacy. On March 13 a joint bill to that effect was forwarded for approval by the Chief Executive, who promptly signed it despite objections that it fell considerably short of the what he – and Pat Cleburne, fifteen months ago – had wanted.”

    More on the subject at this link:


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  53. brian stouder said on October 29, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    gasman – no.

    The bill came into existence just before Lee’s army collapsed to Grant; there simply were not black Confederate soldiers “fighting to defend their homeland”.

    This subject is of very great interest to neo-Confederates, who are by-and-large a detestable lot. But the more you read about this subject (black Americans fighting for the CSA) from genuine historians, the less there is to it…whereas more than 200,000 Americans of African descent fought in the Union army and navy, against the rebels

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  54. Gasman said on October 29, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    I’m not disagreeing with you about the numbers, but the Confederacy was so desperate toward the end that some were willing to even adopt this extreme measure. True it was an ineffectual endgame measure; the bill was signed by Jefferson Davis on 13 March 1865 and Lee surrendered less than a month later on 9 April. The measure might be more accurately described – as you point out, – as a post-endgame measure, but nonetheless, it is still an accurate bit of history. It is also true that those whom still defend THE CAUSE try to infer much from this and inflate its importance. It cannot be used to suggest that Southern blacks wanted the Confederacy to prevail.

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