Friday, March 13, 2015

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Dear Clint,

You are among the finest filmmakers of my time, along with Spielberg and Scorsese.

It was with some sadness that I endured this year’s Academy Awards.  

I don’t usually watch.  Sorry, but there’s something about ridiculously high-paid entertainers mutually rewarding themselves with one awards ceremony after the other all winter long that leaves me cold.

But I was glad to see you there, representing an Oscar-nominated movie.

I did not see Jack or Warren, De Niro or Pacino. No Ron Howard.  No Spielberg.  Not even Leonardo!  I wondered where they were.  (I missed Billy Crystal, too.)

And I think they were all glad not to be present.

Here’s what don’t I get:

I’ve never been prejudiced.  I know I’m not a racist.

So why do I feel, during these TV pageants, like I’m getting black pride and gayness shoved down my throat?

Am I paying the price minority groups believe should be exacted because I’m a straight white American?

Being a white American came easy to me, though the path to my arrival was much more arduous for my modern ancestors.

They survived two genocides to get me to America.

The first, on my mother’s side, was the Turkish genocide of Armenians, though the Turks deny it still.

The second, on my father’s side, was the Nazi Holocaust, during which many in my extended Jewish family from Poland were cruelly extinguished in German concentration camps.

That’s my whiteness.  

I’m not ashamed of my heritage.   I’m not ashamed of being white, just like I’m not ashamed of being part Armenian and part Jewish.  On the contrary, I’m proud of my mix of heritages, a mongrel of sorts.

That’s my American-ness.

As far as I can tell, my ancestors never exploited or enslaved anyone. 

Now back to your movie, Clint.

I did not watch American Sniper until yesterday, after the Academy Awards.

Here’s what I perceived:

American Sniper is not a war movie.

American Sniper is an anti-war movie, crafted with great sensitivity; along the way it expresses love for country.

I’ve enjoyed a couple of Michael Moore’s documentaries.   

But I cannot comprehend how someone with any intelligence can so easily misinterpret a movie that so effortlessly (due to your mastery of the craft) reflects the times in which we live. 

It boggles my mind.

American Sniper is not a war movie.

Saving Private Ryan was a war movie.  A great one.

But American Sniper is something very different.

And Hollywood, with all its gayness and black pride, cannot see through it.

(Or maybe you’re just paying the price for seeing through hoaxes.)

Clint, you always come in on schedule (ahead of schedule), on budget (below budget).

You’re the best of the best at making movies.

The Academy should be ashamed for a sham of a show.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


For many good reasons.

Start with the ambience:  warm & cozy.

Next the service:  cheerful & friendly.

And then the food:  masterful yet fairly priced.

As for the drink...

Probably the best wine by-the-glass in town  

Mi Seuno cabernet, Napa Valley.

(Ask for the story behind it.)

And (aside from BoHenry's) the best gin selection in Santa Barbara.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday, January 30, 2015


The first computer was created in this garage
367 Addison Avenue
Palo Alto, California

After gushing about the immediate future of technology, Bill Gates aligned himself with the AI alarm-sounders.
"I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence," Gates wrote. "First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don't understand why some people are not concerned."
Speaking at the MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics department’s Centennial Symposium in October, Tesla box Elon Musk  referred to artificial intelligence as "summoning the demon."

British inventor Clive Sinclair has said he thinks artificial intelligence will doom mankind.
"Once you start to make machines that are rivaling and surpassing humans with intelligence, it's going to be very difficult for us to survive. It's just an inevitability."


Photo:  Claire

Saturday, January 24, 2015


If you close down The Winery and The Nugget, it's this place or the highway.