CRITIC AND BUFF
David Elliot and Andy Friedenberg share their wisdom with the Aztec. page 10
Former California governor strips justice from Santos family. page 6
Learn about the technology that threatens to topple governments. page 9
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Vol. 96, Issue 59
San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper since 1913
w w w. T h e D a i l y A z t e c . c o m
features ... 3
sports ... 4
Tw i t t e r : T h e D a i l y A z t e c
opinion ... 6
entertainment ... 9
TODAY @ STATE Student Involvement Expo Campanile Walkway, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Kung-Fu Session I Aztec Recreation Center, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Aztecs move to 20-0
Antonio Zaragoza / Photo Editor
Led by senior guard D.J. Gay’s 20 points, the San Diego State men’s basketball team beat Air Force by 13 and extended its nation-leading winning streak to 20. Read about the Aztecs’ big victory on page 4.
Instructor murdered in his apartment Henry Acejo was stabbed in his Tijuana apartment before Christmas ARTURO GARCIA CONTRIBUTOR
Henry Acejo, who taught at San Diego State and other San Diego colleges, was murdered last month. On the night of Dec. 18 at approximately 11 p.m., Acejo, 45, was stabbed to death in his apartment. Police officials said they have not found a motive for his assassination nor a single suspect. His death came as a shock to the community that loved him. A teacher who cared significantly for his students, Acejo’s sudden death left behind many concerned colleagues, students and friends. Still, his life is being celebrated by those who knew him. Acejo came to the U.S. in the mid ‘90s and by 2001 he was teaching math at a local middle school called St. Rita’s. It was not until 2004 that Acejo came to SDSU, starting the Filipino Program and later becoming the coadviser. Acejo also taught Filipino at UC San Diego and English as a second language at Southwestern College and Mid-City Community College.
“Henry was a well-loved and very popular instructor, and people are shocked that he’s gone, and especially that he died in this particular way,” a colleague of Acejo’s, Ghada Osman, said. “The Facebook page in his memory, ‘Celebrating the Life of Professor Henry Acejo,’ provides a slight glimpse into how people viewed him.”
“Henry was a well-loved and very popular instructor, and people are shocked that he’s gone, and especially that he died in this particular way.”
A friend of Acejo and an SDSU professor, Atilio Alicio, said he was living south of the border because of the inexpensive rent, which allowed him to send at least $1,000 per month to his family back in the Philippines. He also said Acejo was planning on visiting his family for the holidays. Instead, a few days after the incident, three of Acejo’s 11 siblings arrived at Tijuana. In between many papers in his now unoccupied apartment, one of Acejo’s siblings found an envelope. Inside, there was a note declaring authority to process on behalf of his
family in the Philippines any type of insurance in case of an accident that might have resulted in Acejo’s incapacitation or death. The note was addressed to Alicio. It was written on Dec. 18, 2006, exactly four years before Acejo’s murder, a coincidence that has left Alicio in shock. “(He) was the youngest of many siblings. I considered him my kid brother,” Alicio said. At one point the two were colleagues at both SDSU and UCSD. Alicio remembered him as “wonderful, enthusiastic and overwhelmingly generous.”
— Ghada Osman, colleague of Acejo On the Facebook page, people can post messages or memories of Acejo. The testimonials range from shocked students in disbelief, to frustrated voices alleging against injustices, to peaceful messages of empathizing thoughts and feelings.
Courtesy of Atilio Alicio
Some who knew Acejo (second from right) think he lived in Tijuana in order to save money to send to family.
The Daily Aztec
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Study will follow children for 21 years ASHLEY MORGAN S TA F F W R I T E R
Select San Diego residents can expect a different kind of solicitor at their door soon: one inquiring if they are pregnant or plan to become pregnant in the near future. This community campaign started in San Diego last week and is held in support of the National Children’s Study, an effort that plans to recruit more than 100,000 children nationally and 1,000 locally for observation in the first 21 years of their lives. The study is headed locally at both San
Diego State and University of California San Diego, examining biological, environmental and physical factors in hopes to provide answers to plaguing childhood health issues. “We don’t know why there are increasing rates of autism, we don’t know exactly why there are increasing rates for asthma, we don’t know what some of the protective or predictive factors are for things like childhood obesity, diabetes or mental illness,” co-principle investigator from UCSD, Dr. Christina Chambers, said. “So all of those things fall under the large area of research where we have been limited in our ability to find answers.” The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human
Development, along with many other federal agencies, is conducting the study in 105 counties across the United States. “It provides an incredible level of prestige because this is the largest child development study ever conducted anywhere in the world, and the first of its sort obviously in the nation as well,” SDSU’s director of the Center for Behavioral Epidemiology and Community Health and the study’s other co-principle investigator, Dr. Melbourne Hovell, said.
pation is limited because volunteers must live in specific San Diego neighborhoods that are representative of the diversity of the United States. Those wishing to participate can inquire their eligibility status by calling the study center. According to the NCS website, participants can leave the study at any time as well as return, but children subject to the research must assent at age 7, the “age of reason,” and consent at age 18.
The universities’ collaboration allows them to split duties, with SDSU responsible for recruitment and cohort retention, and UCSD in charge of hospital and delivery visits by nursing specialists in the early stages of research, Hovell stated. “This has a huge positive impact on the research mission and the community engagement mission of both universities,” Chambers said. Even women who plan to become pregnant are eligible for the study, but partici-
The campaign not only provides new research about San Diego residents, but also volunteer and job opportunities. Research assistants and other medical professionals can be hired for the project while the community outreach operation is in need of volunteers, Hovell explained. “The one thing we are concerned about is that the study become a community participatory kind of study, that means we need people in the local community to help,” Hovell said.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Social network car plates MIRANDA ADLER S TA F F W R I T E R
It was only a matter of time before social media took the driver’s seat — literally. Launched last September, bump.com makes it possible to send a message to anyone in the United States via license plate. After users “claim” their license plate on the site, they can begin sending and receiving messages through e-mail, text or voice. Aside from the social
sees bump.com as Facebook for cars, Groupon meets Foursquare. “In the U.S. we have more than 300 million people and 250 million registered vehicles,” Thrower said. “The best way to create a better society is to add crowd-sourced accountability and open communication, safely.” Here’s how it works: Users register their license plate on bump.com and can begin sending and receiving messages. Bump.com uses existing security cameras, license plate scanning technology and informa-
Photo courtesy of bump.com
aspect, bump.com boasts safety alerts and business perks. CEO and serial entrepreneur Mitch Thrower said the idea came about when investors asked him to create a business that would generate revenue from day one and built around a model that everyone already had an account for, a venture that could grow as fast as other social media platforms. Thrower
tion added by registered users to track each user’s habits. These “echoes,” a term coined by bump.com, make up the system by which users can receive benefits based on where they’ve been. Thrower said it isn’t known when people are ready for new technology, and ideas can only flourish based on consumer feedback. Thrower added that people are resistant to new ideas
until they know what benefits can arise from them. “What if you knew you could drive to the Coachella Music Festival and receive 20 percent off of any of the performers’ iTunes downloads because your license plate drove into the Coachella parking lot?” Thrower asked. “Imagine if you knew you could win season tickets to the Chargers because your car was spotted in the parking lot four times; or if you drove a Honda and knew you could get a free oil change at the dealership.” To date, most of the experiences people have concerning a relationship with their license plate, such as parking tickets and registration fees, have been negative, Thrower said. He believes bump.com could change this. In the heart of La Jolla, bump.com headquarters buzzes with a positive vibe and innovative minds. Students from all of San Diego’s universities are welcome to apply for jobs and internships. Thrower said the target audience of bump.com is college students who actively broadcast daily experiences. San Diego State graduate and bump.com employee Sean Devlin was spotted taking a break on the company’s rooftop workspace. “It’s refreshing to see a new outlook on corporate culture,” Devlin said. Be on the lookout for the bump.com mobile application, coming soon to the iPhone, Android and Blackberry.
The Daily Aztec
Apply to be a Managing Editor of The Daily Aztec Applications for paid Spring 2011 position now open! Applicants must have: • Knowledge of newspaper operations, journalism ethics and media law • One year of collegiate newspaper experience • 60 or more units of completed coursework; minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0 • Must be enrolled in at least six units at SDSU Duties include: • Work 18 hours a week; must be available Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays • Reads copy and edits stories for content • Arranges supervisor meetings and prepares performance evaluations • Assists editor in chief in day-to-day management Interested persons should request an application from Ruthie Kelly, editor in chief of The Daily Aztec, via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Completed applications will be accepted immediately; interviews will begin to be conducted on Monday, Jan. 24. Position will be filled by Jan. 31. The Daily Aztec is an equal opportunity and at-will employer as defined by California law.
The Daily Aztec
Thursday, January 20, 2010
No. 6 SDSU grounds Falcons in victory EDWARD LEWIS SPORTS EDITOR
It wasn’t a 20-point blowout or a highlightfilled shellacking of an 18.5-point underdog, 10-7 Air Force squad. It wasn’t sexy, fun or entertaining. It was just a No. 6-ranked basketball team doing what it was supposed to do. And with the plodding 68-55 victory against Air Force last SDSU 68 night at Viejas Arena, that No. 6-ranked San AIR FORCE 55 Diego State men’s basketball team now owns the longest active winning streak in the nation and the best record in the country. “Honestly,” senior forward Billy White said after the game, “I still can’t believe it.” Believe it, SDSU. The Aztecs, who admittedly didn’t play their best game, are 20-0. “We are happy we came away with the win,” senior guard D.J. Gay said. “We should have played a lot better, but it’s a win nonetheless.” SDSU let the Falcons hang around for most of last night. In the first half, the Aztecs made Air Force forward Tom Fows look like Larry Bird. Fows made five of his seven field goals, including three of his four 3-point attempts, and piled up 16 points in 16 minutes played. Aztec head coach Steve Fisher said after the game the Falcons deserved to be ahead at the half.
But then, with senior forward Malcolm Thomas struggling to find a rhythm down low, Gay stepped up and put his team on his back from the perimeter. In a three-minute stretch to close out the first half, Gay scored eight points and brought his team from down 2822, to up 34-30 when the clock hit zero. “They outplayed us in the first half, but we did what we’ve done in a lot of games,” Fisher said. “All of a sudden we’re five points behind and we get the last nine points of the half to go in up four. If you go on who played better, they probably should have been up four. We found a way to get that little spurt at the end.” That little spurt was all SDSU needed. In the second half, the Aztecs never trailed, but it took them nearly 15 minutes to finally get a double-digit lead that sent the sellout crowd to the exits. “Nothing is easy in this league,” Fisher said. “Home or away, you have to play. Air Force played and they played very, very hard.” SDSU now has a full week off before it takes on No. 9 BYU in Provo, Utah, next week. Fisher said the team will not practice today, but will be back in the gym preparing for Jimmer Fredette and the Cougars on Friday. “I think it will have as much attention nationally as any game we’ve ever played,” Fisher said of the BYU-SDSU matchup. “They’re really, really good.”
Peter Kluch / Senior Staff Photographer
Malcolm Thomas battled double teams all night but came away with eight points and nine rebounds.
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Thursday, January 20, 2010
The Daily Aztec
MATT-ER OF FACT
Saw this coming a Rocky Long time ago
hen a 6-foot-2-inch, 240pound linebacker plopped down in front of me, I wondered if it was all contrived. A girl familiar with the football team said earlier that day the players were pissed at an author of a column in the campus newspaper. The column was met with a flurry of criticism — from athletes, from fans, but not from me. Nope. I was the one who wrote it. “The play-uhs are upset. You really should know ya’ audience bett-uh,” the girl told me with an East Coast dialect. She was right. I didn’t know the team read my articles. My astonishment upon learning football players could decipher text gave way to paranoia when I remembered I had class with four of the brutes later that evening. “S—-,” I thought to myself. They were going to snap my legs apart like a wishbone. Then they’d twirl the rest of me up like a damp towel to pop each other in the butt with while showering — a fitting revenge seeing as I’d been a pain in their asses. It’s OK, I thought. It would be traumatic, but it would also be real go-to stuff for a column. Stuff that would make my editor’s pants swell. Head up, shoulders back, I entered class and sat in my usual seat, two desks behind the quarterback and Neil Spencer, a defensive tackle. They weren’t there yet but Spencer’s backpack laid in his seat and on his desk was a copy of The Daily Aztec with my column. “S—-,” I thought again. Maybe the rumors were true; maybe football players really could read. Spencer was a quiet type in class, a doodler. He’d stare at his standardized sheets of notebook paper and scribble random, elaborate stuff. On the ridge of his nose he carried a gash that told tales of battles with other men equally bestial. He seemed cordial in pre-
M A T T MC C L A N A H A N S TA F F C O L U M N I S T
vious encounters but even poodles can turn heinous in a pack. That’s why coaches don’t allow players to sit together in class, because they’ll get infected with the pack mentality — a fear and desperation that attaches itself to the threat of being a group’s lowest-ranking subordinate. It prompts a roughing up of the most vulnerable runt, establishing superiority for the victor. The savagery often ends with a few puncture wounds, or an allout ripping and tearing maneuver through a columnist’s jugular. I was preparing for the latter. Before class began, in walked the quarterback and then finally Spencer and another football player. Only a few feet separated me from them as they sat. Though it was against team policy for players to sit together, this wasn’t abnormal. Abnormal was later when a 6-foot-2-inch, 240-pound linebacker walked straight toward me, stopping just short of my desk to sit. He had The Daily Aztec scrunched in his right
hand and the first thing he did once settling himself was open the paper to my column. Were his actions coincidence, or was it contrived? Was he toying with me? He wasn’t in his usual seat. The linebacker was reading my story line by line. It was a weird feeling: I’d never actually witnessed a football player in the act of reading. But really, it was a weird feeling. My corner of the room had become the hold of ravenous wild things content with chewing through my innards like chum. I sensed they knew who wrote it. I needed to say something. So poking over the linebacker’s huge left shoulder as he read, I blurted, “How you like my article?” My mind was quietly pissing itself. He acknowledged me from the corner of his eye with a monotone Antonio Zaragoza / Photo Editor response, and said, “Oh, you wrote this?” Whether he was genuine in his proclaimed ignorance, I couldn’t be certain. One thing I was sure of, he seemed very bored by my article, which was also weird because that never happens. Upon announcing to my corner of the
room that I’d authored the column, the linebacker had a few questions to which I obliged. I then looked at Spencer, whose large jawbone had cinched. He didn’t look at me, but I got his side profile and the gash on the ridge of his nose seemed to glare back at me. “He don’t know s—- about s—-,” the quarterback said to Spencer, reassuring him the column wasn’t true and that I was full of it. Whether or not this pale, scrawny kid sitting two seats behind him was an intended receiver of the quarterback’s words, I don’t know. My ears caught them anyway. Truth is, I’d have said the same thing if I were the quarterback, only louder and with a fist punch behind it. I wrote in my column that his leader was a leaver. It was an absurdly accurate prediction. I wrote four weeks through the season that head coach Brady Hoke would depart SDSU, and Rocky Long, the secret coach-in-waiting, would be his successor. Sure enough, Hoke recently wiped his hands clean of the Aztecs with a mass text message to his players. My column turned from lunacy to prophecy. Everything I predicted happened. I’m a genius. I never died the day my column ran. Despite a heightened sense of tension, or paranoia, my legs were never snapped like a wishbone, and my body wasn’t twirled into a towel for ass-popping. Even my jugular remains well intact, entirely capable of saying I told you so to those who criticized me, and my column. But I did endure one physical change that day: I left that classroom with much bigger balls than when I’d entered.
—Matt McClanahan is journalism senior. —This column does necessarily reflect the opinion of The Daily Aztec.
The Daily Aztec
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Former Gov denies justice to Santos family tence. The Santos family will never have its son back; all that remains of him is a stenciled image on the sidewalk where he was killed. It’s sickening to see one man’s political alliance make a mockery of California’s justice system and to justice itself. Nuñez, who plead guilty to charges including involuntary manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon as part of a plea deal, is by no means an innocent man. But what does that really matter if you know the right people?
The Santos family will never have its son back ... It’s sickening to see one man’s political alliance make a mockery of California’s justice system and to justice itself. Nuñez, who plead guilty ... is by no means an innocent man.
t’s been nearly two years since the tragic murder of San Diego Mesa College student Luis Santos, who was stabbed on 55th Street near Peterson Gym. The event sparked a tremendous response from nearly everyone on campus: Students held candlelight vigils for the 22-year-old, the San Diego State Police Department actively pursued leads and the school administration worked to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future. The result of the community’s massive support was as close to a resolution as Santos’ family could hope for. Two of the attackers, Ryan Jett, who was responsible for the wound that killed Santos, and Esteban Nuñez, who actively participated in the brutal stabbing of two other victims in the incident, were each convicted and sentenced to 16 years in prison. Justice was served and the Santos family given some solace in the judicial decision. Or so we thought. In a disgusting abuse of political power, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger commuted Nuñez’s sen-
Artwork courtesy of Omar Rodriguez
CHRIS POCOCK S TA F F C O L U M N I S T
tence to just seven years in prison on his last day in office — less than half of the original sentence. The commuting, however, is more than mere coincidence. Unfortunately for the Santos family, it pays to have connections in politics — Nuñez is the son of former California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez, a business partner of one of Schwarzenegger’s top officials and someone whom the former governor frequently collaborated with during his terms in office. Schwarzenegger defended his actions by stating that Nuñez’s sentence was “excessive” because he wasn’t the one who killed Santos, and therefore didn’t deserve the same sentence as Jett. While it’s true that Nuñez did not deliver the wound that killed Santos, he still has Santos’ blood on his hands — had Nuñez
decided not to participate in the attack, it’s very likely Santos would still be alive. Drunk and angry after being turned away from a fraternity party, Nuñez allegedly initiated the attack on Santos and stabbed two of Santos’ friends in the early morning hours of Oct. 4, 2008. After Santos was fatally stabbed in the heart, Jett and Nuñez left Santos in a pool of his own blood and drove to Sacramento, where the two burned their bloody clothes and threw their weapons into a nearby river. I can think of a lot of words concerning Nuñez’s sentencing, but “excessive” isn’t one of them. Perhaps even more disturbing is Nuñez’s reaction after the stabbing: Before Nuñez was arrested, he allegedly bragged to a friend that he “got one (of Santos’ friends) in the shoulder.” Following Nuñez’s arrest, he told another friend involved in the case not to worry because “(Fabian Nuñez) would take care of it and could get (us) off on self-defense.” I am truly taken aback that Schwarzenegger would choose to commute Nuñez’s sen-
Undoubtedly, commuting Nuñez’s sentence was a purely political move. According to the Los Angeles Times, last year Schwarzenegger overturned the California Parole Board’s decision to reduce the sentences of 29 similar cases, in which the defendants participated in a crime that left a victim dead but did not deliver the fatal blow themselves. The irony is as stupefying as it is heartless. Schwarzenegger could take a few hints from his acting persona. When he was elected governor in 2003, he arrived fresh-faced to politics, a yet uncorrupted figure bent on governing fairly and restoring California to its utmost potential. Seven years later, it has finally become obvious how much that figure has changed. Despite the fact this event is only a small fraction of Schwarzenegger’s terms as governor, it still presents a sad and sobering fact: Justice, for all crimes, will be served — as long as the accused doesn’t have any political connections. As for Schwarzenegger’s future, he should stick to what he knows best: acting. After all, playing the part of the ass-kicking, no-name-taking vigilante is a whole lot easier than being one in real life. “I’ll be back?” Let’s hope not. --Chris Pocock is a journalism junior.
—The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Daily Aztec.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
The Daily Aztec
Attacking destructive gender role stereotypes
Artwork courtesy of Melodie Lapot
nough is enough: It’s time to confront the most common gender misconceptions. More than likely, you’re guilty of condoning at least one or two of the many stereotypes that incorrectly define a man or a woman. The evidence may literally be sitting next to you in the form of a magazine or on the average sitcom. I guarantee you will come across a variety of scenarios portraying beautiful women as pestering, spendthrift or superficial who demand to be pampered and men as lazy, uninvolved or immature. Granted, there are women and men who fit these characteristics to a T, but you have to ask yourself why these personality traits have become an acceptable part of our culture. It’s no secret the tolerance of these lessthan-admirable qualities can seriously affect the way we perceive a normal and healthy relationship. It’s time to begin our ascent toward the elimination of these destructive social habits. For every weepy Hollywood movie and word-of-mouth perpetrator who exposed and promoted these ridiculous ideas, know that you are responsible for wreaking much of the havoc in the present-day dating world. Unfortunately, these are just a few of the many stereotypes running rampantly about, but at least we can move forward and agree, for the sake of progress, that both women and men have taken full advantage of these social stereotypes and are equally to blame. I can tell you from a female’s perspective that the ideal “real” woman — or at least how one is portrayed in our society — cares extensively about her appearance, taking superficiality to a whole new level. Just take a peek at a British survey taken last year, which revealed that every year, the average American woman spends $160 on daily hair care products such as shampoos and conditioners, $120 on styling products, $260 for coloring services and $195 on haircuts. The damage? Tens upon tens of thousands of dollars spent toward hair in a lifetime. Furthermore, a study conducted by the Pew Research Center about gender roles revealed, “… women are somewhat more likely than men to manage household finances,” which makes a person wonder what effect a woman’s spendthrift habits can have on her family if she’s solely in control. Most unsettling is how this type of frivolous spending is actually excused — and dare I say, acceptable — in our society
STACEY OPARNICA S TA F F C O L U M N I S T
because, hey, it’s a girl thing, right? Wrong — and this is precisely the attitude we need to change. Let’s be real. Women aren’t born vain nor are we born with detrimental spending tendencies. We are simply enforcing a habit we believe comes naturally to us because we’ve been led to believe thoughtless purchases, vanity and superficiality are rooted within us as women. The fact that there are many women who hate shopping, spending money or getting pampered is proof that those actions have nothing to do with genes but everything to do with how well we are able to withstand social pressures. Men are just as guilty of enforcing their own social stereotypes. One of the most common misconceptions of men is they are naturally lazy or disinclined to help around the house, as if there is a gene preventing them from comprehending household chores. Of course, not all men are the same, they come in a vast array of varieties, as do all people. But on the other hand, when a woman tells her friends her boyfriend is the one who does the laundry in the household, her friends shouldn’t be covering their agape mouths in shock and fascination. Let’s face it: Men have also fallen victim to society’s subtle programming and as a result, both men and women alike have failed to challenge the issue any further. Opposition to cook and clean has become a part of what makes a man and a woman, in turn, often feel they have no choice but to accept their significant others as they are. After all, men will be men right? Wrong again. This tired, age-old concept that people instinctively engage in certain social behaviors based solely on their gender is absolutely ludicrous. Enforcing these baseless stereotypes by using our genders as excuses only ensures the continuance of these ridiculous misconceptions.
– Stacey Oparnica is a journalism sophomore. –The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Daily Aztec.
Mount Soledad cross violates the US constitution
he Constitution is not the infallible and timeless blueprint for life many Americans see it as. A very strict interpretation of the Constitution is not always the best way to judge what is best for our country and people in the here and now. It’s not even possible to guess the intentions of our supposedly saintly and prophetic founding fathers, and doing so might not even be useful. But there are times when the Constitution simply makes sense. The First Amendment, including its clauses protecting the freedom of religion, has helped maintain America’s title as the land of the free. The separation of church and state is a central principle of our democracy, preserving our spirit of diversity, tolerance and impartiality. The struggle to hold fast to this principle has manifested itself in very different ways throughout our nation’s history, and now an important chapter of this history is unfolding right in our backyard. Controversy has surrounded the Mount Soledad cross for decades, with continuing litigation since 1989. The giant cross on Mount Soledad in La Jolla was designated as a war memorial in 1954. Since then, four court rulings have deemed it unconstitutional by California and federal law, in 1991, 1993, 1994 and the latest earlier this month by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. As the cross has been maintained on government-owned land at taxpayers’ expense, it violates the California Constitution’s No Preference clause and represents extensive entanglement of church and state in violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Yet after numerous denied appeals, the matter is expected to finally be decided by
RANDY WILDE S TA F F C O L U M N I S T
the Supreme Court. The only accomplishment from this long struggle to delay the inevitable removal of the cross is a giant waste of taxpayer money. There is no point in trying to weasel our way out of removal yet again. Not even another ruling, this time by our nation’s highest court, could make that fact any clearer. All the clever wording and legal maneuvering has to end. The cross is clearly unconstitutional, but more importantly, it’s just plain wrong. Congressman Duncan Hunter and several other San Diego representatives have sponsored a bill, the War Memorial Protection Act, in response to the unfavorable Jan. 4 ruling. The bill would explicitly protect war memorials with religious symbols. Hunter defends it as “a symbol of military service and tradition,” calling the ruling “a disservice to anyone who has ever served in America’s armed forces.” Assuming that all soldiers who have sacrificed for our freedom would wish to be remembered through a Christian religious symbol is a disservice to our armed forces and American democracy. There is no reason why those deserving of our utmost respect and gratitude cannot be honored without a cross. As Hunter and others seem to realize, it is not the cross or religion that gives the memorial its meaning, but the memory of sacrifice and service. Connecting the two is both un-American and dangerous. Mixing service in our nation’s armed forces and religious symbolism sends a
false message about our country, not to mention that our men and women in uniform now face a threat from religious extremists spouting rhetoric of religious war and accusations of a new “crusade.” How can we maintain the moral high ground and avoid accusations of crusading if we continue to raise crosses rather than secular monuments on governmentowned land to honor our fallen soldiers? Cross supporters fear a snowball effect resulting in a campaign to wipe clean any symbol of religion from war memorials. There is a less-than-subtle difference between a cross on an individual grave or other such markings and a giant cross on a mountain top. The problem with Mount Soledad is the cross is meant to be the central structure and symbol of a “war memorial.” For a country based on freedoms such as of religion, an oversized religious symbol is not even a remotely appropriate way to honor national heroes on a public memorial.
If you happen to be of the Christian faith, I know it is hard to support the removal of Christianity’s most important symbol, but try to step back and imagine what it would be like to look up on a mountain memorial to the guardians of your nation and see a giant Buddha statue, a Muslim crescent or a Star of David. Here’s a common sense thought: Move the cross a few hundred feet down the road to the Episcopal Church, which has agreed to take it. A more appropriate monument to honor our armed forces could be raised at the memorial site. Those who wish to visit the cross may still do so, and those who want a secular monument will have it while the government smoothly untangles itself from the situation. Would that be so intolerable?
—Randy Wilde is an international security and conflict resolution junior. — The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Daily Aztec.
The Daily Aztec
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Wikileaks technology superior to government MICHAEL MISSELWITZ S TA F F W R I T E R
Media frenzy fixating on the controversial publications of Wikileaks and the scandals of forerunner Julian Assange has eclipsed focus on the mechanics of the unprecedented whistle-blowing outlet in recent news, leaving the public with a dim vision of how such a heavily opposed entity proceeds to exist. Grinding on against an international army of governmental scrutiny, the operation continues to publish, begging the questions: How does it work and how is it still alive? The strategy that has protected the Wikileaks phenomenon involves a complex machine of technological loopholes, alliances with nations supporting the free press and a well-maintained veil of secrecy shrouding the operation’s sources, staff and technicalities. Wikileaks launched in October 2006, calling itself “an uncensorable system for untraceable mass document leaking.” It has since published a steady feed of secret documents from around the world, illuminating the darker realms of a variety of issues, political and otherwise. Wikileaks is a nonprofit entity funded by donors and sustained through a network of activists and volunteers. The tightly knit operation currently has no official headquarters and is staffed by a five-person team of fulltime administrators along with more than 800 volunteer journalists, who aren’t financially compensated. The name “Wikileaks” took root when the operation began as a wiki-based organization that allowed users to edit information and submit comments. “Wiki” is not a brand name, and the relationship between Wikileaks and Wikipedia exists only in popular confusion. Though Wikileaks remains the organization’s title, the interactive international forum
for the free press has since abandoned its wiki-based format. Bombarded with scrutiny for publishing documents and analysis with a dangerously indiscriminant lack of censorship, Wikileaks adopted an editorial policy that accepted only documents of “political, diplomatic, historical or ethical interest.” Submissions have since been filtered and redacted by a review board of volunteers to meet these criteria, and the site no longer accepts posts, comments or editing from the readership.
The organization acquires its content by accepting classified media leaked from journalists and whistle-blowers ... These modifications have coincided with a series of denial-of-service attacks from U.S.-based hackers, forcing the operation to desert its original server and wikileaks.org domain name. After its severance from several Domain Name System providers following the initial attacks, a plethora of mirror sites made content readily available to any viewer, though submissions are temporarily not open. To further combat censorship and ensure accessibility, Wikileaks has released a complete collection of its content to four news organizations: Le Monde, El Pais, The Guardian and Der Spiegel. Wikileaks shields itself with a degree of legal protection by keeping servers on multiple continents and passing its content through free press nations such as Sweden, Belgium and Iceland.
Photo courtesy of techwench.com
“We use this state-of-the-art encryption to bounce stuff around the internet to hide trails — pass it through legal jurisdictions like Sweden and Belgium to enact those legal protections,” Assange said in an interview at the TED Global 2010 conference. Assange also told Swiss public television TSR he is strongly considering moving the entire Wikileaks operation to Switzerland, as the neutral territory offers considerable legal protection. The organization acquires its content by accepting classified media leaked from journalists and whistle-blowers around the globe. Sources have been able to securely submit documents through the site’s electronic drop box, which Wikileaks claimed is “currently closed for reengineering security and useablilty purposes.” To protect its sources, Wikileaks uses military-grade encryption and employs a variety of security technologies designed to uphold anonymity. The source’s identities are anonymous even to the operators of Wikileaks.
The site’s viewers have also remained anonymous, according to public knowledge, though in recent weeks the U.S. government has demanded detailed personal information for anyone associated with Wikileaks on Twitter. This means if a person has “tweeted” about Wikileaks, they are likely being placed on a watch list complete with their address, usernames, telephone numbers, and payment information. To further secure the continued accessibility of its content, Wikileaks has also released a heavily encrypted “insurance” file to its Afghanistan War Logs site and a select torrent site. The file, speculated to contain many unpublished controversial diplomatic cables and political documents, has been downloaded more than 100,000 times according to Wikileaks. Assange has announced the password to the file will be released in the event that Wikileaks ceases to function as an organization, further complicating all efforts aimed at shutting the organization down.
The Daily Aztec
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PASS THE POPCORN
Romantics beware of ‘Blue Valentine’ MORGAN DENNO S TA F F W R I T E R
“Blue Valentine” is a movie that will break your heart. Those looking for romance, lighthearted fun, or a laugh from a post-holiday film will not find it here. Even the most wistful of romantic hearts will lose at least a little faith in love after leaving the theater. The film follows Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) through two phases of their lives with a series of flashbacks. First, Dean and Cindy fall into a deep and passionate young love full of childlike innocence. Later, the story flashes to the present and they spiral out of a loveless marriage. The dating stage evokes sadness because of their young love showed so much promise, only to disappear within a few short years. During the time of marriage and parenthood, claustrophobia and complacency to replace the caring and love they once had for one another. “Blue Valentine” was in production for 12 years because of a lack of financing and bad timing, but director Derek Cianfrance had the perseverance to keep the project going. Most known for his documentary work, Cianfrance evokes a very documentary-like feel to “Blue Valentine” by showing the most intimate and personal details of love and sex. Gritty and dark seem to be the best words to describe the movie. Its rough filming techniques, unbarred conversations and extremely personal sex scenes allow viewers to feel as if they are experiencing a real relationship. Despite the plot, Gosling and Williams, who seem to be drawn to the deep, dramatic
Thursday, January 20, 2011
realm of acting, shine in these dark roles. Williams has previously received many nominations for her role in “Brokeback Mountain” and Gosling received nominations for his roles in “Lars and the Real Girl” and “Half Nelson.” This year, both actors were nominated for Golden Globes for “Blue Valentine” and had a very good chance of turning these nominations into wins. However, both Gosling and Williams ended up losing to Colin Firth and Natalie Portman, respectively. Despite the depressing storyline, the acting makes the movie worth watching. “Blue Valentine” leaves audiences feeling disappointed, not because it’s a bad movie, but because it accurately portrays a harsh reality rather than a sticky sweet, unrealistic view of love.
Movie: Blue Valentine Directed by: Derek Cianfrance Release Date: January 24, 2011 Grade: C
Courtesy of Hunting Lane Films
Toil and trouble in new ‘Witch’ movie CARMEN SPLANE CONTRIBUTOR
Awards season is coming to an end, summer blockbusters are months away, and that leaves little to be desired at the movies. In director Dominic Sena’s “Season of the Witch” we have another January knuckle dragger disguised as a period film with a hint of horror. With Razzie award veteran Nicolas Cage in the lead role, this movie about the plague is plagued with terrible acting and sometimes laughable effects. It is the 14th century and the world is a very unforgiving place, the land is wrought with witch trials and a horrific Holy War that will eventually claim the lives of millions. “Season of the Witch” follows the journey of Behmen (Nicolas Cage) and his fellow knights as they wage war against all who do not accept Christianity. After accidentally killing an innocent young woman Behmen decides he has had enough of the senseless killings. He pink slips his military commander and drags fellow deserter Felson (Ron Pearlman) with him. Things get even more grim when the Black Plague strikes and brings the body count even higher. Having no other explanation, the townspeople naturally attribute the pandemic to witchcraft. When Behmen and Felson are apprehended for being deserters the only way they can regain their freedom is to properly dispose of the culprit: the Black Witch. The movie hobbles along, adding onedimensional characters that do not keep the audience invested in the story. Nicolas Cage appears to be just going through the motions,
hardly changing his facial expression or inflection throughout the entire film. Nicolas Cage is not the only reason this movie is thrown into a downward spiral from the opening credits; flat dialogue, a misguided plot and a lack-luster twist all contribute to the film’s shortcomings. There is one bright spot, the handling of the backwards logic that was present in that time was interesting to see, however, writer Bragi F. Schut did not delve deep enough into that aspect of the plot to make up for the stale dialogue and even staler performance by Nicolas Cage.
Movie: Season of the Witch Directed by: Dominic Sena Release Date: Jan. 7 Grade: D-
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Not so cuddly furry creature
Thursday, January 20, 2011
very month or so, a loosely affiliated student group of hoodlums and lowlifes releases a nefarious creature among the unsuspecting student body of San Diego State. These nearly illiterate miscreants, in their reckless disregard for public safety, distribute this venomous marsupial on and around campus. In fact, they often bind the poor species together in large numbers, usually at the top of the Freedom Steps, before setting them loose among the student population as we walk from class to class. You might have run into a stampede before, when one or more of these seemingly cute, usually fuzzy koalas is rampaging up and down the walkways of Montezuma Mesa. You’ve probably even fell trap to their attraction. But let me tell you, they can be dangerous. In fact, the last time I came across a koala on the loose near campus, it spit in my face. Right in my eye. Now, I’m not a violent person. And I believe all language is free and open. A person, or in this case a Koala, is legally free to write and disseminate what he pleases. Even the dumb-witted and sophomoric staff in charge of releasing the koalas knows their First Amendment rights. Surely, it’s what the idiots cling to as justification for some of their illadvised actions and commentary. But that all speech is free doesn’t constitute that it should be free from being recognized without restraint. After the koala spit on me, I picked it up, to check it out a bit
T Y THOMPSON CONTRIBUTOR
more, give it another chance, to see if it would calm down. I thought I could talk some sense into it. The vicious little bugger spewed something into my left eye. I couldn’t tell what it was at first. Then, my eye began to burn incessantly. I almost threw the koala on the ground right then and there. Hatred. Racism. Vitriol. I wanted to ask the koala why it felt it had to stoop to such lows to reach a laugh. Much of what it said and wrote actually contained original and genuinely humorous content. But so much of its humor just tried to push the edge without calculating some of the consequences. The koala had been brainwashed by toxicity. Sadly, this particular koala was too far gone to try and save. It had lost its sense of reason. Resorted to the cheap and shameful soliciting of personal ads to make it feel whole. Sold its soul. And though the koala tried to plead with me that it was just having innocent fun when it spit in my face, it didn’t recognize the immorality of its actions — that sometimes its actions did offend. In fact, the koala continued to defend its illegitimate behavior behind a guise of crude humor and then, almost predictably, tried to give me its top five reasons why its actions were no big deal. Then it became aggressive. In its last words, it tried to claim it aimed for “the destruction of
koala advertising” and “to steal the koala’s lucrative ad money.” Clearly, a fearful and desperate assertion. I had no choice. You’ve got to understand me when I say this. It was for its own good. I began to methodically shave down the koala. Fur floated to the floor. I systematically ripped it apart, limb by limb, section by section, until it was hardly recognizable. I even scalped off its head. As an act of finality, I decided I needed to eat the remains. So I bit right into the skin. Chewed up and swallowed every piece. Drank it down with a beer at Louie’s. It tasted like chicken. Of course, I recognize I can’t eat every koala I encounter on campus. I wouldn’t want to waste my time. Plus, every once in awhile, a koala can even be endearing. In many ways, I see some of myself in the koala. Luckily, though, a crossword and Sudoku puzzle set me apart with greater professionalism. If you stay on campus long enough, I’m sure you’ll see one of these koalas every now and then. Maybe you’ll even get a craving to digest one. Just make sure you do so wisely. With some barbecue sauce.
-Ty Thompson is a graduate student studying creative writing. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
BY LINDA C. BLACK, TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES
TODAY’S BIRTHDAY (01/20/11) This year, the waves are strong. Learn to ride them. Capture their energy for sustainable living. A female (a mermaid?) will make a great difference in your life. She will be a muse for your new creative endeavors. Listen closely to what she has to say. She understands. To get the advantage, check the day's rating: 10 is the easiest day, 0 the most challenging. ARIES (March 21 - April 19) - Today is a 5 Today's the perfect day to let your creativity fly with friends, children or both.Your artistic talents are appreciated, and someone's surprised. TAURUS (April 20 - May 20) - Today is an 8 - Arguments may arise at work. Don't get hooked.Take care of your home, your family and especially of your personal wellbeing. Get plenty of rest. GEMINI (May 21 - June 21) - Today is a 7 Don't be so focused on the details that you miss the beautiful big picture.The appreciation of a partner or loved one gives you a significant boost. CANCER (June 22 - July 22) - Today is a 7 Money comes easier than normal today. Take advantage of this by diving into the work. A friend needs some pampering, and you're happy to give it. LEO (July 23 - Aug. 22) - Today is a 7 - Your artistic talents are at a peak today.The world feeds and inspires you. Others may get a bit jealous. Make your optimism contagious, and share it abundantly.
VIRGO (Aug. 23 - Sept. 22) - Today is a 6 Focus your affections on yourself today. Indulge your passions.Your artistic talent flourishes, and you find beauty in everything. Give thanks. LIBRA (Sept. 23 - Oct. 22) - Today is a 6 Write a love letter to someone far away. Then just love the one you're with. Younger people offer pleasant surprises and are grateful for your attention. SCORPIO (Oct. 23 - Nov. 21) - Today is a 7 - Focus your creative energy on growing your pot of gold. It's adventure time. Notice any challenges, but don't be stopped by them. Use your fire sword. SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22 - Dec. 21) - Today is an 8 - Travel plans may change, so be flexible. Consider a long trip, better shared with a loved one.The future looks bright, and you're in charge. CAPRICORN (Dec. 22 - Jan. 19) - Today is a 6 - Communication is key, and you have that key. It's a great day for marketing and bringing in money from new sources. "No" shows what's missing for "yes." AQUARIUS (Jan. 20 - Feb. 18) - Today is a 9 - Not everything is real - or is it? Think before you jump to conclusions. Friends help you make an important connection. They can see behind you. PISCES (Feb. 19 - March 20) - Today is a 7 More work is coming in. Don't act impulsively about something you'll later regret. Your goals will seem clear for the next four weeks. © 2010,TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES INC.
BY THE MEPHAM GROUP
Instructions: Complete the grid so
-This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Daily Aztec.
each row, column and 3-by-3 box (in bold borders) contains every digit 1 to 9. For strategies on how to solve Sudoku, visit www.sudoku.org.uk.
LOOKING THROUGH OUR LENS
Solution available online at www.TheDailyAztec.com © 2011 The Mepham Group. Distributed by Tribune Media Services. All rights reserved.
DON’T LET THE SUN GO DOWN ON ME Senior Staff Photographer Peter Kluch captured this picturesque moment at South Bay in Chula Vista. Elton John was surely inspired by a seascape similar to this.
ACROSS 1 Volkswagen model since 1979 6 Stare 10 Charm 14 Unit of capacitance 15 “Would __?” 16 Baseball’s Moises 17 Tough handicap to overcome in a joust? 20 Words after post or suffer 21 Beginning 22 Hoopster featured in a news magazine? 26 Leo, for one 27 Manhattan neighborhood acronym 28 Ready to serve 32 Uncertain concurrence 35 Gave a buzz 37 Snaps 38 Mineo of “Rebel Without a Cause” 39 What “purls of wisdom” is an example of? 41 HBO competitor 42 __ king 43 Hokkaido native 44 Shoot for, with “to” 46 Old Italian bread 48 Puts on 50 Biol. branch 51 Was familiar with Britain? 55 Unlikely lint-gatherer 58 Without delay 59 Bow tied by mortal hands? 65 Pinup Hayworth 66 Pianist Gilels 67 Church parts 68 They have heads and handles
EDITED BY RICH NORRIS AND JOYCE LEWIS
Solution available online at www.TheDailyAztec.com 69 Mug imperfections 70 Symbol of strength DOWN 1 LaGuardia alternative, familiarly 2 Suffix with Caesar 3 Like jibs 4 Movie poster words 5 For a specific purpose 6 Big name in guitars 7 Pledge of Allegiance ender 8 November 2006 Nintendo release 9 Barbie’s beau 10 Took one’s place at, as a post
11 Cries following charges 12 __ Cuervo tequila 13 Remove from office 18 Sound of reproach 19 End for free 22 Capital of Rwanda 23 Cookie information, perhaps 24 Relax, as tense relations 25 Ancient Aegean region 26 Cordage fiber 29 Retina-brain link 30 Jerk 31 Stand out 33 Calypso offshoot 34 Like ugly remarks 36 Fast sports cars
40 “__ pronounce you ...” 45 Naval attire 47 Loyal Japanese dogs 49 Sluggards 52 “The Matrix” hero 53 Modern dashmounted device: Abbr. 54 Croquet venues 55 Creole vegetable 56 Windows alternative 57 Handy bag 60 Kasbah headgear 61 “I didn’t need to know that!” 62 Best seller 63 General at Antietam 64 Step up from dial-up
Thursday, January 20, 2011
The Daily Aztec
UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL
A chat with the founder of Cinema Society DAVID DIXON S TA F F W R I T E R
Andy Friedenberg is the founder and director of the Cinema Society, a cultural arts organization that was started in 1984.
The Daily Aztec: Tell me a little bit about the Cinema Society. Andy Friedenberg: We are a cultural arts organization that I started back in 1984 at the Flower Hill Cinemas. We are now at the AMC La Jolla 12 Theatres. Basically, people subscribe and they attend movie premieres and meet people connected with the films, or an expert on the subject matter. DA : How did you conceive starting it? AF: I was a regional marketing director for several studios and when I was the Midwest marketing director for Columbia Pictures in Chicago, there was a group kind of like this. They would call me up and say, “Hey, we have got a group of people who love movies. What does Columbia Pictures have that might foster some good discussions, etc.,” and I thought that was a great idea. So when I moved to San Diego in 1983, I researched the market as to what was happening with creative film programming. The research took about five minutes, and in 1984, we launched. DA: What was your major in college?
AF: I ended up being a communication major. My first two years of undergraduate was liberal arts at Washington University in St. Louis. I took every communication class they had, and then I started one on my own. I did an outdoor film festival and that became a class unto itself. They still do it on the campus every year. Then I transferred to Boston University, College of Communication. There I learned all the skills I needed to start the Cinema Society.
DA: How do you choose the films that you show? AF: It is a dictatorship. I do the selecting and choose them in several ways. One way is I go to a lot of film festivals and see a lot of films. Another way is that friends from several studios tell me movies that make sense for an audience such as mine. Also, I read a lot of reviews and I have about 20 films a week sent to me from filmmakers. DA : How do you narrow the films down? AF: We like to think we are a journey through cinema, so I do not look for the same kind of thing. I look for good stories well told, whether it is a feature-length film or a short. DA: How do you think film viewing in San Diego has evolved throughout the years? AF: It has evolved tremendously, particularly with the rise of film fes-
tivals. In 1984, we had the Cinema Society of San Diego. In 2010, we still have The Cinema Society of San Diego but we also have all kinds of film festivals such as Jewish, Asian, Latino. There has been an explosion of film programs at film festivals in our community. It is incredible.
about 10 years ago. He taught me a great deal. Every filmmaker who honors us has influenced me whether it is Stephen Frears, Danny Boyle or Norman Jewison. They give me the honor of showcasing their works, which is wonderful.
DA : What do you think your organization will be doing in the future? A F : We are going to continue what we do and do well. We are going to continue showcasing prestige films for a sophisticated audience. We are also going to maintain offering cinema travel opportunities. We lead people to film festivals and film events around the world in places such as Palm Springs and Cuba.
“We are going to continue what we do and do well. We are going to continue showcasing prestige films for a sophisticated audience.”
DA : Who has been the greatest influence in your professional career? AF: There have been several. The first is my mother, who is 91 and still goes to every Cinema Society event. She brought me up believing that going to the movies was an event. As a little kid I had to dress up, be on my best behavior and go to the movies. I still believe that going to the cinemas should be an event. Another person that influenced me was my mentor when I was working in marketing and film studios. His name was Alvin Guggenheim. He ran an advertising public relations firm for film studios in Houston, Texas and he was the most honorable man I knew. He passed away
— Andy Friedenberg, founder of the Cinema Society DA: What do you think were or are the greatest days of filmmaking? AF: I like to think it is tomorrow, but there are so many changes going on in the motion picture industry that it is staggering. Most people believe 1939 was the greatest year for motion pictures. Unfortunately, today’s cinema has gotten away from prestige and more into exploitation. I would like to think the best days are ahead, but I am a little concerned by that. I think films today are
geared more toward kids than they are toward adults.
DA : What are your top five favorite films of all time? AF: That is like asking who are your favorite children. I love schmaltz. I love a good plot. I love “The Shawshank Redemption” and “The Godfather” I and II. I love the 2008 Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Language Film from Japan called “Departures.” I love films that touch the heart. I love shorts. I look for the good in all films. Sometimes you have to dig real deep to find it. DA : Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself or the film society? AF: Check the website and e-mail address, if anyone is interested in joining with us. I taught at San Diego State in the summers. I taught motion picture marketing and distribution and that was one of the great times of my life. The whole concept of the class was, “I made my movie, now what do I do with it?” I am very proud of the people I taught. Many of them have gone on to work for the industry, both in distribution and exhibition. To read the entire interview or to view contact information for the Cinema Society, go to thedailyaztec.com.
UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL
Critiquing for dummies with David Elliot DAVID DIXON S TA F F W R I T E R
David Elliot is currently the main film critic for the San Diego Reader, and the former chief film critic for the Chicago Daily News, USA Today, The San Diego Union-Tribune and sdnn.com.
The Daily Aztec: How did you decide to become a film critic? D a v i d E l l i o t t : I realized that my college degree was not going to take me where I wanted to go. Since I had written movie reviews in college, I decided to give journalism a chance. I was lucky, because I was hired directly by the Chicago Daily News. Two years later, I became their movie critic. Ironically, I was not planning on being a film critic when I was in school. I do not think a modern kid could do it that way, because people want you to have a degree in journalism or to have more experience. DA : What or when was your first assignment? DE: I cannot remember my first assignment for the Daily News. I remember doing interviews with people ranging from circus performers to stand up comedians and visiting starlets. The first review I can remember vividly was “2001: A Space Odyssey,” which I knew was an instant classic. I was able to write at length about it, which helped me get the job at the Daily News. DA : How has film criticism evolved throughout the years? DE: I do not think film criticism has evolved so much as it is part of the larger context of journalism.
There has always been a minority of critics who want to write for people who care about film, both as art and as entertainment. Obviously, there are fewer outlets and unfortunately criticism is under assault from people who do not understand what it is or what it can provide.
DA : Where do you see film criticism going in the future? DE: I think it will always remain a fascinating discipline for people who want to take their feelings about movies and combine them with ideas in an interesting way. If you like writing about films and figuring out how you feel about them, then criticism will remain a valid form. Whether editors and publications appreciate that fact is another issue, but I think criticism will continue, because culture needs that conversation to stay alive. Otherwise, it becomes advertising. DA : Who has been the greatest influence in your professional career? DE: I do not think any critic or writers in particular made me want to be a critic. As a kid I did not read reviews. There was not much available in Houston papers where I grew up. Later, I was influenced by the critical debate in New York, especially by the confrontation between Pauline Kael and Andrew Sarris. It was very fruitful and helped shape me and a lot of young critics in the ‘60s and ‘70s. That does not happen now, and I think it is (partly) the lack of intellectual ferment, which has contributed to the decline of movie criticism and the press. DA : What do you think were or are the golden days of film criticism?
DE: Well it is obvious they were from the ‘60s right into the ‘80s when the blockbuster, spawned by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg etc., became the dominant form. In other words, people stopped talking about what are the interesting movies this week, and began asking, “What’s number one at the box office?” That greatly damaged the level of discussion about movies. The obsession with numbers is a plague. That kind of thing is a distraction and a childish evasion of all the really interesting stuff about movies. It is good to know what is making money, but do not be entranced by the numbers.
DA : Are there any film critics you follow on a regular basis? DE: Not right now. I used to read Kael after I wrote my reviews, because you do not want someone else sitting on your shoulder and whispering in your ear while you’re going to a film and trying to write about it. Later, I would check out her reviews and a few other people. Right now, I think Anthony Lane of The New Yorker is a very bright and funny writer. What holds you with a critic essentially is not whether you agree with
them, but do you enjoy their work? Are you held by their voice? Do you appreciate what they put in to shape their review? Lane is very good at that.
DA : What are your top five favorite films of all time? DE: No one should reduce their taste to a list, but my holy trinity for film creativity is “Citizen Kane,” “Vertigo” and “8” though “The Rules of the Game” could substitute for any of them. So could Satyajit Ray’s “Apu Trilogy.” My top trio for personal pleasure would be “The Maltese Falcon,” “Roman Holiday” and Orson Welles’ “Mr. Arkadin.” The last is definitive, inspired pulp. DA : What advice would you give to an aspiring film critic? DE: Your enthusiasm for going to movies and spouting opinions should be matched by your desire to think about them and write
well in a personal voice. That voice, or style, has to combine ideas and emotions like a double helix and be entertaining enough so that you stimulate the conversation about films. There is a vast realm of expression between “awesome” and “sucks,” so take the time to develop it. Also, practice, even if you aren’t being paid.
To read the entire interview, go to thedailyaztec.com.