Plastic Podcast

The venerable and exceedingly intermittent Plastic Podcast, which has outlived the two blogs with which it was intertwined, and whose audio archives were difficult to ...

The Plastic Podcast

An audio program about movies. Listen with your iPod or computer.

Plastic Podcast

The venerable and exceedingly intermittent Plastic Podcast, which has outlived the two blogs with which it was intertwined, and whose audio archives were difficult to ...

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Daily Plastic is a Chicago-based movie blog, a collaboration between Robert Davis and J. Robert Parks, the same pair who brought you the wearable movie tote, the razor-thin pencil pocket, and that joke about aardvarks. If you know the whereabouts of the blue Pontiac Tempest that was towed from the Plastic Parking Lot on the evening of August 7th, 2008, or more importantly if you've recovered the red shoebox that was in its trunk, please contact us at your earliest convenience.

Davis was the chief film critic for the late, great Paste Magazine (which lives on now as a website) from 2005 through 2009, and he counts this interview with Claire Denis among his favorite moments. Every once in a while he pops up on Twitter. He's presently sipping puerh in Chicago, even at this hour. Meanwhile, Parks, whose work has appeared in TimeOut Chicago, The Hyde Park Herald, and Paste, is molding unsuspecting, college-aged minds in the aforementioned windy city. Media types are warned to stay clear of his semester-sized field of influence because of the distorting effects that are likely to develop.

The © copyright of all content on Daily Plastic belongs to the respective authors.


I had a smile on my face the entire day yesterday. The entire day. I marveled at the sea of people on the Mall. Looking at the Lincoln Memorial, I pondered how far my country has come and how far it still has to go. I was filled with a strange joy watching Malia and Sasha and thinking how happy I’ll be to watch them grow up and smile over the next eight years. I chuckled at how the sight of Cheney in the wheelchair reminded me of Mr. Potter in It’s a Wonderful Life. That led me to think of the ways in which President Obama is strangely like George Bailey (stopping the run on the Savings & Loan, indeed). I smiled.

I was of course moved by Obama’s speech. Even if it wasn’t his finest, it was still a beautifully constructed, powerful statement of America’s democratic values and aspirations. I shouted “Amen” to the lines “We reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals” and “Know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.” If nothing else, I felt inspired that my president is a man who can thoughtfully craft his own Inauguration speech and deliver it with such power. I kept smiling, and cried a bit, too.

Walking around Hyde Park, I tapped into the electricity that continues to buzz through my neighborhood even after our First Neighbors have departed for somewhat warmer climes. I sat down with two retired black women and talked about what this day meant to them. I thrilled at the sight of Barack and Michelle walking down Pennsylvania Avenue. I still can’t get over how much I love the sight of them together. I teared up as I listened to Jesse Jackson talk about the significance of this day. I even sat around and watched Obama and Joe Biden watch the parade. What does it say about me that I was watching someone else watch? It means I didn’t want the day to end. I was still smiling.

Of course, the day eventually passed. But I woke up this morning to look at photos, to relive the awesome and historically transformative occasion. I read newspaper accounts from around the world and reveled in how America’s status has been reborn. I pinched myself and called to mind that the long nightmare of the last eight years is finally over. That thought alone will have me smiling for weeks.

A friend from Egypt has been in town the last few days, and I was trying to explain how the economic events of the last several months have not only created a horribly difficult situation; they’ve caused a crisis of confidence, a fear that borders on despair. But yesterday, whether it’s rational or not, that mood of fear seemed to be swept away. I’m enough of a realist to know that one man can’t make that much of a difference, no matter how much power he has. And the difficulties confronting President Obama are so immense I’m not entirely confident he’ll succeed. But I can think of few people I would rather have sitting in the Oval Office. The fact that he’s there today has put another smile on my face.

For a different take on Cheney in the wheelchair, go here.

Colin Powell Reacts to Obama Victory:

More video clips:


Some advice for people who talk to exit pollsters:

Little more than three years ago, the greatest engineering disaster since Chernobyl according to one expert occurred in the city of New Orleans, blamed by three different teams of investigators on misfeasance and malfeasance by an agency of the United States federal government. ["a system in name only" says the Corps' own report.]

Not a word about it in this presidential campaign. It didn't happen. We dreamed it. They must have dreamed it down there.

Not a word. Why? No, not evil. Not malice. Not any of that good stuff. You and I know the reason, ladies and gentlemen: it didn't show up in the polls.

The candidates decided what to talk about based on what people in the polls say they're concerned about, and it wasn't even in the top ten. So, you know, I don't care whether you vote or not. It's no skin off any part of my anatomy. But I will say this: if you are going to some place on Tuesday and you're going behind a little curtain and you're casting what you think will be a secret ballot. And you then decide, the minute you leave that private booth, to go out and talk to a total stranger and tell him how you voted, how much money you make, and what religion you are, just make sure when he asks what demographic group you belong to, you say "genius."

Harry Shearer

Does the Army Corps of Engineers have a project near you?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been finding it more and more difficult to get work done the last few weeks. I sit down to start grading papers or write that review, and instead I find an excuse to start surfing or MSNBC’s First Read or any of the dozens of political websites I’ve tripped over this election season.

I’ve been a political junkie for most of my life. I distinctly remember being enthralled with the 1976 presidential primaries when my third-grade teacher decided to put a big chart on the wall. I had no idea who Reagan or Carter were, but the steadily building numbers of delegates seemed almost mystical. A few years later I discovered a game about presidential campaigns and electoral votes at a friend’s house. I’m embarrassed to say I’d sometimes ignore him just so I could finish the game that he’d got bored of.

In high school, I became passionate about Model UN, and my political interests broadened. Ever since, my reading has revolved around newspapers and magazines that let me indulge my passion for understanding how the world--especially the political world--works and doesn’t work.

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I don't have the census in front of me, so I don't know the exact number of presidential campaign managers who currently reside in the U.S., but given the television coverage of the election it must be millions, which explains why so many news programs are aimed at people who want to know what "works," what statements "connected" with Merkins, how a particular candidate can move her numbers, what sorts of attacks a candidate is likely to make in the coming week, and how his actions will be seen by potential voters.

Millions of campaign managers. Or perhaps just a handful who have such deep pockets and voracious TV-viewing habits that news programs can't afford to ignore them. Advertisers are known to covet this handful, hence the many ads for shit shovels.

Millions of campaign managers. Or a deep-pocketed few. Either way, I feel left out since I'm merely a voter. I realize I'm not in their target market, but I had trouble finding a weekend yak show that could help me evaluate the candidates and their stated plans.

We here at Daily Plastic don’t plan on converting into a political blog anytime soon, but I couldn’t let the contrast between last night’s brilliant Obama speech and McCain’s perplexing vp choice go unmentioned. I’m a fervent Obama supporter (he’s my neighbor after all), but I understand why many Americans might choose McCain on Nov. 4. There are certain policy positions that people hold dear, and Obama doesn’t always match up with those. Fair enough.

But I am genuinely baffled by McCain’s pick of Gov. Sarah Palin. You stake your entire candidacy on your experience and measured judgment, and then you choose someone who hasn’t even been governor for two years? Two years?? And let’s be honest. It’s not like she’s the governor of California or Texas or some other big state. It’s Alaska, for crying out loud. I’m sure she’ll talk about the hard choices she’s made in being the hands-on manager of the state and having to balance a budget and so forth and so on, but let’s be frank. Alaska has less than 700,000 people in it. There are dozens and dozens of cities in the U.S. that are bigger than that.

What kind of foreign policy experience does she have? Well, let’s let McCain himself explain:

As the head of Alaska's National Guard and as the mother of a soldier herself, Governor Palin understands what it takes to lead our nation.

I am utterly speechless. I just don’t know how to respond. Those are her qualifications? McCain said that with a straight face??

And it’s not like this is a moot point, where the vice president doesn’t matter. McCain is an old man--if he serves out two full terms, he’ll be in his 80s. On top of that, he’s had health issues in the past. The possibility of the vice president having to take over for McCain at some point is real, and Sarah Palin is who we want in that position? Even Republicans have to be a little nervous. I know I am.

If nothing else, this should assuredly end all that crap about whether Obama is experienced enough. Palin makes Obama look like the second coming of FDR.

Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States was first published in 1980 and has inspired in some people a fanatical devotion we don’t normally associate with a 700-page history book. Songs, movies, and plays have all been dedicated to Zinn and his work, and a documentary co-written by Zinn based on the book will premiere at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.

A People’s History is a conscious attempt to provide a different kind of historical record. As Zinn writes early on:

If history is to be creative, to anticipate a possible future without denying the past, it should, I believe, emphasize new possibilities by disclosing those hidden episodes of the past when, even if in brief flashes, people showed their ability to resist, to join together, occasionally to win.

The resistance Zinn refers to involves how people throughout U.S. history have stood against the forces of power--the moneyed elite, government, business--and tried to construct a fairer, more equitable system. A country in which the system worked for the common man instead of the other way around.

It’s amazing how different a history this is. The moving of armies, the electing of presidents, the “great men” of national leadership get only a few lines. Instead the emphasis is on workers and labor unions, women and African Americans, Native Americans and immigrants as they struggle for better and fairer conditions.

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