Our great institutions

Today I received the greatest letter ever written in history.  It reads as follows:


Dear Mr. Goetz,

The Investigative Unit of the Arizona Department of Education learned of allegations purporting that you arrested on or about April 18, 2018 and charged with criminal damage.  The reported allegation(s) are a violation not only of District policies but also the standards of conduct set by the Arizona State Board of Education.  See Arizona Administrative Code R7-2-1308.

This letter is to inform you that the Investigative Unit has completed its investigation in this matter and has determined that no complaint will be filed at this time.

Please be aware that while no complaint relative to the noted allegations will be filed at this time, in the event of any new allegation(s) of unprofessional conduct, these matters may be considered along with any new allegation(s).  We urge you to govern yourself in accordance with the standards of conduct set by the Arizona State Board of Education.  See Arizona Administrative Code R7-2-1308.

If you have any questions, please contact the Investigative Unit at (602) 542-2972.


Garnett Burns

Chief Investigator


To which I will reply as follows:

January 11, 2019

Dear Mr. Burns,

I just received your letter of the 2nd informing me that because it was ‘purported that you arrested on or about April 18, 2013’ you launched an investigation of me, during which you did not elicit any information from the target of that investigation, thereby allowing him no chance to defend himself.  You say further that ‘the reported allegation(s) are a violation not only of District policies but also the standards of conduct set by the Arizona State Board of Education.’  Then you warn me that ‘while no complaint relative to the noted allegations will be filed at this time, in the event of any new allegation(s) of unprofessional conduct, these matters may be considered along with any new allegation(s)’ and you ‘urge [me] to govern [my]self in accordance with the standards of conduct set by the Arizona State Board of Education.’

In response to this, I have only the following to say:

  • I have no relationship, official or unofficial, with the Arizona Department of Education;
  • I fail to comprehend how a ‘reported allegation’ can be a ‘violation’ of anything. By definition an allegation is an unproven assertion made by another party.
  • These allegations have nothing to do with children.
  • I have governed myself as a professional and an adult.

I am looking forward to framing your letter and publishing it in upcoming books, if not other places.


Thanks and Best Regards,

Jason R. Goetz

3333 W. Thunderbird Rd. #2125

Phoenix, AZ 85053




Commentary tracks

One of the great pleasures of my life recently has been my ability to watch many of the greatest films ever made. In light of the disaster that is modern Hollywood, these movies have provided me with a laid-back, low-key form of entertainment which on one hand did not take itself too seriously and on the other churned out many extremely compelling combinations of plot, score, subtext, and visual presentation.

I am so amazed at these films that I often also watch the commentary tracks. Many of these contain useful information about the circumstances surrounding the actors’ appearances in these films, the histories of the studios, the directors, the producers, the challenges that unfolded between screenwriters and editors, between directors, producers, and studio executives, also between the producers and the censors, the relationships between the actors and the directors, the actors and their co-workers, and so on and so forth. In many cases challenges with specific scenes are presented in a useful way: the decision between shooting on location and on set, the impact of the weather on the person’s involved, also on the cameras and scenery, the specialists who helped with the presentation of scenes which require specialized skills, and so on and so forth. Sometimes they discuss cinematic techniques that audiences aren’t aware of that are used in a particular scene; on occasion they will talk about the composer’s work in drawing up the score; in others they make suggestions about inferences that can be made about what has happened to a character off-screen but which might not be obvious to a casual viewer.

As you can see, this is quite a range of information, all quite useful, very intriguing. Very often these commentary tracks are made by the director of the film, highly regarded critics, or film scholars, most of whom have spent years studying the director of the film or its primary star. In some cases the leading actor or the primary villain are part of or do the whole commentary, and sometimes they are extremely informative—but not always. Commentary tracks of this sort include the one for the 1939 Robin Hood, for The Good, The Bad and The Ugly,

But then there are some commentary tracks which are made by people who held non integral positions in the filming process, or by persons who claim to have spent their lives studying a particular director but who have published only a sloppy biography of him, or by family members, usually the children, of the Star in question who themselves had no place in the film and sometimes in the world at all at the time the film was made. These commentary tracks inevitably devolve into lengthy accounts of personal interactions between these people and the Hollywood legend whose association they are profiting from; they detail plane flights or car rides many years after the film, third-hand accounts of the unhappy end of the director’s relationship with someone, post-premiere dinners where nothing of any note occurred, lengthy anecdotal conversations that provide no effective information about the film or its production, meaningless recollections of what other more important people might or might not have done with regards to the production of the movie or a scene in it, and so on and so forth. The overwhelming ego of the person on the commentary track results in 2 hours of talk without any value. The track for Double Indemnity comes to mind, but tonight I was watching the one for Vertigo and it definitely falls into this category.

My question in this post is, why if you are producing a commentary track for the DVD of a GREAT MOVIE, you would settle for these terrible, wasted commentary tracks? Why add them at all if they are no good? What’s the deal, yo?

Get a real critic and have them go through the film shot by shot. It’s worth it!


More from Churchill

“Since the War we have learned from German records what happened to the Glowworm. Early on the morning of Monday the 8th [April 8 1940] she encountered first one and then another enemy destroyer. A running fight ensued in heavy sea until the cruiser Hipper appeared on the scene. When the Hipper opened fire, the Glowworm retired behind a smoke-screen. The Hipper, pressing on through the smoke, presently emerged to find the British destroyer very close and coming straight for her at full speed. There was no time for the Hipper to avoid the impact, and the Glowworm rammed her 10,000-ton adversary, tearing a hole forty metres wide in her side. She then fell away crippled and blazing. A few minutes later she blew up. The Hipper picked up forty survivors; her gallant captain was being hauled to safety when he fell back exhausted from the cruiser’s deck and was lost.”

i don’t know, this doesn’t seem as brave to me as changing your gender or calling out racism/sexism/fascism/homophobia/Islamophobia/anti-Semitism. Actually it seems cowardly because violence is always bad no matter what the circumstances are. Why Churchill thinks otherwise–this beats me!

Presidential Decline

As I lay last night reading Winston Churchill’s Memoirs of the Second World War, I came across a letter from Franklin Roosevelt to him–the beginning of their long correspondence–in which Roosevelt wrote of having read Churchill’s (very lengthy and substantive) biography of his great ancestor the Duke of Marlborough.

So I began to think: Roosevelt’s cousin, Theodore, had written an excellent biography of Oliver Cromwell. Woodrow Wilson had written a history of America/Americans from the earliest English colonial ventures up until his time. If we go farther back, Lincoln loved Euclid, who he felt showed what proof meant; Jefferson wrote a very interesting work about his home state of Virginia; John Adams wrote a somewhat confusing, but very detailed, history of political republics; Washington had clearly read Gibbon.

After Roosevelt, Eisenhower was a substantive man, although I am not qualified to speak to his reading knowledge–but as a military man I would assume it had to include biographies of figures like Cromwell and Marlborough, among others. Even Kennedy wrote the hugely influential Profiles in Courage–if it is not ghostwritten. But since that time no person who has been President of the United States appears to have even read, let alone written, any serious, detailed work of history. The idea of George W. Bush reading Gibbon or Churchill shocks the conscience; one can form no mental conception of that idiot Obama having read anything substantive about the history of the Anglo-Saxon world; Clinton was too busy fucking broads and Trump is an acknowledged non-reader.

At what point to we have to acknowledge that these leaders have set the tone for the rest of us, and that in following their lead we have sucked the heart out of a country that once represented truly great ideas and content? At what point do we have to recognize that the polarization of our political world is a product not of substantive moral differences but of a lack of substantive moral content, exacerbated by the failure of Americans to study carefully their Anglo-Saxon roots and to understand their cultural, political, and social heritage?

On this Midterm Election Day, these are things to think about–and to act on.

The Shithole Comment

One more post for today–

I have thought about this quite a bit.  What I have noticed about Trump’s ‘shithole’ comment is that while the liberals have quickly and forcefully labeled him a racist for them, they have not once bothered to comment on the truth value of the comment, which, I think, is indisputable.  Haiti, often referred to as the basket case of the New World, is poverty-stricken and politically backwards.  Africa as a continent remains third-world, most African nations being dictatorships of the worst kind.  Most of Latin America is in a similar condition.

The problem is that these places are backwards because of the people who live in them.  When we bring them here and they are not ready to adapt to our culture and the demands of our society–or to pass down the traits necessary to meet those demands to their offspring–we invite them to turn our society into some modified version of what theirs was.  And if we value our own well-being we would never do that.

But let’s take the liberals at extreme face value.  Let’s say that all Trump was seeing was the color of these people’s skins.  Are these people admitting that black skin is the same color as shit by acknowledging his comments so vociferously and with such repetition in such a prominent manner?  After all, who is publicizing these comments, repeatedly and persistently, and continually issuing commentary on these comments as a means of lending them legitimacy?

But then, let’s say that Trump couldn’t care less what color their skin was, but was making a commentary on residence in first-world United States.  After all our earlier premise was based on assumption–it is not an obvious conclusion based upon what Trump said, in fact it’s an extremely distorted and rather forced conclusion.  Now, when we look at their comments being entirely focused on race, and their basic acknowledgment that black people’s skin is the color of shit, we recognize the most overt and disturbing kind of racism–coming from their own side.  And when we consider that black people themselves have contributed to this discussion by repeating the same views, do we not start to wonder what the collective IQ might be of this subset of people?  Is it above 30?

How now, asshats?  What have you to say to this?  How can you make yourselves look even more indisputably stupid?

Review: The Post

So what’s wrong with modern entertainment?

The crux of the matter is that it has no guts.  And a movie like The Post–which somehow got excellent reviews from the so-called ‘critics’–is a prime example.

The first thing to notice is that Tom Hanks plays a miserable Ben Bradlee.  Anyone who is familiar with cinema history has seen All the President’s Men, which was a great movie–and remembers Jason Robards’ portrayal of Bradlee.  Robards was biting, aggressive, substantial–a man’s man with counterculture humor.  He felt pressure but never let that pressure dominate him.

Hanks, by contrast, was wavering, flimsy, maybe flaccid is the right word.  It was a shockingly bad performance by a historically great actor.  It made you wonder where Forrest Gump, Carl Hanratty, Sheriff Woody, Chuck Noland, and Mr. White went.  Hanks turned from a real man into the worst kind of modern lawyer.

But what really killed the movie–and the reason I walked out for the third time (Fantastic BeastsMurder on the Orient Express) in the last four movies I have gone to see in theaters–is the sobbing, self-pitying monologue before the climax, this time by Meryl Streep, who now joins a long list of disgraced actors in the ‘I got to cry for no reason on screen in order to make myself look heroic’ club.

Before I comment further on this I want you to take a moment and think about how this somehow improves, or detracts, from a movie: would it make Robin Hood more heroic if, before marching into Nottingham Castle to prevent the coronation of the evil Prince John, he stared at the screen, talked about how his earlier life had been so morally trying, and started crying?

What about Zorro–suppose that, before the climax in Luis Quintero’s office, Tyrone Power sobbed on screen about how horribly scared he was when he got his father’s note recalling him from Spain, and how he continued to be terrified when he saw conditions in Los Angeles on his return.  Does this make The Mark of Zorro a better movie, and its titular character a better hero?  Or does it simply ruin its climax?

Or what about The Longest Yard–let’s introduce an unnecessary dialogue with Burt Reynolds sobbing about why and how he threw those games and his current predicament with the warden threatening to prolong his sentence or kill him.  Does this make the climax of The Longest Yard more interesting, or does it make the movie unwatchable?

Now–suppose, in All the President’s Men, that they had Robert Redford, as Bob Woodward, break down sobbing on screen about how difficult his work was and how from the start of his journalistic career he was unsure whether he could succeed.  We can all agree, I think, that this would make the movie significantly less compelling.

The problem with these sobbing monologues is that the people who sob in them are supposed to be brave, braver than the ordinary man, in order to make the deeds portrayed on screen interesting.  When writers and directors sit them down and have them cry, and editors do not cut these scenes out, it completely destroys the purpose; it does not make them look heroic, it makes them look like extraordinary cowards.  There is no possible conclusion that could make up for what the sobbing monologue takes away from the movie because it undermines the entire premise on which we have justified watching it in the first place!

And, what’s worse, it infects our whole value system as to what it means to be courageous–it turns it into a war of definitions, and creates a disturbing moral relativity.  This can then be used to make such intelligent and logical claims as that changing one’s sex to match their gender identity is ‘the bravest thing a person can do.’  Braver, of course, than sacrificing one’s life to defend one’s freedom or family’s freedom, or sacrificing their career in the name of speaking unpopular truths, or unprofitable public service.  This clearly makes society a worse place, not a better one.

It is easy to understand the source of this phenomenon.  There is one group of people who think that the person who cries the most is the most sympathetic, the most compelling, the most attractive person in the world–it is like a virus, this self-pitying, wallowing, penis-deflating cult of victimhood.  Remembering the Palestinians’ warm and friendly Three Days of Rage, it almost makes sense to invite these people to Three Days of Tears, only that would not solve the problem.  The problem, in fact, is that people pay attention to them.  This is why you can tell a lot about a society by the kind of entertainment it produces, if you look at how popular or respected that entertainment was contemporaneously.

So, for me, The Post marks the last movie I will ever pay to see in theaters, with the possible exception of the future Bond films–barring any such stupidity as making Bond a woman, or black, just to appease more self-proclaimed victims.  I, for one, will pay these idiots no more attention.  I invite you to do the same.

Fuck off, morons!

Call for Co-Hosts

Hello Everyone–

I am looking for a female co-host to make a TV show paralleling my book on the High Renaissance in Italy.  I have already scripted it; there is some prep work involved but nothing overbearing.  The show is for Women’s Broadcast Television Network and I would like to have it ready to go by early January.

If you are interested, please contact me through this blog, through my LinkedIn or Twitter (@greatbooksdude) accounts.

–Jason R. Goetz, the Great Books Dude