It’s a fire sale on coaches in the Atlantic division, with New Jersey’s Byron Scott and Boston’s Jim O’Brien leaving their franchises on the same day (This means that every Atlantic division coach has been replaced this year.) Well, between Allan Houston’s bum knee and the Knicks clutching with bloody fingernails to the eight spot, I’m all for some Eastern conference turmoil right about now.
Speaking of the movie of the hour, Peter Jackson’s announced the RotK:EE running time, and it’s 4 hours and 10 minutes, 50 minutes longer than the theatrical cut. (And no, that’s not all tearful goodbyes, thank you very much.)
Best Picture: Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. After three years of waiting, after A Beautiful Mind and Chicago, it’s payback time. Check out the spiffy New Line awards site, featuring some choice RotK clips.
Best Actor: What on earth is Johnny Depp doing in here? I’m a Depp fan too, but c’mon now. At any rate, I’m definitely rooting for Bill Murray for Lost in Translation, but could see Mystic River‘s Sean Penn picking it up too.
Best Actress: Haven’t seen it yet, but Charlize Theron in Monster has all the buzz, and it would take a better man than I to challenge the formidable power of best-actress-oscar-buzz.
Best Director: PJ for RotK. The only real challenge is Sofia Coppola, and she’ll get hers in the Screenplay category.
Screenplay (Original): A la Quentin Tarantino, Sofia Coppola will win for Lost in Translation.
Screenplay (Adapted): This will probably be one of the few categories where RotK loses out (The best adaptation of the three was Fellowship, and that really should’ve won two years ago.) American Splendor, perhaps? They’re going to want to give something to City of God.
So…New Hampshire has spoken, and John Kerry wins by 12 over fellow New Englander Howard Dean, Clark and Edwards tie for a distant third, and Lieberman falls to fifth. The game now shifts to the South and Midwest, including South Carolina.
Well, while it’s a bit off-putting to put this race in the fridge after only two states have spoken, I say it’s now definitely looking to be John Kerry’s year. That is, barring a strong showing by John Edwards on more favorable terrain, who has to win South Carolina convincingly next week to stay alive. As everyone’s known for months, Lieberman is clearly done, despite his ridiculous talk of a three-way tie for third in NH. (So much for the vote-swinging ability of the New Republic.) Wesley Clark may be able to pick up Oklahoma, but momentum counts for a lot, and he was fading fast all last week. So, barring something crazy happening, I’d say the general is also on his way out.
And Dean? Well, obviously he’s still got a large war chest and the frenzy of the Deaniacs to fall back on…but where does he go from here? The pre-NH polls have him dropping to fourth or fifth in every one of the polled February 3rd states, except New Mexico (and even that’s based on pre-Iowa numbers.) It’d be one thing if he had pulled closer to Kerry in New Hampshire, or even to within ten points, but a twelve-point loss is pretty decisive in terms of being a momentum-killer. (Consider in 2000 that Bradley got to within four points (52%-48%) of Gore in NH, something that was also spun by the pundit class as a “still-kicking” comeback after Iowa, and he got hammered in all 15 states the Tuesday next.) As Chris Suellentrop notes, Dean’s only hope may be to go “underground” for awhile, but it’s hard to see how a hail-mary play like that will have generated much mojo once the big states actually vote. It’s remarkable how Dean and Kerry switched places so quickly, but they did…and just as Kerry would be toast had he not won New Hampshire, the same now looks true for the governor of Vermont.
Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t. By way of my sis-in-law Lotta, the Hamlet text adventure game. How cool is this? I look forward to playing it through once I finish up my freelance work. Here’s a tip…don’t jump out of Ophelia’s window. Update: Ok, I got distracted and went ahead and beat the game. It’s pretty clever, except for one really dumb and annoying puzzle that involves screaming a word in a theater. I used the hint to beat it…and the author basically admits that he intended it that way. Oh well, other than that one hiccup, it’s great text-adventure fun.
In the midst of the battle for New Hampshire, a glimmer of great news. A new Newsweek poll has Kerry up 3 on Dubya in a head-to-head match-up. And the key stat isn’t Kerry, per se: All four major Dems poll well against the Prez (Clark down 1, Edwards down 3, Dean down 5.) No, what’s cause for cheer here is the breakdown: 47% of voters strongly oppose a second term for Bush (and 52% say they don’t want him back in general.) That’s compared to 37% of voters strongly in the Bush camp. With those kind of strong negatives, much of Dubya’s financial advantage is neutralized — all the money in the world isn’t going to change the minds of people who’ve already decided they hate you. And this means that, state-by-state electoral math notwithstanding, the Dems only have to sway 4% of the electorate between now and November, give or take a percentage point to account for more Florida-type shenanigans by the GOP.
Meanwhile, in NH news, the consistently insufferable Mickey Kaus points the way to Chrisishardcore, a young statistician who’s teased out daily movement from the three-day ARG polls (this is the information the talking heads have when they make their predictions.) At any rate, yesterday’s poll shows a bounce back for Dean, who looks to probably come in second by these numbers. Elsewhere, the Wyeth Wire, a SC political mail-list to which I subscribe, does the same thing for Carolina.
NASA scores another success on Mars with the flawless landing of the Opportunity. And, in other good news, scientists have determined the Spirit has memory issues, and have upgraded their prognosis from critical to serious.
In the meantime, I've also recently begun helping Bill Press finish up another book project, Bush Must Go. (We previously collaborated on Spin This! together in early 2001.) And, in keeping with the book's subtitle, Press has asked for "Top Ten" submissions, your Top Ten reasons why George W. Bush has to go down as a one-termer like Papa, over at the DNC Blog today. So, if you're feeling creative or have to get a particular Bush vent off your chest, leave your list over there. As he says, your ideas may very well be incorporated into the book.