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Archive for December, 2008

Rule 34.

As of today, I’m all of thirty-four. Hmm, that’s not really sounding very “early-thirties” anymore, is it?

At any rate, I hope to spend the day catching a movie or two, as per the norm. Which reminds me: Given that some of the better-reviewed awards films — Frost/Nixon, The Wrestler, Revolutionary Road — don’t open around here until early-to-mid January, I’m giving myself a few weeks extension on the Best of 2008 list (as per 2006.) But I have seen several flicks over the past few days, and expect to have those reviews up in relatively short order. Until then, I hope everyone’s having a safe and happy holidays in their respective corners of the world, and more to come soon.

Kabul by the Horns.

“The good news is that, seven years after the Sept. 11 attacks and nearly three years after the resumption of full-scale war with the Taliban, we are finally beginning to formulate a strategy — and we have officers in place who think strategically. As history shows, however, smart generals and shrewd strategists don’t necessarily yield victory — especially in Afghanistan.”

As the incoming administration correctly looks to reprioritize Afghanistan, Fred Kaplan summarizes the current situation in our “other” war, and the potential pitfalls ahead. “[T]here is a paradox: More U.S. troops are needed to provide security to the Afghan people; but these troops may, at the same time, fuel the insurgency — which will require more troops, and on the cycle goes.

The Playwright and the Muse.

Eartha Kitt, 1927-2008…and Harold Pinter, 1930-2008.

Gleaming the Cube.

How to Solve a Rubik’s Cube. This is the best of the learning sites I could find while trying to pick up this skill set over the past few days. (I’ve fiddled with ’em a few times over the years, and seeing one in Let the Right One In recently re-piqued my interest.) Apparently, there are faster ways to go about it, and one can also speed up “solving the cross” with a good deal of practice, but I really just wanted to learn how to finish one of the durned things.

I have to admit, tho’, it would be kinda cool to become as dexterous as Will Smith in the art of cubism.

Before Xenu, Ronnie.

“[N]ote a curious fact about his career: It maps perfectly onto the 25-year bull market in stocks that, like Cruise, is starting to show its age. Nascent in the early ’80s, emergent in 1983, dominant in the ’90s, suspiciously resilient in the ’00s, and, starting in 2005, increasingly prone to alarming meltdowns. For both Cruise and the Dow Jones, more and more leverage is required for less and less performance. Place Cruise next to Nicholson, Newman, and Tracy, and he is a riddle. Place him next to Reagan, and he is not so confounding at all.

In an extended meditation on the overlooked merits of Risky Business, Slate‘s Stephen Metcalf argues for Tom Cruise as an exemplar of the 80’s, Reaganism, and the boom-and-bust market. “More so than any of his contemporaries, Cruise brought to ’80s cinema an aura that corresponded to the novel tonalities of Reaganism.

Hrm…

The bottom line: Warner Bros. had absolutely no right to roll film on Zack Snyder’s adaptation of the Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons superhero classic.” Forget the watchmen for a sec: Who’s watching Larry Gordon? A judge rules that Fox’s lawsuit over Watchmen does indeed have merit, and that former Fox, now WB exec Larry Gordon never actually secured all the necessary distribution rights to make Watchmen at his new home studio. “In his ruling, Feess concludes that Gordon never properly presented Fox with the option to produce and distribute the version of Watchmen developed by director Zack Snyder. He also makes it clear that neither Gordon nor Warner Bros. had bought out Fox’s interest before Warner Bros. went into production.

What this means for the movie is still up in the air, although a release delay of several months isn’t out of the question. When a similar incident happened with The Dukes of Hazzard, a case that involved the same judge, WB eventually just settled and ponied up before the release date.

Well, here’s hoping this gets worked out in short order. I’m guessing Snyder’s film is going to have some serious problems, but I’d still like to see it next to immediately. (Watchmen image above via The Nerd of Her.)

Luhrmann Hatches an (East) Egg.

“I thought of Gatsby‘s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.”

Defiant and almost combative about the cinematic merits of Australia (“A lot of the film scientists don’t get it“), director Baz Luhrmann announces he’s moving right ahead on a new film version of The Great Gatsby. “If you wanted to show a mirror to people that says, ‘You’ve been drunk on money,’ they’re not going to want to see it. But if you reflected that mirror on another time they’d be willing to…People will need an explanation of where we are and where we’ve been, and ‘The Great Gatsby’ can provide that explanation.‘”

Well, bleah.

We very much appreciate the time and effort you put into this process, and we were impressed by many of the writing samples and tests that we reviewed. Unfortunately, we have a small number of slots to fill, and we will not be able to offer you a position in the White House speechwriting office at this time. Sigh, well, there goes that dream. (One reason it was relatively quiet here in recent weeks is because I was working on this particular job app, which ultimately involved a time-intensive speed-writing test. Obviously, as I just heard a few moments ago, it didn’t end up panning out.)

Oh well, it was a real longshot anyway. And, it’s good news for GitM, I guess…the political coverage can now continue here without impediment. (A lot of things would undoubtedly have had to change around here had I actually landed the gig.) So, ob-la-di, ob-la-da, I suppose.

Some to Grow On.

“Lemmings do not engage in suicidal dives off cliffs when migrating. They will, however, occasionally, and unintentionally fall off cliffs when venturing into unknown territory…The misconception is due largely to the Disney film White Wilderness, which shot many of the migration scenes (also staged by using multiple shots of different groups of lemmings) on a large, snow-covered turntable in a studio. Photographers later pushed the lemmings off a cliff.

LMG points the way to an interesting list of common misconceptions over at Wikipedia. “The Inuit do not have a large number of words for snow. One Eskimo-Aleut language studied had four unrelated root words…By comparison, English has many unrelated root words for snow as well: snow, sleet, powder, flurry, drift, avalanche and blizzard.

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