Thursday, November 28, 2002

Happy Thanksgiving

A man in Phoenix calls his son in New York the day before Thanksgiving and says, "I hate to ruin your day, but I have to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing; forty-five years of misery is enough."

"Pop, what are you talking about?" the son screams.

"We can't stand the sight of each other any longer," the father says. "We're sick of each other, and I'm sick of talking about this, so you call your sister in Chicago and tell her."

Frantic, the son calls his sister, who explodes on the phone. "No way they're getting divorced!" she shouts, "I'll take care of this." She calls Phoenix immediately and screams at her father, "You are not getting divorced. Don't do a single thing until I get there. I'm calling my brother back, and we'll both be there tomorrow. Until then, don't do a thing, DO YOU HEAR ME?" and hangs up.

The old man hangs up his phone and turns to his wife.
"Okay," he says, "they're coming for Thanksgiving and paying their own way."

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

UN: Blix Says Burden Of Proof On Iraq To Show Compliance

"He told reporters after the briefing that he expected Iraqi authorities to provide more information than they gave in their declarations to the previous UN inspection mission, known as UNSCOM. "The have provided a lot of figures to UNSCOM in the past. These figures do not give a full account, and if they want to be believed, they better provide either the weapons, if they remain, or better accounts. They have the budgets. They have the archives. They have the reports of individuals. We do not, and if they want to be believed, they better come up with this," Blix said.

Gorbachev: His time is actually up. The country needs fresh air.

Gorbachev on Fox. Here is the full text

Monday, November 25, 2002

Iran

Mike Ledeen gives an update on Iran. This has got to be the most important story this year that has gotten almost no coverage. Also a very interesting situation for observing what happens during a struggle against brutal totalitarianism.
Which brings us back to the debate-that-is-not-happening. How can we tell when a regime is about to fall? The key ingredient is not the sort of thing that the political scientists talk about in the academies, because it can't be measured, only smelled: It is a combination of failure of nerve at the top, and resolute desperation from below. On both counts, the trends are encouraging, but brutal repression is invariably successful if it is delivered with overwhelming strength, and the would-be revolutionaries cannot effectively cope with it.

Sunday, November 24, 2002

Bullocks

And now for something completely different...

What does the world look like from Sandra Bullock's perspective. The average actress has a career from the teens to late thirties, during which she can play an attractive female role. After the youthful beauty fades the number of available roles sharply shrink. Unless she has talent, in which case she can keep working indefinitely. So here we have Sandra Bullock. Bullock has already won the lottery as far as a career goes. She has what thousands of actors and actress will work their entire lives and never achieve. But can she move on to something beyond her thirties? Does she have the talent to go the distance? Unfortunately, the answer is no. So she has to make a move from acting to something else.

Bullock has started to build a career outside of acting with credit as Executive Producer of the thriller "Murder By Numbers" and a soon to be released romantic comedy "Two Weeks Notice". I did not see "Murder By Numbers", but we got to see a pre-release of "Two Weeks Notice" a month ago (it is scheduled to be release about two weeks into December). So far it does not look good for Bullock's new career.

The plot was Sandra Bullock as a activist lawyer in NYC whose goal was to preserve old (ie dilapidated) structures from the evil and greedy Wade Corp. Wade corp is a family real estate development business run by Hugh Grant. In a romantic comedy all the characters are sympathetic, and it is circumstance that keeps the hero and heroin apart. In TWN the hero is played by Hugh Grant, a playboy real estate developer, and heroin is Sandra Bullock, a principled activist lawyer.

You see the irony here, Bullock is a principled activist and Hugh is a self-centered principal. HA.

Hugh was very good (that's what I marked on my questionnaire). His lines were funny, his delivery was timely, his character had that Cary Grant air about him. Bullock's character was annoying, she was unappealing, whiny, in short unsympathetic.

The story was lame. It takes place in NYC, where Hugh is trying to make money building buildings that people will use and live in, and Bullock is out to stop him because the old decrepit structure may have some architectural merit and the local people use the building. Bullock was so annoying I wanted them to tear this damn building down and throw the old folks out just so that she would stop whining and preaching.

Every movie can be reduced to a few sentences (except Usual Suspects) but this was so boring I wish the script was a few sentences. There were a couple of solid scenes. One scene had Hugh and Bullock riding in a helicopter, they had an emotional exchange that was played well by both. And an earlier scene had Hugh, Bullock, the office seductress, and an office mate playing an increasingly competitive tennis match, ending with Bullock being hit in the head with the ball. Funny.

Several of the people involved in the making of the film went to the screening. I got to overhear bits and pieces of their conversations. What struck me was how they discussed the film in a very "professional" language. Couldn't really understand much of the terminology they were using.

Their tone gave the image of the studio exec deciding the studio's annual budget allocation.
Romantic comedy gets $X, Thriller get $Y, Teen Flick $Z, etc. Romantic comedies usually net $X, minimum. If we have a name like Hugh and Bullock we should get another $Y from name recognition alone. The exec looks through his rolodex for who is available. OK. Hugh and Bullock are available, they should make $X minimum, if the movie is good and makes more that's gravy. So their budget is <$X. OK kids. Go have fun and don't cost us any money.
I hope they didn't spend too much on this one.