Monthly Archives: February 2006

Quote of The Day

Simon Dumenco of AdAge, in making a list of those who need to apologize:

Blockbuster — fresh in my mind because of its current TV commercial campaign — for continuing to market its online rental service as a better alternative to Netflix, when in fact Blockbuster routinely condescends to its customers by offering censored versions of films. Like, if you rent the indie classic Y tu Mam Tambin from Blockbusters in certain parts of the country, Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna dont kiss at the end. I suppose that means that before Capote can hit Blockbusters shelves, Philip Seymour Hoffmans dialogue will be have to be redubbed by James Earl Jones.

Critical Mass

There was an interesting story last week– in the Duke student newspaper, of all places- summing up a new study which states that:

many film critics, faced with far too many movies to write about, tend to avoid writing reviews of bad films that theyve seen. At the same time, a few critics, faced with the same overwhelming choice, tend to avoid reviewing good movies that theyve watched.
As a result, moviegoers might infer the likely opinions of their favorite reviewers, even when those critics dont actually write about a movie. The study will appear in the June 2006 issue of the journal Quantitative Marketing & Economics.

As a critic, I can see how flawed this study seems. For one thing, most critics are constrained from reviewing every movie- either they must share the load with a colleague, or are otherwise limited to reviewing only one movie a week. Then there’s all the movies that aren’t reviewed because they’re not screened for critics.
In my case, I can tell you that the majority of my reviews are positive, because I’m allowed to choose which movies to see/review, and therefore I tend to avoid movies that I think I’m not going to like. The other dynamic at work is that it’s both a lot easier and a lot more fun to write negative reviews than positive ones, and it’s also more fun to read them. Roger Ebert’s popular book “I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie” is Exhibit A in that respect- and speaking of Ebert, he wrote a letter to Romanesko, also taking issue with the study.

It’s Not Just Current Vikings Who Suffer Embarrassing Arrests

News Item: Hall of Famer Carl Eller Arrested for DUI
Speaking of Canton enshrinees, I briefly interviewed Steelers Hall of Famer-turned-gubernatorial candidate Lynn Swann at a fundraiser Sunday morning, and I wanted to rib him about his Steelers having won two Super Bowls against my Vikings in the ’70s. But I couldn’t find the right words, so I just asked him about the Dubai Ports World deal, or whether he’d read last week’s SI piece about his candidacy (he hadn’t.)

Truth Check

The Village Voice has a piece this week on the kooks who make up the “9/11 Truth Movement,” those who provide various conspiracy theories and other alternative histories to the “official version” of the events of the terror attack.
I’d been expecting a total puff piece, but reporter Jarrett Murphy does show some healthy skepticism. There are, after all, some howlers here- for instance, the idea that the planes that hit the towers were really a “hologram,” that the planes fired missiles immediately prior to impact, or (my personal favorite) that the attacks were part of “a plot to rid the world of 4 billion people in order to reduce demand for petroleum.” (Wouldn’t the death of 4 billion people cause the world economy to instantly collapse completely? That wouldn’t exactly be good for the oil companies, would it?)
The most unbelievable part of the 9/11 conspiracy theories, of course, is something I learned from my Brandeis professor Jerry Cohen: widespread conspiracy theories tend to be false, because the more time passes, the more likely it is that a co-conspirator will either make a mistake, or tell all. In the 9/11 “conspiracy,” neither ever happened. In fact, the “9/11 Truth” theories directly contradict the same people’s general opinion of the Bush Administration’s incompetence. If Bush and Co. are too stupid to handle Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, and everyone else, how were they able to pull off the 9/11 plot, with 100% success, with no leaks whatsoever in the ensuing five years?

Blonds Have More Fun, Less Credibility

Jack Shafer of Slate has a side-splitting “photo essay” on the prevalence of vacuous blond women on cable news, led by the worst of them all, “Hurricane” Rita Cosby. The highlight:

Blond hair may have already passed as a sexual signifier on news networks. The new blond is lips, specifically what people inside the industry call “Fox lips,” and they are worn by Fox’s Laurie Dhue, Fox’s Gretchen Carlson, and MSNBC’s Rita Cosby, three top blondes. Achieved in the makeup room in a procedure that sounds one step this side of cosmetic surgery, I’m told that powder, pencil, and paint can turn even the weakest mouth into a juicy vagina dentata.
How big are Fox lips? When Rita Cosby switched from Fox to MSNBC, a construction crane was called in to move hers, which resemble a pair of oily, red eels mating angrily.

Yes, Cosby is so talentless, and so fixated on reporting on frivolous garbage, that she’s more dangerous to the news business than 200 Bill O’Reillys.
UPDATE: Speaking of which, this Dubai ports kerfuffle has so re-ordered the usual sides of partisan bickering that the following exchange actually took place tonight on O’Reilly’s show:

Rep. Peter King: You and the Washington Post are all alike.
O’Reilly: You and Maureen Dowd are all alike.

Quote of the Day

James Lileks, pretty much summing up my position on the United Arab Emirates port security scandal:

“Im not worried that some evil emir is putting a pinky to his monocled eye, and saying Mwah! at last I have them where I want them! Im worried about the guy whos three steps down the management branch handing off a job to a brother who trusts some guys who have some sympathies with some guys who hang around some rather energetic fellows who attend that one mosque where the guy talks about jihad 24/7, and somehow someone gets a job somewhere that makes it easier for something to happen.
Thats a lot of ifs and maybes. But I dont want any ifs and maybes. You can’t eliminate them all, of course, but I would rather we had a system devoted to worrying about ifs and maybes instead of adopting an official policy of Whatever.”