Saturday, March 04, 2006

Email: Truman Capote [MG]

Read or see Helter Skelter, it's chilling stuff.

Mouth water[ing], um, wrong image. (Reminds me of a Family Guy episode where Stewie has just won a leading role in a play but asks if anyone has some Scope. Yeww!) Capote was like Sinclair Lewis: an acerbic wit, so oft-hated by his barbs' targets. He was an incredibly gifted writer who dissipated himself on the cocktail circuit (which is a horrible double-entendre, I now realize).

Weblogs: Speaking truth to dead horses: My Oscar predictions :: Columns :: Speaking truth to dead horses: My Oscar predictions by Ann Coulter - Mar 1, 2006: "This is my first annual Oscar predictions column, for which I am uniquely qualified by not having seen a single one of the movies nominated in any category. I've never even watched an Oscar ceremony, except once when a friend called me 35 minutes into Halle Berry's acceptance speech and I managed to catch only the last 20 minutes of it.

I shall grant my awards based on the same criteria Hollywood studio executives now use to green-light movies: political correctness. Also, judging by most of the nominees this year, the awards committee prefers movies that are wildly unpopular with audiences."

Movies: My Oscar predictions

In college, I developed a theory for predicting who will win an election: All things being equal, it tends to be whoever, at the outset, has the last name that is most recognizable to the general populace. Under my theory, candidates in any election at any level will tend to be elected if their last names are Anderson, Bell, Bush, Campbell, Carlson, Clooney, Dempsey, Edison, Gonzalez, Grant, Kennedy, McDonald, Patton, Richards, Sanchez, Schwarzenegger, and Smith as opposed to Alexander, Bartlet, Christiansen, Edwards, Fitzgerald, Graham, Huffington, Jimenez, Kerry, Klein, Lamb, MacDougal, Seymour, and Szyczkiewicz. It's the gut-level familiarity with the surname, you see.

This week, I tested a new theory of election prediction with American Idol, which I have not watched all season. I caught part of Thursday night's elimination trials though, and I correctly predicted for every female contestant whether she would stay or go, based on her appearance alone. (I was abjectly wrong with every male contestant, however.) In the ten seconds I had from first seeing each contestant to the announcement of her fate, I made a snap judgment based on the togetherness of her outfit or the tattiness of her 'do, spoke it aloud, and was right every time; apparently the scruffiness or haircut-from-Mars rule doesn't work with males though.

This year among the Oscar nominees, I have so far seen only Crash, The Chronicles of Narnia, King Kong, March of the Penguins, Revenge of the Sith, Walk the Line, and War of the Worlds. Even so, I feel I can intuit the gestalt of a movie and its relative appeal (and, to a lesser extent, its buzz). To test my theory and shoot completely from the hip with virtually no knowledge of any of the remaining field of films, I am not afraid to make my predictions for the Oscar winners; it will be fun to see how my gut sense compares with reality. Herewith I flag my Oscar picks in salmon; during or after the Oscar ceremonies Sunday night, I'll flag the actual winners (should they differ) in blue.

Brokeback Mountain, Diana Ossana and James Schamus, producers
Capote, Caroline Baron, William Vince and Michael Ohoven, producers
Crash, Paul Haggis and Cathy Schulman, producers
Good Night, and Good Luck, Grant Heslov, producer
Munich, Kathleen Kennedy, Steven Spielberg and Barry Mendel, producers

Amy Adams, Junebug
Catherine Keener, Capote
Frances McDormand, North Country
Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener
Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain

George Clooney, Syriana
Matt Dillon, Crash
Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man
Jake Gyllenhaal, Brokeback Mountain
William Hurt, A History of Violence

Judi Dench, Mrs. Henderson Presents
Felicity Huffman, Transamerica
Keira Knightley, Pride & Prejudice
Charlize Theron, North Country
Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line

Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote
Terrence Howard, Hustle & Flow
Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain
Joaquin Phoenix, Walk the Line
David Strathairn, Good Night, and Good Luck

Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain
Bennett Miller, Capote
Paul Haggis, Crash
George Clooney, Good Night, and Good Luck
Steven Spielberg, Munich

Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco, Crash
George Clooney and Grant Heslov, Good Night, and Good Luck
Woody Allen, Match Point
Noah Baumbach, The Squid and the Whale
Steven Gaghan, Syriana

Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana, Brokeback Mountain
Dan Futterman, Capote
Jeffrey Caine, The Constant Gardener
Josh Olson, A History of Violence
Tony Kushner and Eric Roth, Munich

Don't Tell (Italy)
Joyeux Noël (France)
Paradise Now (Palestine)
Sophie Scholl - The Final Days (Germany)
Tsotsi (South Africa)

Howl's Moving Castle, Hayao Miyazake
Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, Tim Burton and Mike Johnson
Wallace & Grommit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Nick Park and Steve Box

Good Night, and Good Luck, Art Direction: Jim Bissell; Set Decoration: Jan Pascale
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Art Direction: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan
King Kong, Art Direction: Grant Major; Set Decoration: Dan Hennah and Simon Bright
Memoirs of a Geisha, Art Direction: John Myhre; Set Decoration: Gretchen Rau
Pride & Prejudice, Art Direction: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer

Batman Begins, Wally Pfister
Brokeback Mountain, Rodrigo Prieto
Good Night, and Good Luck, Robert Elswit
Memoirs of a Geisha, Dion Beebe
The New World, Emmanuel Lubezki

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Gabriella Pescucci
Memoirs of a Geisha, Colleen Atwood
Mrs. Henderson Presents, Sandy Powell
Pride & Prejudice, Jacqueline Durran
Walk the Line, Arianne Phillips

Darwin's Nightmare, Hubert Sauper
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Alex Gibney and Jason Kliot
March of the Penguins, Luc Jacquet and Yves Darondeau
Murderball, Henry-Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro
Street Fight, Marshall Curry

The Death of Kevin Carter: Casualty of the Bang Bang Club, Dan Krauss
God Sleeps in Rwanda, Kimberlee Acquaro and Stacy Sherman
The Mushroom Club, Steven Okazaki
A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin, Corinne Marrinan and Eric Simonson

Cinderella Man, Mike Hill and Dan Hanley
The Constant Gardener, Claire Simpson
Crash, Hughes Winborne
Munich, Michael Kahn
Walk the Line, Michael McCusker

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Howard Berger and Tami Lane
Cinderella Man, David Leroy Anderson and Lance Anderson
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, Dave Elsey and Nikki Gooley

Brokeback Mountain, Gustavo Santaolalla
The Constant Gardener, Alberto Iglesias
Memoirs of a Geisha, John Williams
Munich, John Williams
Pride & Prejudice, Dario Marianelli

"In the Deep" from Crash, Music by Kathleen "Bird" York and Michael Becker; Lyrics by Kathleen "Bird" York
"It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" from Hustle & Flow, Music and Lyrics by Jordan Houston, Cedric Coleman and Paul Beauregard
"Travelin' Thru" from Transamerica, Music and Lyric by Dolly Parton

Badgered, Sharon Colman
The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation, John Canemaker and Peggy Stern
The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello, Anthony Lucas
9, Shane Acker
One Man Band, Andrew Jimenez and Mark Andrews

Ausreisser (The Runaway), Ulrike Grote
Cashback, Sean Ellis and Lene Bausager
The Last Farm, Rúnar Rúnarsson and Thor S. Sigurjónsson
Our Time Is Up, Rob Pearlstein and Pia Clemente
Six Shooter, Martin McDonagh

King Kong, Mike Hopkins and Ethan Van der Ryn
Memoirs of a Geisha, Wylie Stateman
War of the Worlds, Richard King

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Terry Porter, Dean A. Zupancic and Tony Johnson
King Kong, Christopher Boyes, Michael Semanick, Michael Hedges and Hammond Peek
Memoirs of a Geisha, Kevin O'Connell, Greg P. Russell, Rick Kline and John Pritchett
Walk the Line, Paul Massey, D.M. Hemphill and Peter F. Kurland
War of the Worlds, Andy Nelson, Anna Behlmer and Ronald Judkins

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Dean Wright, Bill Westenhofer, Jim Berney and Scott Farrar
King Kong, Joe Letteri, Brian Van't Hul, Christian Rivers and Richard Taylor
War of the Worlds, Dennis Muren, Pablo Helman, Randy Dutra and Daniel Sudick

Email: Sales vs. editorial [AS]

I cannot imagine wanting to shoulder the pressure of monthly magazine ad sales. I need a different level of emotional commitment to my work (hence editorial). I can appreciate the commitment and professionalism of ad sales done well, and it even marginally attracts me; but you need to pick up and put down, and to be utterly practical, to a degree that would be hard for me to maintain over time (unless I adapted -- but I like who I am and what I do).

Meds are like lottery tickets: You don't gain their benefits unless you take a dose. When sick or in pain, yes, meds can be our friends.

Email: Seize the--HEY! [CH]

I do try to speak and act on a considered basis as a rule. However, I am generally so fast at it that people may not notice the difference. In class, when teaching, I speak very fast, spontaneously and even impulsively. I am that way with friends too; I [can] dance at least one circle around my quickest friends. (When MG [is] ribbing me, I start throwing in my own self-deprecating jibes, then usually hijack the whole spiel and take it a step further. She snorts "Stop one-upping my one-upping of you!")

I do not as a rule try to wrest initiative from others for myself, ever. I like to empower others to rise to at least an equivalent level of social and intellectual interaction. Those who have a greater share of ego will do fine on their own.

Email: Hair-raison [CH]

I don't make a practice of telling a woman what to do with her hair.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Trivia: I am a French horn (tied with trombone)

You scored as French Horn.
French Horn
String Bass

If you were in an orchestra, what instrument would match your personality? created with

Music: arpeggione

(via Schubert's Arpeggione Sonata Revisited)

"Developed in 1823 by the Viennese guitar luthier Johann Georg Staufer (1778-1853), the arpeggione (also known as the bowed guitar/bogen-guitarre, guitarre d'amour, and guitarre-violoncell) was a bowed, six-stringed, fretted instrument, which was tuned exactly like a classical guitar."

Ads: "Rest well, my liege"

Courtyard Marriott has quite a creative, positive TV commercial about business professionals who are dedicated front-line "road warriors" that are, in turn, worthy of the hotel chain's service, obeisance, and respect. The last line, however, intones, "Rest well, my liege" -- but here, liege is a misnomer, because it implies servitude or loyalty to a superior (lord), which in this context would refer to the hotel chain. From the Merriam-Webster [MW]:

Pronunciation: 'lEj
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Old French, from Late Latin laeticus, from laetus serf, of Germanic origin; akin to Old Frisian let serf
1 a : having the right to feudal allegiance or service "his liege lord" b : obligated to render feudal allegiance and service

Function: noun
1 a : a vassal bound to feudal service and allegiance b : a loyal subject
2 : a feudal superior to whom allegiance and service are due

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Email: Going buggy [AS]

I suppose the only time that garbage trucks drive around all a-clatter is 6 am, from the sound of your end of town and mine.

I know 3-4 people now whose butts are being kicked royally by this bug going around; it lasts for weeks if you don't kick it right up front. In this day of superbugs, sickness is nothing to be messed with.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Humor: Me squared! Me cubed!

Technical editors -- instead of saying "Me too!" and "Me three!" -- say "Me squared!" and "Me cubed!"

Websites: Phishing IQ test

Take this 10-item quiz to see how well you can detect spam that's sent to defraud you of passwords or money. (I got all ten right. Hint: Look at the URL in the status bar at the screen bottom.)

Words: numinous, numen [AHED]

ADJECTIVE: 1. Of or relating to a numen; supernatural. 2. Filled with or characterized by a sense of a supernatural presence: a numinous place. 3. Spiritually elevated; sublime.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin numen, numin-, numen.

NOUN: Inflected forms: pl. nu·mi·na
1. A presiding divinity or spirit of a place. 2. A spirit believed by animists to inhabit certain natural phenomena or objects. 3. Creative energy; genius.
ETYMOLOGY: Latin numen, nod of the head, divine power, numen.

Press: Bin Laden's game - City Pages

(Michael Scheuer in City Pages - Bin Laden's Game)

"Bin Laden, I think, took a lesson from that and instead focused on the impact of our policies in the Islamic world—our support for the Arab tyrannies in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, our presence in the holy lands on the Arabian Peninsula, our invasion of Iraq, our support for countries like Russia that are deemed to repress Islamic people. He's focused on things that are visible to the Islamic world every day, and quite frankly there's a direct correlation between what he says and what all the Western polling firms are finding, that there is a huge majority in Islamic countries that hate our foreign policy. [...]

We should be so lucky as to have him hate us only for our freedoms. He's never even discussed that kind of thing."

Typos: tyechnical editoir

(When one's fingers don't work right, a strange blend of New York and New Jersey dialects may come to light.)

Monday, February 27, 2006

Media: Radio - PalmPilot creator models computer on brain

"Morning Edition · Jeff Hawkins created the PalmPilot and Treo smart phone. His new company, Numenta, is developing a type of computer memory system modeled after the human neocortex, what he calls the 'the big wrinkly thing' at the top of the brain. He's also the co-author of the book On Intelligence, which details his vision of how the brain processes information." (Click the title bar link to listen to the NPR story.)

Media: Radio - Naomi Watts wuz robbed!

"Naomi Watts deserved an Oscar nomination this year. Naomi Watts was cheated by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Had she, in a just world, been nominated, Watts this Sunday would be accepting a best actress award for her role in King Kong.

If you haven't seen Naomi Watts in King Kong, you missed what may be the most spectacular performance in the history of screen spectaculars. (Unless it's still playing on a big screen near you, in which case: Go.) There's a reason King Kong transcends its trademark sequences -- the seething fighting dinosaurs, the treacherous-limbed cave beasties, and the biplanes soaring noisily around the tip of the Empire State Building. That one reason is Watts, and a shot of her in a simple white dress, eyes brimming with tears, is more riveting than all the digital effects combined.

What enchants is not simply Watts' glorious beauty. It's her soul-baring relationship with the camera. Imagine this singularly daunting technical challenge: Naomi Watts acting her heart out, wrenchingly -- against a blue screen, perched in a giant mechanical ape hand, and with nothing to act against. She does it with élan, true emotion, and moving complexity. Did Judy Dench surmount such impossibilities? Did Charlize Theron? Not this year, and they've both already won Oscars!"

Media: Radio - Silent movie theater keeps film goers happy

"Morning Edition · The silent movie theater in Los Angeles has a storied, and slightly sordid, history. The 64th anniversary of the theater is this month, and people are still showing up to watch movies from another era." (Click the title bar link to listen to the NPR story.)

Media: Radio - Mind reading

(Engines of Our Ingenuity, episode 1798)

"Chimpanzees and other animals do remarkable things; but as yet it seems that the only creatures who can read intentions are we humans.

As biologists study parts of the brain where we process our readings of intention, they find that the evolution of language also requires that ability. To understand language, says one psychologist, we must know what people intend when they refer to things."

Email: Features vs. benefits [GD]

I have found using a speaker/audience (provider/customer) model to be helpful [when writing about and distinguishing between features and benefits].

Let's say you go to the doctor and he says you need your flu shot. He explains why you should overcome your fear of needles in these terms (which are features of the product or benefits to the provider, i.e., the subject is on the side of the speaker):

The flu shot has two strains that experts think are likely to dominant this season.
The flu shot is safe with minimal complications.
We dispense hundreds of flu shots every season, so we know what we're doing.

However, a truly customer-oriented approach (where the subject and benefits are on the side of the customer) might take this more finely honed tack:

Our [lab technician] is so good, the shot will be over before you know it.
You probably won't come down with the flu, or if you do, it should be milder.

And so on. Of course, any of this can be boiled down to more commercialized marketing language:

Industry-leading quality control during production and dispensation (feature)
Streamlined, personalized delivery process (feature)
Low-cost protection in the blink of an eye (benefit)
Maximize your health and minimize your downtime (benefit)

Overheard: I'm so sick of sickness

Internet: All God's creatures great and small

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Nostalgia: Don Knotts, 1924-2006

Movie & TV News @ "After the war and college, he returned to New York and pursued a career in radio and television; he nabbed a part as a psychiatrist in the Broadway play No Time for Sergeants, which starred actor Andy Griffith. He reprised his role in the film version, and after moving to Los Angeles, was cast opposite Griffith in the actor's eponymous sitcom, The Andy Griffith Show. The show ran from 1960-1968, and Knotts won an unprecedented five Best Supporting Actor Emmys in a row as manic deputy Barney Fife, a role for which he would forever be identified. After leaving the show, Knotts embarked on a film career, appearing in family-friendly films such as The Incredible Mr. Limpet, The Reluctant Astronaut and The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, among others."

Email: Laissez faire [AS]

I am merely amused that (like me) you have no territoriality or fear of "competition." It's an adolescent or primal trait that I see as irrelevant to enlightened interactions amongst adults, but it can be quite common among those who have less of a practical belief in free will and laissez faire (and more in gossip and backstabbing). I live the same way as you: Friends do not betray one's trust.