August 05, 2004
Selling a house in this market is like removing your eyebrows with duct tape. Most of your time and effort is spent in the set-up; the whole process is unpleasant and, toward the end, painful; it'll smart for a long time after it's over; and the duct tape people make a few pennies besides. Oh, and neither activity is particularly helpful with regard to your tax situation.
It's very distracting, the whole house-selling thing. It involves moving lots of boxes into storage in order to make your house look bigger (because there's less stuff in it). It involves getting the carpets cleaned and then trying to keep your two-year-old, who is not yet potty trained, from peeing all over the nice, clean rug at the first available chance.
It's about making sure to cart around all of your valuables with you when you leave the house, because not all of the people who will be traipsing around your home are scrupulous. It's about touch-up painting and fixture fixing.
I've been having a hard time concentrating at work lately. Dealing with heater cleaning guys and realtor phone calls and last minute, gotta-do-now tasks hasn't been helping on that particular front. Now that our house is on the market, I hope that some of the home-related urgency will pass, so that I may attend to the other urgency of justifying my paycheck (and continuing to draw one).
Of course, my concentration might also improve when that itchiness around my eyebrows goes away.
August 26, 2004
Hanging out as I do among writers and avid readers, I often hear folks bemoaning that movies based upon books are never as good as the books upon which they are based.
Sounds quite obviously true, doesn’t it? I mean, how many good movies do you recall seeing that were based upon good books?
I can only think of a few.
- The Godfather and The Godfather Part II -- both based upon the classic novel by Mario Puzo, which I have read and thoroughly enjoyed.
- Gone With the Wind -- I haven’t read the book, and I hated the movie, but it was an excellent movie, regardless. It just happened to be a celebration of racism and sexism and the obnoxious hatefest known as the “Old South” that I find reprehensible. Still, a fine, fine flick for what it is.
- The Wizard of Oz
- Schindler’s List -- based upon a non-fiction book, but a book, nonetheless.
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
- The Lord of the Rings -- all three movies/books.
- The Grapes of Wrath
- The Maltese Falcon
- Apocalypse Now -- based upon Conrad's Heart of Darkness
- To Kill a Mockingbird
- Doctor Zhivago -- well, it’s considered a classic, anyway. The movie *and* the book.
- A Clockwork Orange -- another excellent movie I hated which really captures the essence of the book upon which it is based, and which I also hated.
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs -- and all those other Disney classics, like Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, etc., etc., etc.
- All Quiet on the Western Front
- M*A*S*H -- I read the book, and I found the movie more enjoyable than the book by a wide margin.
- Catch-22 -- both movie and book were excellent.
- The Silence of the Lambs
- The Manchurian Candidate -- I haven’t seen the remake; I’m referring to the first movie version.
- Forrest Gump
- Wuthering Heights -- not my cup of tea, but a classic, nonetheless
- The Shawshank Redemption
- The Shining
- The Green Mile
- Stand By Me
- Blade Runner
- The Princess Bride
- All the President’s Men
- The Exorcist
- The Right Stuff
These are just a few of the movies listed on the AFI’s list of America’s 100 Greatest Movies and from the Internet Movie Database’s Top 250 best movies of all time. “But yeah,” you say, “Well, er, but those are all classics.”
Here are a few others that leap into mind:
- The first several James Bond movies -- I’ve read the books, and the movies are every bit as good. Later movies were not so much based upon the later books as they were based upon the evolving characters and situations, but still. The best of these was From Russia With Love, even though many people enjoy Goldfinger even more.
- The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy
- Jurassic Park -- I enjoyed the movie more than the book, but your mileage may vary. Both had their share of cheese, but damn fine entertainment, nonetheless.
- All of Michael Crichton’s other books/movies -- ditto
- Half of the movies based upon Stephen King stories are quite decent (the ones in the list above are, imho, excellent)
- Starship Troopers -- Sure, it made a completely different point from Robert A. Heinlein’s novel, but it was still fun.
- Total Recall
- Minority Report
But other than that, there aren’t any good movies based upon good books. Unless I’m missing a few. What do *you* think?
August 29, 2004
It annoys me when a political campaign tries to have it both ways. Of course, all political campaigns try to have it both ways, and this is nothing new. But it still annoys me.
Today I'm going to point out one particular annoying aspect of one of the presidential campaigns. There are many other examples to use, from any campaign you choose. But here I go:
When you think of Senator Ted Kennedy, what do you think of? Well, aside from the alcoholism, womanizing, intellectual bankruptcy, Chappaquidic, his many dead brothers and nephews, and the family fortune built upon bootleg liquor and other illegal connections, I mean. When you think of Senator Kennedy, what do you think of his politics?
If you're at all like me, you probably think of him as not merely a liberal, but a staunch liberal. Somewhat of a neo-socialist on certain matters (socialized medicine, various welfare programs, affirmative action, etc.). Staunch in that he holds the line firmly. He is unabashed about his position. You know where he stands, and he stands firmly on the left, and that's that -- non-negotiable.
Now, this may or may not be true, but it is, nonetheless, what many folks (including myself) think of first when they think of the politics of Ted Kennedy.
So, if somebody says that there's someone even more liberal than Kennedy, what would you think of that person? That they are even, er, stauncher? That they lean even further to the left? That their views are even more firm, even less negotiable, perhaps?
That's what I would think.
Now let's suppose that a campaign described a candidate as a flip-flopper. What would you think that means? That they are *not* staunch, perhaps? That they do not consistently lean either to the left or to the right? Rather, that they are sometimes left-leaning and sometimes right-leaning? That their views are hard to pin down, perhaps? In fact, that their views might be open to negotiation?
That's what I would think.
So, then. Let's connect the dots. When the Bush campaign refers to Senator John Kerry as even more liberal than Senator Kennedy and, at the same time, as a flip-flopper... which is it? Is he a neo-socialist? Or is he a moderate? Is he a hard-liner commie symp, or a wishy-washy middle-of-the-roader? Is it possible to be both at the same time?
I remember a poster from one of my grade school classrooms (from when I was a student, not from when I was a teacher) that featured a quote from Garfield. The cartoon cat, not the President.
Garfield said: "If you can't convince 'em, confuse 'em."
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