31 August 2004
30 August 2004
James Willard, self-made billionaire, is one of the original 15 hedge fund managers. Although the industry has grown to more than 8,000 funds, Willard, after 30 years, is still the undisputed king. Willard learns that money does not buy peace from the past. Obsessed, Willard ruins lives in his warped penance for his his deep secret - his hidden torment. Will his obsession with "fixing" the wrongs of the past influence the world?In another article, which I can't link to here, the author is characterized as a "self-described recluse," which seems like an oxymoron. Poor dear.
Poor Nicki Mathews has stepped into a real mess! After a heart-wrenching romance with a United States senator, Nicki Matthews wanders the United States eventually ending up in Greenwich, Connecticut. Although it is years later, the repercussions of that relationship influence her future and that of a nation. She becomes the unwitting pawn of ruthless, powerful titans obsessed with money, power and revenge.
In the end who will be her savior? Will it be Margo Hallworth, the beautiful but fragile heiress to the Hallworth Pharmaceutical fortune. She is in love with the one man she cannot have, William Grant the devoted scientist and CEO of Omega Corporation. Will it be Tammy - the pitiful but strong voice of the jilted, who knows what it's like to soar and to be abruptly shut out of the world of mega-wealth.
27 August 2004
What would be a comparable lineup of U.S. directors and actors?
Anyway, I'm looking forward to it. Especially because however much I love Chow Yun Fat, he just isn't a martial artist. It'll be good to see a beautifully coreographed and shot martial arts epic starring people who know martial arts... (Though, does Tony Leung actually know any martial arts? I can't remember seeing him ever doing it before...)
26 August 2004
And its in a trailer.
25 August 2004
The highlight for me though, was when I knew we were approaching the moment that was the key moment in the trailer. I expected good music from this film, but I expected good music that I'd never heard. In this scene I was surprised to hear one of my top five songs. But the one of them that I never remember about. It was a delightful surprise and went well with the scene.
Which song? Well, you'll just have to see the film I guess.
23 August 2004
22 August 2004
21 August 2004
18 August 2004
17 August 2004
After a summer of scheming and coding, today John and I are officially launching three Internet sites under our new company, Fact Tree Enterprises. We are happy to report that, while we have yet to get rich because of this, the Internet is now a more useful resource for classical music aficionados, beginning sailors, and study abroad students.
Our three sites are:
- ClassicalCDGuide.com. This site recommends classical music CDs, with lists of the Top 10 CDs and Top 20 CDs, and recommendations by composer, era, and genre. The site is very extensive, and the reviews are extremely detailed. Great for a beginner or someone looking to expand his or her collection!
- SailingCourseGuide.com. This guide provides general advice for anyone in the U.S. who wants to sign up for a sailing course, including tips on how to choose between schools and warning signs of problematic programs.
- SpainAdventure.com. This site guides prospective study abroad students through the wonderful possibilities of studying Spanish in Spain and provides tips on choosing a destination and finding a school.
You can help! If you ever want to by anything from Amazon, first go to ClassicalCDGuide.com and click on an Amazon link. Then buy whatever you were going to buy! You'll get the book or toaster you want, and you'll help us improve our relationship with Amazon. Clicking wildly on our ads will not help, as we will get booted off of our advertising networks (although we do appreciate the gesture).
Please check out our sites and let us know what you think -- is something not working, or have we forgotten a key element? You can e-mail me or the business address (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your comments.
Even more illuminating is the case of Marlon Brando, who also could have been the Perfect Human, but grew fat, it has been suggested, out of contempt for Hollywood and its ideals of perfection. Brando in his prime was more beautiful than Cruise ever was, but it's arguably in the later, monstrously obese Brando, forcing us to love him for his talent alone, that we get a glimpse of a higher level of humanity.
16 August 2004
Cruise is a dedicated student of the action-hero disciplines: He wants to gain competence, he says, at rock-climbing and flying; he is loath to use a stunt double, preferring instead to spend months training in swordplay, Nascar racing and bike-riding for films. As he talks about his adventuring skills, one gets the feeling that in the event of an apocalypse, an action hero would have a more likely chance of survival than most ordinary folk.Obviously, there's a lot to unpack here, but I'll give it a shot. When you compare Cruise to his costars in The Outsiders—Matt Dillon, Partick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez—it's pretty clear that he isn't the best looking or most talented of the bunch (Matt Dillon is probably the best actor; as for the best looking, well, take your pick). So why is he the biggest movie star in the world? Maybe because of a systematic, ruthless drive for omnicompetence. Cruise's career is the ultimate example of how a short, modestly talented guy can, by dint of hard work, discipline, and obsessive single-mindedness, transform himself into some proximate version of the Perfect Human. A great movie star, yes, but one who could also repeople a desolate earth given a Perfect Woman or two, or risk everyhing on one turn of pitch-and-toss, lose, and start again with the same relentless ambition as before.
Cruise considers the idea. In fact, there's nothing that you can say that he won't seriously consider. He pays attention, almost to a fault. "I can live out in the woods," he begins. "I would eat bugs. I can use a sword and a pistol and stuff."
Cruise, ultimately, is a survivor. "There's a confidence that comes from knowing you can work, no matter what," he says. "I can deliver papers. I can take care of myself."
Note that this quest for perfection doesn't seem to have extended to politics, where Cruise has no professed opinions, or to his philosophy, which consists entirely of Scientology. Still, for all his flaws, he's still the most visible exemplar I can find of the heights to which the impulse for self-perfection can carry an individual who, as created, was arguably less than superhuman.
As for the hidden psychic costs, the Rolling Stone interview with Cruise makes these regrettably clear, too. As somebody once said about something else: "There's no there there."
14 August 2004
Now that they're here, I'm disappointed.
The best of the ads are available for viewing here. The winning ad is ok, and so are all the others (although I must say that the ads featuring women with southern accents seemed more gripping to me -- I'll leave others to speculate as to why). The problem is in how the thing was set up. First off, Morris only interviewed people who voted for Bush in 2000. That leaves out a lot of viewpoints, and means that the ads are really only going to be good at attacking Bush. You cannot lay out much of an alternative agenda, and really shift people to a more long-term political movement, when you focus all your energy on the shortcomings of one man.
That said, the ads aren't even as hard-hitting against Bush as they could be, because no one person represents America, and any one person can be dismissed as a whiner outside of the mainstream. I wish, I wish, I wish that he would have made a mini-documentary, maybe a one minute or two minute piece, pulling together five or so of these people and cutting between them. Maybe he has plans to do that. In the meantime, I hope (and I plan on writing to MoveOn with the suggestion, for whatever it's worth) that they use these ads in rotation, and not focus on airing just one.
Other Harvardians in the rowing events that I know of: Henry Nuzum (men's double), Wolf Moser (men's four), Caryn Davies (women's eight), Michelle Guerrette (women's four), Greg Ruckman (men's lightweight double, in a boat that I think is coached by Harvard's Charley Butt). I apologize for anyone I miss. Additionally, a high school classmate of mine, Josh West, is in the Great Britain eight.
As some of you know, I will soon be traveling to Athens myself to cheer these people on in person. I leave 8/20 and I hope to be able to make posts while I'm there.
In case you're wondering, on a 10 block bike ride through south berkeley at 4:30 A.M. one runs into two skateboarders wearing all black, one homeless person with whom one has the conversation: "hey" "hey, how are you?" "just trying to survive." And one car with unknown people in it.
13 August 2004
Please vote and comment in the comments section.
12 August 2004
11 August 2004
Incidentally, I began reading Daily Howler after looking for material on Jon Stewart's recent interview with Congressman Henry Bonilla. You can find the clip here. I can't view it on my computer, but I've been told that it's well worth a download.
09 August 2004
I'll have to see if i can sneak up to the hill behind the concert.
In other news, yet again something has gone wrong in my attempts to buy fanclub tickets from REM. First time they got sent to Harvard who wouldn't forward them because they came in a package. Then last year there was another big mess with them being sent to an address right around when i moved and UPS being a pain. This year I can't even buy them. Apparently when i set up my username and password I was supposed to magically know that if I put a symbol in it that it wouldn't complain when I set it up, but if I ever tried to login it would inform me that passwords had to be alphanumeric. Grrrr...
08 August 2004
The Oath of What?
I had been under the impression that the Hippocratic Oath was still in play here. AM's dad speculated that the Oath of Geneva was an updated version written by lawyers. So, I did some research, and got even more confused. Apparently the Oath of Geneva was written in 1948 because the Hippocratic Oath no longer was suited to "modern conditions." You can read both the old and the new here. While this website cites Nazism as the reason for the rewrite, one cannot help but notice the prohibition on abortion and euthanasia (I had no idea the abortion part was in the original).
To make matters even more confusing, the Oath that AM made wasn't even the same Oath of Geneva that is listed here, and in fact I can't find an exact version anywhere. Some differences: AM doesn't have to consecrate her life to the service of humanity, she only has to give respect to her deserving teachers, apparently she doesn't have to keep her patients' secrets after they've died, and she has to respect human life, but there is no mention of it beginning at conception.
I wonder what other changes will need to be made 50 years hence.
07 August 2004
Collateral also makes me want to revisit Thief, Michael Mann's first movie, and arguably his best, with James Caan as a retired safecracker enlisted by the mob for one last heist. The story may be old, but the ending isn't: Thief's last twenty minutes set a standard for orgies of revenge that still hasn't been surpassed, and I can't think of that movie's incredible final shot, with Tangerine Dream pulsating on the soundtrack, without feeling a genuine chill or two. It's well worth the rental if you haven't seen it yet.
05 August 2004
(Oh, which cute apple products you ask? iBook G4 14" and a 4th generation iPod. Yes I did get one the first day they were available in stores. And yes I am counting on the adorableness of my computer products rubbing off on me.)
04 August 2004
Moving to this new house feels like getting out of a bad relationship. I mean sure the old house was really really hot, but damn it's great to have my freedom back.
03 August 2004
My theory is that this is the wireless of the elementary school accross the street.
Oh, and now I'm officially old.
I got 85. Typical score for an average college male is 104 and a Love-Shy man of similar age is about 48. Putting me about where I'd have guessed.
The reason for the lowness of the score is essentially: I do not initiate conversation without a good solid in. Unless I have the first several sentences of conversation and an idea for a direction to take it in I will almost never initiate a conversation with someone whom I'm not already good friends with. Furthermore I assume that people don't want me to introduce myself unless I have some solid reason to guess that this person in particular wants me to talk to them now.
A result of this is that when I meet people they're usually people who are good at meeting people, because I can't carry the water in the first 5 minutes of conversation. In particular this means i meet girls for whom there is typically a lot of competition. On the other hand, I've managed to be able to go into a room of mostly strangers and usually meet some people and have a decent time.
This weekend was an interesting example, where between the wedding and the gathering the night before I had several hours of socialization with people none of whom (other than Meg, Thom, and Meg's parents) I'd met more than twice. I somehow managed to actually keep myself busy talking with people, but for the most part it was people who did a good job initiating conversation with me. The girl I spent the most time talking to I was standing next to at the gathering in different conversations and when hers ended i looked over and she gave a sort of "i'm trying to remember who you are and am about to introduce myself look" which was all i needed to introduce myself. But had she been as shy as I was and looked away I never would have said anything. The result is that I can meet people whose company is wonderful for a day or two, but not necessarily the sort of person who would want to date me or who I should want to date. Because the girls I meet skew outgoing I think the girls I meet tend to have plenty of options better than I.
But anyway, I can now meet people who are substantially less outgoing than those i met a year ago, so I think I'm improving and will work my way down the ladder to more difficult people to initiate conversation with.
Love-shyness is a form of chronic, severe shyness of men or women who have never been able to form sexual or emotionally intimate loving relationships with others, but who have been constrained to remain that way because of severe shyness in informal social situations involving possible sexual partners. It is believed to be the result of a genetic-biologically rooted temperament, experiencing feminist ideology, and of learning experiences with peers, family, and organized religions.Yikes. What's to be done? Shyness and Love recommends some interesting courses of treatment, including, in all seriousness, "nude Jacuzzi therapy." The chapter on the movie and music preferences of the love-shy is also quite fascinating.
Love-shyness can be found among people of all ages and of both sexes. However, research evidence indicates that the problem impacts far more severely upon males than it does upon females. Shy women are just as likely as non-shy women to date, to get married, and to have children.
Love-shyness is a life-crippling condition. Victims of love-shyness are unable to marry, cannot have children, and do not participate in the normal adolescent and young adult activities of dating and courtship. Moreover, the heterosexual love-shy are often misperceived as homosexual. The never-married, heterosexually inactive man has long been known to be vulnerable to all manner of quite serious and often bizarre pathologies. In most cases, these men do not allow themselves to become involved in anything or in any activity, wholesome or otherwise, for which there is any kind of existent social support group. The love-shy do not have anybody to relate to as a friend or to count on for emotional support.
Love-shyness afflicts approximately 1.5 percent of most male populations. More succinctly, love-shyness will effectively prevent many of its male sufferers from ever marrying and from ever experiencing any form of intimate sexual contact with others.
I should note, of course, that none of the authors or regular readers of this blog meet the clinical profile of true love shyness, which is usually characterized by the lack of any romantic experience whatsoever. Still, there are details here that hit pretty close to home. The book's discussion of "Higher Education as a Mode of Compensation," for example, deserves a thoughtful look by those of us who always hoped that girls would be impressed by a PhD.
The Hulk would also benefit from a few judicious edits.
Which leads to a question I was thinking about the other day in reference to the LOTR extended versions: How long until making ones own cuts of films becomes a popular internet activity? Especially with LOTR one could edit them down to the 2.5 hours that you really liked. This would be especially fun if anyone could ever be convinced to release huge extended versions with lots of extra footage. Do you folks think this will catch on when personal computer technology hits the appropriate point?
However there was one amazing surprise: 50 First Dates is the best romantic comedy I've ever seen not starring John Cussack. It absolutely blew me away. I wasn't expecting much at all, in fact I saw Jersey Girl and Man on Fire both before I saw it. My line every time I passed a poster for it was: "The scary thing about that movie is that it means someone saw Memento and thought 'That would make a really great romantic comedy.'" I guess the really scary thing is that person was right.
Warning, it is a romantic comedy, and if you don't like romantic comedies you won't like this one. It doesn't "transcend the genre" or anything. And it is an Adam Sandler film, if you hate him with a passion then this movie may annoy you.
That being said I really really loved it. It's the best film I've seen this year.
I must say that the first act of The Princess Bride (from the beginning to "as.... you.... wish...") simply makes my happier than any act in the rest of the movies. It's just delightful.
It was pointed out to me several times that the music from Moulin Rouge has way better instrumentation in the actual film than it does on the soundtrack. (Not to mention that the soundtrack doesn't have the showstopping Jim Broadbent "Like a Virgin.") My memory for music was simply not good enough to even notice the change in instrumentation after I saw the film the first time, but this time after having listened to the soundtrack for years, it was pretty obvious how much better the music is in the film.
Not only is the instrumentation better, it's often easier to understand the lyrics. I find it remarkable how much music I own that has never really sunk in. There are so many songs I have that I've never really listened to. This time the big revelation was that I'd never caught the lyrics of the first line of this section in "El Tango Roxanne"
"You're free to leave me
Just don't deceive me
and please, believe me when I say 'I love you.'"
I think that may need to go on my list of mottos from songs.
Finally, Moulin Rouge is one of those films that really drives in for me that even in expensive spectacular special effects and busy films really often most of the joy comes from just the simple pleasure of watching movie stars. What makes that film so much fun is just that Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman are just so damn fun to watch. Well that and Nicole Kidman's wardrobe.
02 August 2004
Almost incidentally, it also includes the single most satisfying moment of movie payback since Terence Stamp picked himself up from the street and went back into that warehouse, gun drawn, at the beginning of The Limey. It's a punch in the face so sinfully satisfying that the editor seems to have added an extra ten seconds of footage to the beginning of the following scene, to prevent the audience from drowning out some crucial lines of dialogue with laughter and applause.
Sequels and remakes are supposed to be creative voids, but in light of Spider-Man 2, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Shrek 2, Kill Bill Vol. 2, The Bourne Supremacy, and The Manchurian Candidate, this looks to be the first year ever where my list of the year's ten best will include more than one title with a numeral at the end.