PS... A Column

on Things

By Paul E. Schindler Jr.

Some things are impossible to know, but it is impossible to know these things.

I have a day job. So every word of this is my opinion, not that of my employer. This offer IS void in Wisconsin. Except, of course, that some material in this column comes from incoming e-mail; such material is usually reproduced in the Sans Serif type font to distinguish it from the (somewhat) original material.


To Pay For This Column Voluntarily
Tales of Teaching 2004
Tales of Teaching 2005

March 7, 2005: P.S. A Column On Things

March 7, 2005 Vol. 7, No. 9

Table of Contents:

General News

  • The Nature Of This Column
  • Political Notes

Computer Industry News

  • Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs
  • PowerTools

Humor

  • None

Movies

  • Hitch
  • Finding Neverland
  • Be Cool
  • Oscar Commentary (repeat)

Letters

  • Teacher Freak Out, Albinus on SNL, Peterman on A Dog Site, Dern on Bears and High School Stories, Dan Grobstein File

General News

The Nature Of This Column

Sometimes, I am the pigeon of wisdom, dive bombing my audience with witty aphorisms and pearls of brilliance as if it were a statue in the park. Sometimes I am the statue in the park. If last week goes down in history, it will be for some reason of which I am unaware. It is too bad this is a slow week, as my brother added a half-dozen of his friends to the notification distribution list.

Well, as I was discussing with several teacher friends on Friday, you can't hit a home run every time at bat (not every day in the classroom can be scintillating). Sometimes you strike out. Sometimes you get walked. In fact, Babe Ruth still holds the strikeout records, and Barry Bonds is approaching the record for walks. Which just goes to show the difference between baseball then and baseball now. At least they pitched to the Babe, most of the time.

I hope this week's column, mostly written by others, is at least a walk and not a strikeout.

Political Notes

One dead Italian secret service agent. Many questions. Among them:

Will some five-sided building correspondent determine whether 300-400 rounds were really fired and whether they were really needed to hit and disable the engine block of one car?
How did shots directed at the engine block make their way into the passenger compartment?
Were the decedent and the wounded riding in the engine compartment?
Were those shooting properly trained in aiming and firing?
Were their weapons properly functioning?
Does the pope speak for or represent any recognized religion?
Does the "official" explanation pass either the "smell" test or the "lol" test?
Is the "official" explanation still, in the words of Ron Ziegler, "operative?"
If so, why?
If not, why not?

Also: AP reports Italian anger,

***

Briefs

Computer Industry News

Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

None this week

PowerTools

Peggy Coquet writes:

I find a couple of Karen's Power Tools indispensable; particularly Replicator and Directory Printer. I realize this may be a little below your level of expertise, but she may be helpful to some of your readers. And you can't beat the price ...

I have loved Karen's work since I was her editor at Windows Magazine and have been blog-rolling with her for years. She does great work. Check out her site, if you haven't already.

Humor

None

Movies

Hitch

I could have gone to see either Hotel Rwanda or Neverland, both of which are showing in my town. Instead, I went to see Hitch, which, by a quirk of geography, is closed to my house even though it is in the next town over (how an area of 50,000 got two theaters with 7 screens and one single-screen art house is beyond me). I went because I heard it was cute and fluffy--and that is what it was. Will Smith could be the Cary Grant of the 21st century; have I said that already? He's had his North by Northwest (I, Robot), and now, with his role as the Date Doctor, he's proving and improving his light romantic comedy chops. By the way, did you know there are real date doctors? According to the Seattle Times, there's a real Date Doctor. He's got a book out, he charges as much as $10,000 for his help, and he's willing to walk up to strangers in a grocery store and strike up a conversation. Hitch is a sweet little film in no danger of recognition for its mildly clever writing or its workmanlike performances. Lots of nice New York city location shots.

Finding Neverland

Now that I've seen the film, I understand why it was Oscar-nominated. Stellar performances by Johnny Depp as J.M. Barrie, Kate Winslet (not the other Cate) as the mother of his muses, Sylvia Llewelyn Davies and Julie Christie as, well, the wicked grandmother. An entertaining script that moves right along. A sharp little cameo by Dustin Hoffman.

From IMDB.com:

Tagline: Unlock your imagination.

Plot Outline: The story of J.M. Barrie's friendship with a family who inspired him to create Peter Pan.

It was charming and entertaining, albeit, according to other reviews I've read, highly suspect historically on several accounts. But the fact of the matter is, if you want your history straight, go see a documentary. If you want to see Johnny Depp assay a Scottish accent, go see this film (which has been rereleased in the midst of all the Oscar hoopla--even if it didn't win).

But really, to write a line in your play that says "clap if you believe in fairies" in order to save Tinkerbell's life? I mean, of all the cheap students to get the audience applauding--or, in my case, crying. I always cry during that scene. In the book, in the movie, in the play, and now in the meta-movie.

Be Cool

Be Cool, based on an Elmore Leonard novel, starring Travolta and Thurman (who needs first names?) is an entertaining piece of fluff. Also on hand were the ever scene-stealing Harvey Keitel and Vince Vaughn in the secondary roles. Nice cameos were turned in by Steve Tyler (whom I videotaped once during an Aerosmith concert at MIT) and James Woods (who was at MIT during my freshman and sophomore years, but didn't graduate. Also, unlike Lawrence Summers, whom I did meet a couple of times, I never met Woods).

Leonard, in an interview on NPR, said dialog and character are more important to him than plot, but that the movies strip out everything except plot. As we used to say of a competing newspaper, Hollywood separates the wheat from the chaff and prints the chaff. I found it an hysterically funny collection of skits. Vicki was ready to walk out, not because she was offended, but because she found it boring. There are a half-dozen authentic guffaws in the film, and it's cool to see Travolta and Thurman dancing again, even if the scene is shot badly.

Oh, and that arch-one-eyebrow thing The Rock does during this movie? My mom can do it. She used it a lot when she was a teacher. It works really well.

Oscar Commentary

Too early to handicap the 2006 Oscars? Not according to the AP and CNN.

My "deserved/didn't deserve" list, along with links to my reviews and/or Neal's (I posted this late on Feb. 27; early readers of the column may not have seen it last week). I am too embarrassed to tell you how my early line compared to the actual winners; suffice it to say that any early line composed the first week in December, unless it is composed by an Academy member or film critic in LA or New York is not going to include most nominees in most categories. I did not see Neverland or Hotel Rwanda, which won't stop me from expressing my opinion. If ignorance is good enough for Rush Limbaugh, it is good enough for me.

  • Best Supporting Actress (Cate Blanchett as Katherine Hepburn), Costumes, Art, Editing, Cinematography: The Aviator. Deserved it.
  • Best Film, Best Leading Actress (Hilary Swank--too young to have won twice. Annette Benning was robbed), Best Supporting Actor (Morgan Freeman), Best Director (Clint Eastwood ): Million Dollar Baby. (Also Neal Vitale's review on Jan. 17). Sort of deserved most of it. Second-best picture after the Aviator.
  • The Incredibles--best animated, best sound editing. Deserved it.
  • Best Foreign Language--The Sea Inside. The Chorus deserved it.
  • Best Song--Al Otro Lado Del Río (first ever Spanish winner). Vois Sur Ton Chemin from The Chorus deserved it.
  • Adapted Screenplay: Sideways [Neal's Review]. Deserved it.
  • Original Screenplay: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Charlie "Being John Malkovich" Kaufman is a genius.

Letters

Teacher Freak Out, Albinus on SNL, Peterman on A Dog Site, Dern on Bears and High School Stories, Dan Grobstein File

Teacher freaks out. Not a good idea, although I understand the impulse.

Phil Albinus has a great idea for Lorne Michaels: allow people to roll their own SNL DVD.

A Kent Peterman find: the dog site to end all dog sites: Paris Noel.

Daniel Dern:

Dan Grobstein File

  • This was on andrewtobias.com: A college class was told they had to write a short story in as few words as possible. The story must contain three components: (1) Religion, (2) Sexuality, and (3) Mystery. There was only one A+ paper in the entire class. In full: 'Good God! I'm pregnant. I wonder who did it.
  • Wow! Holocaust story.

New York Times

  • OPINION | March 4, 2005
    Op-Ed Columnist: Deficits and Deceit
    By PAUL KRUGMAN
    President Bush's advisers knew that the 2001 tax cuts would probably cause
    budget problems, and welcomed the prospect.
  • FASHION & STYLE | March 6, 2005
    In the ID Wars, the Fakes Gain
    By WARREN ST. JOHN
    Using Internet resources and sophisticated computer graphics software, under-age drinkers are forging drivers' licenses of startlingly good quality.

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