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.

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February 20, 2006: P.S. A Column On Things

February 20, 2006 Vol. 8, No. 8

Table of Contents:

General News

  • Bodega Bay/Rae Returns

Political News

  • Vice President's Hunting Party

Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

On vacation


  • None


  • Neal Vitale Reviews: Tristram Shandy: A Cock And Bull Story
  • Neal Vitale Reviews: The Three Burials Of Melquiades Estrada
  • Pink Panther
  • Curious George


  • Prius as UPS. Pigeons with Cellphones, Yeppies, Dan Grobstein File

General News

Bodega Bay/Rae Returns

The column is early this week because Vicki and I are off to Bodega Bay, our favorite weekend getaway. I have a four-day weekend, so we'll stay over Monday night, returning to the Bay Area just in time to fetch Rae from the airport! Brandeis is taking a week off, so she's starting in LA and working her way north. Of course, every return home of one of our wandering daughters is a cause for celebration, every time. Rae's return is no exception. Let the fun begin.

Rain is predicted for the weekend, but nothing can dampen our spirits...

A short column and an early one--Craig's on vacation, Dan didn't have much to say, and I more or less offered Dick Cheney a pass. More or less.


Political Notes

The VP's Hunting Party

I was already with a pot-load of snarky comments about Cheney's huntin accident. Then I thought for a moment, realized that most members of the press corps have never held a gun, and consulted my friend Jim Forbes, who has hunted all his life. Here's why I'm giving Dick Cheney a pass:

Hunting accidents like the one Cheney had are not uncommon. I have birdshot in the back of my head from one, my dad had them in the side of his face from one and my maternal grandfather also has bird shot in his face from a quail hunting accident. In my own history what seems to happen is that a hunting party breaks up, quail fly up, you swing to take the shot, and someone is exactly where they shouldn't be, given the shot dispersal pattern of bird shot. It's unfortunate, but it happens in each of the three accidents in my family no one had been drinking, ever one was an experienced hunter and had a license. Furthermore there were no long lasting effects of the accidents, other than a certain amount of cautiousness and ribbing when the shooter and shootee were paired together again at Thanksgiving time.

I was surprised that this happened on a "game" ranch--private shooting preserve since everyone tends to be very aware of each other and firearms safety when shooting on private property.

It is too bad more people in the media do not know someone who has actually fired a weapon, like my second witness, Steve Coquet:

I could believe it was twenty-five yards or maybe a little less, but not much less. I doubt anyone was busy measuring the distance.

As someone who has been peppered (but from far enough away that it didn't break the skin), and who has had an accidental discharge that didn't hit a person, I can say that being the shooter in such a situation (where no one is injured) is probably more unpleasant than being just missed, or peppered without being injured. My own opinion is that the whole thing, while serious, should not stop anyone from hunting in the future. You watch the people you're with. If someone is unsafe, you will probably know in the first hour, maybe in the first few minutes. I don't think many people would hunt with him, even in hopes that some of his power would rub off on them, if he was generally careless around guns. I think he is probably a cautious individual.

The license: Apparently this is the first year Texas has had an upland game bird stamp, and hunters who have a license and no stamp are getting off with a warning. While I would expect the ranch owner (after all, it *is* a hunting ranch) to know the requirements, if the Vice President of the U.S. tells you that he has had a license since November and he's got it all under control, you take his word for it. Of all the aspects of this affair, this is the one for which the statement, "It's no big thing," really fits. He didn't intentionally kill illegal game, and the fine would probably be thirty-five or fifty dollars if he had gotten a ticket. He would get to keep his license. It's no big thing.

All this is a digression. The point is, I don't think he should be punished for something that was obviously an accident. I also don't think the nation should let this distract us from the real issues. The guy should be impeached for his multiple malfeasances in office: his high crimes and misdemeanors.

Even though I agree that we can't tag Cheney for this one (unless he was there with his mistress, which some web sites have suggested), I couldn't resist deconstructing the risible statement issued by his mouthpiece. Don't these people even listen to the words coming out of their mouths?

Mary Matalin, a spokesperson for Dick Cheney, admitted Cheney shot U.S. citizen, attorney, and campaign contributor Harry Whittington deliberately on Saturday, February 12, 2006. According to Matalin, Cheney "was not careless or incautious" and did not "violate any of the [rules]". Matalin also alleged that Cheney "didn't do anything he wasn't supposed to do. So, Cheney shot Whittington while hunting, Cheney was not careless, Cheney was not incautious, Cheney did not violate any rules. The existence of "rules" allowing this conduct became clear in light of the recent testimony/briefing on Capitol Hill. Bush (and presumably Cheney acting for Bush) can at any time shoot (or order the shooting of) anyone he wants to inside the United States pursuant to Congressional authorization granted in 2001. Cheney did not do anything he was not supposed to do. The only logical conclusion is that Cheney was supposed to shoot U.S. citizen Whittington. Given the admitted opportunity and means, one wonders how long it will take for law-abiding strict conservative law and order types to demand an inquiry into Cheney's motive.

You know you're in trouble when you're a conservative Republican and Peggy Noonan writes: Hit Refresh?: Why Bush may be thinking about replacing Cheney.





Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

On vacation






Neal Vitale Reviews: Tristram Shandy: A Cock And Bull Story

2 Stars

Unpredictable director Michael Winterbottom (9 Songs, Code 46, 24 Hour Party People, Jude, Welcome to Sarajevo) has veered off in a new direction yet again. Tristram Shandy is a mildly amusing mockumentary of the making of a film based on the supposedly unfilmable 18th-century novel "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman" by Laurence Sterne. The idea of Tristram Shandy probably was funnier on paper than it is on screen, though there are a few chuckles at the absurdist humor, thanks mostly to actors Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon (both primarily veterans of British TV comedy). Eminently missable.

--Neal Vitale


Neal Vitale Reviews: The Three Burials Of Melquiades Estrada

4 stars

Texas-born, Harvard-educated veteran actor Tommy Lee Jones has inaugurated his film-directing career with a powerful story of friendship, retribution, and redemption. Jones plays an especially weather-beaten Texas cowboy who befriends an illegal Mexican, Melquiades Estrada, who is killed by an overly-zealous, newly-arrived border patrolman (Barry Pepper). The film follows Jones as he exacts revenge for his friend's death and seeks to fulfill the promise that he had made to Estrada to return him to his hometown if anything happened to him. While The Three Burials is long, it paints a rich picture - alternately comic and banal, poignant and gruesome - of life on both sides of the border, and of Jones' fellow townsfolk. The cast is deserving of note, featuring an assortment of talented though lesser-known actors, including Pepper, Dwight Yoakam, January Jones, Melissa Leo, and Levon Helm (former drummer/singer in The Band). A compelling film, very much worth watching.

--Neal Vitale


Pink Panther

3 Stars

Let me say that, of course, I am greatly influenced by having seen the original Pink Panther films. Director Shawn Levy is no Blake Edwards (who, in a nice change of pace, is actually given a credit for his role in creating the originals). Steve Martin is no Peter Sellers (in some ways he is better, some ways worse), and Kevin Kline, while a genius, will never grow up to be Herbert Lom, the slow-burn character actor who made Chief Inspector Dreyfus a name to reckon with. That said, the movie is not the train wreck some of the advance publicity suggested. In general a film that gets promoted, pulled and then releases turns out to be a stinker. In this case, however, it appears that Pink Panther merely became the victim of MGM's sale to Sony, which brought many things to a halt. It was a pleasant and mildly amusing film, but, as with so many remakes, it probably remade something that didn't need to be remade. At least they didn't screw with the Henry Mancini theme or the animated credits.


Curious George

3 stars

What a week! Both films I saw can most charitably be characterized as "not the total train wreck I expected." This film teetered on the brink of 2.5 stars; I was not impressed with director Matthew O'Callaghan or writers Robert L. Baird and Dan Gerson. The film was sweet, true enough to the books and funny now and then, but it didn't go anywhere; apparently, it suffered a plotectomy. I mainly went because I am a fan of animation, and this film was one of a dwindling number of hand-animated features being released. The animation style was interesting, unusual and not derivative. Unlike, say, Hoodwinked, it did not leave me feeling as thought I had just watched three hours of Huckleberry Hound or Rocky and Bullwinkle." George was cute and irresistable. Will Ferrell must have been sedated. Drwe Barrymore's role was a throwaway. The best thing about this film was the tag line from some of the advertisements (and it wasn't even the official tag line): "Show Me The Monkey." You can take your kids and neither fall asleep nor throw rotten food at the screen. It isn't Little Nemo in Slumberland, which my daughters have still not forgiven me for. Have I damned it with faint praise? I hope so.



Prius as UPS. Pigeons with Cellphones, Yeppies, Dan Grobstein File

Daniel Dern finds a site that proposes using a Prius as a whole house UPS.

From Jim Forbes' blog (which is a great read by the way): Pigeons get backpacks for air pollution monitoring: A flock of pigeons fitted with mobile phone backpacks is to be used to monitor air pollution in San Jose this August. Pigeons with cellphones; how weird is that?

I saw this in the newspaper this weekend. So I looked it up on Wired.

n. pl. Short for "young experimenting perfection seekers." Adrift in a world of conflicting opportunies, these chronically dissatisfied twentysomethings approach life as an exercise in comparison shopping, refusing to commit for fear of missing a better offer.

Dan Grobstein File


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