Friday, October 31, 2003

A is for Animal Rights activists, the only people in the world who could put me on the same side of an issue as Spike Lee. I am a cat lover, but, as my brother in law would say, they are cats after all.

B is for Bathos. One of my favorite words in English, it's sadly underused today. If you look it up in the dictionary, by the way, you will see someone's picture there.

C is for Chekhov, the great Russian writer, whom I am a little miffed at lately. His famous aphorism about writing, "If the playwright describes a gun on a shelf in Act One, it must be fired by Act Three" was adopted as gospel by Hollywood screenwriters long ago, and it is getting on my nerves. Every kind of improbable plot manipulation is justified because...it's shown or mentioned early on. I watched Eliza Dushku's new show Tru Calling last night and this process is taken to its extreme. It's mentioned early on in passing that she was a track star in school, so of course half the show is taken up with her running around in fast motion between locations, rather than simply cutting between scenes. Painful.

D is for Dude, a word that needs to be surgically removed from the language.

E is for Elmore Leonard, who still writes the best dialogue in English at the age of 72.

F is for Fight. That's the focus-group-tested phrase that you hear more and more in campaign speeches and advertisements, as in "I'll fight for you in Trenton" or "Fighting for more school aid." On the level of national politics, as when Al Gore used the phrase constantly in the 2000 elections, it's more revealing. I'm trying not to generalize too much, but I find that when Democrats use the word they are almost always talking about fighting...other Americans. This, I think, is a bit of a disconnect with most of the public at the moment, as I think that most people would rather our leaders talk about fighting...people who are actively trying to kill us.

G is for ...well, take a look. Yes, that's Klingon.

H is for Halloween, which it's too damn hot to be.

I is for Inevitable Distractions, as it always is.

J is for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Her recent remarks to the effect that American Law should conform to that of other countries were pretty horrifying. Tighten up, Sandy baby.

K is for Mickey Kaus, who makes one of the very best points I've heard regarding the Schiavo case:

How does a) the number of innocent people who will be executed under death penalty procedures compare with b) the number of innocent, live patients who will be killed under a tendentious diagnosis of PVS? I'd guess the ratio is probably one to 100, maybe 1 to 1,000. But the American left makes a huge (and legitimate) fuss about the former while it actually promotes the latter.

L is for Lord of the Rings. The 10-hour showing of all three films together on December 16 sold out in seconds here at the two theaters participating. Grrr.

M is for Mystic River, which I thought was very overrated. For all its gritty realism, Clint's movie is still, I thought, cartoony and not nearly as subtle as it could or should have been. Sean Penn, though, is an amazing actor. Even though I despise him personally, watching him onscreen is like watching that moment in one of those nature shows where a particularly ugly spider is about to devour an unsuspecting beetle, and you can't look away.

N is still for Naomi.

O is for Oscars. Right now I have seen three Best Actor nomination-worthy performances this year: Bill Murray in Lost in Translation, Nicolas Cage in Matchstick Men, and Sean Penn. I'm expecting Viggo Mortensen and Benicio Del Toro to fill this category out, but we will see. Best Actress can only be between Scarlett Johansson and Naomi Watts.

P is for Mel Gibson's The Passion. If film distributors can give releases to From Justin to Kelly and The Real Cancun, I can't believe that they can't distribute this one.

Q is for Quart. Yes, I hate the metric system.

R is for Retail. Would you like that gift-wrapped, sir?

S is for Suzanne, my sister, who is not at all a huggy person, but always hugs me when we meet because she knows I am.

T is for Ticket Scalpers. I was amused to find them at the Metropolitan Opera of all places--"tick-etttttts!"--exactly as if it were Yankee Stadium.

U is for U-571, which vies with Windtalkers as the worst of the recent war movies.

V is for Vanity Fair, which for a while there was the best American magazine being published. It sort of went off the rails recently as editor Graydon Carter went on a heavyhanded antiwar crusade prior to the Iraq war, quieted down after the dramatic successes of that conflict, then went back to it in the summer as the fighting began again. That, along with way too many Royal Family stories, a throwback to the hated Tina Brown era, caused a steep drop in the quality of VF. And the absence of Christopher Hitchens hasn't helped.

W is for Lt. Col. Allen B. West, who apparently cannot be forgiven for reminding people that we are in fact at war.

X is for Xenomorph. The Director's Cut of Alien opens this weekend!

Y is for Yo. A perfectly legitimate Philadelphianism hijacked by the larger culture. Grrr.

Z is for Zombies 3.5, the new expansion of the lovely boardgame. It's brains for dinner tonight...

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