Luck be a Ladykillers


Harry Knowles and his fellow movie freaks over at Ain’t It Cool News link to the trailer for the Coen Brothers‘ latest, a remake of The Ladykillers. (The 1955 version was directed by Alexander Mackendrick, probably best known for The Sweet Smell of Success, a film that should be required viewing for all media and gossip bloggers.)
It looks amusing, more in keeping with their ‘impossible caper’ flicks than their recent foray into Brian Grazer country, Intolerable Cruelty. (I can think of one thing right about that title.) It looks like it has the broad slapstick of Raising Arizona, but it also appears to have that film’s late period Fellini-ish love of laughing at odd looking people. Which is sad, since the Coen’s have moved on from that with beautifully-shot period pieces like The Man Who Wasn’t There, creepy ‘comedies’ like Fargo, and groovy hodgepodges like The Big Lebowski. (The latter of which, scene-for-scene, is still one of the best movies of the last decade and even more relevant since the capture of Saddam Hussein.)
Sure, O, Brother, Where Art Thou? had its share of mugging and hillbilly teeth jokes, but shot, as it was, to look like a sepia-toned screen gem, you kinda accepted the insensitivity of its humor as part of its period charm.
It looks like the cast of Ladykillers had a ball. Tom Hanks looks more at ease in a comedy than he’s been since, maybe, Splash. Marlon Wayans (who appears to have brought his same hairstyle and facial gestures from Scary Movie 1 and 2) looks funny. The character names alone make it worth the price of admission: Hanks plays a charming scoundrel named Professor Goldthwait Higginson Dorr (!) and Wayans is (Sir?) Gawain McSam (!!). I just hope the racial and cultural stereotypes featured prominently in the trailer aren’t as unbearable in the film: no one wants to see the Coens do Big Momma’s House.
So, I’m crossing my fingers for the best, and holding my breath until March 26.


Bentsen; Hollings; Tsongas; Dean

Not since Homer Simpson showed off his Starland Vocal Band tattoo have I seen such impetuous inking as this Howard Dean tattoo. C’mon, man: the guy doesn’t even have the nomination yet—and he may never get it—yet you’ll have that tattoo for life. Try explaining how Dean seized the anti-war in Iraq fervor and the internet to your grandkids: “What’s a Iraq?” “What’s a Internet?” they’ll ask from their robot overlords-issued hovering oxygen-chamber/multi-media jungle gym Orgone accumulators.
rockwell.jpgIt reminds me of this old Norman Rockwell image, “Tattoo Artist (Only Skin Deep)”, that depicts a sailor getting his sweetheart’s name tattooed on his bicep just below the crossed-out names of several old sweethearts.
Here are some links about tattoo removal:
How Stuff Works: Tattoo Removal
BBC Health
Patient Info

[Link via Boing Boing]


Ripped from the Headline (to the right of this entry)!

From Done Deal:
Title: Untitled Washington-Williams and Thurmond Story
Log line: A reporter goes on 25-year quest to prove that a woman is the daughter of Senator Strom Thurmond and a young black housekeeper who worked in the Thurman family home. The housekeeper was sixteen and Strom was twenty two when the young woman became pregnant. The senator financially supported the young woman but hid that he was her father.
Writer: Horton Foote
Agent: n/a
Buyer: Peter Newman and Greg Johnson
Price: n/a
Genre: Drama
Logged: 12/19/03
More: Optioned life rights from Washington Post reporter Marilyn Thompson who broke her story. Also, the producers optioned the rights to the book Ol’ Strom: An Unauthorized Biography of Strom Thurmond written by Thompson and Jack Bass. Peter Newman and Greg Johnson to produce. Newman and Johnson are hoping to gain the rights of Essie Mae Washington-Williams as well. Thompson was repped by Gail Ross Literary Agency. Jack Bass was repped by Goldfarb & Associates.



President Bush at the Wright Brothers National Memorial (bottom); Cary Grant in North by Northwest (top)


Is “This Woman” the new “you people”?

From Thurmond Family Struggles With Difficult Truth, by Jeffrey Gettleman (The New York Times, Dec. 20, 2003):
“It’s been really hard this week… You have to turn on the TV and there are jokes about him and you’re still grieving. I just hope this woman is coming out for the right reasons.”— Robyn Bishop, 25, Strom Thurmond’s great-niece.
“The man’s dead, and he can’t speak for himself… I don’t know why this lady is doing this.”— James Bishop, 59, Thurmond’s nephew.
Um, try callling her “Aunt Essie.” It may make everyone feel better.
Sidebars: 1. “I went to a church meeting the other day and all these people came up to me and you could tell they didn’t know what to say…For the first time in my life, I felt shame.”— Mary T. Thompkins Freeman, Thurmond’s niece. She didn’t feel shame when he filibustered for 24 hours against civil rights?
2. “Mr. Thurmond Jr., known as Lil’ Strom and Stromboli…” Stromboli!


It’s been a great week for Americans, and, no, this has nothing to do with Saddam

court_gavel2.gifThis week, fans of rational and democratically-protected civil liberties had many reasons to rejoice (or at least, wait with bated breath until the inevitable appeals process begins) as federal courts issued three striking rejoinders to Big, Bad, and Powerful Interests–notably, King George and the RIAA.
Seriously, try smiling, just this once. Because, realistically, we all know it will be frown season again when November 2004 rolls around.
1. Court: Gitmo suspects need lawyers

In another legal setback for the Bush administration, a federal appeals court has concluded terrorist suspects held in secret U.S. custody on foreign soil deserve access to lawyers and the American legal system.
…The 9th Circuit [ruled that] “even in times of national emergency — indeed, particularly in such times — it is the obligation of the judicial branch to ensure the preservation of our constitutional values and to prevent the executive branch from running roughshod over the rights of citizens and aliens alike. … We hold that no lawful policy or precedent supports such a counter-intuitive and undemocratic procedure.”

2. Court Rules Bush Cannot Hold Padilla As “Enemy Combatant”

In New York, a divided court ruled that President Bush lacked the authority to indefinitely detain Jose Padilla – a U.S. citizen – simply by declaring him “an enemy combatant.”
The majority of the three-judge panel ruled that while Congress might have the power to authorize the detention of an American, the president, acting on his own, did not. Padilla has been held in solitary confinement for 18 months without access to a lawyer or the courts. No charges have been filed against Padilla who is a US citizen born in Brooklyn.

3. Record Industry May Not Subpoena Online Providers

The recording industry cannot compel an Internet service provider to give up the names of customers who trade music online without judicial review, a federal appeals court in Washington ruled today.
The sharply worded ruling, which dismissed one industry argument by saying that it “borders on the silly,” is a blow to the music companies in the online music wars. It overturns a decision in federal district court that favored the industry and ordered Verizon Communications to disclose the identity of a subscriber based on simple subpoenas submitted to a court clerk.


B.F.F. (Best Friends Forashortwhile)

While conventional wisdom encourages bitter veterans of failed relationships to dispose of incriminating love letters and other such mementos, Donald Rumsfeld sure has proven to be quite the obstinate paramour. Or maybe they just forgot to throw these letters in the big Republican fireplace?
Today’s Washington Post runs a feature by Dana Priest examining newly-declassified (don’t you loooove that shit?) documentation of the Reagan administration’s stances on All Things Saddam, and, in particular, the efforts of special envoy Donald Rumsfeld, who supposedly experimented with Bilateralism in the ’80s (hey–who didn’t?).

When details of Rumsfeld’s December trip came to light last year, the defense secretary told CNN that he had “cautioned” Saddam Hussein about the use of chemical weapons, an account that was at odds with the declassified State Department notes of his 90-minute meeting, which did not mention such a caution. Later, a Pentagon spokesman said Rumsfeld raised the issue not with Hussein, but with Aziz…Privately, however, the administrations of Reagan and George H.W. Bush sold military goods to Iraq, including poisonous chemicals and deadly biological agents, worked to stop the flow of weapons to Iran, and undertook discreet diplomatic initiatives, such as the two Rumsfeld trips to Baghdad, to improve relations with Hussein.

Additionally, the following romantic missives were gleaned from the oh-so-sexy National Security Archive at the George Washington University:

During the spring of 1984 the U.S. reconsidered policy for the sale of dual-use equipment to Iraq’s nuclear program, and its “preliminary results favor[ed] expanding such trade to include Iraqi nuclear entities” [Document 57]. Several months later, a Defense Intelligence Agency analysis said that even after the war ended, Iraq was likely to “continue to develop its formidable conventional and chemical capability, and probably pursue nuclear weapons” [Document 58]. (Iraq is situated in a dangerous neighborhood, and Israel had stockpiled a large nuclear weapons arsenal without international censure. Nuclear nonproliferation was not a high priority of the Reagan administration – throughout the 1980s it downplayed Pakistan’s nuclear program, though its intelligence indicated that a weapons capability was being pursued, in order to avert congressionally mandated sanctions. Sanctions would have impeded the administration’s massive military assistance to Pakistan provided in return for its support of the mujahideen fighting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.)
…Later in the month, the State Department briefed the press on its decision to strengthen controls on the export of chemical weapons precursors to Iran and Iraq, in response to intelligence and media reports that precursors supplied to Iraq originated in Western countries. When asked whether the U.S.’s conclusion that Iraq had used chemical weapons would have “any effect on U.S. recent initiatives to expand commercial relationships with Iraq across a broad range, and also a willingness to open diplomatic relations,” the department’s spokesperson said “No. I’m not aware of any change in our position. We’re interested in being involved in a closer dialogue with Iraq” [Document 52].
Iran had submitted a draft resolution asking the U.N. to condemn Iraq’s chemical weapons use. The U.S. delegate to the U.N. was instructed to lobby friendly delegations in order to obtain a general motion of “no decision” on the resolution. If this was not achievable, the U.S. delegate was to abstain on the issue. Iraq’s ambassador met with the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Jeane Kirkpatrick, and asked for “restraint” in responding to the issue – as did the representatives of both France and Britain.

Sadly, none of the various cables and telegrams posted on the publicly available website archive contain any of the purportedly hand-lettered notebook scribblings, “Mr. Donald Hussein, Mr. Donald Rumsfeld Hussein, Mr. Donald Rumsfeld-Hussein…”
Although some of those blottings do recall cupid’s arrows. Hope they’re not poison-tipped, ba-dum!


Denby Damned

A friend writes: Radosh has some great fun at David Denby’s expense over at his own site today. I’d like to add that based on the excerpt, Denby’s forthcoming book American Sucker seems to be the saddest bit of self-exploitation of one’s sex life by a New Yorker writer since Elizabeth Wurtzel welcomed us all to her Prozac Nation (population: 1). But then I remembered Lillian Ross’ book, which I was sure was called Put It In Here, But Not Here: My Life with William Shawn and The New Yorker, which a visit to Amazon quickly corrected.
Earlier thoughts on David Denby from low culture.


New Kosher words

hotdog.gifPiggybacking on Gawker‘s list of words for the New York Media Elite to drop from their vocabularies in 2004 (‘Memo from Gawker’s Ombudsman’), I’d like to add the following:
Henceforth, the term schadenfreude is to be replaced with sauerkraut, which, in addition to being easier to spell, means just about the same thing.
Irony is to be replaced with relish, which is a less ubiquitous word by far.
Similarly, Ubiquitous is to be replaced with mustard, for obvious reasons.
And finally, twee is to be replaced with katsup while erstwhile is to be replaced with ketchup.
We thank you in advance for your understanding and compliance.


I’m waiting for the paperback

This season’s most covetable coffee table book/load-bearing portable wall, GOAT may be too expensive for most readers (and too big for most homes), but you can enjoy its beautifully-designed Flash-intensive Web site. Less a promotional site than a well-curated mini Ali museum, it’s definitely worth a visit, if only for the spare, stirring intro. The excerpts and videos are great, too.
You don’t have to be a boxing fan or one of Muhammad Ali’s many intellectual courtiers to recognize that the man is a cultural and political icon, the likes of which we will never see again in our lifetimes. (Full Disclosure: I met Muhammad Ali at an airport when I was 6 years-old and still consider him among my best friends. I also wrote my thesis on him.)
Alas, I will not be buying the $3,000, 75-pound Taschen book. Not now; not ever. Man, that stings—like a bee, it does.