URLs du Jour


  • Did you know that the word "gullible" isn't in the dictionary?

    OK, you probably know that joke. But if you're like me, you probably haven't been fooled by it more than two or three times, at least not lately.

    I was reminded of it when I saw the actual blurb on the front page of today's WSJ:

    How a Gullibility Expert Was Scammed

    And, no, they're not trying to fool their readers. The actual article by Stephen Greenspan, who lost about 30% of his retirement nest-egg to Bernard Madoff, is online here. And he really is a gullibility expert; he's written an expensive book: Annals of Gullibility: Why We Get Duped and How to Avoid It

    Unless, of course, it's all an elaborate hoax.

  • Mark Liberman at Language Log notes the following quote from VP-elect Biden:

    The greater threat to the economy lies with doing too little rather than not doing enough.

    Speculation abounds why this didn't get Bush/Quayle/Palin-style media treatment:

    1. Nobody noticed.

    2. Everybody noticed, but:

      1. Knew what he "really" meant.

      2. Nobody expects Biden to make sense.

      3. Nobody reports Democrat gaffes.

    I guess time will tell. Specifically, the amount of time it takes for Biden to talk again.

  • Donald Westlake, famous mystery writer, has passed away. I read a lot of his stuff years ago, but more recently preferred the books he wrote under his "Richard Stark" pseudonym about his ruthless criminal anti-hero, Parker. (Frustratingly, the most recent of these have yet to come out in paperback.)

    The Weekly Standard brings back a 2002 article Westlake wrote for them about the post-9/11 Dubya, and a 2001 appreciation of Westlake by Steven Lenzner. Also see Terry Teachout.

Last Modified 2012-10-08 8:21 PM EDT

An American Carol

[Amazon Link]

stars] [IMDb Link]

I wanted to like An American Carol, but the truth is that it's not that funny.

The movie was written and directed by David Zucker, who knows how to do the funny (Airplane, Naked Gun) And the premise was promising: take a thinly-disguised America-hating Michael Moore, vowing to abolish the Fourth of July, and put him through the Scrooge treatment to demonstrate the error of his ways. He's visited by the ghosts of General Patton (Kelsey Grammer) and George Washington (Jon Voight). He's the unwitting dupe of terrorists who are using his connections to try to blow up Madison Square Garden on the Fourth of July.

But, while the movie got a few chuckles out of me, most of the humor just didn't work. The funniest scenes weren't particularly political: for example, Tiny Tim transmogrifies into three kids, one on a crutch, one with vision problems, one on dialysis, all disclaiming as profanely as the PG-13 rating will allow on their famous relative.

Maybe political satire just doesn't work in a feature film; I can't think of a successful one, can you? The most reliable source of political satire these days is probably Saturday Night Live, and they misfire more often than they hit. And there are have been dozens of SNL-based movies, but I can't think of any based on their political sketches. Hm.

Last Modified 2012-10-08 8:21 PM EDT