All I Want Is a Room Somewhere

… far away from the cold night air:

  • For movie fans and Lord of the Rings geeks, Lore Sjöberg speculates on how five famous directors might put their stamp on the starcrossed production of The Hobbit.

    I would personally like to see the encounter between Gollum and Bilbo, as written and directed by David Mamet.

    "He wants us to tell him what's in his f---in' nasty little pocketses, my preciousss? We will tears off his f---in' head and put it in his f---in' nasty little pocketses. Then we answerses his stupid riddle."

  • Pun Salad's official, unaware (and, as always, uncompensated) mascot, Cathy Poulin, is in the news, delivering a Really Big Check to the (so far unindicted) Mayor of Secaucus, New Jersey from her employer, Bob's Discount Furniture. Click to embiggen:

    [Really Big Check]

    Observations: Cathy's a tiny thing, ideal for making sofas and chairs look big in Bob's TV ads. And I love the burst effect around the check's dollar amount; I'm going to start doing that on my checks.

  • But it's not all frivolity here at Pun Salad today. For serious commentary on a matter of vital import, I suggest reading Red at Surviving Grady concerning Amalie Benjamin and whether she should wear her glasses on air. My vote: oh gosh yeah.

Last Modified 2012-10-03 11:36 AM EST

The Forgotten Man

[Amazon Link]

This book about the Great Depression came out in hardcover in 2007, before our current economic mess really got going. So it's interesting (if not actually amusing or fun) to look for parallels between today and then.

So: we had a Republican president, widely derided as a do-nothinger in the face of economic turbulence, when actually he was an activist who managed to make things worse. In comes a charismatic demagogue who had no coherent plan to put the economy back on track, but mostly did things by the seat of his pants, based on whims and prejudiced opinion. The public is charmed, however. But again, all the frenetic activity failed to actually pull us out of the economic slowdown. Scapegoats aplenty were pilloried in the media and prosecuted. Opinion-makers had a scary and gullible fascination with (allegedly) smooth-running dictatorships abroad.

Not to say there aren't differences. (For example, the public seems to have cooled to the Obama charm much quicker than they did to FDR's.) But the similarities took me aback.

Ms. Shlaes tells her Depressing history by (primarily) telling stories about people, following them (roughly) between the late 1920's up to 1940 or so. Hoover and FDR, of course, but also their underlings, industrialists, and others: Rexford Tugwell, David Lilienthal, Andrew Mellon, Wendell Willike, Harold Ickes, etc. The book (for example) doesn't fall into generalities about the oppressiveness and arbitrariness of top-down government regulation: instead, it tells the story of the Schecter brothers, Jewish chicken wholesalers in Brooklyn who ran afoul (heh!) of the National Recovery Administration (NRA). These "forgotten" men took their case all the way to the Supreme Court and got the NRA declared unconstitutional.

Ms. Shlaes' approach can be a little jarring at times; she might be talking about the development of the Tennessee Valley Authority in one paragraph, then jumping in the next to the contemporaneous adventures of Harlem's Father Divine, a charismatic African-American cultist, who enjoyed tweaking the noses of the powerful.

All in all, an entertaining read, recommended.

Last Modified 2012-10-03 11:35 AM EST