Dinner with Barack


Political consumer note: President Obama is soliciting donations by offering "Dinner with Barack". The mail I received says:

Today, I want to ask if you'll join me and three other supporters for a meal and conversation sometime soon.

Please donate $5 or more to be automatically entered for a chance to join me for dinner:

And you are pointed here, a web form where (indeed) you can enter your personal and credit-card information, and donate $5 or more.

But as the very small print at the bottom reveals, you don't have to contribute to get a very, very small chance at chowing down with O. If you're like me, you might not prefer to chip in one thin dime to the President's re-election campaign. But (on the other hand) you wouldn't mind at all being in a situation where you could (um) share your thoughts on his job performance, in a respectful, but nonetheless candid, manner. In that case, you can click here instead, enter your personal info, contribute zero-point-zero dollars, and you (allegedly) have as good a shot at winning as a $2500 contributor.

Downside: you have to provide your e-mail address. And they will spam you, almost daily. (But there are plus sides to that too. I found out about the AttackWatch.com website via campaign mail, and that was pretty funny.)

Last Modified 2012-09-25 5:59 AM EST

A Simple Twist of Fate

[5.0 stars] A Simple Twist of Fate (1994) on IMDb

[Amazon Link]

This 1994 movie probably knocked Steve Martin's career as a screenwriter/movie star offtrack for a while. It followed Roxanne and L.A. Story, but (according to IMDB) was a dreadful bomb, only doing $3.4 million in box office receipts. Like Roxanne, it's based on a literary classic (Silas Marner). But it's considerably less comic than either of its predecessors, and there's no romance.

Still, I liked it. And I now own it, having picked it out of the $5 bin at Wal-Mart. (You can probably do as well over there at the Amazon link, hint, hint.)

Mr. Martin plays Michael McCann. As the movie opens, he's dealt a kick in the nards by his beloved wife: the child she's carrying was fathered by Michael's best friend. ("Welcome to Cuckoldville. Population: you.") This (a) ends the marriage, and causes Michael to (b) quit his job, (c) close himself off from the world, become (d) a miser, a (e) recluse, and (f) the object of fun-poking by the local townsfolk. He manages by making beautiful custom furniture, selling to the upper classes.

After a few years, life deals him another blow: his miserly ways have brought him a small fortune in gold, but he foolishly stores it in a secret compartment that it takes a thief about 15 seconds to break into.

But then: a drug-abusing mother and her golden-haired toddler daughter happen upon Michael's house one snowy evening. The mother expires, probably from some combination of overdose and exposure; the daughter makes herself at home inside. This is a sign: Michael adopts the child, names her Mathilda, putting himself on the road to his own redemption.

But Mathilda's actual backstory remains unknown to Michael, and years later it causes major soap opera-style complications.

This doesn't sound like very promising comedic material. But while the movie's less of a laff riot than (say) The Jerk, it still has some very funny bits. And here's what I know about Steve Martin: he's exactly as funny as he wants to be.

Last Modified 2012-09-25 5:25 AM EST