URLs du Jour


  • If you didn't read it last year, or the year before that, or… Or even if you did: Jonah Goldberg's classic essay on Groundhog Day is here. A wonderful movie, and if you haven't seen it, there's no better day than today.

  • Apologies for the dreadful art over there on the right, but apparently that's a faithful reproduction of the DVD box. The likenesses of Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell look like they were done by one of those guys that produce celebrity t-shirts for sale in downscale mall kiosks.

  • Time Out New York lists the "50 Best Uses of Songs in Movies". And, yes: Groundhog Day is represented by Sonny and Cher's "I Got You Babe". Some others are pretty obligatory/obvious: "In Your Eyes" from Say Anything; "The End" from Apocalypse Now. Some are quirky. Not that you asked, but I would add:

    1. Jack Black's performance near the end of High Fidelity. If you haven't seen it: disclosing anything more (even the song title) would be a major spoiler; the entire movie is a setup to this wonderful punchline scene.

    2. In Back to the Future, I was mightily impressed by how they used "The Power of Love" by Huey Lewis and the News in the opening scenes. If you happen to watch it, check how the song fades into the background for a while, but when Marty McFly sees his sweetie Jennifer awaiting him, the music swells and Huey yells:
      That's the POWer of love.
      Just about perfect.

    3. The last scene in Irreconcilable Differences: Ryan O'Neal, Shelly Long, and Drew Barrymore (the cute nine-year-old version) meet for lunch. We don't hear what they're saying, but the soundtrack is Frank Sinatra's version of "You and Me (We Wanted It All)" by Carole Bayer Sager and Peter Allen.

      I am not a huge fan of any of those people, but those elements came together here to make a heart-tugging scene, as we've just watched a chronicle of a family wrecking itself and (finally) trying to patch up some sort of maintainable relationship.

    4. The TONY article's number one pick is Also sprach Zarathustra from 2001. Not really a song! But that gives me permission to plug Ennio Morricone's entire soundtrack for The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Especially its perfect use in the movie's very last scene.

    To paraphrase Will Farrell parodying James Lipton: if you haven't seen any of these, go right now to a place where movies are sold, rented, or streamed, and buy them, or rent them, or stream them. They are delightful.

  • Perhaps made even more appropriate by Mitt Romney's shoulda-known-better "I'm not concerned about the very poor" comment: there's new P.J. O'Rourke content available from the Weekly Standard, and it examines the dirty little secret of the "progressive elites": they hate the poor.
    The elites who denounce poverty despise the poor. Their every high-minded, right-thinking “poverty program” proves this detestation—from the bulldozing of vibrant tenement communities to the drug law policing policies that send poor kids to prison and rich kids to rehab to the humiliation of food stamps and free school lunches to the loathsome inner-city public schools where those free lunches are slopped onto cafeteria trays.

    The federal government has some 50 different “poverty programs.” Nearly half a trillion dollars is spent on them each year. That’s about $11,000 per man, woman, and child under the poverty line, enough to lift each and every one of them out of poverty. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2011 poverty guideline for a family of three: $18,530.) We call them “poverty programs” for a reason. If ordinary people with down-to-earth common sense were spending that half trillion, we’d call them “modest prosperity programs.”

    Something Mitt should read. I wish he had the guts to quote it.

  • Good stuff on "fairness" from Iowa's own Will Wilkinson.
    FAIRNESS played a central role in Barack Obama's state-of-the-union address, and I suspect it will play a central role in the president's re-election campaign. But what does Mr Obama have in mind when he deploys the f-word? It may not be the case that fairness is, as Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, puts it, "a concept invented so dumb people could participate in arguments". But it cannot be denied that fairness is an idea both mutable and contested. Indeed, last week's state-of-the-union address seems to contain several distinct conceptions of fairness worth drawing out and reflecting upon.
    I suspect what Mr Obama has in mind when he talks about fairness is: "semantically void term that focus groups like".

Last Modified 2012-09-24 4:56 AM EST