Friday, February 22, 2008

Teacher, mother, secret lover

Angry winter conditions mean work was closed today, so I found myself eating leftover pizza at 8 a.m., wondering how to spend my day off. I watched the latest episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. It was alright. I keep watching it because I have an interest in the franchise, but I'm sure that will diminish the same way it did with Highlander and a whole slew of other properties that were driven into the ground. The two most interesting aspects of the show are Richard T. Jones' FBI character James Ellison's investigation of Sarah Connor & company, which does not get nearly enough airtime and script treatment, and Summer Glau as "Cameron" the itty bitty titty Terminator. Glau is fairly attractive, all things considered. Can she act? I guess so. I mean, if you only knew her from this show, it'd be hard to tell. She's playing a robot, after all. Here's proof. Hot, creepy, arousing, disturbing proof.

I also got around to watching the TV pilot of the new Knight Rider series. The revamped theme song is kind of a metaphor for the whole movie in general. The first familiar notes make you go "yeah, I can get into this," and then it starts doing its own thing and it's not interesting, and you kind of want to see the old show again. Or hear the old theme. Whatever. At various points, the show and advertisements blurred, with the new KITT blabbing about GPS and satellite navigation, followed by commercials starring KITT and the new Michael (Traceur, played by Justin Bruening) talking about Ford. Speaking of KITT, no offense to Val Kilmer, but I would have rathered they hired back Mr. Feeny, I mean William Daniels, to reprise his role as the voice of KITT. They were actually considering Will Arnett to play the voice, so I guess Kilmer is a better bet. I mean, shit, it could have been Chris Tucker or Roseanne Barr. The best part of the show, besides trying to ignore that Bruce Davison looked like Nick Nolte post-mugshot, was the beautiful Deanna Russo playing Davison's daughter. She is a knockout, even with that distracting mole on her neck. I've been waiting a long time since the days of Winona Ryder and Alyssa Milano, and while I thought Scarlett Johansson was gonna be my girl, Miss "I'm Blonde Now" just never captured my imagination the way the other two did. Yes, I love brunettes, and Russo is stellar. She can sort of act, too, which is nice.

Finally, I want to talk briefly about a show I can wholeheartedly endorse. Breaking Bad is a fabulous mix of drama and I almost want to say dark comedy, but I don't want to describe it the wrong way. Yes, it can be funny, almost always at inappropriate or uncomfortable times for the characters, but it doesn't set out to be a kneeslapper. It's just a well-written program, with a script that fleshes out even the minor characters and lets subplots develop. The cast is solid. Just to describe the show, it's about a high school chemistry teacher (Walter White, played by Bryan Cranston) who learns he has terminal cancer, and gets involved in making crystal meth with a former student-turned-druggie (Jesse Pinkman, played by Aaron Paul). This leads to a series of successes and failures that ultimately get Cranston deeper into trouble. I can't tout it enough, or maybe I can but simply wish to stop typing. It's on Sundays at 9 or 10 (or both) on AMC.

Update: For those who like hidden meanings, Teacher = Breaking Bad, Mother = Terminator, Secret Lover = Knight Rider.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Ivy League Thought Process

The University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business conducted a survey in 2007 about spending habits of consumers. This year, they conducted a follow-up study. This latest survey was to further examine the results from the previous inquiries, which "found that spending differences between tightwads and spendthrifts were much greater among respondents with higher income (>$100,000) than among respondents with lower income (≤$50,000)." Mr. Scott Rick from Wharton kindly sent the initial thoughts on the results to the people who participated.
Of course, these results are correlational, and so it’s not clear what’s causing what. It could be the case that the spending habits of spendthrifts are most sensitive to changes in income. In economic terms, the marginal propensity to consume” may be greater among spendthrifts than among tightwads. Alternatively, it could be the case that spendthrifts who particularly enjoy to spend are particularly motivated to seek high-paying careers that can finance those desires. That is, income is not randomly assigned, and different consumer types may select into high-paying careers for different reasons.

* * *

This is only a summary of the analyses conducted thus far, and there is more to do, but the initial results argue against the differential marginal propensity to consume hypothesis. Instead, the results provide some initial support for the selection hypothesis, namely that different consumer types select into high-paying jobs or careers for different reasons.
To summarize: people choose to obtain jobs that pay high salaries so that they spend money, and people choose low-paying jobs if they don't like to spend money.

To quote my co-worker, "I guess conversely, people who don’t like money really enjoy being poor. Sounds perfectly reasonable to me."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

There's a recession down south

I received an email via the usual series of tubes:
Subject: Don't be shame along of of your male aggregate size

Your wife shack up with your friend that's why you are alone.

For reason of she has always dreamed about big aggregate.

Enlarge your instrument and you'll forget about this problems for all.

Increase your male device size and you'll forget about problems for sure.
It seems like it would just be easier to only have friends with small portfolios, especially with the way the economy is these days.

Monday, February 18, 2008

This Tube can make or break Presidents

In honor of Presidents Day and this annoying primary election season, let's look back at the wit and wisdom of the 1976 film "Network":

There's something curious about listening to the Tube rant via YouTube. Anyway, "Network" was composed of a series of Paddy Chayefsky's brilliant monologues strung together by the great director Sidney Lumet, with all dialogue merely secondary build up to the soliloquies belted out by one of the finest casts ever assembled, each syllable still resonating 30+ years later. The most memorable of all of them, however, was Peter Finch's Howard Beale. His "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take it anymore" is right up there with "I am your father" as quotable 70s cinema.

Finch had a heart attack after the movie was completed, thus going out on a high note, having just finished his best work. Finch wasn't the only one to die after "Network" was released; Faye Dunaway's career joined Finch in death. Up until then, Dunaway had been the new queen of cinema, starring in such pictures as "Bonnie and Clyde," "The Thomas Crown Affair," and the fantastic "Chinatown." After "Network," she appeared in over 50 films, and none of them matched her output from 67-76. In fact, none of them are really worth your time, period.

Although Dunaway squandered the rest of her career, she still certified herself as a memorable actress early in her work, thanks in no small part to "Network." "Network" is one of the most important films of the the 70s. It is easily in the top ten list of that decade, and if you don't think so, you're a shit and I'm not sure we can be friends anymore.