Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Behind The Scenes With Ron and Tom


Sorry if you have to cut and paste, but I promise it will be worth it. It certainly made DIH's day.

Monday, May 22, 2006

And I Thought This Would Be A Dull Week

The good people of New Orleans have re-elected Ray "God Is Punishing Black People" Nagin as their mayor.

Laissez les bon temps rouler, bebe!

Friday, May 19, 2006

There's An Industry Term For It, Isn't There?

Sure, Variety and the Hollywood Reporter have chimed in, but I know you're really all waiting for what the Minneapolis Star Tribune has to say:

"Long and winding 'Code': a limp adaptation of the bestseller would try the patience of a saint.

by Colin Covert

"At least they have some controversy going for them. The makers of 'The Da Vinci Code' will need all the newsmaking discord they can muster to turn this leaden religio-historic thriller into box-office gold. Ron Howard's adaptation of Dan Brown's bestseller is punishingly long, dramatically overwrought and fatally short on the thrills we demand from summertime blockbusters."

The only really intriguing thing in the film, Mr Covert goes on to say, is Tom Hanks's hairdo.

If you can access the paper on line the review is fun to read. Or access Mr. Covert at ccovert@startribune.com.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

77% Can Be Really, Really Wrong

Fandango reports that 77% of the movie tickets purchased through the site for the past week were for "The Da Vinci Code."

Given the rotten reviews, there are only a couple of reasons anyone would go see the picture now. You're a huge fan of the book and absolutely must see the film; you love anti-Catholic propaganda so you must feed your need; you have nothing better to do. There may be other reasons but those are the the big three.

If you're a member of the Reason #1 set, well, it's understandable. I realize the state of education in America has never been lower, so it's no surprise that a lot of people would read DVC and think it's a great book.

If you fall into the Reason #2 category, well, what can I say. I have a number of friends in that category so I'd rather not point out the obvious.

But if you are one of the Reason #3 crowd, I can help you. There are lots of other things you could be doing this weekend! In particular you could go to a different movie. "Over The Hedge" looks like fun, and you can earn valuable brownie points by offering to take your sister's kids to the movies.

Join the "Othercott." Buy tickets for "Over The Hedge." Screw up the studios' tracking numbers. It's the only language they understand. If Jesus Christ means anything to you at all, go to the movies. The one that doesn't try to convince the world that Christ was a fake. That every claim Dan Brown makes is true.

Any doubts about Mr Brown's intentions? See below.

NPR Weekend Edition interview April 26, 2003

LINDA WERTHEIMER: "How long does it take you to research a book like this? I assume that, among other things, you would hear from the world if you’ve got anything wrong."

DAN BROWN: "Certainly. And it takes me about two and a half years to entirely research and write a book like this. Before I even started writing a page, I’d spent a year in research, and a lot of the research for Angels and Demons that I did in Vatican City played into this book, as well as my art history training in Seville."

LINDA WERTHEIMER: "You’re trying not to get too fictional with the facts here?"

DAN BROWN: "Absolutely. The only thing fictional in The Da Vinci Code is the characters and the action that takes place. All of the locations, the paintings, the ancient history, the secret documents, the rituals, all of this is factual.

CNN Sunday Morning interview May 25, 2003

MARTIN SAVIDGE: "...When we talk about da Vinci and your book, how much is true and how much is fabricated in your storyline?"

DAN BROWN: "99 percent of it is true. All of the architecture, the art, the secret rituals, the history, all of that is true, the Gnostic gospels. All of that is. All that is fiction, of course, is that there's a Harvard symbologist named Robert Langdon, and all of his action is fictionalized. But the background is all true."

Good Morning America interview November 3, 2003 (ABC News Transcripts)

CHARLES GIBSON: "...This is a novel. If you were writing it as a non-fiction book.... how would it have been different?"

DAN BROWN: "I don't think it would have. I began the research for The Da Vinci Code as a skeptic. I entirely expected, as I researched the book, to disprove this theory. And after numerous trips to Europe, about two years of research, I really became a believer. And it’s important to remember that this is a novel about a theory that has been out there for a long time."
Cat | 05.17.06 - 9:29 pm | #

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

"But for WALES?"

From today's New York Times:

MORE ON 'The Da Vinci Code'
A Code That Takes Longer to Watch Than Read

Published: May 17, 2006
CANNES, France, May 17 — It seems you can't open a movie these days without provoking some kind of culture war skirmish, at least in the conflict-hungry media. Recent history — "The Passion of the Christ," "The Chronicles of Narnia" — suggests that such controversy, especially if religion is involved, can be very good business. "The Da Vinci Code," Ron Howard's adaptation of Dan Brown's best-selling primer on how not to write an English sentence, arrives trailing more than its share of theological and historical disputation. The arguments about the movie and the book that inspired it have not been going on for millennia — it only feels that way — but part of Columbia Pictures' ingenious marketing strategy has been to encourage months of debate and speculation while not allowing anyone to see the picture until the very last minute. Thus we have had a flood of think pieces on everything from Jesus and Mary Magdalene's pre-nuptial agreement to the secret recipes of Opus Dei, and vexed, urgent questions have been raised. Is Christianity a conspiracy? Is "The Da Vinci Code" a dangerous, anti-Christian hoax? What's up with Tom Hanks's hair?

Luckily, I lack the learning to address the first two questions. As for the third, well, it's long, and so is the movie. "The Da Vinci Code" is one of the few screen versions of a book that may take longer to watch than to read. (Curiously enough, Mr. Howard accomplished a similar feat with "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" a few years back.) To their credit, the director and his screenwriter, Akiva Goldsman (who collaborated with Mr. Howard on "Cinderella Man" and "A Beautiful Mind"), have streamlined Mr. Brown's story and refrained from trying to capture his, um, prose style. "Almost inconceivably, the gun into which she was now staring was clutched in the pale hand of an enormous albino with long white hair." Such language — note the exquisite "almost" and the fastidious tucking of the "which" after the preposition — can only live on the page. To be fair, though, Mr. Goldsman conjures up some pretty ripe dialogue all on his own. "Your God does not forgive murderers," hisses Audrey Tautou to Paul Bettany (who play a less than enormous, short-haired albino). "He burns them!" Theology aside, this remark can serve as a reminder that "The Da Vinci Code" is, above all, a murder mystery. And as such, once it gets going, Mr. Howard's movie has its pleasures. He and Mr. Goldsman have deftly rearranged some elements of the plot (I'm going to be careful here not to spoil anything), unkinking a few over-elaborate twists and introducing others that keep the action moving along. Hans Zimmer's appropriately overwrought score, pop-romantic with some liturgical decoration, glides us through scenes that might otherwise be talky and inert. The movie does, however, take a while to accelerate, popping the clutch and leaving rubber on the road as it tries to establish who is who, what they're doing and why.

Briefly stated: an old man (Jean-Pierre Marielle) is killed after hours in the Louvre, shot in the stomach, almost inconceivably, by a hooded assailant. Meanwhile, Robert Langdon (Mr. Hanks), a professor of religious symbology at Harvard, is delivering a lecture and signing books for fans. He is summoned to the crime scene by Bezu Fache (Jean Reno), a French policemen who seems very grouchy, perhaps because his department has cut back on its shaving cream budget.

Soon Langdon is joined by Sophie Neveu, a police cryptologist and also — Bezu Fache! — the murder victim's granddaughter. Grandpa, it seems, knew some very important secrets, which if they were ever revealed might shake the foundations of Western Christianity, in particular the Roman Catholic Church, one of whose bishops, the portly Aringarosa (Alfred Molina) is at this very moment flying on an airplane. Meanwhile, the albino monk, whose name is Silas and who may be the first character in the history of motion pictures to speak Latin into a cell phone, flagellates himself, smashes the floor of a church and kills a nun.

A chase, as Bezu's American colleagues might put it, ensues. It skids through the nighttime streets of Paris and eventually to London the next morning, by way of a Roman castle and a chateau in the French countryside. Along the way, the film pauses to admire various knick-knacks and art works, and to flash back, in desaturated color, to traumatic events in the childhoods of various characters (Langdon falls down a well; Sophie's parents are killed in a car accident; Silas stabs his abusive father). There are also glances further back into history, to Constantine's conversion, to the suppression of the Knights Templar and to that time in London when people walked around wearing powdered wigs.

Through it all, Mr. Hanks and Ms. Tautou stand around looking puzzled, leaving their reservoirs of charm scrupulously untapped. Mr. Hanks twists his mouth in what appears to be an expression of professorial skepticism, and otherwise coasts on his easy, subdued geniality. Ms. Tautou, determined to ensure that her name will never again come up in an Internet search for the word "gamine," affects a look of worried fatigue. In spite of some talk (a good deal less than in the book) about the divine feminine, chalices and blades and the spiritual power of sexual connection, not even a glimmer of eroticism flickers between the two stars. Perhaps it's just as well. When a cryptographer and a symbologist get together, it usually ends in tears.

But thank the deity of your choice for Ian McKellen, who shows up just in time to give "The Da Vinci Code" a jolt of mischievous life. He plays a wealthy and eccentric British scholar named Leigh Teabing. (I will give Mr. Brown this much: he's good at names. If I ever have twins or French poodles, I'm calling them Bezu and Teabing for sure.) Hobbling around on two canes, growling at his manservant, Remy (Jean-Yves Berteloot), Teabing is twinkly and avuncular one moment, barking mad the next. Sir Ian, rattling on about Italian paintings and medieval statues, seems to be having the time of his life, and his high spirits serve as something of a rebuke to the filmmakers, who should be having and providing a lot more fun.

Teabing, who strolls out of English detective fiction by way of a Tintin comic, is a marvelously absurd creature, and Sir Ian, in the best tradition of British actors slumming and hamming through American movies, gives a performance in which high conviction is indistinguishable from high camp. A little more of this — a more acute sense of its own ridiculousness — would have given "The Da Vinci Code" some of the lightness of an old-fashioned, jet-setting Euro-thriller.

But of course, movies of that ilk rarely deal with issues like the divinity of Christ or the search for the Holy Grail. In the cinema, such matters are best left to Monty Python. In any case, Mr. Howard and Mr. Goldsman handle the supposedly provocative material in Mr. Brown's book with kid gloves, settling on an utterly safe set of conclusions about faith and its history, presented with the usual dull sententiousness. So I certainly can't support any calls for boycotting or protesting this busy, trivial, inoffensive film. Which is not to say I'm recommending you go see it.

"The Da Vinci Code" is rated PG-13. It has some violent killings and a few profanities.

Also in today's NYT:

At Cannes, 'Da Vinci Code' Draws Lukewarm Praise

Published: May 17, 2006
CANNES, France -- ''The Da Vinci Code'' drew lukewarm praise, shrugs of indifference, some jeering laughter and a few derisive jabs Tuesday from arguably the world's toughest movie crowd: critics at the Cannes Film Festival.

The year's most anticipated movie, ''The Da Vinci Code'' was a generally faithful adaptation of Dan Brown's monster best seller, spinning a murder thriller that stems from a cover-up of secrets about Christianity's roots.

While readers worldwide devoured the novel, reaction from Cannes critics ranged from mild endorsement of its potboiler suspense to groans of ridicule over its heavy melodrama.

''It's a movie about whether the greatest story ever told is true or not, and it's not the greatest movie ever screened, is it?'' said Baz Bamigboye, a film columnist for London's Daily Mail. ''As a thriller, well,'' he continued, shrugging.

''Maybe the next day I'll forget about it,'' said Igor Soukmanov of Unistar Radio in Belarus. ''But today for two hours it was good entertainment. ... As a Hollywood movie, it's a very nice picture.''

Critics got their first look at ''The Da Vinci Code'' a day before its world premiere at Cannes on Wednesday, when it also debuts at theaters in France and some other countries. The film opens worldwide over the following two days, including the United States on Friday.

Directed by Ron Howard, the movie stars Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou as strangers hurled together on a frantic quest for the Holy Grail after a series of murders is committed.

The filmmakers add some twists and variations here and there, but the general thrust of the novel remains intact, including its theory that Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene were married and had a child, which has prompted denouncements from many Christians.

The Cannes audience clearly grew restless as the movie dragged on to two and a half hours and spun a long sequence of anticlimactic revelations.

''I kept thinking of the Energizer Bunny, because it kept going and going and going, and not in a good way,'' said James Rocchi, a film critic for CBS 5 television in San Francisco and the online outlet Cinematical. ''Ron Howard makes handsome films. He doesn't make bad ones, but he doesn't make great ones.''

One especially melodramatic line uttered by Hanks drew prolonged laughter and some catcalls, and the audience continued to titter for much of the film's remainder.

Some people walked out during the movie's closing minutes, though there were fewer departures than many Cannes movies provoke among harsh critics. When the credits rolled, there were a few whistles and hisses, and there was none of the scattered applause even bad movies sometimes receive at Cannes.

Critics singled out co-star Ian McKellen, playing a wry Grail enthusiast who joins the search, as the movie's highlight, injecting hearty humor and delivering the most nuanced performance. Paul Bettany added a seething mix of tragic pathos and destructive zealousness as a monk assassin who carries out the slayings.

Bamigboye said all the actors were solid, but enthusiastically added, ''I've got to tell you, Ian McKellen steals it. He slices all the crap away.''

White Guys Unite!

News item:

Movie Bosses Warned To Accurately Portray Albinism
7 January 2005 (WENN)
Movie director Ron Howard is being advised to tread carefully when filming the movie adaptation of novel The Da Vinci Code this year, by not permitting albino stereotypes. The National Organization For Albinism And Hypopigmentation (NOAH) has asked film bosses to make sure the upcoming movie doesn't portray its albino character as a red-eyed psychopath. NOAH president Mike McGowan says, "One huge problem with (author Dan Brown's book) The Da Vinci Code is how (the character of) Silas is described with red eyes. That's a myth. Most often in people with albinism the eyes are light blue or even hazel. Ron Howard can make a big difference for people with albinism by continuing the trend away from a hack device if they adjust the Silas character to not be an evil albino. Over the years the stereotyping and misinformation foisted on the albinism community by film-makers does real harm to real people."

I decided to investigate this for myself. As readers of this blog know, my home is Squirrel Central. And one of those squirrels is an albino.

All I had to do was set out a couple of tulip bulbs ...

"I totally agree," said "Whitey," after I'd read him the piece. "Ron Howard has some nerve. Does he have any idea how tough things are for us albinos? Look at me, I'm always filthy. No matter how many times I lick myself. And white fur is gorgeous when it's clean. If I were human I'd have drycleaning bills up the yingyang. Do millionaires like Hanks and Howard give a damn? Not on you life. Mmm. These yellow ones are my favorites."

"What about this bit about albinos having red eyes?" I asked. "You can't seriously object to that, can you?"

"Of course I object! Look at my eyes. Are they red?"

"I guess I'd call them pink."

"You're damn right you would. They might be red-rimmed but the irises are a lovely pink, thank you very much. Speaking of pink, you got any hyacinths around this place?"

"Not today..."

"Don't make me raid your garage, lady."

"OK, OK! There are two left. Over by the rosemary plants."

"Hm. Rosemary, huh?"

"Please. Please, I'm begging you. Not my rosemary!"

"It'll cost you. I'll come looking for a new hyacinth bed next week."

"You squirrels are so evil."

"Sure we are. But not because I'm an albino, you got that? All us rodents are bastards."

[Hat tip: ComicKoz]

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


This has to be seen to be believed.

Blog: The 73rd Virgin
Post: A Canticle for Mohammed
Link: http://the73rdvirgin.blogspot.com/2006/05/canticle-for-mohammed.html

If the link doesn't work, go to:

and click on the first post.

Thanks, Jeff!

Monday, May 15, 2006

More Kennedy Kiss Kiss

Today's New York Times carries an absolutely priceless piece about poor, poor Patrick Kennedy. Sometimes DIH just has to share.

"WASHINGTON, May 14 — Patrick J. Kennedy was keeping an uncomfortable secret."

[DIH: Just one? You could have fooled us.]

'Representative Kennedy, scion of America's most loved and hated Democratic clan, has been a passionate advocate for ending the stigma of mental illness; he told voters years ago of his treatment for depression and cocaine abuse."

["Cocaine abuse" is also called a felony. If you're a Republican, for example. Or some poor schmuck on the street. If you're a Kennedy it's an "illness."]

"When he crashed his Mustang convertible into a Capitol barricade in the middle of the night earlier this month, Mr. Kennedy, of Rhode Island, was thrust into a clash between personal privacy and political beliefs."

[Personal privacy: "Hey, it's my Mustang, I'll crash it anywhere I want! Try and stop me! Or my dad, or my cousins..."
Political beliefs: See above.]

"He consistently talked about being in the spotlight and not being able to just say, 'I'm struggling, I have issues,' " said Jack McConnell, a good friend who counseled Mr. Kennedy that morning, May 5. "One of the things he weighed was whether doing this would take the weight off his shoulders that he always felt when he was out in public."

[The "weight" that has always translated into a free pass whenever he broke the law has served Patrick well. If anyone believes Patrick wanted that off his shoulders, I repeat: there is a lovely bridge in Brooklyn I'd be happy to sell you.]

"At 38, the youngest child of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, and his first wife, Joan, is a success in his own right. But the skinny kid with the red hair and freckles is a man now..."

[And a fat one at that. Take that, you "skinny kid" name-callers!]

"...and after years of having his foibles turn up in the gossip sheets,"

["Foibles:" reporter-ese for "Kennedy trashes yacht, causes 28K damage," and "Kennedy stiffs elderly widow landlady on rent" (see his 1996 Congressional campaign).
["Gossip sheets:" also called police reports.}

"...he is at a turning point both political and personal."

[The "turning point" being: in this age of internet and eyes everywhere, can he keep up the family tradition of getting away wih murder and still being re-elected? Or does he need a new strategy? Watch for a new bill in Congress demanding a "Kennedy Protection Program."]

""This is a test," said one of his mentors, Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island. "I think he has set a standard for himself of dealing forthrightly."

[Senator Reed? Would you like to buy a bridge?]

[But as even the NYT nas noticed, ]

"That forthrightness only goes so far; while in treatment, Mr. Kennedy declined an interview."

[ Patrick isn't allowed to talk to the press without an army or advisors telling him what to say. Maybe he'll hire a few in rehab. Drug addicts, alcoholics, etc., as any counselor can tell you, are extraordinarily good liars. Patrick should be able to pick up plenty of talent that will serve the family well.]

""I don't think anybody realized until now how serious his problems were," said M. Charles Bakst, a longtime political columnist for The Providence Journal. "Now it all makes sense, and you realize that this kid is on the brink. "

[Wait. I thought the "kid" was a "man " now. Which is it?]

DIH should stop now, but there's one more line she can't resist:

"Like many of his relatives, he is an advocate for the disenfranchised. But as Mr. Bakst said, "He seems to feel it personally."

"Disenfranchised" means you can't vote. Convicted felons, for example, are "disenfranchised." Now I wonder why Patrick's relatives would be an advocate for those guys?

And as for feeling it "personally," in AA they tell you to remember "there but for the grace of God go I." That must be it: "There but for the name go the lot of us."

Saturday, May 13, 2006

'Tis The Season

So it's forty degrees, raining, windy, miserable....

You guessed it, it's tee ball season!

Yes, it's time to sign your child up for sixteen sessions of pure wretchedness. Practices in the rain, followed by rain-outs in the rain. Frantic parents running around a vast park, trying to figure out which field is "Field Number Five." (The same parents losing it when the umpteenth person tells them "It's just over the hill.") Ebullient coaches announcing "snack time" only to find out the designated snack providers never got the email. It's so much fun. I don't see why everyone doesn't do it.

Today was "Picture Day." All the park district teams showed up at the rec center so they could have their pictures taken. Every team wears a different color t-shirt, and you get to see that once again your kid got the ugliest color they were handing out. But that's ok, since under the yellow light in the gym everyone looks like he's in the last stages of jaundice anyway. The photos should be gorgeous.

I think that's the whole reason for tee ball leagues: to keep the photographers in business. Half the kids only show up for the picture anyway. Which is no wonder, since half the games are rained out.

Now if they could just figure out a way to announce a rain-out before we all arrive on the field with our shivering little ones in tow, that would be something to write home about.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

They Are Panicking.

Tom Hanks is panicking.

The Drudge Report linked to this item from "This Is London" today:

" Oscar-winner Hanks said objectors to The Da Vinci Code are taking the film too seriously, telling the Evening Standard: "We always knew there would be a segment of society that would not want this movie to be shown.

"But the story we tell is loaded with all sorts of hooey and fun kind of scavenger-hunt-type nonsense.

"If you are going to take any sort of movie at face value, particularly a huge-budget motion picture like this, you'd be making a very big mistake.

"It's a damn good story and a lot of fun... all it is is dialogue. That never hurts.""

Now, when a film star says his big-budget picture, with extravagant footage shot all over the world, is nothing more than "dialogue," you know that film has a problem.

Not to mention calling his own star vehicle "hooey" and "nonsense."

Imagine, if you will, Tom Cruise making similar claims about "MI 3."

Could you do it? Not on your life.

Hanks is already trying to distance himself- and his public image-- from "DVC."

A little late, Tom. A little late.

It's Time, I Guess.

It's time to weigh in on "The Da Vinci Code."

The story has been talked to death. A society called the Priory of Sion, whose long list of famous members include Leonardo and Isaac Newton, knew the truth about Jesus Christ: that he was not God but ony a man, that he married Mary Magdalene and had a child with her, that the descendants of Mr and Mrs Jesus are alive today and hunted by the Catholic Church. That Jesus was not believed to be God until the Emperor Constantine decided He should be. That the Gospels are a hoax.

The absolute rot that Dan Brown's novel is based upon has been well exposed (and is widely available for those interested- see http://thedavincihoax.com, for example). A convicted French swindler made up the "Priory of Sion" story in the 1950s. He forged a manuscript with an added list of names. He somehow managed toget his forgery into the Louvre, where it was subsequently "discovered."

[Note to forgers: if you're going to create a manuscript that purportedly dates from the 12th century, it's a bad idea to quote Scripture using a 19th-century translation. Just a word of advice.]

The movie opens a week from tomorrow. No doubt it will be a huge opening. Lots of people will go, lots of people will pay, and tragically, lots of people will leave the theater convinced they've just learned the truth. That's the saddest part: that so many people will be misled.

"Well," you're thinking, "that's just people who are too dumb to figure it out anyway."

Not so. A lot of otherwise thoughtful people will be deceived. I'm thinking of some right now- people of good heart and will but little knowledge and just enough conventional anti-Catholic sentiment to be caught up in this thing. People who, with one or two different turns in life, may have come to know Christ instead of some phony.

In other words, souls will be lost as a result of "The Da Vinci Code."

In "A Man For All Seasons," after Sir Thomas More has been convicted as a result of Richard Rich's perjury, the condemned man notes, "That's a chain of office you're wearing, Richard. The Red Dragon?"

An offficial explains the significance: Richard Rich has been made state attorney for Wales.

Thomas More nods. "Richard," he sighs, "it profits a man not to lose his soul if he gains the world for it. But for Wales?"

I hope Ron Howard remembers that great momentin movies when the Oscar nominations come in.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Plus Ca Change....

The online version of today's New York TImes carries a lead story about animal mothers who kill or eat their young.

Ten bucks says that on Sunday, Mother's Day, there's a big ol'headline about how same-sex partners make better-- not just as good, better-- mothers than the ordinary kind.

Any takers?

Enlightenment: $2.72

I read a lot of books about writing and the writer's life. It's amazing how many of them mention coffeeshops.

Walk into a coffeeshop sometime in New York City or Berkshire County, Massachusetts and count the solitary figures absorbed in their laptops. Every one of them is dreaming of having a bestseller some day. I'm told that in LA you can't sip a latte without tripping over a dozen Sundance aspirants.

Coffeeshops are good places for writers for a lot of reasons. The space is free, you can get a wi-fi connection, there's the ambient sound to make you feel less lonely but still able to concentrate. And of course, there's the caffeine.

The book I'm working on is about Italy. I'm not really a coffee fanatic- my family is Irish, we grew up downing tea by the potful- but the scent of caffe latte is invaluable to my Italian memory bank. I first went to Italy in those nearly-forgotten days before there was a Starbucks on every American corner. Espresso and lattes were still unusual here outside of certain neighborhoods in Brooklyn.

There was something special about coffee in Italy: the thick ceramic cups and saucers, the tiny spoons, the sugarbowls shaped like stainless steel gondolas. It's just a different experience.

These days I get my lattes in a small coffeeshop near my daughter's school. There are no cups and saucers, no tiny spoons: I get a lidded paper cup and a wooden stick to stir in a couple of packets of sugar. But every time I sit down with one I can picture myself in one particular cafe in Castelgandolfo: not the posh ones on the square, but a small, barely-lit storefront that put a few tables out on the street for an hour in the morning. I can see the improbably red-haired woman working the espresso machine, her big smile and the laughing way she raised her eyebrows at our tourist Italian. (By the way, if you ask for a ""latte" in Castelgandolfo all you'll get is a glass of milk, so ask for a caffe latte if that's what you want.)

It's not exactly Proust's madelaine, but it helps.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Perfect Ad Is Waiting

Whoever is thinking about running against Patrick Kennedy this fall:

The perfect campaign ad is waiting for you at The Smoking Gun website. It's Patrick's written statement following his April 15 car accident in Portsmouth, R.I.

Does anyone even have to even say "DUI"?


Friday, May 05, 2006

Record Time!

Question: How long will it be before the media start talking about "the Kennedy Curse?"

Answer: about 90 seconds. CNN's commentator is already rattling on about the famous "curse." Which, you will recall, was born the day after Mary Jo Kopechne drowned off Chappaquiddick Island, and was, acccording to Senator Ted, solely responsible for her death.

It's not a "Kennedy" curse, oh you mental giants of the media. The curse is on anyone stupid enough to get involved with that crew. It's the mere mortals like Mary Jo who end up paying the price.

"For shame!" the Kennedy-slaves out there are tut-tutting. "How can you say that family is not cursed! After the deaths of those wonderful sons!"

You know what, K-slaves? Go talk to a ghetto mother who's lost a child to gang violence. Explain the "Kennedy curse" to her. Tell her how these people who grew up with all the wealth and power in the world are worse off than she is. How they're "cursed."

And I agree with Megan- if this was one of President' Bush's daughters we'd be hearing screams from the media about irresponsibly parenting and God knows what else.

And I doubt the Bush girls would get away with refusing to take any questions, either. As Patrick just did.

Lucky Minnesota!

Patrick Kennedy is coming!

Yes! Right here! To enter rehab!

And to think he could have done rehab anywhere. But he chose US!
Is everyone else as thrilled as I am?

Kennedy told reporters a couple of minutes ago that he "has no recollection" of the car crash the other night. This is after issuing statements that "alcohol was not involved." You have to wonder how he could remember that part, but nothing else.

He admitted he is a drug addict, that he's had these problems for many years. "That's not how I want to live my life," he said, "and that's not how I want to serve the people of Rhode Island."

The question, of course, is how do the people of RI want to be served? By an out-of-control drug addict, who no matter how many times he's cleaned up his act so far has always managed to find his way back to drugs?

What about it, Rhode Island? This good enough for you?

Patrick Kennedy

Deja vu all over again. A Kennedy gets into a car wreck and denies all responsibility. I'm not one to complain but you'd think by now they'd have thought of a new act.
Oh wait- I said "thought" in the same breath as "Kennedy." My mistake!

For anyone who may have missed the item, earlier this week Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), son of Senator Ted Kennedy, slammed his car into a concrete barrier near the Capitol at quarter to three in the morning. After he climbed out of the car he staggered around claiming he was late for a House vote. (The House had adjourned three hours before.) As the two Capitol Hill police officers on the scene attempted to deal with the incident, two senior police officers showed up, dismissed the rank and file guys, and drove Patrick home.

Kennedy claimed he had "consumed no alcohol" prior to the accident. He also declared "I asked for no special treatment."

Two questions:

1. Does anyone believe any of that?

2. If so, would you be interested in purchasing a bridge? There's a nice one in Brooklyn I can sell you.

The claim that he had consumed no alcohol is pretty preposterous, since a waitress at the Hawk & Dove, on Pennsylvania Ave. a few blocks away from the Capitol, reported seeing him there having a few drinks earlier. This being a Kennedy case, I think we can safely assumed the waitress in question will shortly have a lapse of memory. Right before she goes out and buys a Ferrari.

The claim that he "asked for no special treatment" is an even bigger joke. Come on, people. This is a guy who's been through how many rehabs but still thinks he can hang around bars and not get into trouble. Obviously ordinary rules don't apply to Patrick.

But perhaps the most outrageous thing of all is Patrick's claim that he took two drugs- Ambien and Phenergan- before the accident. He took a tummy drug that according to the PDA causes extreme drowsiness, combined it with a sleeping pill,and then got behind the wheel. Nothing wrong with that. right? I mean, you can't get arrested for taking prescription sleeping pills and driving. It's not illegal. And it's not wrong. Certainly not for a Kennedy.

For a Kennedy, it's par for the course. It combines breathtaking hubris with astonishing stupidity. Haven't we been down this road before with this family?

But, you are saying, at least this time no one got killed. There was no Mary Jo dead on the sidewalk, no Caroline -and-her-sister floating in the water.

That was pure luck. I guess we'll have to wait until Patrick goes all the way in following in daddy's footsteps and kills someone before it will affect this bozo's career.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Ultimate Nightmare, And The Solution

The ultimate nightmare (on a visit back East with my husband and his family):

Mother-in-law: It was so lovely having Richard all to myself last week. You know, Susan- having lunch with your husband is like having lunch with Jesus Christ.

The solution:

Aunt Sunny Aronowitz: What a horrible thing to say! The man in DEAD!