Here’s a little item that appeared earlier today on The Huffington Post:
“In April 2005, police swarmed the U.S. Capitol to confront an erratic Australian man, carrying two suitcases, who they feared was a suicide bomber. After blowing up one of the bags, officers realized he was harmless. The police never noticed the two nervous young men on a nearby sidewalk filming the Capitol during the standoff. But they might have been the real threat, according to newly released documents. The men, ultraconservative Muslims from Georgia, were making surveillance videos that could help extremists plan “some kind of terrorist attack”. . . .One of their videos was sent to a notorious al-Qaeda publicist.’ — The Washington Post, January 24, 2008
“Hi Geoff? How are you, darling? It’s Fareeda. Did I see you at Sundance? Yes, I thought that was you, but I was out at the Best Western with the gang from Sunshine Cleaning….Oh, that was you in the hot tub! Listen, I want to invite you to a screening. . . .Yes, it’s part of our building series. . . . Well, I don’t know why you have to get all snippy. When New Line calls, do you say ‘Oh, is this another hobbit movie?’ This one has some very innovative stuff — lot of digital hand-held, very Cloverfield. Yes, Thursday at Magno. See you there.” (more…)
Sometimes good things happen to good people. For a couple of years in the early nineties it was my good luck to work at Spy magazine and to sit in a cubicle located between cubicles occupied by two wonderful people, Joanne Gruber to the east, and Jim Collins to the west. Jim–funny, smart, unflinchingly decent, and very tall–has just come out with a terrific novel called Beginner’s Greek, which I devoured this past weekend. The book is a very lovely romance, beautifully held together by Jim’s superb voice, which is benign, tolerant and above all, warm. Permit me to quote: “Needless to say. . . now that he was actually presented with the possibility of falling in love with a beautiful oung woman sitting next to him on an airplane, Peter was terrified. Terrified that he might actually get what he’d dreamt of getting and terrified that now, having the opportunity to get it, he would screw up. If he did not find some way to speak to the young woman, and charm her, he would kill himself. If he spoke to her and she, without even looking at him, gathered her belongings and moved to another seat, he would also kill himself. . . .For without even speaking to her, Peter was convinced, he knew for a certainty, he had not the slightest doubt, that he could spend the rest of his life with the young woman who happened to sit next to him, and it would be blissful.” I hope when God chronicles my misadventures and foibles, he is doing so in a voice as generous as Jim’s. Congratulations, Jim! Breathlessly I await Intermediate Greek.
Had a lovely time today talking to Matthew Weiner, the Executive Producer of Mad Men, the most excellent AMC series. I was talking to Weiner for USA Weekend about The Apartment, the Billy Wilder classic now in a Collectors’ Edition DVD. Weiner was so smart and articulate about the film, and very generous with his time. Matt, as it turns out, was born in Baltimore (his father was on the faculty of Johns Hopkins); oddly, just before talking to Matt, I had been emailing Tom Callahan, author of a terrific biography of Johnny Unitas (Johnny U: The Life and Times of John Unitas). Why did I suddenly want crab cakes for lunch? I enjoyed talking to Matt immensely, and I barely got to ask him about his series or about his work on The Sopranos. One preview comment from Matt: for a movie that has been called cynical and dark, The Apartment is a film that takes love very, very seriously. Yes! Exactly! Scratch a cynic, and you’ll find a disappointed (but undaunted) romantic.
(I took this photo of Matt a couple weeks after I interviewed him, at an appearance he made at the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville.)
I was thrilled to receive a note from my old friend from college Ron Hull, who had seen The Coup mentioned in LaSalle’s alumni notes. Ron, as it turns out, is Senior Counsel at Underberg & Kessler, a law firm in Rochester NY, where he specializes environmental law. In 2007, Ron was named by Law & Politics as an Upstate New York Super Lawyer, which I believe entitles him to wear Spandex not only during recreational hours but also in court. Well done, Ron, and thanks so much for writing!