Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Lewis failed to mention the equally surprising pertinence of superficially unrealistic elements in the Lord of the Rings. Here are a few that suggest the influence of 1914—1918: the sweeping surveillance of the Eye of Sauron, the moments when reality shifts into dream during those long marches, or into nightmare in the midst of battle, the battlefield dominated by lumbering elephantine behemoths and previously unseen airborne killers, the Black Breath of despair that brings down even the bravest; the revenge of the trees for their wanton destruction.

The last word may go to Siegfried Sassoon, a quintessential Great War writer:

"I had seen something that night which overawed me. It was all in the day's work—an exhausted Division returning from the Somme offensive—but for me it was as though I had watched an army of ghosts. It was as though I had seen the War as it might be envisioned by the mind of some epic poet a hundred years hence."

The irony is that the man who did envision it this way was fighting in the trenches at the same battle.

From Tolkien and the Great War. It's a tribute to the new movie of Return of the King that these elements are captured so profoundly on film....

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

American Catholics I think have been increasingly dismayed by the Vatican's behavior over the past year. And I'm not referring simply to the Church's slow response to the nightmarish sexual abuse scandal. Here's Justin Katz, on the latest out-of-touch statement by a Vatican Cardinal....

Monday, December 15, 2003

Something for the boobs at Al-Jazeera to consider broadcasting:

"Why didn't you fight?" one Governing Council member asked Hussein as their meeting ended. Hussein gestured toward the U.S. soldiers guarding him and asked his own question: "Would you fight them?"

From Jim Hoagland.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Too good to pass up.

According to today's New York Times:

In all of Cashman's topspin and dropspin in trying to explain Pettitte's departure during a conference call with reporters yesterday in the principal owner's conspicuous absence, the general manager's most telling words were: "I'm glad he's in the National League. I'm glad he's not in Boston."

You know it's the Red Sox who are supposed to be obsessed with beating the champion New Yankees, not the other way around. Tells you something about the way the dynamics are changing between these two clubs. (They can feel us coming....)

Update: And here's a more damning take from the New York Post's Mike Vaccaro:

"One night, you go to bed and you have a clubhouse that is the envy of every baseball fan ever born, a mixture of talent and character, a gentle blend of grit, guile and guts, a team even the most ardent Yankees-hater has difficulty truly loathing.

"The next morning, you wake up, and Tino Martinez has become Jason Giambi; David Cone and Orlando Hernandez have become Javier Vazquez and Jose Contreras; Paul O'Neill has become either Gary Sheffield or Vladimir Guerrero; Scott Brosius has become Aaron Boone; and Andy Pettitte has become Kevin Brown. "

Thursday, December 11, 2003

George Steinbrenner is a fool.

Update: "To date, this offseason had only enhanced all of the negative feelings that Pettitte held toward the Yankees, according to multiple sources. Pettitte, who won 149 games in for the Yankees, couldn't understand why the club moved so slowly to re-sign him. He turned down a four-year, $54-million offer from the Red Sox, a clear sign that the contest to get him was limited to the Yankees and Astros."

From Newsday.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Some news today Sub Rosa, a small independent distributor in New York, is going to distribute my production of Richard the Second on Home Video and DVD. It will be nice (after all these years) to be able to tell people where they can find the movie.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

David Frum has a good take on the manufacturing sector:

"In all the economic good news this quarter, the stats on the manufacturing rebound tend to get overlooked. So pay attention: The index of manufacturing activity has bounced to its highest level since December 1983. Manufacturing hiring is now recovering too."