Friday, February 03, 2006

RE: great writer vs great book

(LJ: Are the lack of caps on purpose?). I'm the fellow SSJ referenced, and that's not exactly what I said. LJ found it odd that Capote became so well known based on one book. In fact he was something of a literary darling upon publishing his first novel. (Don't have time to link.) I opined that there were several authors who had written only one novel and were well known: Harper Lee, J.D. Salinger (I know more than one , Zoey and somebody, but who read that?), Margret Mitchell.

Who else?

great writer vs great book

I went to see "Capote" last week (I was expecting a so-so movie with a great performance by PSH - was pleasantly surprised that the movie itself was very good and while PSH is getting all the deserved hype, there were also several other excellent performances) and was reflecting on the post-script at the end of the film, which was that he never completed another book after "in cold blood". Since that book was published in 1963/1964 and he died in 1984, I was rather surprised by this revelation. That got me to thinking, then why is he considered such a great writer, because while he is reputed to be one of the great authors of our time, "in cold blood" is the only thing I can name that he wrote. I know he had to have written something before "in cold blood", but it obviously hasn't registered with me. Can a writer get the label of "great" just by writing one great book? Or, should the book be labeled as great, not the author?

One of my fellow SSJ's I believe will argue that if one writes a great book, then said author is therefore great. I'm not sure I would agree, yet I can see both sides of the argument. If Shakespeare (assuming that he did write everything attributed to him) only had written one play (let's assume that play was "Hamlet"), should he be labeled as great? The play itself is.
But, if the one play were, say, "Twelfth Night", then would he?

2000 year old thought on Anonymous Giving

Matthew 6:2-4:

2"So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you...."

Lileks Uses Scooter’s Contribution

An ardent fan of James Lileks since discovering his website via link at Bill Whittle’s ejectejecteject, I was pleased this morning to see I’d made a small contribution to today’s Bleat.

In yesterday’s Bleat (I’d link it but the most recently archived Bleat seems to be Wednesday’s), he mentioned that he had been doing a lot of his writing lately standing up. I’ve been searching for an affordable stand-up desk that doesn’t look like a drafting table for several years now so I can get off my duff for at least some of the day at the office. During that search I somehow learned that our Secretary of Defense uses one so I sent Mr. Lileks a link to Department of Defense photo showing Secretary Rumsfeld at work.

I was tickled when Lileks wrote me back just a few hours after I sent him my note; I can’t imagine how many emails he must get in a day. (Reminded me of January, 2001 when I wrote Marvin Olasky, Editor in Chief of World Magazine, out of the blue at his UT email address asking for church recommendations in Austin...sent that one about midnight and he replied about five hours later.)

Lileks included the DOD link in today’s Bleat. I couldn’t be happier. My work is done. I'm taking the day off.

(Could I possibly have squeezed in any more gratuitous references to real bloggers in a pathetic hope of getting noticed?)

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Who will replace Vince Young?

Another top 5 class for Mack Brown. From the Houston Chronicle. Gotta love it when they're already in school.

Another Althouse topic?

Why not? I got nothing. Eggagog. THE CREEPS!!!

Bart Whitaker update

A reader notes that the Fort Bend County DA will be seeking the death penalty. Chronicle story here. Previous posts here and here.

The reader also says that the detective won "Employee of the Year," but I didn't see a reference to that in the paper. Maybe he/she can elaborate.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Katrina Donation Update...Feb 3 Update

UPDATE: As I suspected, my client has approved the first family. I couldn't be happier.

Interviewed a family today who will likely be the beneficiaries of my client's generosity.

For those who haven't been here before, I have a client who has purchased two new homes (3/2s) here in Austin for use by Katrina family evacuees for two to three years with an option to purchase at the end of the term. They will pay some nominal rent which will be held in trust by Foundation Communities and possibly used as the down payment at the time of the purchase. Foundation Communities will also tutor them with financial/budgeting and other skills.

It will also set up a savings account for the acquisition of the home into which the family will contribute and FC will match. I love my client and FC (extra thanks to FC for all the initial screening of the families as I never could have done all that) for doing this but this post is about the family.

This family spent 4 horrible days in the convention center and ended up in Austin not even knowing where they were headed. Even the trek to the convention center was brutal. None of them had ever left the Crescent City before this plight.

The family consists of the dad of 33 years and the mom of about 31. They have one son (4) and another due in April. He obtained a furniture assembly job from a large national retail chain the day after the job fair here in Austin about a week or so after arriving in Austin. He'd been assembling furniture in the Big Easy for seven years and was making about $7.50 an hour. He's already had two raises here and is making almost $12.00 an hour. She (formerly a manager for a fast-food restaurant in N.O....ran out of nicknames) is currently in school learning about medical billing and, now having met her and knowing a bit about the medical market here, I'd bet that she'll be making $12.00-$14.00 an hour after she graduates. The little one is as cute and well behaved as he can least he was during the course of the interview. Dad made one trip back to inspect their one bedroom house in the central business district and could only retrieve/salvage one item: their son's bicycle.

This is a truly deserving family and I'm confident my client will ultimately approve them. What a blessing for this family. Ownership of the American Dream out of the disaster. I couldn't be prouder of my client and the good work of Foundation Communities. Could things still go south? Sure, but I've met the folks with this outfit and I'm confident that their follow up will give this family every chance at the Dream.

To assist with that good work, visit here.

Hat-tip: thanks to my friends at Community New Start for connecting me with Foundation Communities.

Rep. Harold E. Ford, Jr. and Sen. Barak Obama

I know that Obama is the current Dem. fave for up and comimg African-American pols, but I've always been impressed with the Congressman from Tennessee.

I need to look at their voting records.

Bush echoes SSJ...

echoing Gaffney on "nucular" energy.

The quote from Gaffney's column: "Secondly, we have a proven model for doing things differently. We have diversified sources to meet many of our energy needs (for example, coal, nuclear power, hydroelectric and biomass)."

We've got to follow the French lead here.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

re: american idol

I think most people watch it for the freak factor. To laugh at them, to hear the judges mock them - no other reason. The "winners" wouldn't get the time of day from record companies (in fact, I think I have read that many of the contestants tried and tried before AI and were turned down, of course) - it's only because they make it to the semi-finals or something that they get to record anything (part of the deal of winning).

Music is all about taste. What you may like, I may hate. I remember, back in the day, walking down the main drag in college and hearing some music coming from a store. I was drawn to it, because it was different. And thus, I turned my friends on to Joe Jackson. My friends said.."who"? And I said..."you won't be asking that in a couple of years". And the rest, as they say, is history.

(And before you get all James Frey on me - the paragraph above is a memoir and is how I remember the event. Some of the names, places and events may have been embellished.)

American Idol

OK, a little different for us. If Althouse* can do it without being embarrassed, why can't we?

I've watched with varying degrees of interest since it started. I enjoy the early bad stuff more than the end game. I have realized this season that I apparently have no ear for good singing. People I thought were no good were praised by the judges and people I thought terrible weren't according to the judges.

Scooter and LJ, you (at least at some time in the distant past) had the pulse of the music scene; what say ye?

*Like she needs my reference. I assume if you're reading this you know who Althouse is, so why the reference? Because if you don't, you must. She's that good.

Mother Sheehan needs your encouragement

Here. Formerly clueless loony lefty (FCLL) admission: I once gave money to DiFi.

This just in: She'll be at SOTU, courtesy of some San Fran congressperson.

UPDATE: LJ reports she's been arrested.

More on Oil Prices for LJ

May I recommend a short article by Walter E. Williams a paragraph of which follows:

"After Hurricane Katrina struck, gasoline prices shot up almost a dollar nearly overnight. Some people have been quick to call this price-gouging, particularly since wholesalers and retailers were charging the higher price for gasoline already purchased and in their tanks prior to the hurricane. The fact of business is that what a seller paid for something doesn't necessarily determine its selling price. Put in a bit more sophisticated way: Historical costs have nothing to do with selling price. For example, suppose you maintained a 10-pound inventory of coffee in your cupboard. When I ran out, you'd occasionally sell me a pound for $2. Suppose there's a freeze in Brazil destroying much of the coffee crop, driving coffee prices to $5 a pound. Then I come around to purchase coffee. Are you going to charge me $2 a pound, what you paid for it, or $5, what it's going to cost you to restock your coffee inventory?"

It's not hard and it's a real condemnation of public education (including my UT Finance Degree) that every American high school grad is not armed with this. I learned more about economics in one week reading Thomas Sowell's Basic Economics (buy here, proceeds benefit SSJ, NOT) than I did in college.

Any comments on today's big corporate profits news?

Conspiracy? Anyone? Anyone?

Monday, January 30, 2006

Terrence Mallick's The New World

Had really hoped for good things from this one. Mallick, a good Texas boy at least at times in his life, directed one of my favorite movies of all time: 1978's Days of Heaven.

Days of Heaven had a great cast with Richard Gere, Brooke Adams, Sam Shepherd in the leads and the wonderful Linda Manz as the young wannabe Mud Doctor: "I've been thinking what to do wit' my future. I could be a mud doctor. Check out the earth. Underneat'."

I thought Q’orianka Kilcher was quite good, if a little, er, mercurial? John Rolfe was pretty good, too, and Christopher Plummer gets better as he ages. Unfortunately, Colin Farrell plays the key male role as Captain John Smith. After having watched Alexander recently, I've decided Farrell is the world's most overrated actor. (In every battle scene in Alexander, he looked terrified.) He is no better in this role though in his defense, the dialogue of both movies left a lot to be desired.

As I think abouth comparisons between the two, it occurs to me that in many ways, the stories are similar...ambition, love triangle, etc...

Like Days of Heaven, this movie moves at a snail's pace. It's listed at 135 minutes, but felt longer. Days of Heaven compensated for the slow pace with the incredible narration of Manz (see above quote, not as funny to read it but hearing it as narration is as much a scream as it is tragic) whereas the "narration" of The New World comes from our eavesdropping on the thoughts of Smith and Pochahontas, contemplating Mother Earth (at least for Pochahontas) each other, themselves and, most painfully, his angst.

Also like Days of Heaven, New World was beautifully filmed. I believe it was filmed using only natural light. The last "film" I remember trying that was also too long: Kubrick's Barry Lyndon.

It wasn't as politically correct as I had feared, but if could have just watched the last hour, I'd have been much happier. Leaving the theater, I heard a lot of this, "I'm picking the movie next time." I have no one to blame but myself.

the latest "trial of the century" begins today

A trial that many Houstonians, and ex-Houstonians, have been waiting for starts today. Trying to put myself in the mind of Lays' attorney - do you argue that he was just incompetent? A CEO who had a huge salary, but did nothing (being involved, oversight, leadership) to earn it? Would I, as a jury member, even believe this defense?

The drama, of course, will be when the other "senior executives" rat him out and testify against him. Of course, even if he is found guilty, he'll declare that he doesn't have any assets to pay any restitution and will spend any prison time at a River Oaks Country Club style prison. Of course, if he were a friend of the Clintons and/or a Democrat, he'd be sent to a place where "husband and wife" has a much different connotation.

hostile jury, ya think?