Saturday, March 21, 2009


As in dupe the audience. Duplicity must have been put together by Bernie Madoff. What a rip-off.

No. I take it all back. I know that Tony Gilroy thought he was putting together something sleek and clever and mind twisting. But in reality he was twisting up his own underwear. The plot is plodding, repetitive, predictable and boring. Its clumsy dance around psuedo-industrial espionage is graceless and tedious and makes a strenuous effort to seem to be about something when it is all about nothing. Coming off the Bourne series as he is, it is surprising that Gilroy’s script contains no danger, violence or anything more than the mildest action. He could have cast Matt Damon as the male lead and called it The Bourne Inadequacy.

Characters pretend to be about something that they are not and we are supposed to be surprised and titillated by revelations and counter revelations. Gilroy thinks he is creating a romantic story of mystery, surprise and suspense. But Gilroy is self-deluded and the viewer is sadly disappointed. At the very first introduction of the plot machinery, this viewer knew exactly where it was going, who was fooling whom and who was not being fooled at all. And seeing through and past these feeble fumblings is no fun at all.

But then you might say, so what? It’s only a mild diversion and it is surely uplifted by the physical and thespic charms of Julia Roberts and Clive Owen. And yes, they can act. But charm, much less character chemistry? These qualities are not really on display. They say the lines and go through the motions of mutual attraction but the conviction is not there. So the audience can only sit quietly and observe the two supposed lovers as they kiss, spat, make up and make love, and do it all over again. And again.

I assume this was a good payday for all involved and Duplicity might make some money, but like Bernie Madoff’s investors, some of us are already losers.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Charlie was doing a lot of paw licking so I took a look. There was something like abrasion between two pads. Julie and I applied some wound cleaner, neosporin and a bandage. Charlie wiggled a lot, yipped a couple of times and pressed his teeth to my hand, but did not apply pressure. Eventually he stayed quietly down while we had dinner.

Before dark, I took him for his walk. He hopped eagerly, at times on either of three or four legs, as he made his neighborhood rounds. His spirit was uplifting. I know he will be healed soon.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Parker Brothers Monopoly

There was a time from the late 1950s to the mid-1960s that I was the King of Monopoly in West Hollywood. Each game consisted of six to eight players and in one stretch, I won over forty games in a row! Naturally, I became the target in each game and other players regularly colluded to beat me, such as by selling out their hot properties to a friendly rival at giveaway prices or even trying to sneak a monopoly card into the hands of another player in order to strengthen his play against me. Amazingly, such tactics never succeeded and I always won games against cheaters.
My point is that it is really not hard to win at Monopoly, the game. The rules are defined, the initial capital is equal, and the true property values are there to be seen. But due to personal biases, quirks and self delusions, most players are unable to make those accurate valuations. What it boils down to is that Monopoly, as well as Texas Hold’em Poker, are not games of dice, cards and chance as much as they are games of people and perceptions. And the players with the best perceptions of the real odds, and the people at the table, are consistently the winning players.

Which brings me to the current economy in the United States with attention to real estate, banking and the stock market and how they relate to the game of Monopoly. They don’t.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Da Frisco Fuzz

Transitioning from Cesar Chavez to the freeway connector to the Bay Bridge, I inadvertently executed an illegal U-Turn. It didn't seem like a U-Turn to me because I didn't reverse my direction, but I had made a hook left turn around a small island to the freeway on-ramp. A big blue uniform, standing beside his motorcycle halfway up the ramp waved me over to the side and advised me of my error.

Looking at my driver's license he suggested that we had No-U-Turn signs in L.A. and I couldn't argue. Feebly enough, I could only state that I was following my Tom Tom and didn't see the sign. He handed back my license and sent me on my way with a mild warning to watch it.

As I eased back onto the ramp I noticed that he had not returned to his bike. Looking back in my mirrors I could not see him anywhere on the ramp. Who was that man in blue?


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