I have an early interview today, followed by a date with some dust bunnies, so I may have to make this a bye day. (Although never underestimate my powers of procrastination, which truly are superhuman.) I realize I could write this paragraph from here to November and it wouldn’t make a difference, as the engine of this blog these days is in the comments, but I feel I have to make an appearance from time to time — open the front door, turn on the “open” sign, refill the bowls of nuts and pretzels.

I’ve taken on a few new obligations this fall, in an effort to inject a little oxygen in my sad little life, and they will take some time. One is reapplying my nose to the grindstone of learning Russian. Another is joining a great-books discussion group (like my hero, Tim Goeglein), which meets monthly but requires a bit more than my customary light reading of mysteries and the Wall Street Journal. This week we’re covering Tolstoy’s second epilogue to “War and Peace,” and I need to plow through the last 15 pages today.

Geez, I sound like a whiny sophomore, I realize. So let’s lighten the tone a bit with one of Anthony Lane’s great, meaty pans, a twin takedown of “Filth and Wisdom” and “RockandRolla,” the autumnal output of Mr. and Mrs. Guy Ritchie. I watched a trailer for the former online the other day, and thought, “That narrator sounds just like Borat.” I think my instincts are sound here.

Back later, maybe. Any thoughts on Tolstoy?

Posted at 8:47 am in Movies, Same ol' same ol' |

60 responses to “Bye.”

  1. brian stouder said on October 14, 2008 at 9:04 am

    One is reapplying my nose to the grindstone of learning Russian


    Reminds me of a comment from Lincoln that back when he was a boy (in Indiana, baby!) if a person could read they were considered to be almost a wizard. This same sentiment makes sense to me with regard to people who are multilingual.

    By way of saying, I will probably never read Tolstoy – but later on I can supply an awkward/funny bit from the first Lincoln/Douglas debate, where Abe had a major Sarah Palin Moment. Douglas had surprised Lincoln with an issue for which he had no ready answer (at all!) – and the rail splitter, reeling, spent several minutes spouting obscure legal terms that made no sense to anyone! (after that debate, Lincoln’s advisors all agreed he would have to step up his game, which he did!)

    Youtube woulda’ given his garble inexhaustible “legs”

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  2. alex said on October 14, 2008 at 9:19 am

    College ruined Tolstoy for me. Or maybe it was Checkhov. As you can see, I wasn’t paying much attention.

    Youth really is wasted on the young.

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  3. Laura said on October 14, 2008 at 9:42 am

    I believe the working title for “War and Peace” was “War: What is it Good For?”

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  4. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 14, 2008 at 9:56 am

    All i retained from my attempt to learn enough to read Dostoevsky were “Bojemoi!” “pjalsta,” and “Nekulturny,” the latter i understand to be the ultimate put-down.

    That, and knowing Pectopah is Cyrillic for Restaurant.

    (All spellings conjectural, rooted in feeble memory, subject to review. Except restaurant…i’m pretty sure of that one.)

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  5. moe99 said on October 14, 2008 at 10:27 am

    In Vancouver, BC, I met an attorney who was descended from a group of Russian dissidents, Christians, who were persecuted by the Tsar’s government and had resettled in NW Canada courtesy of Tolstoy who donated the profits from a book of his (went back and looked it up and the title is actually Resurrection) to fund their departure from Russia.

    Found this in a google search:

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  6. brian stouder said on October 14, 2008 at 10:30 am

    some interesting, indepth North Carolina voter registration numbers; or – forget the “Bradley effect”, and consider the “combined Coozledad impact”

    Also – for a patriotic interlude, check out our 4 year old proudly reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at the supper table last night

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  7. Howie said on October 14, 2008 at 10:36 am

    My college Russian professor ruined Russian for me. maybe if he would have let us read Tolstoy instead of a textbook full of Russian propaganda…

    Learning to speak and read the Cyrillic alphabet was fun, but that lasted about 5 weeks. Jeff tmmo, I don’t remember your first word, but I think “pjalsta” is “please,” and “Nekulturny” translates as “uncultured.” And yes, you are correct about restaurant.

    Nancy, I’d offer to help, but I’ve already shared 20% of what I retained!

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  8. LAMary said on October 14, 2008 at 10:52 am

    Absolutely nuthin.
    Say it again.

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  9. Jeff Borden said on October 14, 2008 at 10:57 am


    I teach broadcast news at Loyola in Chicago –it’s a survey class so there are plenty of non-journalism majors– and today we’re set to do an exercise in interviewing. Basically, we’ll be pairing off and having each student interview the other for, say, 10 or 15 minutes, then write a brief report. This precedes an out-of-classroom interview for next week.

    In the past, I’ve asked the students to interview their peers on subjects like why they chose Loyola or their career aspirations or thei family backgrounds. These tend to produce workmanlike but deadly dull interviews.

    Can you folks help me come up with a couple of interview questions that would really go to the hearts of a group of bright, diverse young adults? I want them to enjoy the experience but to learn something from it, too.

    Any and all help is welcome. Thanks!

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  10. LAMary said on October 14, 2008 at 11:06 am

    Jeff B
    I interview people all day for employment, not journalism. I work in a hospital, so I’m looking for the caring side of folks. The question that has produced the most interesting responses for me is, “Tell me a time when you did a lot more than you had to for someone.” I don’t know if this can be translated into what you’re doing. It can produce very mundane answers, but it can also produce answers that are remarkable. I’ve had to work hard to not cry at some of the answers I’ve gotten.

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  11. Jeff Borden said on October 14, 2008 at 11:09 am

    Thanks, Mary. That’s a great one.

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  12. michaela said on October 14, 2008 at 11:10 am

    Jeff, I’ve worked with a docu-studies program that sends our fledgling documentarians out to do vox pop interviews on the main street of our small city. We’ve had success with questions like, “What’s in your pockets? Why?” or “What do you remember about your first kiss?” or “What did you dream about last night?”

    Granted, these are not news-gathering pieces… but at least they get people talking.

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  13. Jolene said on October 14, 2008 at 11:32 am

    Brian, the Pledge of Allegiance clip is adorable.

    Interesting that you thought of asking about first kisses, michael. I was thinking about that too. Also thought of first sexual experience, but that might go a bit far for a classroom experience, and not everyone remembers them fondly.

    Seem like I should be able to think of other ideas, but the only thing that comes to mind is something having to do with “disasters”. Cooking disasters, weather disasters, automotive disasters. Also fantasies: fantasy dates, fantasy careers, fantasy homes, fantasy travels.

    Or, you could try, “Tell me something that you do better than most other people.” Could lead to further questions about how the interviewee acquired the skill, demonstrations of it, etc.

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  14. Jeff Borden said on October 14, 2008 at 11:52 am

    Thanks. These are all very helpful.

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  15. brian stouder said on October 14, 2008 at 11:53 am

    Jeff – I’d ask “name a book or movie that seared your worldview” and discuss what imagery or detail really sealed the deal…

    and the question could be widened to include the flat-out funniest or most memorably absurd thing they saw or read…but the nub of the question would remain “why?”

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  16. WhiteBeard said on October 14, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    Some interview questions pop up in my mind.
    What was the first story you wrote?
    What was the experience in your life that gave more than it took?
    Who was your biggest influence in your career choice?
    What is the most money you made in a summer? Why? Where?

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  17. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 14, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    Describe a time when your mind changed.

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  18. brian stouder said on October 14, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    Describe a time when your mind changed

    2005, Katrina, Americans waiting in an orderly fashion at a convention center at a devastated major US city, for help that did not come after two days, and then three, and then four, and then five

    “politics” switched from being a petty term about ‘my guys’ versus ‘your guys’ and became (to me) much more clearly important and pertinent…and in need of re-examination and modification

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  19. Dorothy said on October 14, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    Wow you guys are coming up with great questions. I think some day if Madam Telling Tales is lacking ideas (and those days are few and far between), she could plug in a couple of those questions and we’d be busy all day and the next answering them, and reading them to find out even MORE about each other!

    p.s. to Mary & Laura: Doncha just love Edwin Starr??!??!

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  20. Laura said on October 14, 2008 at 12:56 pm


    Good God, y’all

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  21. Jolene said on October 14, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    How did a reference to Edwin Starr arise from this conversation?

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  22. Laura said on October 14, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    I made a bad Tolstoy joke (lifted from Seinfeld, btw).

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  23. Peter said on October 14, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    Jolene – that was a Seinfeld reference – back when Elaine was working at Pendant Publishing one of her jobs was escorting a big shot Russian author around, and she said that to break the ice. I can’t remember who gave her that comment – I think it was Kramer.

    ON ANOTHER MATTER, I’m sorry I was out the last few days and missed the Andy Martin talk. I think Andy was formerly known as Anthony Martin Triggona, and I thought he ran for senator on the democratic ticket (or am I confusing him with Alex Seith?) In any case, this guy’s nuttiness is LaRouchian.

    And speaking of LaRouche, where’s the infomercial? For someone my age, it isn’t Election Day until one of those aired – kind of like the old Norelco commercials told you that Christmas was finally around the corner.

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  24. Kirk said on October 14, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    “Floating heads, floating heads . . . “

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  25. brian stouder said on October 14, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    How did a reference to Edwin Starr arise from this conversation?

    the progression was thus: the proprietress said Any thoughts on Tolstoy?; Laura quipped that the working title of Tolstoy’s magnum opus was “War: What is it Good For?”; Mary immediately picked up and enhanced the bon mot with “Absolutely nuthin. Say it again.”; Dorothy said what I was thinking, about the Motown guy who made that song; and Laura carried it over the goal line with “Good God, y’all”.

    and there you have it – 5 degrees of seperation between Leo Tolstoy and Motown

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  26. Jolene said on October 14, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    Thanks for the explanation. Am not sure how it is that I largely missed Seinfeld. I know the characters, of course, and the gist of the show, but never really followed it, so don’t know about specific episodes and lines.

    And yes, Peter, Andy Martin is Anthony Martin Trigona. I posted a link to a review of the recent Sean Hannity show on which he appeared at the end of a previous thread. He does, indeed, sound like a totally clueless goofball. And yet, Sean Hannity has become a rich man presenting such nonsense.

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  27. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 14, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Gold standard! The Queen of England selling heroin through her evil tools, The Beatles! Direct democracy, except when elite editors shall control all! The people will reveal the Zionist conspiracy in Christian popular music for the evil worm in the apple of classical symphonic art that it is, once everyone listens to the Bach B-minor mass in mandatory arts re-education classes to be organized voluntarily!

    (Did i mention the gold standard?)

    Oh — Bilderbergers, Bilderbergers, Bilderbergers!

    [Peter, you should feel better now; but that’s all you’ll get. Lyndon ain’t running this year — first time in over three decades. YouTube has the Noelco Santa ads in b/w and color, so we’re good to head right through to Nov. 5.]

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  28. brian stouder said on October 14, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    to judge by Uncle Rush and crazy cousin Sean (lovingly known as “sh*t-for-brains-Sean”), they are now looking past the imminent defeat of their national candidates (and the massive collateral damage to their congressional contingent) – and busily sewing the seeds for an incessantly whiney campaign of post-election recriminations against cheaters and frauds all across the country!

    ‘Course, the problem with thinking that the evil Democrats are simply going to steal the election on November 4, is that you also have to believe that every polling firm in the country is “in” on the conspiracy, here and now in October!!

    I’m waiting for them to cite the LACK of a “Bradley effect” as PROOF that Obama stole the election – because those whiteys in PA and IN and OH and WV simply could not possibly have ever voted for the black man!!

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  29. Connie said on October 14, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    Dosvedanya tovaritch. Good bye comrade. Two semesters, that’s about what remains.

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  30. Dorothy said on October 14, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    Jolene I’m in the same boat as you re Seinfeld. I used to work Thursday evenings at the quilt store and really never watched it. If i was home, I was probably putting my kids to bed or some such thing. Any show that was on between 9:00 PM and 10:00 PM I never saw for a few years.

    And if Laura and Mary had not already started the veiled references to Edwin Starr, I would have explained that in my family they are called “Dorothy Tangents.” My daughter calls them that – it’s because I’m famous for making u-turns in conversations and steering them into completely opposite directions. Ask anyone who knows me.

    Who wants to go see the movie “Rachel Getting Married” with me? (see – a DT right there)

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  31. Jolene said on October 14, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    “Rachel” got a great review on CBS Sunday Morning, Dorothy. But you’re in California, right? Little far for me to drive to see a movie.

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  32. brian stouder said on October 14, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    I never watched Seinfeld when it was new; but the tbs reruns make me laugh and laugh. Same story for Everybody Loves Raymond.

    I’m thinking W will hit the dollar movie house right after the election, and I think I’ll catch it then

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  33. Catherine said on October 14, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    Jeff, that link was… astounding? fascinating? horrifying? I’m not sure of the word.

    I guess even being raised Quaker is no protection from growing into a whackjob.

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  34. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 14, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    And ya know, if the Society of Friends can’t protect you from moonbattery, then . . . seriously, if Lyndon LaRouche isn’t massively bipolar (and off his lithium) with episodes of psychotic grandeur and paranoid tendencies, then i haven’t spent time sitting around in the break room across the table from clinicians.

    Oh, and driving across town (not at lunch) it suddenly came to me — Nazdrovyeh! A most useful phrase, but is it in Tolstoy?

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  35. caliban said on October 14, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    A great Tejas double feature for free on Hulu:

    Iraq wasn’t the only victim of obscenely cynical invasion and irresponsible indifference to the damage of occupation. But, sure as hell, there’s an exit strategy for Crawford.

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  36. LAMary said on October 14, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    Dorothy is not here in the land of brushfires. She’s in Ohio, land of the, um, Ohioans.

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  37. brian stouder said on October 14, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    aka ‘buckeye’

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  38. Catherine said on October 14, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    Ohio, where they have a season called fall. In CA we are thinking of changing the name to “brushfire.” Followed by mudslide.

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  39. Hattie said on October 14, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    Pardon my grumpitude, but there hasn’t been a good movie reviewer since Pauline Kael died.

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  40. caliban said on October 14, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    So, one of McCain’s keepers was in bed for cash with Saddam between the father and son Iraqi expeditions:

    This would be shocking if there hadn’t been strong evidence for years, which Dickless Cheney and Rummy were too contemptuous of American citizens to be bothered withh denying, that the dastardly duo could see Iraq from their backyards and were pulling the same crap.

    Sure put’s a crimp in Ms. Alaska Independence’s all-Ayres strategy. And now what’ McOldFart supposed to talk about at the debate?

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  41. LAMary said on October 14, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    Hattie, the WSJ guy is pretty good.

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  42. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 14, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    What about Joe Bob Briggs’ Drive-In Movie reviewing?

    Who, it must be noted here, contributed an audio commentary to the DVD release of “The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies.”

    As his real life persona, John Bloom, he wrote a great cover article on Benny Hinn for the mag/website he’s “Doorkeeper” for, — worth a look.

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  43. Dorothy said on October 14, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    I am a Pittsburgher, first, foremost and primarily. I just happen to live in Ohio. I will NEVER be a buckeye.

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  44. Kirk said on October 14, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    I was born and raised in Ohio and, except for 3 1/2 years as a student in Missouri, have lived here all my life. But please call me anything but a Buckeye.

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  45. Jolene said on October 14, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    Pittsburgh! My next-most-recent home. I loved it there too, although I can’t say I long to go back. I live in DC (well, actually Northern Virginia), so we could almost meet there for a movie.

    Jeff, your friend Joe Bob needs some guidance on site design. That light green type is very hard to read.

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  46. MichaelG said on October 14, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    Many, many years ago when I was in the army, a couple of us were driving through Ohio. We stopped at some roadside joint for a burger and ordered beer to drink. It was 11:45 PM on a Sunday and the guy told us he couldn’t serve beer because it was Sunday. We just had water. A little while later the guy came back, announced that it was now Monday and asked if we still wanted beer. Blue laws are wonderful.

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  47. moe99 said on October 14, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    On a lighter note, “Yes we Carve.” Obama related pumpkin carving for Halloween.

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  48. Jim said on October 14, 2008 at 8:46 pm

    Jolene, I’m back in northern Virginia — a recent re-transplant. I’m in Alexandria.

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  49. alex said on October 14, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    Bet nobody’d bother with a McCain jack-o-lantern. Or Palin. Now that would be scary, come to think of it. Maybe better to do it with a bell pepper, though, to capture those drawn cheeks. Smudge some bronze on them too, the way she does.

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  50. beb said on October 14, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    “Blue laws are wonderful.”

    My brother bought a bunch of Irish folk albums back in the 60s. One of them had the delightful line “Hark, I hear the Temple Bells; they’ll all be open now.” Which I always assumed refered to Irish tavern hours.

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  51. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 14, 2008 at 10:08 pm

    That’s not bronze on her cheeks; it’s the salt of the earth, infused with the rosy glow of a Last Frontier sunset.

    But i can see where you’d be confused.

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  52. Jolene said on October 14, 2008 at 10:19 pm

    I’m in Alexandria too, Jim. Guess it’s the place to be.

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  53. Dexter said on October 15, 2008 at 1:20 am

    Obama is here in Ohio, holed up about 90 minutes from me, preparing for the debate . He’s spending the night on the shores of Lake Erie, near Toledo.

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  54. brian stouder said on October 15, 2008 at 8:27 am

    So, I was zipping along, skimming, and tripped over this passage. Re-reading it more carefully, I still don’t ‘get’ what he’s saying – but maybe one of y’all can help me…

    It is imperative that McCain does not just draw tomorrow night’s debate, does not just win a victory on points, but emerges with a resounding victory, the sort that leaves the spin room gasping for air. Failing that, we are getting into dead girl, live boy territory.

    “dead girl, live boy territory”? What? Maybe I’m just dirty-minded, but other than necrophilia, what could this mean?

    And even if this IS a such an utterly crude reference, I’m still not sure I follow the analogy, unless the ‘dead girl’ is McCain’s presidential hopes, while the ‘live boy’ is McCain……

    or maybe I’m hopelessly onto the wrong track.

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  55. nancy said on October 15, 2008 at 8:35 am

    It’s an old saw of politics, usually attributed to Edwin Edwards: “The only way I can lose this election is if I’m caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy.”

    I can’t believe someone as keenly interested in politics never heard it before, Brian — it’s one of those “bucket of warm spit” quotes that gets trotted out every few months — but I guess everyone’s knowledge base has a few black holes.

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  56. Kirk said on October 15, 2008 at 8:47 am

    Edwin Edwards being a noted thief and slimeball in the best traditions of Louisiana, he probably stole it from someone else.

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  57. brian stouder said on October 15, 2008 at 8:50 am

    Hah!! I’ve seen that quip before, but (as is now obvious!) the quoted passage certainly didn’t bring it to mind!

    So looking back, the passage makes an implied leap from McCain’s poor prospects, to Obama’s “dead girl/live boy” prospects.

    THIS sort of perceptiveness is why Nance is the Proprietress

    (btw – I was also shattered to see that the Ritchies, whose artistic film-making was highlighted here at nn.c yesterday, are divorcing; ruined my whole morning, more or less)

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  58. LAMary said on October 15, 2008 at 11:52 am

    Edwin Edwards took a bunch of his friends who contributed to one of his campaigns on a trip to France, finishing off with a banquet at Versailles. His comment on the food was, “No doubt about it, them frogs flat know how to cater.”

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  59. basset said on October 15, 2008 at 10:05 pm

    reminds me of a comment attributed to Governor “Big Jim” Folsom of Alabama some years ago, a man who was alleged to take a sip now and again… the way I heard it, he was on the reviewing stand at an air show on Mobile Bay when a National Guard jet went into the water full-speed, massive crash, spray and fire everywhere…

    “Well, kiss my ass if that ain’t a show.”

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  60. Deborah said on October 15, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    I am so disappointed in the e-community. I’m here in Abiquiu, New Mexico, no way to watch the debates live. I tried to skip around live bloggers and get the scoop, but it was pathetic trying to get the gist of it. This medium has a long way to go before it works for people who do not have access to cable or broadcast news. Sad but true.

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