Saturday, December 29, 2007

Beijing in Training: Getting Nowhere Fast

Beijing is like an athlete trying to get into shape by walking on a treadmill yet eating double cheeseburgers at the same time. (Jim Yardley in The NYT).

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Bugs, Baby Birds & 'Blood'

Inside a deep, dark hole, a man pickaxes the hard-packed soil like a bug gnawing through dirt. (Manohla Dargis in The NYT writing about the film "There Will Be Blood").

And ...

Poor, isolated, thirsting for water (they don’t have enough even to grow wheat), the dazed inhabitants gaze at the oilman like hungry baby birds.

And ...

[Daniel] Day-Lewis’s outsize performance, with its footnote references to Huston and strange, contorted Kabuki-like grimaces, occasionally breaks the skin of the film’s surface like a dangerous undertow.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Fishbowl That Is the Campaign

Covering Mrs. Clinton in particular can feel like watching a candidate through thick aquarium glass — she sees you but can’t hear your questions no matter how hard you tap. (Jason Horowitz in The New York Observer).

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The 'Sorry' State of Politics

Indeed like salami, regret could be sliced thick or thin. (Daniel Henninger in The WSJ on the apology outbreak on the campaign trail).

And ...

With the arrival of the Web, the merest off-script remark can race like wildfire from media shrub-top to media shrub-top, threatening to burn down one's campaign by morning.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting ...

Kung fu master Shi Dechao can swing his 22-pound "monk's spade," an ancient Chinese shovel, like a majorette twirling a baton. (The WSJ).

Monday, December 10, 2007

Extra Dessert, Inflight Films & Old Lady Flatulence

Spend eight thousand dollars on a ticket and, if you want an extra thirteen cents’ worth of ice cream, all you have to do is ask. It’s like buying a golf cart and having a few tees thrown in, but it still works. (David Sedaris in The New Yorker).

And ...

I pulled my private screen from its hiding place in my armrest, and had just slipped on my headphones when the flight attendant came by. “Are you sure I can’t get you something to eat, Mr. . . . ?” She looked down at her clipboard and made a sound like she was gargling with stones.

And ...

For children, though, nothing beats a flatulent old lady. What made it all the crazier was that she wasn’t embarrassed by it — no more than our collie, Dutchess, was. Here it sounded like she was testing out a chainsaw, yet her face remained inexpressive and unchanging.

Cue the Breeze

Michael Cera enters a scene like a soft breeze. (David Denby in The New Yorker on the new film "Juno."

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Bon Mots From an Inexperienced JFK

In 1960, the experience card was played by all comers against the young upstart senator from Massachusetts. In Iowa, L.B.J. went so far as to tell voters that they should vote for “a man with a little gray in his hair.” But experience, Kennedy would memorably counter, “is like taillights on a boat which illuminate where we have been when we should be focusing on where we should be going.” (Frank Rich in The NYT).

Sunday, December 02, 2007

All's Not Quiet on This Northern Front

“Politics is like trench warfare. Defense wins. We don’t have the political equivalent of a tank that lets you roll over the opposition. The question for Spitzer is, can he develop the tank?” (Nick Paumgarten in The New Yorker quoting Bruce Gyory about Eliot Spitzer's rocky first year at New York's governor).

And ...

“Like Rip Van Winkle,” [Spitzer] pronounced, “New York has slept through much of the past decade while the rest of the world has passed us by.”

And ...

Spitzer is fond of saying that politics is like a sporting contest: you go out, play hard, and shake hands when it’s over.

And ...

"I told the Governor, ‘The Legislature is like your in-laws. You’re stuck with them.’"

And ...

Every summer, [Joseph] Bruno, along with Senate colleagues and staffers, decamps to Saratoga, where he presides like a kind of feudal lord.

And ...

After meeting with a gathering of Democratic assemblymen, whom he'd asked for another chance, [Spitzer] told me, “It’s like I am merely an object being moved, subject to poking, pushing, like an unknown in a science lab. Everyone’s trying to push at you, figure out ‘What is it?’ ”

Friday, November 23, 2007

Politics at the Groaning Table

Running for president is like entering a competitive eating contest and a beauty pageant all at once. (Jodi Kantor in The NYT.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Mitt's Mrs. Doesn't Miss the Mark

"My wife says," [Mitt Romney] explains, "that watching Washington is like watching two guys in a canoe on a fast-moving river headed to a waterfall and they're not paddling, they're just arguing. As they get closer to the waterfall, they'll finally start to paddle." (Brian M. Carney in today's WSJ).

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Car Wreck That Is Baghdad

Like a car crash victim in a coma, the city shut down. Life was put on hold. Baghdad's traumatized residents avoided public places, locking their doors and emptying the streets after dark. (Reuters).

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Consulting Biz: Trafficking in Intel

The year before [Mitt] Romney joined [Boston Consulting Group], William Bain, one of the company’s stars, had left to start his own firm, Bain & Company, which he promised would be a radical new consulting business. If B.C.G. was like an ivory tower, Bain was a trade school. The tradition best exemplified by McKinsey, one of the oldest firms, had consultants acting like pollinating bees, moving valuable information from one company to another, even within the same industry. Much of what you paid for as a C.E.O. was the expertise that McKinsey had lifted from your rivals. (Ryan Lizza in The New Yorker).

Friday, October 19, 2007

Hillary Channeling Eleanor

[Hillary Clinton] quoted Eleanor Roosevelt: "Women are like tea bags -- you never know how strong they are until they get in hot water." (Peggy Noonan in The WSJ).

Friday, October 12, 2007

Phoenix Gets 'Owned'

... the life begins to leak out of “We Own the Night,” and especially out of [Joaquin] Phoenix’s performance. In the actor’s case, this seems deliberate, as if he had chosen to interpret grief as a form of petrifaction. His elbows and shoulders stiffen, and he lumbers across the sets like a Frankenstein monster. (A.O. Scott in The NYT).

And ...

“I feel light as a feather,” Bobby says in a crucial scene, at which point the movie starts to sink like a stone.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Self-Improvement With Salmon, Mussels & Yoga

Off I went again to sleep, and came round to find myself alone, like a pink salmon on a slab, with "Greensleeves" playing softly on the stereo. (Christopher Hitchens in Vanity Fair on "the limits of self-improvement").

And ...

And a meal without wine is like a day without sunshine, as they say in France.

And ...

In the morning, none too early, I descended to the beach to begin my program of yoga stretching. It was not thought advisable that I do this by myself—muscles become like mussels at my stage of life, and if not stretched carefully will either lose their elasticity or else snap with a sudden "pop" that I have already once, and disconcertingly, heard as I made the mistake of running for the phone.

And ...

This was less like being a salmon on a slab, more like being a steamed Chilean sea bass in the hands of a capable sous-chef.

And ...

I suppose one could easily enough add seaweed and algae and mud (and, on one occasion, another tincture of green in the shape of an Avocado-Citrus Body Wrap, which at least gave me a new and better way of looking like an overripe pear) to one's list of regular addictions. It would be like going to confession in between an exhausting program of sins.

Friday, September 28, 2007

For the Mets, a Daze & Some Haze

Uncertainty and even despair hover over Shea Stadium and the neighboring shell of Citi Field like smog over Beijing. (Harvey Araton in The NYT).

Thursday, September 27, 2007

9/11 on Display

The terrifying and wrenching photographs from September 2001 on display at the New-York Historical Society are suspended from clips in neat rows like laundry hanging on a line. (The NYT).

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Mattel's Inconvenient Truth

“It’s like a bank robber apologizing to his accomplice instead of to the person who was robbed,” Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York said in an interview. “They’re playing politics in China rather than doing what matters.” (The NYT in an article about Mattel seemingly apologizing about accusation its toys manufactured in China were contaminated by lead paint).

Friday, September 21, 2007

Jesse James: Can't Keep a Good Crook Down

Bad man, poor man, bushwhacker, thief, [Jesse] James was as American as apple pie and the Confederate flag he wrapped himself in like an excuse. (Manohla Dargis in The NYT about the new Brad Pitt film).

And ...

Like a schoolgirl with a crush, [gunslinger] Bob Ford keeps his treasured Jesse James dime novels in a box under his bed.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Al Gore & the Hard Foul

[Al Gore's] mid-career period was defined by his aggressive moderation and especially by his disastrous 1988 presidential campaign. He was like the basketball player sent into the game by his coaches — his were at the Democratic Leadership Council — to do nothing but commit fouls and injure the other team (but in this case his own team, in the sense that they were fellow Democrats). (Michael Tomasky in The New York Review of Books).

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Girdles, Peaches & the Surge Twins

It’s obvious that the Surge is like those girdles the secretaries wear on the vintage advertising show, "Mad Men." It just pushes the fat around, giving a momentary illusion of flatness. But once Peaches Petraeus, as he was known growing up in Cornwall-on-Hudson, takes the girdle off, the center will not hold. (Maureen Dowd in today's NYT).

And ...

The Surge Twins seemed competent and more realistic than some of their misbegotten predecessors, but just too late to do any good. They’re like two veteran pilots trying to crash land the plane.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

An Egyptian View of the Iraq Quagmire

"If the U.S. leaves Iraq it will fall under Iranian influence. The current situation as well is in Iran's favor, and one of the report's aims is to blame Iran for the U.S. troubles," [Mustafa El-Labbad, an Egyptian analyst and Iran expert,] said. "It is like a boxing fight with the two boxers caught in a clinch. The United States is unable to win by a knockout, and it is not scoring any points either." (Reuters).

Monday, September 10, 2007

Market Jitters

"It's a very, very nervous market. Trying to predict a one-day movement is a bit like trying to forecast a shoal of fish -- where one goes, everyone will go. But the moves are essentially random on days when there's very little news to go on," said Nick Parsons, chief market strategist at nabCapital. (Reuters).

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Beat the Kettle, Slowly

Human speech, Flaubert said, is “like a cracked kettle on which we hammer out tunes to make bears dance when we long to touch the stars to tears.” (Anne Midgette in The NYT).

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Some Live, Some Die. Why?

Brother Juniper [in "The Bridge of San Luis Rey"] considered three possible explanations for the deaths: The victims were in the wrong place at the wrong time (a heretical interpretation he immediately rejected); God was punishing the wicked for their sins; or angels were being called early to heaven. Either humans are "like the flies that boys kill on a summer day" or they're like sparrows "who do not lose a feather that has not been brushed away by the finger of God." (Cynthia Crossen writing in The Wall Street Journal about why some people died and others lived in the Minneapolis bridge collapse).

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Gone Fishing

The helicopter moved like a drunk descending a staircase, lurching and rocking while the backwash of its fiberglass blades whipped the tall, pale green grass along Newfoundland’s Main River into a frothy, snapping mass. (Pete Bodo in The NYT, about fishing up north.

And ...

And what would a fish camp be without the obligatory, faded flannel shirt, flung like a discarded snake skin over a shrub to dry?

And ...

Catching a salmon on a small river is a little like fighting a badger in a phone booth: an awful lot happens, very fast, in a small space.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Scenes From a Marriage (Yoiks)

“You ask me for intimacy,” Marie was telling her husband of 22 years, Clem — and, unavoidably, the therapist and four other couples in the room — “the same way you ask if I’d like croutons on my salad.” She spoke slowly, deliberately, each word chipping out of her mouth like an ax striking wood. “I don’t hear the difference.” (Laurie Abraham in The NYT's Sunday magazine).

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The End of 'Take My Money, Please!'

It is, in a way, the Henny Youngman Economy. Lenders pleaded: "Take my money ... please!" In recent months, harbingers of the end of the credit bubble have been popping up like shoots of yellow forsythia. (Daniel Gross writing in

Swatting Bugs at a Standup Gig

"They [hecklers] are like little bugs hitting the windshield. You have to wipe them off and keep moving. But as soon as you get angry, you are not being clever. The secret is stay cool." (Comedian Rich Hill commenting to Reuters).

Friday, August 03, 2007

Bourne Ultimatum:: Doubling Down on Similes

Jaw clenched, brow knotted, body tight as a secret, Matt Damon hurtles through “The Bourne Ultimatum” like a missile. (Manohla Dargis in The NYT).

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Assessing Angelina

[Angelina Jolie] is not short, but she is very small, down to her bones, which are like twigs. And yet her flesh -- her golden, mortified flesh -- is extraordinary: Like the sheets on a barracks bed, there's no slack to it. (Tom Junod in Esquire).

And ...

She shines all over. Her eyes and her lips are, as advertised, extravagant creations, but then, in addition to all that extravagance, they also glisten like wet roads in a car commercial. (Junod).

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

One Prognosis for The Wall St. Journal

This news is like hearing from an old friend that he has a debilitating, fatal disease. You know that things will continue as they are for awhile, but you also know that the future looks bleak. (johnsmcdaniel posting on Wall Street Journal forum about the Murdoch deal).

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Examining the World From a Late-Night Perch

In an industry that has since become an escalating arms race of hipness, [Tom] Snyder was happy to sit on the sidelines like Switzerland, a neutral player perfectly at ease with how ordinary and out of the loop he could be. (Dave Itzkoff in The NYT).

Monday, July 30, 2007

Trying to Keep Pace With Spam Blight

... Most anti-spam techniques so far have been like pesticides that do nothing other than create a more resistant strain of bugs. (Michael Specter in The New Yorker).

And ...

There are now blacklists, gray lists, and white lists, which permit people to choose whom they want to receive mail from, rather than whose mail to delete. Stopping spam this way is a bit like trying to stop the rain by catching every drop before it hits the ground. (Specter).

Monday, July 23, 2007

Hot Enough For You?

We are invited to worship the sun both as lifegiver, for those left behind on Earth, and as a kind of annihilating deity; when one spacewalker drifts beyond the limits of the sunshield and catches a direct blast of solar ray, there is a tiny pffsst, and he boils away to nothingness, like a waterdrop on a stove. (Anthony Lane in The New Yorker on the new film "Sunshine").

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

2007: A Political Odyssey

Bless Ed Markey, the House telecom subcommittee chairman, but it didn't enter his head unaided to hold up an iPhone at a hearing last week and -- like the ape in the movie "2001" -- ponder why he shouldn't use it with any wireless network he wants rather than just AT&T's. (Holman W. Jenkins Jr. in the WSJ on the Google lobby).

Monday, July 16, 2007

Genre Man: Not a Flattering Picture

His beard is haphazard and unintentional, and he dresses in sweats, or in shorts and a T-shirt, or with his shirt hanging out like the tongue of a Labrador retriever. (David Denby in The New Yorker about film's romantic-comedy characters of late).

And ...

When he’s with them [friends], punched beer cans and bongs of various sizes lie around like spent shells; alone, and walrus-heavy on his couch, he watches football, basketball, or baseball on television, or spends time memorializing his youth—archiving old movies, games, and jokes. (Denby)

And ...

Katharine Hepburn in “Baby” nearly drives Cary Grant crazy with her intrusions into his work, her way of scattering his life about like pieces of lawn furniture. (Denby).

And ...

If Tracy and Hepburn were like a rock and a current mysteriously joined together, these two neurotics [in "Annie Hall"] were like agitated hummingbirds meeting in midair. (Denby)

Monday, July 09, 2007

Lesson of a Stick-Up for Afghanistan

“We’re not able to destroy all the poppy — that’s not the point. What we’re trying to do is lend an element of threat and risk to the farmers’ calculations, so they won’t plant next year,” Wankel said later. “It’s like robbing a bank. If people see there’s more to be had by robbing a bank than by working in one, they’re going to rob it, until they learn there’s a price to pay.” (John Lee Anderson in The New Yorker about opium in Afghanistan).

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Friedman on the 'Death Cult'

Muslims have got to understand that a death cult has taken root in the bosom of their religion, feeding off it like a cancerous tumor. (Thomas L. Friedman in The NYT).

Friday, June 29, 2007

Say Cheese, Gordon

When he suddenly remembers to smile -- as he did, quite awkwardly, outside No. 10 -- his face bursts into an unnatural glare, like a fluorescent light flicked on in a dark room, as opposed to the warm, glowing grin of Blair. (James Geary on writing about Gordon Brown).

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Debating a New Captain for the WSJ Ship

No outside board can tame any owner, a former Sunday Times investigative reporter, Bruce Page, told me. “Newspapers are like ships,” he said. “They are real-time systems. You must make your decisions. It is better to have bad decisions rather than no decisions. You can’t have the captain of the ship appointed by people onshore, and fire him when he comes back to shore.” (Ken Auletta in The New Yorker about the prospective sale of The Wall Street Journal to Rupert Murdoch).

And ...

In most newsrooms, John Carroll said, “there are some leaders, but the majority are followers. The majority lines up like iron filings to a magnet.”

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Day at the Beach for Lady Chatterley

Viewers will no doubt like and dislike Pascale Ferran's "Lady Chatterley" in ample numbers, but the picture itself is an impressive construction that seems indifferent to such concerns. Watching it is something like swimming in the ocean: You have an idyllic, sun-struck dip for a while, and then the sun goes behind a cloud and you get stung by jellyfish and heaved up on the beach, shivering, half-dead and slimed with seaweed. It's all the same to the ocean. (Andrew O'Hehir on

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Similes on Steroids

Giambi’s career spans baseball’s epoch of human growth hormone and miracle flaxseed oil, as players’ bodies expanded like saltines in water from the late ’90s and into the new millennium. (Selena Roberts in The NYT).

Friday, June 15, 2007

Tastes a Little Like Duck Soup

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana. (Groucho Marx).

Alimony is like buying hay for a dead horse. (Groucho).

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Heat in the Lebanese Kitchen

"This country is like a cake. On the top it is cream. Underneath it is fire." [About Lebanon]. So a Hezbollah spokesman told me last June, speaking in the shabby Beirut apartment that served as the party's press office until an avalanche of Israeli ordnance leveled the building.... (Max Rodenbeck in the New York Review of Books).

A Political Dish, Dressed & Stuffed

The farce in the far north involves two national politicians who are used to getting their way, and a lobby that treats legislators like houseboys. (Timothy Egan in The NYT).

And ...

As chairman of the committee that bundled all pet projects into a single transportation bill last year, [Representative Don] Young had this to say about the legislative process: “I stuffed it like a turkey.”

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Lee Marvin, a (Belated) R.I.P.

Lee Marvin moved across the screen like a shark coming in for the kill. Long and lean, with shoulders that looked as wide as his hips and hair as silver as a bullet, he seemed built for speed. (The NYT).

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Dowd Watch: Weighing in on Gore

It’s no wonder Al Gore is a little touchy about his weight, what with everyone trying to read his fat cells like tea leaves to see if he’s going to run. (Maureen Dowd in The NYT).

Monday, May 21, 2007

Party Hardy, on the Other Side of the Wall

"Every barbarian family brews alcohol and all of them like to drink; the barbarians drink like cattle, not even stopping to breathe in the process." (A Ming-era writer, quoted in The New Yorker, in an article about the Great Wall).

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Dowd Watch: Tete a Tete Aftermath

“The French are like children who love to be beaten. Sarkozy is saying, ‘Go do your homework or I’ll beat you.’ The French need to be told that.” (Maureen Dowd in The NYT quoting a French woman about the presidential election of Nicolas Sarkozy over Ségolène Royal).

And ...

Or as an elegant Parisian woman who voted for Sego warned guests at a postelection dinner party, “He’s like a little Donald Trump.”

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Dowd Watch: Notes from the Ségosphere

It’s hard not to be drawn to a presidential candidate with a name like a Bond girl, a smile like an angel, a figure that looks great in a bikini at 53, a campaign style like Joan of Arc, and a buffet for the press corps brimming with crustless fromage sandwiches, icy chocolate profiteroles, raspberry parfaits, red Bordeaux, espresso and little almond gâteaux. (Maureen Dowd in The NYT about French presidential candidate Ségolène Royal).

And ...

But the infatuation dampened, like a spring romance.

And ...

On stage, she channeled a divine aura, levitating her arms like a Blessed Virgin statue, presenting herself as a glowing beacon against the forces of darkness, a k a Nicolas Sarkozy.

Friday, May 04, 2007

A Grasp Exceeds Its Reach

It is a cliché to say so, but “Saturday Night Live” is an institution, kind of like comedy’s Junior League, continually nostalgic for its former cultural significance. (Ginia Bellafante in The NYT).

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

A Unique Take on Turkey's Politics

“Turkey is like a transvestite. The spirit and the body are in conflict.” [Said Hakan Yavuz, an expert in Turkish religion and politics at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, about the country's tension between secular and Islamic forces.] (The NYT).

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

On the Home Front: With Support Like This ...

“I am always a little amazed at the response that people get when they hear from Barack,” [Barack Obama's wife, Michelle,] told the crowd at the Beverly Hilton, as her husband stood by looking like a puppy being scolded, reported Hud Morgan of Men’s Vogue. “A great man, a wonderful man. But still a man. ... (Maureen Dowd in The NYT).

Monday, April 23, 2007

Walking Down the Aisle

For many guests a wedding is less a joy than an ordeal, something to get through, like PBS pledge drives or Lyme disease. (Alessandra Stanley in The NYT).

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Manny Being Manny the Prophet

In 1999, after [Manny Ramirez] established himself as a superstar with the Cleveland Indians, written messages began appearing on the backs of his cleats, like admonitions from a prophet: “There will be hell to pay”; “Justice will be served”; “Can’t we all get along?”; “Live and let die.” (Ben McGrath in The New Yorker).

The local obsession with the Red Sox is such that David Wells, the former Yankee and Red Sox pitcher, and a night owl, likes to call Boston Picturetown, rather than Beantown, because of all the fans with cell-phone cameras in restaurants and bars, ready for deployment like civilian paparazzi. (McGrath).

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Dr. Dahl to Surgery, Stat

... [Roald] Dahl is of that select society of Saki (the pen name of H.H. Munro), Evelyn Waugh, Muriel Spark, and Iris Murdoch, satiric moralists who wield the English language like a surgical instrument to flay, dissect, and expose human folly. (Joyce Carol Oates in The New York Review of Books on Dahl's "Collected Stories").

Dahl's females are particularly grotesque specimens, like Mrs. Ponsonby of "Nunc Dimittis" who is "so incredibly short and squat and stiff, [she looked as if] she had no legs at all above the knees," has a "salmon mouth" and fingers "like a bunch of small white snakes wriggling in her lap." (Oates ... and Dahl).

And from Dahl ...

I was able to take most of it in—the metallic silver-blue hair with every strand glued into place, the brown pig-eyes, the long sharp nose sniffing for trouble, the curled lips, the prognathous jaw, the powder, the mascara, the scarlet lipstick and, most shattering of all, the massive shored-up bosom that projected like a balcony in front of her.

More from Dahl ...

When she marched—Miss Trunchbull never walked, she always marched like a storm-trooper with long strides and arms aswinging—when she marched along a corridor you could actually hear her snorting as she went, and if a group of children happened to be in her path, she ploughed through them like a tank, with small people bouncing off her to left and right.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Earth Day, Rush Style

Rush Limbaugh, he's got the life. His days flick through the slot like postcards from paradise. (James Wolcott on Rush Limbaugh in Vanity Fair).

He appears to think that if there were true global warming the earth would crisp evenly like a baked apple. (Wolcott).

Valiant efforts have been made to correct the mistakes, half-truths, exaggerations, and confusions that Limbaugh coughs up like furballs during his preachings. (Wolcott).

Try to Keep Down the Popcorn

In any case, this dawn-of-the-dead fantasia is gleefully disgusting: flesh melts, bodies explode like packages of liquid squeezed too hard, testicles roll around on the ground like spilled Brussels sprouts. (David Denby's "Grindhouse" review in The New Yorker).

And ...

When Cherry loses a leg to the ghouls, her old lover (Freddy Rodriguez, who’s a pocket-size dynamo) outfits her with a machine gun for a stump; she raises it like a dog taking a pee and blows away anyone within fifty yards. (Denby).

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Shocked ... Just Shocked

Like the piano player in the brothel, Imus's notables seem shocked that anyone would associate them with what goes on upstairs. (John Leo in The Wall Street Journal).

And ...

Jeff Greenfield once said that appearing on Imus is like being an important novelist excerpted in Playboy. You wish to be judged by your brilliant writing, not your proximity to the centerfold mammaries. (Leo).

Thursday, April 05, 2007

A Find at the Dump

His briefcase sat beside the table like something yanked out of a landfill. (Don DeLillo in The New Yorker).

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Kid, Get Me Rewrite

Caroline’s sense that her story is being written as she lives it becomes an analogue of the old problem of predestination versus free will, and the click-clack of the typewriter becomes the pulse of fate, like the ticking of a clock or the pounding of Poe’s tell-tale heart. (The New Yorker).

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Under the Plane Tree

The Athenians valued Themistocles, but they never really loved him. He was pushed from power mere months after his epic victory. [Cleanup after the Leonidas Spartan 300 mess.] As Plutarch later reported, the Athenians “treated him like a plane-tree; when it was stormy, they ran under his branches for shelter, but as soon as it was fine, they plucked his leaves and lopped his branches.” (David Brooks in The NYT).

And ...

President Bush wants to keep everything that happens in his White House secret, but when it comes to his own emotions, he’s as transparent as a teenager on MySpace. (Frank Rich in The NYT).

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The British Invasion, Take 2

The British have colonized Manhattan, acquiring minute rent-stabilized apartments in the West Village that they pass on to each other like hereditary titles. (A.A. Gill writing in Vanity Fair about his fellow "Brits Behaving Badly).

And ...

Most Americans think they look like gay Marines with deformed ears.

And ...

Those with the voices like broken crockery, the book-at-bedtime accent, have a lot to answer for.

And ...

We hunker together, forming bitchy old boys' and girls' clubs where we complain about and giggle over Americans like nannies talking about difficult, stupid children.

And ...

Inside, four young Englishmen from the Midlands are reminiscing over lists of Edwardian boiled sweets, like a spoof of "High Fidelity".

A Touch of the Gout

[Walter Benn] Michaels argues that nothing much has changed by substituting the idea of particular cultures for the discredited idea of race. For pragmatic as well as analytical reasons, he wants the left to forget about this kind of diversity, whether we call it racial or cultural ("diversity, like gout, is a rich people's problem"), and focus instead on poverty. (The New York Review of Books reviewing Michaels' "The Trouble with Diversity: How We Learned to Love Identity and Ignore Inequality").

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Middle School: An Acquired Taste

“Middle school is like Scotch,” [JoAnn Rintel Abreu, an English and social studies teacher,] reflected in the teachers’ lounge one afternoon. “At first you try to get it down. Then you get used to it. Then it’s all you order.” (The NYT).

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Six Packs on Parade: Sparta's 300 Go to War

And what guys! Decked out like gladiators in a gay fashion layout, the soldiers from the Greek city-state of Sparta look gym-ready for battle in crotch-squeezing ensembles that expose as much flesh as an R rating will allow. (RollingStone review).