Drooling on the Pillow

Friday, February 06, 2004

Mr. Smith Should Die 

I would feel this way if I didn't have a young daughter.

Like Jonah Goldberg there are arguments against the death penalty that I can respect, but disagree with. I might (I do not) agree with all of the standard aguments against it and still demand it. Once you've gnawed over the statistical, prejudicial and deterrence arguments I don't feel you can dismiss this argument; it is justice. If you take a life, it is just for you to pay with your own.

I feel a coherent, thoughtful and standard death penalty is so important for a civilization's sense of itself that there probably are reforms that would make a larger majority feel more comfortable with it. I would be in favor of a ban on executing those convicted on eyewitness identification alone. Since there are two parts to capital trials now, a guilt phase and a punishment phase, why can't there be two standards of evidence? Beyond a reasonable doubt for the guilt phase and something short of moral certitude for the punishment phase?

I imagine we'll be hearing more about the other young lady he tried this with and I imagine Grace will get sick of hearing me tell her at least once a week to kick, bite and scream, scream, scream if anyone ever tries something with her. As for Mr. Smith, if everything is as it appears to be and assuming he has a fair trial, any civilization that would shrink from putting him to death has committed itself to unraveling.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

The Good, The Bad and the Boring 

My wife, The Great Lane Binkley, was on the SAG nominating committee for the Oscars this year so starting in November we began receiving piles of promotional materials every day. Most of it was just brochures and leaflets, as if they were selling condos, but we also received quite a few of the actual movies. The ones I enjoyed were Seabiscuit, Monsieur Ibrahim and, well, that's about it. I actually liked The Cooler (the wife hated it) mostly for the idea and for Alec Baldwin's performance. He may be a nitwit, but nobody gets ironic malice like he does. That movie will never do very well, though, since its target audience (those with a high tolerance for seeing William H. Macy naked) is rather small. I liked Girl With a Pearl Earring more than Lane but its the kind of movie I would recommend only with the explicit warning, 'You may be bored out of your skull.' I'm not the most critical of movie watchers. If there's something to enjoy about a movie I can always just ignore the rest of the crud. Scarlett Johansson is something to enjoy. Oh, yeah, I enjoyed The Statement, too. Great cast; I believe it was Alan Bates' last movie. Oh, and Whale Rider. Loved it.

Japanese Story I did not enjoy. Let me say that Toni Collette is good, blah, blah, blah. But when a movie stacks BS this high, when it chooses to elide anything that could be interpreted as a narrative element, when it commissions a numbingly tedious three bar theme and repeats it without dynamics or modulation for the last twenty minutes of the film, when it confuses vapidness with mystery, then it deserves much, much, much worse reviews than it got.

The Japanese guy dies in a swimming accident. I inserted that unannounced spoiler advisedly. It is one of two things that happen in the movie. The other is that he sleeps with Toni Collette, but that wouldn't be a spoiler because you see it coming a mile away. I don't feel bad about spoiling the movie for you. If, after this, you go ahead and watch it you will come back to me and say 'Why, oh, why didn't I listen to you?' I will be unmoved. This movie spoiled a perfectly good evening for me and it's the least I can do.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Dem*olition Derby 

I'm guessing that there will be a lot of entries naming Joe Lieberman and Tonight for Mark Steyn's contest to name the player and day of demise for Democratic candidates. As the dwarves dwindle down to a precious few perhaps he should go with an over/under format. I'm putting my dough on over fifty nominations for Joe-no-more tonight and under thirty for General Clark.

A Quiet Evening at Home 

A friend of mine, my wife's oldest friend, happens to be the daughter of a Hollywood legend. Lisa's boyfriend teaches at Berkeley and is a friend of Christopher Hitchens. She told me recently that they spent an evening with Hitchens. She didn't have too much to say about it because it had only been a week before and she hadn't gotten rid of her hangover. She promised exquisite details when she comes east in a month or two, but she did say, and I'm paraphrasing, that until that evening she hadn't been aware that it was possible to have drunk that much and not be dead.
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