Monday, December 12, 2005

A Little of the Old In and Out


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In: Richard Pryor. Richard Pryor was, arguably, the best homegrown American humorists of all time. When we think of Pryor, he is up there with Mark Twain and the Marx Brothers. Just as the waters of Woody Allen's early comedy flows directly from the zany surrealistic rivers of The Marx Brothers, and nearly every comedy writer is a grandchild of Twain, so virtually every stand-up today can claim stylistic paternity from Richard Pryor.

Equal parts observational humor, and mercilessly personal in nature, Pryor's game ushered in the modern, existential era of comedians, at home under the glaring spotlight, revealing themselves -- flaws and all -- on the stage, armed only with their razor wits.

Unfortunately, the crotchety old Stanley Crouch took the opportunity to suckerpunch a dead man, scolding in the pages of the NYDailyNews:

"This past Saturday Richard Pryor left this life and bequeathed to our culture as much darkness as he did the light his extraordinary talent made possible.

When we look at the remarkable descent this culture has made into smut, contempt, vulgarity and the pornagraphic, those of us who are not willing to drink the Kool-Aid marked 'all's well,' will have to address the fact that it was the combination of confusion and comic genius that made Pryor a much more negative influence than a positive one."

We disagree. Our favorite Pryor-moment was during Live on the Sunset Strip, in 1982, when he spoke about his first trip to Africa, and how odd it was to see majority-black societies functioning. It was an innocent, funny and sharp moment -- Just like Richard Pryor.

May he rest in peace. Richard Pryor, RIP.


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Out: The Alito Confirmation Hearings. It's going to get ugly, with a filibuster -- and the attendant "nuclear option" -- frequently mentioned as possibilities. According to US News and World Report's Washington Whispers (link via wonkette):

"The GOP team working with the White House to win confirmation of conservative Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito is putting out a warning to Alito's Democratic critics: Question his ethics and character at your own peril. In their sights: Sens. Edward Kennedy and Joe Biden. 'We're absolutely prepared to have an ethics debate with Teddy Kennedy,' says one insider who mentioned the 'C' word: Chappaquiddick. 'Questioning Alito's credibility and character will be hit back hard,' said one of the Alito supporters."

And, from the perfect Dickensian villain, Robert Novak:

"... Two pieces of paper prepared 20 years ago by Alito (one of them a job application), he described himself as anti-abortion. That was enough to mobilize the senators who most dependably follow the special interest groups: Charles Schumer of New York, Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and Barbara Boxer of California.

"But abortion is not an issue that will broaden the anti-Alito bloc beyond the 22 hard-core senators who voted against Roberts. Accordingly, Alito's 15 years as an appellate judge have been mined to yield controversial decisions that could not be found in Roberts' two years on the District of Columbia circuit court, which dealt largely with administrative cases. Alito's dissents on criminal-search and gun-control cases are cited to turn him into a 'jack-booted thug.'

"... The intent of this effort is to keep Alito's opposition in the Senate below the 41 votes needed to defeat a cloture motion stopping a filibuster. But even if his foes fall just short of that level, the hope on the left is that such a showing will dissuade Bush from naming another Roberts or Alito to the next vacancy on the court."


(image via forgottenny)

In: HaperCollins Goes Digital. The Newscorp-owned publishing house scored sloppy seconds over Narnia's afterglow, according to Narniaweb:

"Harper Collins, publishers of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe novel have reported sales of 42,503 copies in the seven week lead up to the film�s release, putting the novel at the number one slot in the children�s paperbacks chart and placing the book 24th in the official top 50 overall book charts"

What's more, according to Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg and Kevin J. Delaney of the Wall Street Journal:

"In the latest salvo in the fight over the future of books on the Internet, one of the country's biggest publishers said it intends to produce digital copies of its books and then make them available to search services offered by such companies as Google Inc., Yahoo Inc., Microsoft Corp. and, while maintaining physical possession of the digital files.

"News Corp.'s HarperCollins Publishers Inc. hopes to head off the prospect of these big Internet companies taking charge of books that it has purchased, edited and published.

"Its move to digitize its active backlist of an estimated 20,000 titles and as many as 3,500 new books each year comes at a moment when technology companies and the publishing industry are wrestling over rights and economic models for books online. HarperCollins's effort to make search companies use its digital copies is an aggressive response to anxieties felt by publishers worried that they will lose control over their intellectual property.

"Along with a recent initiative by Bertelsmann AG's Random House, the initiative signals a growing desire by publishers to control and participate in some of the new online uses of their books."

1 comment: said...

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