Monday various

  • Last week, after my little elevator mishap, I linked to the story of Nicholas White, whose ordeal being trapped in an elevator was much worse than my own. We even joked about it, the two of us, while we waited to be released last Friday. He was trapped for 40-something hours.

    Turns out, it only got worse after that:

    He got a lawyer, and came to believe that returning to work might signal a degree of mental fitness detrimental to litigation. Instead, he spent eight weeks in Anguilla. Eventually, Business Week had to let him go. The lawsuit he filed, for twenty-five million dollars, against the building’s management and the elevator-maintenance company, took four years. They settled for an amount that White is not allowed to disclose, but he will not contest that it was a low number, hardly six figures. He never learned why the elevator stopped; there was talk of a power dip, but nothing definite. Meanwhile, White no longer had his job, which he’d held for fifteen years, and lost all contact with his former colleagues. He lost his apartment, spent all his money, and searched, mostly in vain, for paying work. He is currently unemployed.

    That was in 2008, so he may have since landed back on his feet. But it’s amazing how quickly a life can change. He was just coming back from a quick smoke outside.

    It could be worse, though, as a more recent elevator accident will attest.

  • Congress Ponders Adding GED Requirement to Unemployment Benefits. Spoken like a group of people who’ve never been unemployed (or struggled for an education) a day in their lives. [via]
  • In New Hampshire, meanwhile, they want to eliminate the mandatory lunch break. Just on paper, you know. Because it’s an occasional headache for a couple of HR departments. Nobody would ever think of abusing this and denying workers time off for meals! [via]
  • And I guess we’ll make this a trifecta of people who should know better doing reprehensible things: Cardinal Edward Egan Just Withdrew His Apology For The Catholic Sex-Abuse Scandal. “Nope, nothing to see here. My bad for copping to it earlier.” [via]
  • And finally, on a happier note: Roast Beef, the therapy penguin. Seriously, the day before I saw this story, we were joking at work that we should publish a book on penguin therapy.

    I wonder if Roast Beef would need a co-author…

Wednesday various

  • tudent receives free cocaine with Amazon textbook order. Is this where we’ve going wrong with our textbook sales? [via]
  • How College Football Bowls Earn Millions In Profits But Pay Almost Nothing In Taxes. Are you ready for some economic disparity?! [via]
  • The Texans who live on the ‘Mexican side’ of the border fence: ‘Technically, we’re in the United States’ [via]
  • Roger Ebert on why movie revenue is dropping:

    The message I get is that Americans love the movies as much as ever. It’s the theaters that are losing their charm. Proof: theaters thrive that police their audiences, show a variety of titles and emphasize value-added features. The rest of the industry can’t depend forever on blockbusters to bail it out.

  • And finally, Scott Tobias on why 2011 was secretly a really good year for movies:

    I don’t mean to be bullying or schoolmarmish about it, only to point out that when great films get pushed to the margins in our technology-rich times, far more than just a handful of self-selecting New Yorkers have a chance to see them. The key is to not let awards-season hype color your perception. We consider 2007 a monumental year because its strongest achievements—movies like There Will Be Blood, No Country For Old Men, and Zodiac—happened to have healthy budgets and the backing of major studios. Compare that to a 2011 where a pleasant-but-disposable trifle like The Artist is leading the charge, and it’s little wonder that perception marks it as a weak year. (The Tree Of Life may be the only 2011 film high in both ambition and visibility, and will almost certainly top every critics’ poll as a result.) But for the adventurous—and again, you don’t have to venture off the couch to be among them—2011 was an embarrassment of riches, full of lively, diverse, form-busting visions across all genres and around the world. And the best of them ask something of the viewer, offering rewards in exchange for an active engagement. Just don’t expect all the question marks to turn into exclamation points: To quote some advice to Michael Stuhlbarg’s spiritual seeker in A Serious Man, “Accept the mystery.”

Song of the day

“How You Like Me Now?” by the Heavy

Earlier today on Twitter, I was making light of the fact that Newt Gingrich has reportedly been told to stop using the song along the campaign trail, having apparently never obtained permission from either the record label or the band. (And the band is reportedly no fan of the candidate either.)

This follows in a long tradition of politicians using songs without permission — see, recently, Tom Petty and Michelle Bachmann — or without a clue — see…well, again, Petty and Bachmann, but also these song blunders as well.

But with Newt and the Heavy, there’s just so much going wrong here. Let’s leave aside the band’s name, which raises the specter of Gingrich’s weight and the idea of him as the heavy, a big, often outsized character who’s more often than not the villain of a piece. (Iago, for instance, is the heavy in Othello.) Let’s dive right into the lyrics of the song itself:

Now there was a time
When you loved me so
I couldn’t do wrong
Now you need to know

That time, for Newt, was a brief moment in the ’90s. You know, before all the ethics violations, affairs, and forced resignation.

See I been a bad bad bad bad man
And I’m in deep ya

Aw, baby, Newt only hurts you ’cause he loves America so damn much. Why you gotta be like that?

I found a brand new love for this man
And I can’t wait till ya see

Oh yeah, you’ll all come crawlin’ back to Newt. What’re ya gonna do, vote for Romeny? Oh, you are? Damn.

Remember the time when he took over
Ya I was a lie that you can’t give up
If I was to cheat on
Now would you see right through me
If I sang a sad sad sad sad song
Would ya give it to me
Would ya say
How ya like me now?

So just to recap here: Gingrich is playing a song about a man who lied and cheated, then comes back with an apology he admits right there is bullshit, easily seen through, and then (a little petulantly) asks, “How you like me now?”

I first encountered the song about a year ago, when I saw it used really effectively in The Fighter. Gingrich’s use is anything but effective. It reveals a pettiness at his heart — or, at the very least, a cluelessness about that that’s how it will be perceived. “Yeah, you kicked me out,” Gingrich seems to be saying with it, “because I was a bad bad bad bad man. And screw you, I haven’t changed. How you like me now?”

I will say this much for him, though, it’s a damn catchy song. It’ll put a bounce in your step, maybe even make you want to run for President or build a moon base.

Monday various

Thursday various