Virtual Front Page for Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A few topics to chew over:

  1. Stocks Tumble on China Worries — WSJ— Looks like the WSJ got confused and posted a headline from last week.
  2. U.S. using secret drone campaign to hunt ISIS leaders — WashPost — This kind of warfare is more Obama’s style. Washington Post exclusive.

  3. 13 USC fraternities suspended from recruitment — — Speaking, as we were earlier, about people who have odd priorities when it comes to higher education… I’m curious: Were any of y’all in fraternities or sororities? Why?
  4. Special Report: How U.S. police turn drivers into moving targetsThe Guardian — British news outlets find American gun violence endlessly fascinating. Oh, speaking of which…
  5. Columbia policeman fired after off-duty shooting incident — — They say he managed to shoot himself as well, which is at least a new wrinkle.
  6. Idris Elba, Daniel Craig and Bond: Can the Man, and Franchise, Change? — WSJ — Before I can picture this, I need to see him play someone other than Stringer Bell.
He's cool, but is he, specifically, BOND cool?

He’s cool, but is he, specifically, BOND cool?

33 thoughts on “Virtual Front Page for Tuesday, September 1, 2015

  1. Norm Ivey

    This is more of a Open Thread response, but I thought you might be interested in this:
    A Poem is a Naked Person is a documentary about Leon Russell. Doesn’t look like it’s coming to Columbia, but it will make it to Netflix or Amazon sooner or later.

  2. Kathryn Fenner

    Idris Elba as Stringer Bell, but with a different accent (and he’s clearly shown he’s capable of accent work) would make an awesome Bond. He’s also great as Luther.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      All this controversy started with the would-be Fleming saying the actor was too “street.”

      Well, yeah, Stringer was “street.” But he was a particularly smooth and urbane version of street. Avon Barksdale was Street. Stringer Bell was more like Boulevard…

      Also… with Daniel Craig, for the first time we got a Bond with rough edges — an ex-SAS ruffian. As he said in “Casino Royale” when asked whether he wanted his martini shaken or stirred, “Do I look like I give a damn?”

      In other words, Daniel was at LEAST as “street” as Idris…

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        Unless “street” is a euphemism for …..

        Although the guy did reportedly say he preferred Adrian Lester, who is black, so….

      2. Brad Warthen Post author

        And Omar is more street than anybody.

        And all the kids yell, “Omar comin’!”

        Another favorite scene from “The Wire:” Omar gets up, finds he’s out of his favorite breakfast cereal, goes to the convenience store to get some in his pajamas and robe. Deciding it was too inconvenient to carry a weapon in his PJs, he goes unarmed. Everybody still scurries out of his way, and some dealers throw their stash out the window at him, just because he’s Omar…

        Omar is the MASTER of the street…

        1. Kathryn Fenner

          There’s a whole lot of colorblind casting going on…’s been a thing since at least the 80s. You don’t explain why some of the Cratchit kids are black….

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            See, now, that’s going too far. That’s messing with reality too much. OK, sure, in a local theater production it’s forgivable. (We had several black British army officers in our production of “Pride and Prejudice,” most notably the actor who played Fitzwilliam, who did a creditable job with the role.) But a professional production in which some of Cratchit’s children are black or Asian — that’s too weird. In a professional production you have a choice of actors, and there’s little excuse for not casting people who have the right physical characteristics for the role.

            By contrast, you can come up with an interesting backstory for a black Bond — a guy coming out of one of the former colonies. I could see that.

            And as I said before, I think Daniel Craig opened the door for this. At least in the first movie, they broke with the “gentleman spy” mold (although they seemed to go back to it in “Skyfall,” showing him as an heir to landed gentry)…

            1. Kathryn Fenner

              I saw several professional productions in Chicago, a theater town if ever there were one, with colorblind casting, and it works. You get used to it.

            2. Kathryn Fenner

              and so many commentators have pointed out that when Craig is “too old” to play Bond any more (he’s packin’ ’em in the theaters, so….), Elba will be, too.

  3. Dave Crockett

    Re: 3. Social fraternities, no (never rushed, never interested, but it was the early ’70s…). One career-related fraternity, yes (Sigma Delta Chi journalism, on invitation).

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      I never did sororities after my mom, a Chi Omega, believed she could have finished college but for the pointless and expensive deal that her older brother told her she *had* to do. I lived on the Women’s Quad at USC back when the sororities had their HQs at Sims, and the blondes in white dresses doing clapping chants just didn’t seem like my thing anyway.

      1. Rose

        Same here – no desire to join any group that hazes and humiliate pledges. I’m not the clapping chant type either. My husband was in one at USC in the 80s. He said their recruitment events were all dry. The beer came later. Lots of beer. But the binge drinking & hard liquor were not part of his experience.

      2. Brad Warthen Post author

        Speaking of sororities, my one good experience with Greek life was this…

        I met my wife at a party that she and a friend threw for another friend — who was also a friend of mine — who was getting married.

        The party was at a sorority house on the campus of Southwestern (now Rhodes) College in Memphis. That’s because the friend who was co-hostess, who was one of the least likely sorority girls I’ve ever known, had been badgered into pledging by her mother…

        There were no other sorority members at the party. It was just a venue…

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      OK, technically, I was in SDX. But I just signed up because my best buddy was president of the chapter, and he really wanted me to.

      I don’t think that was anything like an actual fraternity, with a house and parties and everything…

      I don’t even recall going to any meetings or anything…

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        Well, full disclosure, I joined Phi Beta Kappa.
        True story: I was shopping in Columbia Mall (RIP) with my mom for something to wear to the induction, and the sales clerk would not let me blow her off with vague statements about what event I was shopping for. I finally told her, and she brightened right up, and showed me the white dresses!

      2. Bryan Caskey

        I didn’t join a fraternity at Washington & Lee. Nice thing was that it was such a small school, it was pretty inclusive. Monday Night Football was big at a few houses on campus, and pretty much anyone was welcome. Aside from specific fraternity-sorority mixers, it wasn’t a big deal to come over and hang out, and for most parties, they wanted lots of people to show up.

        There was some fraternity rivalry I guess, but mostly silly stuff.

        UVA was a different experience though. My sophomore year, I went over to visit a friend of mine at his fraternity house for a party one weekend, and I was completely taken aback by the fact that there was a guy out front with a list of names. I remember thinking: It’s a party, don’t you want people to come in? And it wasn’t like there was some overwhelming throng of people lining up [or queuing*] to get in. I had to contact my friend who then had to come out of the house and tell Mr. List that I was okay to come in and grace them with my presence.

        W&L was much less formal, in my experience. The school was so small, you knew everyone. In fact, I was up in Spartanburg today for a hearing, and I ran into an old W&L classmate of mine who works in the solicitor’s office up there. I hadn’t seen him in probably 10 years. The nice thing about a small school is that you pretty much got to know everyone.

        *I tossed that in for Admiral Anglophile, who runs this here blog

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          When my father-in-law was liberated from the Stalag at the end of the war, he was practically starved. Up comes a British lorry that lets down its tailgate and starts issuing food to the POWs, most of whom were Brits.

          My father-in-law rushes the tailgate, and everybody starts yelling at him, “Queue up, mate! Queue up!”

          He had no idea what they were talking about, but then he saw that the Brits were standing in a neat line…

      3. Dave Crockett

        I only went to the induction dinner and, truth be known, the best part of the evening was sitting next to the hottest female broadcast major in our entire class. Her first job out of school was ‘weather girl’ over at WBTW in Florence but my last contact with her was a phone call to me as news director of WDXY radio in Sumter to find out if we’d seen any tornadoes one dark and stormy night…

    3. Norm Ivey

      Most of my college career was part time. It took me eight years to finish a four year degree. No major changes and no wasted electives. I never had the time for the extra curricular college scene, especially the Greek stuff.

  4. bud

    2. These drone strike rank as my biggest disappointment of the Obama presidency. He risks losing an outstanding domestic resume to the thuggish foreign travesty of killing by remote control. Disgusting.

      1. Bryan Caskey

        Michael never woulda allowed ISIS to continue to roam free like they’ve been doing, unless he’s about to go Michael Corleone (at the baptism scene) on ISIS, Iran, Russia, and all the rest of the five families right at the end of his term.

        If Obama came out and said, “There are negotiations being made that are going to answer all of your questions and solve all of your problems. That’s all I can tell you right now.” then I’d would feel much better.

        Is Obama planning on being Godfather to anyone’s baby in the next few months?

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        No, I don’t! I look at it all the time. I have the app on both iPad and phone, and it’s definitely one of my top ten apps, maybe top five.

        I mostly use it when I’m sitting in front of the TV, and want to know right NOW where I’ve seen someone…

        AND… in this case, I saw your comment when I came back to answer Burl’s comment after I just, two minutes ago, consulted IMDB to see if Burl was right.

        And what I found was that he was in two things I’ve seen — “Thor” and “28 Weeks Later.” But I don’t remember him from either. I suppose a lot of people saw him on the American version of “The Office,” but I never wanted to see that, since there was no David Brent or Gareth Keenan.

        Speaking of IMDB…

        In recent months, I’ve noticed that the “Known for” feature is increasingly off the mark.

        If you’re going to state the things that Elba is best known for, where would you start? “The Wire” and “Luther,” right?

        Look what they have:


        What in the world is that based on?

        This is what happens when you let an algorithm make judgments that so far, only human brains can make.

        Oh, and I saw “Prometheus,” too. I don’t remember him from that, either.

        1. Kathryn Fenner

          I think that you and I, despite our apparently disparate tastes when it comes to war movies, are neither of us representative of the general movie-going public. I have never seen one of those superhero movies, and I bet you haven’t either, but they are top-grossers, especially compared to The Wire or Luther….

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Yes, I have. My son, who is an avid comic book collector, and I go to most of them when they come out. The Thor one wasn’t bad. The best of the recent lot, I think, was the first “Iron Man” movie with Robert Downey Jr. The BIGGEST one was the first Avengers movie, but even though I’m a Joss Whedon fan (or at least, a “Firefly” fan), I was sort of disappointed. The best part was the little add-on during the credits when the Avengers have gone out for shawarma after the climactic battle and they’re all sitting around the table of the restaurant looking exhausted. Very Whedon.

            My problem is that the more special effects, the more alienated I feel from the action. And of course, such effects are sort of inevitable in superhero movies.

            I think my favorite of the genre was the 2002 “Spider-Man.” My son disagrees, as he disapproves of Tobey Maguire. Best part? J.K. Simmons ranting as J. Jonah Jameson. I like movies with ranting newspaper editors…

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Speaking of Whedon — any of y’all see the production of “Much Ado About Nothing” that Whedon shot in black and white at his house? I really liked that. It’s available to stream on Netflix…

              He shot that WHILE he was shooting “Avengers,” I think…

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