Thursday, March 10, 2005

“Mother of mercy! Is this the end of Rico?”

The Movie: Little Caesar, 1931 (Francis Edward Faragoh, Robert N. Lee, and Robert Lord, screenwriters, from the novel by W.R. Burnett; Mervyn LeRoy, dir.)
Who says it: Edward G. Robinson as Caesare “Rico” Bandello, a gangster
The context: Rico, having risen to the top of his organization, discovers that crime doesn’t pay.
How to use it: When you’re backed into a corner.

Continuing this week's theme of "I can't believe I haven't used that line yet," this is one I say all the time. According to legend, this movie is the source of the acronym for the federal anti-gangster law, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. (Warning: that link is for, the great urban-legend debunking site. Do not click on it unless you have at least an hour to waste.)

This is the first winter I've ever spent in a place where snow was just a fact of life, rather than a civic emergency. My block probably has more snowplows in driveways than the entire city of Virginia Beach owns. Actually, it probably has more snowplows than the entire city of Washington, DC owns. (In January 1996, when the city got socked with back-to-back snowstorms, a week went by before we saw a snowplow on 15th Street. When they finally came -- three across, in a diagonal line -- Ashton, Joseph, Anna and I stood in our living room window and applauded.)

Anyway, I've learned that snowplowing is an art. Some snowplowers are better than others, there's no getting around it. The best wield their blades like sculptors' knives, carving out pavement from beneath the piles of snow. The sloppy and careless leave long lines of snow smeared along the side of the road.

This weekend is the Portland Flower Show. I think I will go down there just to remind myself what the color green looks like in nature.

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