Saturday, November 17, 2007

"Ladies and gentlemen, Rupert Pupkin! Rupert Pupkin. Rupert Pupkin."

The Movie: The King of Comedy, 1983 (Paul D. Zimmerman, screenwriter; Martin Scorsese, dir.)
Who says it: Jeff David as the Announcer
The Context: Rupert Pupkin achieves his fondest dreams of stardom in a most unusual way. This is the last line of the movie.
How you can use it: To disparage undeserved celebrity.

Since I'm on the road until Monday night, it seemed easiest to flash back to a movie quotation today. This one sprang to mind not only because I'm in the Thirty Mile Zone, but also because today is Martin Scorsese's birthday. Happy birthday, Mr. Scorsese.

The King of Comedy is a movie about the dangers of celebrity, and what some people are willing to do to get it.

I never cared much about being rich or famous. The neediness attached to celebrity terrifies me, and I'm an idiot about money so wouldn't be able to take care of it if I had any.

But yesterday I went up to the Getty Villa, and it occurred to me that it might be fun to have stupid money. Being a millionaire would just be a hassle; being a billionaire ... now, that could be cool.

Anybody want to give me a billion dollars? I do have a birthday coming up.

What I Read This Week

Alex Kava, Whitewash. I like Alex Kava's Maggie O'Dell novels, but this standalone was a disappointment. Scientist Sabrina Galloway winds up on the run after two mysterious deaths at her alternative energy company, while a Senator's aide discovers skullduggery involving the company on his own. Too many plot lines, not enough character development.

Anne Tyler, Back When We Were Grownups. Anne Tyler's novels are no longer the immediate must-reads they used to be for me. It seemed to me that she was starting to repeat herself, although 2005's The Amateur Marriage was stunning, her best yet. Back When We Were Grownups, published in 2001, feels a little like a warm-up exercise for that book. Rebecca Davitch, in her mid-50s, decides to go back and find the college sweetheart she jilted, in hopes of recapturing the life she didn't live.

Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I never read this book as a child; I have no idea why, as I read all of her other novels (Joy in the Morning, Maggie-Now, Tomorrow Will Be Better). For the handful of other people who haven't read this book, it's the story of Francie Nolan's coming-of-age in World War I-era Brooklyn.

Charles Benoit, Noble Lies. Desert Storm veteran Mark Rohr agrees to help track down an American tsunami survivor in Thailand for the missing man's sister. Nothing is as it seems, and Benoit gives us fascinating pictures of post-tsunami Thailand and modern piracy.

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