Monday, February 26, 2007

Elections in Russia

A Russian presidential candidate, not blessed by czar Vladmir Putin, is fighting off smears and allegations, aided by his loyal wife:
A month later he was back visiting Moscow and called a sparsely attended news conference to denounce an intensifying campaign against him. He denied having falsified his diploma and went on to explain, among other things, his interest in “gypsy hypnosis.” Marina Donskaya interrupted him, having lost patience with the pressure. “He’s not gay!” she shouted, referring to slurs that had been appearing in the Arkhangelsk press. “He impregnated me.”

Friday, February 23, 2007

wimbledon makes history

As a long-time tennis fan, I can say that this is truly historic.

UPDATE: Tommy Haas should make up his mind: he has a point (which I don't agree with) but did he have to add the usual mandatory disclaimer?
Reaction from male players was mixed. Federer said it was “a great move,” but Tommy Haas said, “I don’t think it’s really fair.”


“I think the depth of men’s tennis is much tougher than the women’s, plus we play best-of-five sets,” Haas, a German, said yesterday in Memphis after a 7-6, 7-6 victory against Amer Delic.

“Not to say that the women don’t deserve it,” he said. “The top players train very hard and are very good tennis players, but in general I don’t agree with it.”

UPDATE: Sheetal below suggests that the women should now start playing best-of-five sets. I disagree. I think the best-of-five format goes on for far too long. Instead the ATP tour might just want to make it best-of-three sets even for the guys (it is so in most ATP tournaments, I think, just not in the Grand Slams).

Besides, I've never thought that the money in tennis is proportional to the amount of work that the players put in. Tennis is entertainment -- if women's tennis is as entertaining as men's tennis, then they deserve equal pay. Simple. The problem of course, is that the men's game has so much more depth. A male player ranked in the hundreds plays tennis at much higher level -- the comparision, of course, is with the top ten -- than a female player in the hundreds. But the depth of a game is unquantifiable. Most spectators come to watch tennis matches only from the quarter-final onwards and at that level, the women's game is as interesting as the men's game. And who knows? Depth can change. Roger Federer dominates men's tennis today in a way that no single woman does on the WTA tour. It's far better to just pay the women and the men at the same rate -- who knows? that may inspire more and more young girls to turn pro and play some scintillating tennis.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Film Comment Selects is an annual New York City offering from the Lincoln Center's Film Comment magazine. Here's Manohla Dargis, in her primer on the films that'll be shown this year:

The highbrow meets the lowdown and dirty in Jean-Claude Brisseau’s “Exterminating Angels,” which kicks off the series of 18 films tonight. (It opens commercially in three weeks.) Raunch of the most decorous kind, this blush-inducing Valentine’s Day offering concerns a director, François (the game Frédéric van den Driessche), who’s holding auditions for his next project, a thriller. This being an art-house thriller, or at least a French filmmaker’s conceit, the actresses will, ooh-la-la, have to masturbate on camera. There won’t be any men, François assures the startled women, except for those who will presumably line up around the block to see the final results.

Most of the actresses decline François’s offer, but a few agree to abandon propriety and clothes, which leads to several explicit boudoir — and one under-the-restaurant-table — encounters. The film raises fascinating questions about power and sex both in regard to the director-actress relationship and, more generally, men and women. In Mr. Brisseau’s case those questions turn out to be intensely personal since he was convicted in 2005 of sexually harassing two actresses who claimed, yes, that he had forced them to masturbate during screen tests for another film. It remains unclear how Mr. Brisseau, who was apparently unarmed, forced the women to engage in acts of self-pleasure, but this transgression brought him a suspended jail sentence, a fine and, of course, the inspiration for his next film.

Nothing like life-meets-art. I think I'm going to go see this one...

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Quote of the day:

“We are tickled pink to be here,” said Dennis D. Cavin, the vice president for international air and missile defense strategic initiatives at Lockheed Martin.
Yes, tickled pink to be in Bangalore hawking fighter aircraft for sale to the Indian Government. Huh. Where do they come up with these expressions?