Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Tonight I finally watched "The Departed", Martin Scorcese's nomination-laden 2006 Gangsta pic.

I enjoyed it, but I don't think I'm prepared to review it just yet. I want to let it sink in. I will say that I think "The Departed" must hold some sort of record for top-notch acting talent dying in many violent ways. Well, the gun and defenestration for two.

Which brings me to a simple set of questions, since it's "Oscar Week". If you were to spot the great director, given a list of these names, who would you say is the finely skilled talent?

  1. Martin Scorcese.
  2. Kevin Costner.

Or, if you're uncomfortable with the way I posed that one, how about his? Which of the following pictures is an influential masterpiece, still fresh more than 15 years after its release?

  1. Goodfellas
  2. Dances With Wolves

I don't know if I care to live in a world where Goodfellas was not named Best Picture, and Martin Scorcese was not named Best Director. But it happened. Martin Scorcese was passed over for someone who even Madonna thinks is a dork.

I was kidding about not wanting to live in a world yada yada yada, but still.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Great Moments In Jurisprudence

While doing a little light reading on cannibalism this morning, I came across this gem from the trial of Alferd Packer, an old prospector in Colorado who led some companions into the San Juan Mountains in 1873 and came back some weeks later, alone and suspiciously fat. He claimed that his pals left him in the wilderness, and he had just barely survived his ordeal back home. Apparently, his fatness aroused suspicion, and the discovery that he had a large collection of his companions' worldly goods in his possession didn't help his cause either.
He was convicted of murder, later reduced to manslaughter, and sent for seventeen years hard labor. At his sentencing, outraged judge Melville Geery uttered one of my favorite sentencing lines ever:

"Packer, there were only seven Democrats in Hinsdale County, and you ate five of them, you depraved Republican son of a bitch!"

Looking around on-line, I found that this may be apocryphal. But still, I prefer history to be on the side of a guy with a good one-liner, so I'm accepting it in my heart as if it happened that way.

A claim is made that Packer and Albert Fish, an extremely kinky old codger in the late 20s , were the only two people in the US ever imprisoned for cannibalism, but I doubt that. Off the top of my head, I can name Jeff Dahmer and Ed Gein. The Russians approached it differently. Take Andrei Chikatilo, the Monster of The Don. Chikatilo actually wasn't sentenced to prison, he was given a 9 mm intervention a few months following his trial.