March 8, 2010

The Irregular Blather Mar. 8, 1931

No Journal was published Sunday, Mar. 8, 1931.

First up today, a strong book recommendation: No One Would Listen, the book by Harry Markopolos about the Madoff scandal and his investigative team's long-term attempts to get the SEC to do something about it. Now, having some interest in the Madoff case, I probably would have picked this book up in any case, but the reason I'm recommending it is that, having gone through a good chunk, it has vastly exceeded my expectations. I'm a picky reader; I'd probably put 80%-90% of the books I've seen about the financial crisis in the mediocre pile, though some do undeniably contain entertaining gossip. This book, however, has everything - good nuts-and-bolts background and details, lots of new information, jaw-dropping fly-on-the-wall stuff, readability, humor, and, yes, entertaining gossip. It's a welcome surprise that Mr. Markopolos turns out to be a fine writer in addition to his other talents. And, of course, it's another indication of the quality of mass media coverage that most of the TV time I've seen on the book was devoted to picking out the most paranoid-sounding statements in the book and smirking about them [like the one about how Markopolos contemplated killing Madoff if threatened by him].

Second, lest we forget, still more movie fun, courtesy of Youtube.

From March 3: Honor Among Lovers, with Claudette Colbert, Ginger Rogers, and Fredric March. "Semi-sophisticated, semi-melodramatic, semi-amusing" film of love and financial trickery, filmed in "those sumptuous modernistic settings seldom seen in contemporary life outside of the movies." Full movie available on Youtube - does, indeed, look semi-amusing:

Play "Honor Among Lovers" on Youtube

And, on a more sobering note, a pretty disturbing battle scene from Comrades of 1918, mentioned Feb. 27: German film about the war, directed by G. Pabst. Provocative; striking photography; many of the war scenes authentic and compelling. Scenes vary from gruesome views of the battlefield and improvised hospitals, to lighter scenes behind the lines, "and in a trench where one of the men sings, while picking 'cooties' out of his clothing, to the tune of a harmonica ..." Sound recording isn't as powerful as our own All Quiet on the Western Front.

Play "Comrades of 1918" on Youtube

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