Boardwalk Empire Erlkönig

 

Agent Knox is correct when he thinks that he can break a link in Nucky’s gang, but his does his job too well and breaks Eddie to the point that Eddie can’t live with his betrayal and jumps out a window to his death. It is a sad end for a character who was usually at the edges of the story and only recently moved to the fore. Eddie’s death started me thinking of how ambition has been the undoing of a number of characters in Boardwalk Empire.

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What Do You Do?

 

What do you do? It’s probably the most common ice-breaker when two strangers meet and it’s a question that I really can’t stand. When I was at the WonkBlog NYC event the other night, I had to keep answering that question and then I had to keep asking that question to be polite. But the question in itself is not polite, not really. In fact I think it’s rude to ask people what they do.

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Boardwalk Empire All In

 

One of the things that I always love in a TV series (and in life) is quiet competence. If I had to list one thing that keeps me involved with Boardwalk Empire it’s Nucky Thompson’s quiet competence. Even partway through the fourth season it’s easy to forget how good Nucky is as what he chooses to do. That Nucky isn’t showy about his talents may be part of the reason that he’s not a beloved character but it’s something I enjoy. In “All In” Nucky plays poker against legendary gambler Arnold Rothstein, and takes all his money.

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Boardwalk Empire Acres of Diamonds

 

One of the things that has always fascinated me about gangsters is the idea that they never have enough. In the immortal (and insipid) words of Bud Fox in Wall Street, “How many yachts can you water ski behind?”. In most stories, the problem is that the gangsters spend as fast as they “earn” and need to keep earning to support their lifestyles. (In other stories, the gangsters are in the empire business.) Then there are gangsters like Nucky Thompson. Nucky doesn’t need more money and doesn’t seem to care much about having money (as only those who have money can). In this episode, he even admits that he was happier when he had less, yet he keeps working to make more.

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WonkBlog NYC

 

Last night I had the pleasure, no really the pleasure, of attending the latest Washington Post Live event, Wonkblog: Is America a Good Investment. The event was held at the Conrad Hotel in New York City (well, Battery Park City) and was hosted by Ezra Klein. Neil Irwin was also there from the WonkBlog team (alas no Dylan Matthews) and Ezra moderated the discussion between Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Ruchir Sharma and Barry Ritholtz.

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Boardwalk Empire Resignation

 

As I and many others have written, Boardwalk Empire is to some extent playing a different game than many of the other major drama series on television. Where a series like Game of Thrones has to cast unknowns in most roles and where a series like The Walking Dead doubles its number of major sets in a season three by having two season three, Boardwalk Empire is able to put well-known actors in secondary roles and have as many sets as it wants. That Jeffrey Wright can be brought in to play Dr. Valentin Narcisse, immediately a compelling character, is yet another example of why Boardwalk Empire is held to a different standard than other series.

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Boardwalk Empire New York Sour

 

If there is one constant in the critical view of Boardwalk Empire it is that for the most part it is a series that feeds but does not nourish. (I can’t remember which critic said that.) There is so much to appreciate in Boardwalk Empire; the cast and performances, the sets, the confidence, the apparently unlimited budget. Yet when you finish an episode, you are often left feeling unsatisfied. You finished the meal and you’re full but you didn’t enjoy it.

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Why I Love Twitter

I have felt like writing this post for a while but there never seemed to be a good reason. Last week when Damon Lindelof deleted his Twitter account, it probably would have made sense for me to post something but I didn’t and, anyway, Alyssa Rosenberg and James Poniewozik (and no doubt countless others) offered interesting takes.

I understand why Lindelof got off Twitter. Who would want tweet after tweet criticizing you for something you created that they didn’t like? I don’t have to face that given my relative insignificance in the Blogosphere/Twitterverse. With very rare exceptions, interactions I have with other people on Twitter are polite and funny.

So this post is not for those of you who are already on Twitter. You already know why Twitter is great. This post is for those of you who are not on Twitter and assume that there is no reason in the world why you would ever bother to join. You’re wrong and I’ll tell you why.

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The Boston Red Sox and A Better Dream

Fenway Park Jonathan via Compfight

Thought I might get a rocket ride
When I was a child but it was a lie
That I told myself when I needed something good
At seventeen, had a better dream
Now I’m thirty-three and it isn’t me
But I’d think of something better if I could
(from “All My Friends” by Counting Crows)

My earliest memory of the Red Sox is not knowing anything about the 1975 World Series, which they lost to the Reds in seven games. There were some older kids in the playground who were big Red Sox fans and they were talking about the World Series from the previous year and were dumbfounded that I had no idea what they were talking about. One of them reenacted Carlton Fisk’s dramatic Game Six home run and I was entertained but still in the dark.

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The Intouchables

Credit: The Weinstein Company

I know that I always talk about Roger Ebert’s line about how it’s not what a movie is about but how it’s about it, but I think it applies in the case of The Intouchables (currently on Netflix). I can’t say that anything really surprised me in the overall plot of the movie, but the two lead performances (François Cluzet, who was familiar to me, and Omar Sy, who wasn’t) are so good that I enjoyed the movie from start to finish and very much recommend.

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