Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Miscellaneous: Business, Bigamy & Brass

Busy, busy, busy here at Chez K. There’s always my Twitter feed. It’s amazing how often you can say all you need to in 140 characters or less. But here are some recent discoveries worth a sentence or two.

Ahead of the Curve: Two Years at Harvard Business School, by Philip Delves Broughton. The author, the former Paris bureau chief for the Telegraph, dealt with doubts about the future of his profession by enrolling in the Crimson’s MBA program. His book is an engaging, warts-and-all portrait of an institution with an uncommon amount of global influence; HBS graduates include George W. Bush and Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling. (OK, that’s not exactly a representative sample. But in light of recent financial events, fuck fair.) If you want to understand how the people who can be said with little exaggeration to run the world think, this book is a good place to start.

The Bigamist (1953). Don’t let the pulpy title fool you. Sadness is the overriding tone of this Ida Lupino film, which I caught on TCM. Edmond O’Brien is a decent, profoundly lonely man who finds different satisfactions from each of his two wives (Joan Fontaine and Lupino, directing herself for the only time). The story is handled in compassionate, humane fashion, right up through the slightly unsatisfying ending.

But the goodwill is almost squandered in a strange reflexive moment. Miracle on 34th Street’s Edmund Gwenn is cast as the adoption agency employee whose investigation causes O’Brien’s double life to unravel. It’s already tempting fate to have Fontaine say that he looks like Santa Claus. But when a Hollywood tour guide blithely announces that the bus is now passing the home of actor Edmund Gwenn, that’s a stunt even Charlie Kaufman would steer clear of.

Moon & Sand. This Rhapsody channel dedicated to West Coast jazz of the ’50s and ’60s was off the air last week, stranding yours truly at his wit’s end. It’s my daily soundtrack. Recently it introduced me to my new favorite song, ‘Swingin’ on the Moon’ from Mel Tormé’s album of the same name. It features the immortal lyric “Tell mater and pater/We live in a crater.” And dig that crazy cover art.