• “One can never have enough socks. Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.” –Dumbledore, who should start celebrating Hannukah
• The wizarding world does not seem capitalist; in fact, it seems barely post-industrial, perhaps in line with JRR Tolkien’s shire. Everyone is pretty happy even though no one makes it onto Forbes’ Fictional 15. More leaning back, drinking butterbeer, and watching Quidditch for us all.
• 1 Galleon = 17 Sickles = 493 Knuts. This must be mocking the pre-1971 British currency system, where 2 farthings = 1 half-penny, 12 pence = 1 shilling, 5 shillings = 1 Crown, and so on. Decimalization FTW.
• Keep your money safe by hiding it in a locked vault at the bottom of a goblin bank protected by blind dragons. Or the modern equivalent: a CD.
Looking to the premiere of Darren Aronofsky’s upcoming epic film Noah, starring Russell Crowe and The Lord, possibly in that order, the New York Times asks, “Can God Make It In Hollywood?” Religious movies do not always make it past the gatekeepers, and even when they do, they often fall flat with audiences, since viewers would rather watch cars go vroom! and robots go pow! than somber, toga-wearing men in beards talk about sin. The Times reports:
Once, studios routinely made movies with overtly religious themes for the mainstream audience. Classics like “The Ten Commandments,” “Quo Vadis” and “A Man for All Seasons” — each of which was nominated for a best picture Oscar — were box-office winners with a wide range of viewers. But after years of neglect or occasional hostility, the question now is whether Hollywood can still find common ground with religious audiences.
So, is God box office poison? I decided to investigate, using sophisticated analytic measures: I typed “God” into the search engine at Box Office Mojo. Here is what I found:
• The highest-grossing movie with “God” in the title is Godzilla (1998) which has made $136,000,000 worldwide since its release. The wrathful, rampaging character of Godzilla is not that different from the world-destroying character of God in the Noah story, come to think of it.
• The next three highest-grossing movies with “God” in the title are The Godfather, The Godfather Part III, and The Godfather Part II, which is funny since if you ask an aficionado s/he will probably say that Part II is the best film, followed by the original. Also funny: The Godfather has made a whopping $135,000,000 which is more than its two sequels put together. (Sequels! Turns out they are not always the surest and most profitable bet.)
• Next comes a comedy from 1977 called Oh, God! that I’ve never heard of, and I was a Film major. It made $40,000,000 domestically, which is roughly the advertising budget of a movie like Transformers.
Perhaps the Times is right? Or perhaps I am going about this the wrong way.
One of the most popular shows in television, Judge Judy, is now in its 19th year and Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza examines why Judith Sheindlin, who earns an annual salary of $47 million, is so beloved and how the show is produced at Pacific Stardard:
Steve McQueen — the one who is alive and directed 12 Years a Slave — interviews Kanye West for Interview Magazine and it is kind of amazing.
So you talk about doing all of these other things, which is great, but there’s really no amount of money that could make you more influential than you are now. So my question is: What are you going to do with all of the influence that you have right now?
I am fascinated by what Olympians do, per se, after they win gold medals. Or moreover, after they win no medals! Or, really, what does any person do after great success? Lucky for me we have an entire profile on Shaun White a.k.a. The Flying Tomato — a name he no longer appreciates, by the way — who is apparently a two-time snowboarding Olympic gold medalist who will be heading to Sochi for more Olympics stuff in February (okay I kind of knew that already but now I definitely know).
Please tell me you’ve already read Sarah Marshall’s Believer essay about Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan. Okay I’m glad we are all on the same page.
Meet Dawn Barkan, Hollywood’s preeminent cat trainer:
You know her work: Her credits include Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Runaway Bride, and Snow Dogs, and she’s the trainer — please don’t call her a “wrangler” (that’s for sheep and cows) — responsible for Mr. Jinx being able to use the toilet in Meet the Parents.
Dawn Barkan trained the three cats who starred as the one cat in that new Coen Bros. movie Llewyn Davis. You know, that sepia-toned movie you saw previews for, with the sad-sack guy who has no coat but he does have a guitar and a cat? Anyway, about the cat:
Roseanne Cash’s essay about growing up in Tennessee, and leaving, and coming back, and leaving again is really lovely.
Something to talk about with your family around the Thanksgiving table, if your family is anything like mine (super Catholic): Pope Francis just issued an 84-page “apostolic exhortation” about the idolatry of money and the new tyranny of unfettered capitalism.
My mentor and personal hero Oprah Winfrey had a yard sale over the weekend that blew all of our weekly check-ins out of the water. She raised $600,000 for her school in South Africa by selling a bunch of her personal belongings (and a few things from her long-time exercise guru, Bob Greene).
Mike: This week, I listened to an interview that Jesse Thorn did with American writer Fran Leibowitz, who has been described as a “modern Dorothy Parker.” And she talked a lot about some of the difficulties she faced just doing her job, and some of her thoughts about money. So I thought it might be something interesting to talk about!
No, really. We’re doppelgangers. Hadley Freeman interviewed her for the Guardian: “When I ask [Alexa] what her future plans are, she replies, ‘Umm, I don’t know. What do you think I should do?‘”