Street Broker

When you're a Finance major, there are two things that are absolutely required consumption--Wall Street and Liar's Poker.  If you haven't gone through both of them, well, no there's no point to even saying that because we all have.  Its not just a rite of passage, its scripture. 

But, what isn't required, particularly with Wall Street, is learning any kind of lesson.  Guys grow up idolizing Gordon Gekko with his slick back hair and fancy 15 pound cell phone (it was 1987) on the beach, but the morality lesson gets a bit dwarfed in the whole thing. 

When I was in college, I ran a retreat for business students in the spring of senior year.   A lot of people complained about how empty and exhausted they felt about recruiting.  Trying to figure out and play who you think these companies want you to be and sell yourself can get to you after a while.   And for what?  Do the people that "play the game" really actually wind up winning in the end?

I avoided the whole brokerage/investment banking side of Finance.  I never liked who I was dealing with there because it always seemed like it was either about being better than the next guy or being the closest fit to a mold--never about being the best self you can be.  I just wasn't willing to make that kind of sacrifice and I never felt I should have to.

I wasn't going to stay up nights like Bud Fox, charting companies to prove my worth to somebody.  I was going to live my balanced life and I bet on the fact that I would get appreciated and discovered by others who wanted the same kind of balance in their lives. 

Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) gets sucked in...  the money, the women.  A lot of people do.  But you know what?  That's not what really gets you to be that successful.  Success in this country is built on equity...  built on building things and owning the equity in things you built, not tearing things down.  That's why most leaveraged buyout returns never get high multiples--there's only so many ways you can improve a company, only so much leverage you can get.  Sure, it's also less risky, but in my life, if I'm going to be around an industry, I think its more fun to be in one that's shooting for the fences.

And when you're doing that, you've got to have your heart in it.  When Bud Fox sold out Blue Star, he knew it wasn't right at the moment he did it.  When we see entreprenuers, its easy to tell who is passionate about their business in a positive way.  It flows out of them and drives them upward. 

Ok, so I didn't talk so much about the movie and kind of went on a tangent.  Its a great movie, even outside of all this moral commentary.  Michael Douglass really is Gordon Gekko and Charlie Sheen is equally well cast.  Its great to see him play on screen with his dad, making the whole betrayal seem that much more real.  Go rerent it if you haven't seen it in a while... or rent it if you're boyfriend is a hungry, aspiring broker/banker and you want to know what all the fuss is about. 

Oh, and I'm not trying to be sexist...   plenty of women are obviously successful bankers, but I don't know too many of them who really like Wall Street.  Disagree?  Feel free to comment.

Read More

Sport Goggles

"There's someone out there for everyone - even if you need a pickax, a compass, and night goggles to find them."

I'm a romantic... hopefully, not hopeless, though.  I also think life is a little bit weird and a little bit surreal. 

I also think that, at certain times, my life could use a little Enya in the background for effect.

That's the essence of L.A. Story.  Its all about how emotional and grandiose we can make our own little efforts to find someone, and then how often we realize how silly the whole thing is.  Real.  Silly.  Both.  Our lives are really silly, but they're great sometimes, too.  Harris K. Telemacher's life is really silly, too.  He drives to work through other people's backyards and through public parks.  He makes amateur videos on roller skates in art museums.  Electronic traffic condition billboards talk to him. 

And, his life is great, too, because he finds someone that makes him show off--"the idiot's version of being interesting."  He finds someone that makes him want to change the polarity of the earth to keep her from flying home.

"Life is a tale told by an idiot--full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." 

We are the idiots telling the story, searching hard everyday to find something of substance to lend meaning to the sound and substance to the fury.  In the meantime, we watch Steve Martin to entertain ourselves.


Read More

Rocky Balboa: There's still some stuff in the basement

When I saw that they were coming out with another Rocky, I was... um... skeptical.  Rocky V, to me, should have never been made the same way that Godfather III is dead to me.  So, why come back for another one?  Especially since Sly is 60!!

Then I saw the trailer...    Hmm... wow... actually looked pretty interesting.  It totally plays into the aging boxer story, which was somewhat believable since we saw George Foreman do it in real life.

Well, the movie was even better than I could have imagined.  If you liked any of the Rocky movies, this is a must-see.  If you love America and apple pie, this is a must see.  If you go to sleep at night and wake up in the morning, this is a must see. 

Even though this isn't a true "reset" like Casino Royale and Batman Begins, the movie accomplishes the same success for a franchise that had jumped the tracks a bit.  It is a back to basics plot with a lot of character exploration and development.  Oh, and did I mention Adrian was dead?  In fact, Rocky's memories of Adrian are so touching that, for a split second, we almost... miss her character.  Almost.  Nice jobs all around by supporting characters playing Rocky's son, "Little Marie", and Rocky's Trainer.

You can't help but get goosebumps when the Rocky theme plays.  The fight scene is probably the most realistic of all the Rocky fights, too, and when it's over, you couldn't have asked for the frachise to end on a better note.... a lot better than fighting that Tommy Morrison in the street.

Once again... the trailer:

Read More

Youre Not In The Movies

Fordham graduation is this Saturday, so in honor of that event, I thought this would be a fitting time to put up what might actually be my favorite movie--definitely one in my top five.  Ben Braddock has just graduated and the only thing he's got planned for himself is a little "drifting here in the pool."  Ideas?  Well, everyone's got ideas for him...  from "Plastics" to meeting with older women in hotels to taking out their daughters when they come down from Berkeley.  Everyone thinks they've got him pegged, too.  "Track star."  "Agitator."  (Gotta love the Normal Fell bit there as the landlord in Berkeley.  Obviously, that got him the Mr. Roper gig.) 

Its tough though.  The one thing college doesn't really prepare you for is figuring out what to do with yourself after you're done, and so any graduating senior can relate to what Dustin Hoffman goes through in this movie.  For one thing, its just a bizarre situation to be back home from college after you've lived four years on your own and now, all of the sudden, you're thrust back into their world.  Your whole college life comes to a screeching halt, and now you're hanging out with people in their 50's.  (At least my parents didn't buy me scuba gear and make me test it in our pool on my birthday in front of all their friends.)

The music (this seems to be a theme with me...) from Simon and Garfunkel is classic, as is the whole movie...   Its tough to get more memorable than Hoffman's ride in his Alfa Romeo down to Santa Barbara to search for Katherine Ross's wedding, touched off by the "Mrs. Robinson" track. 

So watch this, or go back and watch it again.  Listen to every line.  There are too many good ones that Hoffman's deadpan style might lull you past, but so many of the short ones are funny.  He tells his parents that he's getting married, and then they realize that he hasn't even asked the girl yet.

"Benjamin, this whole idea seems rather half-baked."

"No, I assure you, its fully baked."

Anne Bancroft, who is like a million years old now (and married to Mel Brooks) rasps and smokes her way into Dustin Hoffman's world for the summer, culminating in a train wreck of a standoff towards the end.  She "controls" much Ben's life, and the movie, until he finds what he actually wants and goes after it.  So take some time off if you need, but not too much, to find your Elaine, and go after it like a track star.  You'll learn why wood is better than wire, and how to keep a crowd at bay with a crucifix. 

"Doesn't he seem like the kind of guy that needs to fight them off with a stick?"

Benjamin Braddock.   Class of 1967.

Read More

The Prestige, good, but with a plot hole... WARNING... SPOILER

In case you didn't see Christian Bale and Wolverine... um...   Hugh Jackman in The Prestige yet, stop reading.    I am going to give away a major plotline here.   Don't blame me if you keep reading... you've been warned.

As far as I can tell there are only two scenarios that make sense with this movie.... two explanations that neither of which are entirely satisfying.

1)  Christian Bale has a natural twin that he has grown up with all his life.  He makes "Telsa" the key to his book because Telsa is attempting a cloning machine that doesn't work, sending Hugh Jackman on a wild goose chace.  (Because, if he was aware of it working, he would have essentially given his one advantage, being a twin, over to his arch rival.)   By sheer dumb luck, the machine actually turns out to work.  Now, actually, I believe Tesla was more likely trying to invent a transporting machine... and that happens to be the wackiest glitch in the world... that it doubles you.  But, either way, Bale could have never thought it to work.

2)  Telsa actually did make the machine work for Bale and he used it once, to clone himself a twin.  The second Bale doesn't seem to exist very early on in the movie, like when he's a stagehand.  Where was he all those years if they weren't doing the magic act routine?  Plus, it's just too random that the key to the diary is Tesla, a man that, in reality, has nothing to do with his trick, b/c Bale already has a twin and doesn't need a transporting or cloning machine...   of which Telsa actually winds up, ironically and accidently, creating a cloning machine that works.  Of course, this doesn't make sense either, b/c Telsa doesn't even know his machine works until Hugh Jackman comes to visit him.  If that was the case, though...  why would Bale have anything to do with Tesla?   

Read More