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I read a fascinating story the other day about Scott Adams, who created “Dilbert.” Adams, who has made a good living lampooning the corporate world, is suffering from an incurable neurological disorder called dystonia, which is sort of like a severe writer’s cramp that makes it almost impossible for him to write and to draw his comic strip; it even has affected his speech, making it very difficult to have conversations.

According to the story, Adams is finding some ingenious ways to cope with his condition. He now draws the strip by using touch-sensitive computer screen that allows him to trace the strip without using a pen or pencil – it actually fools the brain into not realizing that he’s drawing. And for reasons that even the doctors can’t figure out, he’s able to talk – but only if he does so in some sort of foreign accent or a southern drawl. If he uses his own voice, it’s almost impossible.

Ironic. Adams is someone who has effectively challenged corporations’ ability to be competent, and here he is with his own competencies challenged on a day to day basis. And yet, the article makes clear, he soldiers on – with humor and self-deprecation and an unwillingness to feel sorry for himself.

Good role model.

Last week I was challenged by an MNB user because I waxed rhapsodic about a meal I ate in Seattle, and then talked about wines from Spain and Argentina. This particular MNB user wondered why I wasn’t drinking wine from the Pacific Northwest if I was eating in Seattle.

Good question. In fact, I did. The wines were consumed elsewhere. (Not Argentina or Spain, unfortunately.)

In Seattle, I had an old favorite – a 2001 Snoqualmie Syrah that I just love.

And, I had a 2003 Tamarack Cellars’ Firehouse Red from the Columbia Valley, which is a blend of , including cabernet sauvignon, syrah, merlot, cabernet franc, sangiovese and carmenere. And man, was it wonderful…big and juicy and spicy and just about everything you could ask for from a full-bodied red. Yummm….

I sipped some Firehouse Red the other evening while enjoying for the umpteenth time one of my three favorite Christmas movies: Love, Actually (2003), which is oh so British and oh so funny and oh so touching. If you haven’t seen this movie, which follows a number of couples in the weeks leading up to a London Christmas, then you should – it’s from the same folks who made Four Weddings & A Funeral (1994) and has that same lovely outlook on life.

The other two favorites, by the way, are Holiday Inn (1942), starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire (vastly superior to 1954’s White Christmas with Crosby and Danny Kaye, in my opinion), and The Bishop’s Wife (1947), starring Cary Grant, Loretta Young and David Niven, which is far superior to the awful The Preacher’s Wife (1996) with Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston.

Syriana is the new George Clooney-Matt Damon film thriller about oil and politics. In structure it resembles “Traffic,” the Michael Douglas movie about drugs that came out a few years ago; it was written by Stephen Gaghan, who is both writer and director of Syriana. But in tone, it also echoes “The Parallax View,” the Alan J. Paula-Warren Beatty conspiracy theory movie that came out back in the seventies.

It is hard to explain – hell, it’s actually hard to understand – much of Syriana. But I loved it. (Four of us went; in all fairness, I was the only one who was so enthused about it.) The confusion actually works for the movie, since it is about how the US government intersects with Middle Eastern governments, transected by their different political and oil interests, and encircled by both greed and power. There are some remarkable performances here, especially by Clooney, who gained 30 pounds to play a gone-to-seed CIA agent. (Clooney deserves some kind of award for what he’s accomplished during 2005 with both the fabulous Good Night, And Good Luck and now the intriguing Syriana.)

On the other end of the scale…

King Kong is like nothing so much as a three hour roller coaster. And I mean that as a compliment.

Let’s see what I can tell you about it. King Kong is three hour long, but I never once looked at my watch. Mrs. Content Guy loved it, too, and she’s harder to please than I am; he and our eleven year old daughter had tears at the end. It cost a ton of money to make ($200 million), but it’s all up there on the screen. The script is witty and knowing, the acting is far better than you’d expect, and Andy Serkis ought to get an award for “playing” Kong. You won’t have any idea how they accomplished most of the shots, and the pure filmmaking skill was evident to me during the finale on top of the Empire State Building: I suffer from a bit of vertigo, and actually got queasy from the heights – I can’t remember that ever happening in a movie before.

I don’t know whether King Kong could be called a “great” movie, but it certainly is about as much fun as you have any right to expect a movie to be.

I’m not sure what’s more distressing – that it is just eight days until Christmas, or just 16 days until 2006.

Though my friend Jim Roxbury and I are already planning the New Year’s Eve feast. (I’ve always thought of Christmas as something you have to get through in order to get to New Year’s Eve, when we generally cook up a storm for our wives.) Grilled lobster will be the main course, and I’m going to try and replicate the faro risotto w/ bacon, carrots and peas that I had at Etta’s last week. If I can just figure out where to buy farro.

But I have 15 days to work on it.

That’s it for this week.

Have a good weekend.

KC's View: