Covert Job Opportunity: No Assassinations Required

Like most people, you’ve probably always wished that you had a job like this:

[The employer] has gone to extraordinary lengths to maintain the anonymity of is [employees]. Many of [the employer’s] top executives have never met [one of these employees].[Employees] are advised not to disclose their line of work, even to their parents… .

Right? But of course you figured that the psychic toll of doing undercover police work or operating as a spy in hostile territory would be too high. You’ve seen Donnie Brasco. You know what Nietsche said:

He who fights monsters should see to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.

Indeed. One day you’re protecting the national interests, the next day you’re stabbing a guy in the head with a fork in the hallway of a shitty little hotel in Buenos Aires and it’s all just another day at work.

Well, great news. As I just learned from this fun New Yorker piece (available to non-subscribers), you could always become an inspector for the Michelin hotel-and-restaurant guide. From the sound of it, Michelin inspectors get to have all the fun of being an undercover operator, and the biggest danger they face-psychic or otherwise-is clogged arteries. (Apparently a Michelin inspector “is required to eat everything on her plate” when she is on the job.)

You’re welcome.

All the Pieces Matter

We just started watching season 5 of The Wire, and I’m remembering that one thing I love about this show is the way it promotes good (i.e., boring but vital) police work, like the surveillance and records-combing Freamon has been running for a year as the season opens. The show makes it look like this stuff is really an art, and I guess it is.

Anyway, I couldn’t find a good Freamon clip on Youtube, but I like his quote in here about how “all the pieces matter,” because that pretty much sums up what I’m talking about.

“Jimmy Stewart as a Crackhead”

While waiting for Coen to fall asleep after his 1:30 a.m. feeding (he’s pretty much like clockwork on that one), I started flipping through today’s New York Times and found A.O. Scott’s review of Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, Werner Herzog’s latest movie.

I enjoyed the original, Abel Ferrara’s 1992 Bad Lieutenant, especially the scene where the titular character, played by Harvey Keitel, is smoking crack in a tenement hallway and an old woman sticks her head out of her door to see what’s going on and he pulls his gun and yells at her to go back inside, crack smoke pouring from his mouth, his NYPD badge swinging on a chain around his neck.

I do love a good tableau.

Anyway, I probably wouldn’t watch a straight sequel of that movie (and the original didn’t bear re-watching the one time I tried, although maybe a first date was the wrong setting), but I sure as hell will watch what Scott describes as “neither remake nor sequel” but rather “its own special fever-swamp of a movie, an anarchist film noir that seems, at times, almost as unhinged as its protagonist.”

And did I mention that Nicholas Cage stars?

Oh, yes. Oh, yes he does:

Fueled by Nicolas Cage’s performance – which requires adjectives as yet uncoined, typed with both the caps-lock key and the italics button engaged – Mr. Herzog’s film is a pulpy, glorious mess. …

Mr. Cage’s New Orleans cop … clings to an insane sense of professionalism even as his demons drive him around every bend in the Mississippi River.

[Cage] is a jittery whirlwind of inventiveness, throwing his body and voice in every direction and keeping [his character], the movie and the audience in a delirious state of imbalance.

Sometimes his loose-limbed shuffle and sibilant drawl suggest Jimmy Stewart as a crackhead.

What more do you need to know?

The Latest Coen Brothers Movie: A Serious Man

The latest Coen brothers movie, A Serious Man, apparently concerns “an ordinary man’s search for clarity in a universe where Jefferson Airplane is on the radio and “F-Troop” is on TV ….” The description concludes:

Larry seeks advice from three different rabbis. Can anyone help him cope with his afflictions and become a righteous person ““ a mensch ““ a serious man?

I’ll admit I’m eliding a lot of other plot elements listed here, but still: somehow, this just doesn’t sound very interesting.

On the other hand, I think I’ve thought the same thing about the initial descriptions of at least half of the Coen brothers’ movies over the years, and yet I can honestly say I’ve never seen a bad movie from these guys. Including Intolerable Cruelty, which you shouldn’t rent if you’re looking for something like Blood Simple, but as long as you read the description and know the type of movie you’re in for, it’s not bad.

Although the A Serious Man preview is better than the description, it still doesn’t exactly set me on fire. Still, who am I kidding-I know I’ll see this movie someday, simply because the Coen brothers made it.

No wonder that we named our kid after don’t mind the coincidence that our kid has the same name as the Coen brothers.

@Stokes ≠ @StokesUP

@StokesgyltFellow Twitterers, take note. The user known as @Stokes is an entirely different person from the users known as @StokesUP, @STOKESGYLT, and @Stokez. Despite the fact that these people apparently answer to “Stokes” (or a similar-sounding variant) in real life, you cannot simply type “@Stokes” if you wish to tag or address them in the medium known as Twitter.

I offer the following photographic evidence.

This is @Stokes:


@Stokes is really Sutton Stokes (me!), a fabulously successful freelance writer currently living in Missoula, MT. Here I am relaxing in my solarium.

This is @StokesUP:


@StokesUP is identified only as “Stokes” on his Twitter page. He is from some place he calls ÃœT and is a photographer.




And this is @Stokez:


@Stokez is a high school student from Chicago.

I bring all of this up because of the relatively frequent inclusion of “@Stokes” in Tweets that are clearly not meant for me, such as:

RT @noel3leon: – @stokes do a shoot wit me d another girl lik this. please– let’s do it wit them girls u showed me


@Stokes the Editor STOKESGYLT #whydogirls act like they dont suck dick

(Sorry for that, but I just wanted to give you the flavor, so to speak. Oh, and @STOKESGYLT, maybe it’s because they’re afraid you’ll talk tweet about them in a degrading manner.)

Tweets intended for @Stokez tend to be more wholesome, though I was once privy to a conversation among high school girls concerning what they had named their breasts.

Anyway, no hard feelings, just try to get it right in the future. And let’s hear it for @StokesUP, whose photography really seems to be getting off the ground, as indicated in the following direct Tweets he sent to user @kaylaanic0le:

im turnin that shit into a website. real soon


yump jus bought my domain .

Way to go, Stokes! (BTW, I think the domain is here, though it’s just a placeholder page so far.)

KSM ≠ Magneto

Ezra Klein suggests that we stop acting like scared little children about this whole KSM-in-NYC issue.

“These guys took down a plane with box cutters. They used crude weapons to attack a far more sophisticated and effective fighting force. The most fearsome of them was captured at home, in his pajamas. It’s not like we’re putting Magneto on trial and need to keep him away from metal filings.

It’s one thing to be afraid of terrorism. But there’s no real reason to be afraid of terrorists, and … there’s good reason not to look like you’re afraid of terrorists ….”

Indeed. The only thing making me nervous about this trial is the way some of us are crying about it. If people are really afraid of inspiring further attacks, maybe they should stop broadcasting to the world how easily frightened they are.

Getting Robbed at Work

And not in the usual way:

As traditional targets for theft have beefed up their security and the recession has driven people to desperate measures, robbers are infiltrating corporate offices. Many of the incidences involve small companies with ground-level offices that offer easy access. And sometimes the perpetrators are armed, heightening fear among office workers who thought their sleepy cubicle farms were safe.

Back when I worked for a small company with ground-level offices that offered easy access, we were burglarized twice. This was no real surprise, given that we were located in some kind of HUD-designated tax-break zone designed to bring businesses into neighborhoods otherwise known for junkies and vacant buildings. Behind our building, needles littered an alley where it was not uncommon for prostitutes to ply their trade. In addition to the building housing the consulting firm where I worked, the boss also owned some neighboring rowhouses, where he rented out apartments, and one day the janitor paused while emptying my trash to complain of the lake of blood he had just had to clean up in one of the entryways.

Ah, Baltimore.

So, anyway, lock up your stuff. Especially your laptop. It’s like a thousand-dollar bill, just sitting there, asking someone to take it.