Archive for the ‘Sopranos’ Category

What do Hillary Clinton and Muammar Gadhafi Have in Common?

June 20, 2007

I was totally satisfied with the final scene of “The Sopranos.”  The show was at its root a family drama, and so it was appropriate to have the dysfunctional family gather one last time for a meal.  And when Tony glances at the door, with a strange, hard-to-read expression, and the screen cuts to black. the ambiguity, too, felt right.  Maybe Tony saw his killer walk into the resturant, or maybe it was just Meadow who was late because of her repeated attempts at parking.   It was a convenient ending, too: because the Sopranos were not killed off, HBO can always resurrect the show if James Gandolfini needs an infusion of cash.

I have been suffering Sopranos withdraw, though, and to get a fix, I tuned in this morning to Hillary and Bill’s parody of the final scene.  At first, before I actually saw it, I thought the idea was brilliant.  Finally Hillary could wipe that forced smile off her face, show us her true relaxed, playful self, and ride the coattails of television’s most popular dramatic series.  But a few seconds into the YouTube video, I saw that even with all the high-powered coaching she must have received, the woman was stiff.  She can’t act.  She can’t relax, at least not in front of a camera.  She makes Al Gore look like Laurence Olivier. 

And, then, whatever pop culture points she got by mixing it up with the Sopranos were lost when she unveiled her campaign song, “You and I,” by Celine Dion, who is not exactly Canada’s hippest export.  I suppose Hillary is making herself look presidential by associating herself with a singer who is a favorite of other heads of state. 

When I talked my way into the World Chess Championship in Tripoli in 2004 (we did not have diplomatic relations with Libya then), I was amused to hear Celine Dion playing in the airport where I was detained and interrogated on suspician of being, not a chess journalist, but CIA.  “Leader,” as Muammad Gadhafi was creepily called by his subjects, apparently enjoyed listening to Dion and thought everyone else should, too.

You can read all about my strange adventures in Tripoli in my forthcoming book, King’s Gambit: A Son, a Father, and the World’s Most Dangerous Game.

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You Can Buy King’s Gambit at:

Amazon.com | BarnesandNoble.com | Booksense.com | Borders.com

Back to Brighton Beach

June 11, 2007

Black (Boris Gelfand) to mate Kamsky in two moves. How? Click here for the answer.

There will not be an American player in September’s World Chess Championship in Mexico City. Gata Kamsky, the only candidate from the United States, was knocked out today in the fifth game of his qualifying match against Boris Gelfand in Elista, Kalmykia. Kamsky had the advantage of White today and needed to win to even the score.

But he chose a lackluster opening to sidestep Gelfand’s trademark Najdorf Sicilian and then lost after he pressed too hard to try to give himself winning chances. And so his Israeli opponent, a fellow Russian emigre, advances to the world championship after two wins against Kamsky and three draws (The sixth game will not be played because Gelfand has already secured victory).

I was rooting for Kamsky and admired how he got back into the game after a six-year break, during which he earned a law degree. But, like “The Sopranos” and Flatland, all good things must come to an end. Still, Kamsky is young enough that he could take another shot at the World Championship. And for that matter I suppose HBO could resurrect “The Sopranos” since they didn’t kill off Tony.

Annals of Envy, Part I

May 14, 2007

Be warned Sopranos’ fans: if you haven’t yet seen last night’s episode, please stop reading this now!

I tuned into the show ten minutes late, just in time to see a battered Tony and Chris in the aftermath of a bad car wreck.  Chris, who’s in terrible shape and is coughing up blood, confesses to T that he’s not clean and begs the mob boss to help him. Chris is afraid of losing his license once the police arrive and he is tested for drugs.  Tony, who’s gotten as far as dialing 91 on his cell phone, could make Chris’s worries go away simply by taking his place in the driver’s seat. 

Instead, he shockingly suffocates his second cousin, blocking Chris’s nose so that he chokes on his own blood.  The scene is particularly disturbing because it’s not clear whether Tony is convinced that Chris is going to die before an ambulance arrives and is merely trying to cut short his suffering or whether he is cruelly murdering him. 

The latter proves to be the case: in imaginary (dream) and real sessions with his therapist, Jennifer Melfi, we learn that Tony despises his cousin.  Tony sees Chris as a weak, sniveling drug addict who can’t be trusted not to rat to the Feds.  His contempt for Chris knows no bounds: he beds one of Chris’s old girlfriends and does peyote with her, too.

Now I like Christopher Moltisanti, and I’ll miss him in the last three episodes.  If I were the kind of guy who let envy get the better of me, I’d rejoice at Chris’s death.  After all, he had the scorching hot girl, Adrianna (even if he ultimately had to off her), and he made a Hollywood movie, which I want to do.  And Michael Imperioli, who plays Chris, isn’t just a good actor, he’s encroached on the writing world by penning several episodes of The Sopranos.  What’s more, the real-life Chris had a bar in Manhattananother dream of mineand has a rock band, called La Dolce Vita, for which he is the lead singer and guitarist (while I am relegated to the ranks of the tone-deaf).  Oh yes, and he and his lovely, talented wife also own a theater.  But, as I said, I’m not the envious sort. 


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