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A Galaxy Not Nearly Far Enough Away

di Tony Kornheiser

     How about those dopes who camped out for a week to buy tickets to the new "Star Wars" movie? How stupid do you think they feel now? One local imbecile even quit his job to sit in front of the Uptown Theatre for four days. (Okay, he worked at an arts and crafts store. It's not like it was Robert Rubin leaving Treasury for a plastic lawn chair on the curb and a C-3PO T-shirt. Some guy's departure from selling lanyards at Home 'N' Hobby probably won't trigger a stock collapse. Still, this bozo quit his job to sleep on the sidewalk to see a movie. His parents must be bursting with pride.)
     And hello, the movie STINKS.
     It is Jedi, Jedi bad.
     The reviews couldn't be any worse if they were delivered by NATO warplanes.
     "Phantom Menace"? This thing won't outdraw "Dennis the Menace."
     By this time next week the crowds are going to be so meager that if you want to see this piece of junk, George Lucas will drive you there personally. Nobody is going to see this. Mark Hamill telephoned his regrets. And he has no career. He's probably applied for the opening at Home 'N' Hobby.
     Of course this puppy stinks. You can't simply pick up where you left off 20 years ago. If you could, Linda Ronstadt wouldn't look like a porpoise. Here's what George Lucas has been doing the last 20 years: sitting on his well-fed can, trying to use the word "prequel" in a sentence without laughing. Did you see him on the "Today" show all week spewing his pretentious theories of life like he was Yoda the Jedi Master? I mean who do you think would suck all the air out of a room faster: George Lucas, Bill Gates or an atomic bomb?
     The planet Naboo?
     Does that make someone who sees this junk a Na-boob?
     And Qui-Gon Jinn? Who's his mom, Sloe-Gin-Fizz?
     Come on, George, tell us it's a joke, and that you're not actually doing two more of these things. Word is Robert Rubin has already been cast as the Dark Lord's tax accountant. By the time they bring out Episode III, Lucas may be the only one standing on line -- and it might be a bread line.
     It's a sobering reminder to us media moguls. I might be a quintuple threat (radio, TV, Sports, Style, flatulence) now, but the 21st century is just around the corner. Maybe calling people dopes, boobs and morons won't seem quite as funny in the new millennium.
     So I'm paying serious attention to two offers I received in the mail the other day. The first involved free lunch. There was a catch, though. I had to eat it with a man I have never met who would be celebrating his 40th birthday that day. In other words, I'd be trapped at a table with someone whose life is so excruciatingly dull that he thinks I'm a god. He'd be hanging on every word I said, and the best advice I could give him would be to kill himself before the check comes.
     The other letter offered me a job. It began: "Dear Anthony."
     I was immediately on guard, because it had been a while since anyone called me "Anthony." Let's see, I am 50 now. So it had been approximately -- let me do the math here -- 50 years.
     "I am responsible for recruiting, training and developing a marketing team for a new division of a health care company," the letter began. "We are seeking key individuals who are focused on self-development, and who may be open to reviewing the dynamics of this venture in the booming preventive health-care market. Our top producers average $30,000 in monthly income. Anthony, I was given your name and understand you may meet these criteria."
     Now the truth is that I'd have much preferred a letter that went like this: "Dear Anthony. Someone said you were the kind of stud who'd like to spend a night with Catherine Zeta-Jones, and I can make that happen." But $30,000 a month, that's not bad.
     Granted, I don't know much about preventive health care. But if there's $30,000 a month in it for me, I'll help prevent health care in any way I can.
     Clearly, they were looking for people who wanted to get rich quick. The key phrase in the letter was "individuals who are focused on self-development." In other words: greedy.
     I called the number, and told the recruiter I wanted "all the money," though I wasn't sure I was qualified.
     "I'm just looking for sharp individuals," the recruiter said. "What do you do?"
     "I make hand puppets," I said.
     Undaunted, she said, "Anthony, let me send you a tape, and if you're interested, you call me back. I'm looking for people who are looking for me."
     I told her that most of the time, what I was looking for was my dog. "Is this a get-rich-quick scheme?" I asked.
     "No," she said.
     I sighed.
     Sensing my disappointment, she used the phrase "geometric progression and exponential growth," and said men she works with will "make between $800,000 and $1 million this year" in sales.
     I told her I'd never sold anything before.
     "Quite frankly, sometimes salespeople do the worst at this," she said.
     I think she was just being gentle. By now it had to be clear to her that I couldn't sell laxatives to Calista Flockhart.
     Finally I asked her, "You don't know me, right? You've never heard my name?"
     "You're not the newspaper writer, are you?" she asked.
     I am, I said. (God help me, I've turned into Neil Diamond.)
     She giggled, and began spinning nervously. "You know you'd be someone who'd come to the table with a huge amount of credibility."
     I had to decline. But I did give her a hot lead.
     George Lucas.

     Apparso sul Washington Post 16 maggio 1999

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