Thanks for the anniversary wishes. Marrying David is all 10 of the smartest things I ever did, and I feel lucky we only missed knowing each other for the first 17 years of our lives. I'm filing early so that we can celebrate with a weekend getaway.
Thanks, too, for being such a great Breakfast Table partner. I hope your Andrew Weillian proscription from reading the news next week won't mean I can't send you a few e-mails about the day's news as I go through withdrawal. I have had a lot of fun debating the big and small issues with you, from corporate responsibility and artistic integrity to Martha Stewart, the alligators of the mind, the treatment of the mentally ill, the weight of opera singers, Buffalo Bob and Shari Lewis, and, eternally, Monica. I hope they liked us well enough to invite us back again.
As you said about Mike Barnicle, it's good to see columnists with too much power brought down from time to time. If they get brought down, though, we don't have to worry about their having too much power. One reason for that is this brave new world of journalism we have been experimenting with at Slate. It has been quite an experience. First, it was unusual to get acquainted with you in such a public way. But what was really strange was writing so quickly and seeing it posted on the site only moments later. All of a sudden, what are essentially our e-mail free-associations on the day's events turn into something that sort of looks like journalism.
Working on Breakfast Table, I would sit at my computer, frantically using Amazon and the search engines to check my facts or the spelling of someone's name as fast as I could as each deadline approached. I have not decided yet whether this new tsunami of information and opinion is the best possible check on the Mike Barnicles who get a little lazy or the creation of a thousand new ones. Probably both. I keep thinking of his telling Katie Couric about how it feels to be on the other side of the media microscope, as, of course, he sat there, taking advantage of that very access to plead his case. And is there anyone who ever met Monica Lewinsky who hasn't told or sold the story?
Enjoy this brief time when you can still protect your baby girl from trashy stuff by clicking the channel. Pretty soon she'll be going out into the world on her own, to sort though information more chaotic and decentralized than ever before in history. We are smug about how authoritarian governments can no longer control the flow of information when their people have pagers, modems and fax machines. But we have not begun to come to grips with how the more advanced phases of that technology will make our existing news-gathering organizations obsolete. In racing to retain their place in the distribution chain for information, the news empires will be unable to conceal the way they really are.
Which brings me to number three on my top ten list of favorite movies, His Girl Friday. The Internet has brought back the best and the worst of the kind of constructive chaos that movie portrays, with a dozen newspapers competing for the same stories.
Okay, here's my list of favorites (not best ever, just the ones I love most, and I'm limiting it to American movies). Your guesses were very accurate, though you neglected my all-time favorite director, Billy Wilder, and another of my favorites, Preston Sturges. It's not a coincidence that both of them wrote what they directed. Besides, I am a sucker for snappy comebacks (which is why you are such fun to write with). I have a weakness for happy endings. And I should tell you that when I was pregnant with my son, the doctor said the baby would recognize my voice after he was born, from hearing it in utero. My husband replied, "In that case, he'll recognize Cary Grant's voice, too, because she watches a lot of movies." Okay, some women crave pickles. For me, it was Cary. Except for #1, these are in no particular order.
1. The Philadelphia Story
2. To Have and Have Not
3. His Girl Friday
4. Duck Soup
5. I Love You Again
6. Singin' in the Rain
7. Ball of Fire
9. To Be or Not To Be
10. To Kill a Mockingbird
11. The Wizard of Oz
12. The Adventures of Robin Hood
13. Follow the Fleet
14. To Catch a Thief
15. Some Like it Hot
16. Godfather I/II
18. The General
19. Sullivan's Travels
20. The Lady Eve
Keep in mind that I just wrote a book that was supposed to have 200 recommended movies that somehow ended up with 550. So here are some runners up: Awakenings, Born Yesterday, It Happened One Night, Notorious, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Shall We Dance, Diner, Get Shorty, The Shop Around the Corner, National Velvet, Charade, Adam's Rib, Kiss Me Kate, Bye Bye Birdie, This is Spinal Tap, Roman Holiday, Enchanted Cottage, Bull Durham, Anatomy of a Murder, and (the one I told my kids was the closest thing I could find to a movie about what I do at the office) The Solid Gold Cadillac).
Thanks again, David. Until next time!