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3 O'Clock High: Upside Content Surprise!

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"Make it one for my Daisy and one more for the road..."

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I just can't leave early without a proper goodbye column. Call it Midwestern work ethic or call it the burden of being born a giving giver who enjoys givingly giving. I'd call it Catholic guilt, but the boss frowns on Religious discussion.

It's so natural. Let's not label it. Let's just jump to the mailbag...

Minyan Wendy writes:

Macke:

I'm guessing you haven't seen Saw 1 or 2. Assuming you haven't, you really shouldn't be so quick to criticize the franchise or Lions Gate (LGF) for distributing the film.

A film like this is no worse than any other horror film or video game out there. Remember, we live in a country of free speech and expression. If a film like this is offensive, then don't see it and don't let your kids see it.

Otherwise, don't be so quick as to criticize it - especially if you haven't seen it. Seriously, what exactly do you find wrong with this film? Is it that you don't think something like this should be available to an R-rated audience?

Explain. I'm curious.

Minyan Assumer,

You may want to put a "Jump to Conclusions Mat" on your holiday wish list as your aim is a little off. I'm a huge fan of the Saw franchise. I love a fresh take on the horror genre. The film's joyful grimness actually made me a little uncomfortable. It made me react. Not like, "As long as this country breathes the sweet air of Freedom I can't be made to watch War of the Worlds." But react in a good way, the way one is supposed to at horror movies.

Seriously, a movie that can make me feel anything these days gets a thumbs up.

Allow me to elaborate on my specific pleasure watching Saw. I've had something of a grudge against Cary Elwes since Princess Bride. His capering gingerly about the Fire Swamp in the role of Westley brought the movie to a screeching halt. By the end of the film, and I assume I speak for everyone not related to Mr. Elwes, I found myself hoping Westley would meet some hideous end. Take out Westley and the on-screen spark between a young Robin Wright Penn and a sophisticated, worldly Fezzik gives the world a latter day Bogey and Becall.

Instead, Princess Bride is a little more than a chick-flick (no longer sexist!) with catch phrases. And it's Cary Elwes' fault.

At the end of Saw, when a Elwes "reassured" his fellow victim with a doomed "I'm not going to lie to you..." then said nothing else and dragged himself offscreen, it put to rest my 18-year resentment. He had paid for his sins.

What I'm saying is I really liked Saw and I'll probably check out the sequel.

In no way did I intend to impugn Lions Gate for distributing the movie. I hope they make a gazillion dollars with the franchise. Give me 2 of the footless Elwes action figures for the kids.

My intent was to impugn the idea that Lions Gate would be considered a social or environmental force of good or that anyone would consider that one way or the other as part of an investment process. Lions Gate isn't green. They distribute movies of varying artistic value with no apparent social agenda whatsoever.

What I was saying, and what I am still saying, is that "Green" and "Socially Aware" funds are marketing concepts. To put it nicely, I regard them as silly. To put it meanly, I would call the entire concept fraudulent and notably cynical in an industry which defines the term.

[Note: Prior to publication Minyan Wendy the Presumptive forwarded along this insanely topical article from yesterday's LA Times. The producers of Saw seem appropriately giddy about their fine fortune but are mute on all things "environment". In a richly amusing sidenote, Cary Elwes is suing Lions Gate, claiming that he hasn't gotten his fair cut of the profits. Here, I'd just exonerated him 4 paragraphs ago and now I've got to take The List back from underneath my blotter and add Cary Elwes. He's now right below "Silent" Rick Schottenfeld, which is still an upgrade for Elwes and probably more than he deserves.]

"Xbox360: Excercise now; your ass is getting glued to the couch starting November 22nd."

I don't understand Microsoft's double-dutch jump rope commercial for the Xbox360 but my confusion doesn't matter: The platform is set to be released next Tuesday.

The games are being shipped and it won't be long before enthusiasts are lining up outside the stores to "be the first".

The big, really big, question is whether or not you'll be able to go to a store on the 23rd and still find 360's in stock. Creating a "scarcity buzz" by understocking the shelves isn't an intentional strategy this time of the year.

It's important because, if Microsoft (MSFT) can ship in size, the 360 could, just maybe, be our first genuinely "hot" product of the year. If they can't meet demand (which should be good, perhaps even greatish), the electronics guys will be in some serious trouble.

In terms of what the market is saying about MSFT's ability to fill the shelves, XBOX 360's are going for $566 on eBay (EBAY). The action isn't big, but on the margin, it suggests some skepticism in the marketplace that Mr. Softie can deliver.

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