- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sex games

“The Sarkozy marriage isn’t the story, really. Per stereotype, the French are tolerant to a point, expecting no better from their leaders than they do from themselves. While they’ll consume tabloid fare and turn a book about the sex lives of politicians into a huge best-seller (as happened a few years back), they also value discretion and decorum in their presidents — the last adjectives anyone would associate with the incumbent at the Elysee.

“For a while, it didn’t matter that [Nicolas] Sarkozy doesn’t look like a French president, as a TV commentator once said. He represented a ‘rupture’ with the doldrums of the Jacques Chirac era. He was full of energy, willing to break taboos and make grand promises. …

“Others date the rot back to 2007, when [former wife] Cecilia, a political adviser, left him for good; within weeks, his poll numbers tumbled. In the days after, he was obviously lonely, distracted from his job. Bachelor life lasted but a couple months. … [Current wife] Carla has brought in her own fashion-set crowd and pushed conventionally Euro-left views onto him. ‘He’s a shell of his former self,’ says one friend.”

Matthew Kaminski, writing on “L’Affaire to Remember,” on April 21 at the New Republic

Red games

“However, [Mario Kart] isn’t any ordinary race. About every quarter-mile — and I’m just approximating here — the carbon-fuming peloton will rush through a neatly laid chain of ‘question boxes’ [that] … will randomly grant you one of a dozen superpowers.

“Pretty good deal, right? Not always. As it turns out, the type of superpower ‘randomly’ provisioned correlates negatively with your position in the race. So, for example, if you are a great go-kart driver at the front of the pack, you are likely to be provided with a small banana, which can be strategically slipped under the wheels of a trailing opponent to induce a minor spin-out. Not exactly a game-changer. Compare that to the perks of last place where you are guaranteed a potentially devastating superpower, such as a lighting bolt that fries all of your opponents and leaves their shrunken figures to scurry around the racecourse like ants for you to crush under tire … .

“To put it simply, the all-powerful Mario Kart Administrator provisions resources to each player according to her needs. It’s socialism, plain and simple. This is why we should all be infuriated by the lack of a good-ole American video game programming industry.”

Walker Frost, writing on “Mario Kart Socialism” on May 1 at the American Scene

Sly games

“After at least two years of hints that he would be making a fifth installment in the franchise, Sylvester Stallone is now ‘about 99 percent sure’ that Rambo is ‘pretty well done.’

“This comes after Stallone released several different takes on what another Rambo might look like — other than exceedingly veiny — including an apparently fake storyline involving human trafficking along the U.S./Mexico border. Most recently, Stallone was said to be adapting James Byron Huggins’ novel ‘Hunter’ into the next Rambo film (to be subtitled ‘The Savage Hunt’), where Rambo would be hired by the military to track a possibly immortal ‘half-human abomination created by a renegade agency through a series of outlawed genetic experiments’ all across the Arctic Circle. Now Stallone seems to have decided that would be ‘misinterpreted as a mercenary gesture and not necessary.’

“Instead, he’s concentrating on making a director’s cut of 2008’s ‘Rambo’ — including adding back in a long speech near the beginning of the movie about ‘why war is natural and peace is an accident’ — and already talking about a sequel to August’s ‘The Expendables.’”

Sean O’Neal, writing on “Sylvester Stallone says that he’s ‘done’ with Rambo,” on May 3 at the AV Club

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