Monday, May 23, 2005

No Star Wars, cross my heart

Saturday night I headed uptown to catch the Enron documentary, "The Smartest Guys in the Room." I haven't heard anything positive or negative about this movie -- and for good reason. It wasn't as engaging as it should have been and it was probably about thirty minutes too long. The biggest surprise here was that instead of highlighting the repercussions of the collapse of Enron on the lowest workers in the chain, they glossed over layoffs and ruined pensions in favor of examining the effects on the top execs: Lay, Fastow, Skilling and Lou Pai (who, incidentally, probably was the smartest guy in the room).

I felt like the filmmakers forgot what their point was a quarter way through the movie. There was no flow and everything appeared jumbled. There was no real conclusion and they never hammered in on any real reasons for why and how this happened. Silly mistakes and heavy-handed bias were the real spoilers, though. There were four presidents in office between 1988 and 2001. Guess which one didn't make an appearance in the film? Worse, when describing the bottom line accounting practices at Enron the director throws rocks at Mark to Market accounting but never addresses in depth the scope and scale of the "dummy company" scheme Enron used to reduce debt. As you may or may not know, MTM accounting is a legitimate and widely used accounting practice in investing firms. When Enron moved from selling real assets to becoming -- in essence -- a commodity trader, MTM was a necessity. Skilling's dummy companies were the interesting part. I find it difficult to believe that these mistakes were a consequence of lack of research -- they had almost four years of hindsight, which was the reason I thought that the film would be more informative.

Even though the movie was disappointing I did get some sun and some reading done this weekend. Next Monday is Memorial day and I'll be leaving town that Wednesday, so my two-day week next week will give me something to look forward too.

And finally: Mark Chesnutt - Bubba Shot the Jukebox. Because it's that kind of day.
Foo Fighters - Best of You. I've heard this single is pretty much "made for TV," but whatever.
White Stripes - Blue Orchid. Against my better judgement. I haven't listened to it. But I guess you can. If you want.

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