Archive for September, 2007

Two Sentences

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

One, the opening line from a “thriller” I found left behind in a parking garage, made me groan:

The house in Silverlake was dark, its windows as empty as a dead man’s eyes.

Blech. That book’s getting donated.

But turn that frown upside down, as there’s this one, from NYT:

“It’s going to be really good for international travel over the next year and a half,” Mr. Seaney said.

Excellent! Iceland, anyone?

Stippling is Your Friend

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

Lord knows what havoc Rupert Murdoch will wreak on the Wall Street Journal now that he’s clinched that prize, but I for one hope he doesn’t tinker with one of the paper’s trademarks: its stippled portraits.

And you know what? I bet Angelo Mozilo agrees with me.

That would be the guy who’s chairman of Countrywide Financial. Depending upon whom you ask, he looks like this:

WSJ portrait of Angelo Mozilo
(From WSJ)

or this:

(From NYT)

I think everyone this side of George Hamilton would agree the former is much more flattering.

Of course, Mozilo wasn’t entirely manhandled by the Times. Consider this improbable bit of that story:

Mr. Mozilo has ridden this remarkable wave to immense riches, thanks to generous annual stock option grants. Rarely a buyer of Countrywide shares — he has not bought a share since 1987, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings — he has been a huge seller in recent years. Since the company listed its shares on the New York Stock Exchange in 1984, he has reaped $406 million selling Countrywide stock.

As the subprime mortgage debacle began to unfold this year, Mr. Mozilo’s selling accelerated. Filings show that he made $129 million from stock sales during the last 12 months, or almost one-third of the entire amount he has reaped over the last 23 years. He still holds 1.4 million shares in Countrywide, a 0.24 percent stake that is worth $29.4 million.

“Mr. Mozilo has stated publicly that his current plan recognizes his personal need to diversify some of his assets as he approaches retirement,” said Rick Simon, a Countrywide spokesman. “His personal wealth remains heavily weighted in Countrywide shares, and he is, by far, the leading individual shareholder in the company.”

So let’s review. He hasn’t purchased a share of his company in two decades. In the last 12 months, he sold $129 million and now has under $30 million in stock — yet his “personal wealth remains heavily weighted in Countrywide shares.”

Now I’m not one to quibble, but he sure was a lot more “heavily weighted” a year ago, before he decided to cash out over 80% of his then-holdings. Why the bum rush for the exit?

Tanning bill come due?