Re: Humiliation

1

I'd win the movie contest hands-down. I went through a hundred greatest movies list and had only seen twelve. No Godfather, no Star Wars, and so on.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 9:45 AM
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never seen the simpsons.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 9:47 AM
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I've seen very little TV either, especially not the non-comedy since Bonanza.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 9:48 AM
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Billy Budd.

The Scarlet Letter.

Everything by Trollope, the Russians, Chabon, Lethem, that McSweeney's guy, pretty much any woman writer still among the living.

I've never seen Titanic.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 9:52 AM
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I have Emersonian gaps in my knowledge of most media. But the only time I can remember actually surprising someone in realtime with one of my gaps was when I told an Italian friend I'd never seen Animal House.


Posted by: Vance Maverick | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 9:52 AM
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Extra credit for cliff noting a book for a college class? For me it really heightens the shame: Anna Karenina.


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:05 AM
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Do generational touchstones count as well as classics? Movies: never seen Spinal Tap, but still have repeated the stupid joke about the volume goes to 11.


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:07 AM
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Flipping the question: have watched a lot of Family Matters, and honestly enjoyed My Two Dads.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:09 AM
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9

This is pop culture, but I'm tone deaf to Joss Whedon. I watch his shows and understand why my friends like them, and they're the sorts of things I'd expect to enjoy, but for some reason the total runtime of Whedon-written work I actually do enjoy is a tiny handful of hours at most.

When it comes to the classics...

I've never read all of a Bronte book. I'm sure I'll think of more later.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:09 AM
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This is pretty specific, but I had read neither Faust nor Werther when I started my grad program. I was afraid a big red light would start blinking above the door when I entered the department.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:11 AM
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I had to read Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man for a class, but I just skimmed over it in a couple hours.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:11 AM
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God, I could go on forever. Probably the most embarrassing, given the circumstances, is that I don't think I've ever read The Republic all the way through. Also never read Anna Karenina, or more than about twenty pages of Austen.

What's interesting is that I'm not sure there is much that's genuinely humiliating anymore. Maybe if you've been teaching something for years that you confess you've never read, but otherwise, nobody cares.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:11 AM
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I've never read any Ayn Rand, but that has never stopped me from mocking people who enjoy her work.

Same for Chomsky, which I genuinely am very embarrassed by.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:13 AM
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14

I don't even own a TV.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:13 AM
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I've never read an unfogged comment.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:17 AM
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Wasn't this contest won, in a David Lodge novel, by an English prof. who had never read Hamlet?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:18 AM
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14:

It's been more than 10 years since I've had a television. These days, I catch up on good shows via DVD eventually, but I missed a lot of 90's cultural references by having not seen friends, or simpsons, or whatever.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:19 AM
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Humiliation only really makes sense in something like its original context, where english department faculty are confessing to never having read important texts that they should have gotten through as a matter of basic training. Even there you can get a kind of reverse status effect. It's even harder where the context is general cultural capital. Genuine negative effects amongst this crowd, it seems to me, would have to cut into whatever unspoken assumptions there were round here about Our Kind Of People. So not reading Anna Karenina doesn't really do it. A non-ironic love of shit sitcoms is a bit better.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:19 AM
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Hey Oudemia! RTFA!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:19 AM
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16: I've never read that David Lodge novel.

Flippanter for the win!


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:19 AM
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Wasn't this contest won, in a David Lodge novel, by an English prof. who had never read Hamlet?

Yes.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:19 AM
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I think that's right -- there's no expectation that anyone's read anything at all as a matter of general knowledge, even if you're in a profession that expects you to be reasonably well educated. You might have a specific professional obligation to have read something. in that a specialist in nineteenth century British popular fiction would be expected to have read Dickens, but short of that there's no real way to humiliate yourself like this anymore.

My bid is a whole lot of recent (post WWII) literary fiction. For someone who reads a lot of fiction, most of what I read is either genre or older -- like, I've never read anything by Don DeLillo.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:20 AM
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23

A non-ironic love of shit sitcoms is a bit better.

Yeah, baby.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:22 AM
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24

I'm a bit embarrased in the other direction --- as a kid I slogged my way through a ton of classic books. Many of them way, way, too young. Even if I wasn't really getting much out of them, I'd keep going because they were `good books'.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:22 AM
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But c'mon, I admitted to debating people on the merits of books I haven't read. That must count for something?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:23 AM
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A non-ironic love of shit sitcoms is a bit better.

Hey, I sincerely have that. Don't watch them much these days just because my schedule doesn't work for it, but I honestly enjoy a whole lot of very stupid sitcoms. There are episodes of Just Shoot Me I still giggle quietly to myself over when they cross my mind.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:24 AM
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yeah, Sifu, that's embarassing.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:24 AM
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24: I did that for a while; go ahead, ask me what I remember of Middlemarch. You guessed "nothing at all," huh? Yay, you!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:25 AM
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Everybody does that Rand thing, Sifu; I do, anyway.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:25 AM
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30

Embarassing for geek cred, I've watched very few Simpsons shows, and very few Star Trek shows (of any flavor).

I haven't read or watched 2001/2010 (though I've read other Clarke novels).

I've never read any Tolstoy or Dostoevski novels, no Jane Austin novels (which I am genuinely embarassed about).

Never seen the Godfather movies.

Am unlikely to have listened to any music recorded in the last 5 years.

I could go on for a long time.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:28 AM
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31

Incidentally, the difficulty of getting any traction in this game is related to a well-documented general shift in elite and upper-middle class cultural taste since the early 60s. It used to be that elite taste was signaled by consumption of highbrow genres like opera or classical music, exclusive of other stuff. Now cultivated taste is signaled by omnivorousness, the tendency to like or consume the best examples of many different genres. Think of the trajectory through "taste space" of artists like Johnny Cash, for instance.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:28 AM
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32

We are brothers in occasional intellectual dishonesty, ogged.

To be honest I'm more often mocking the social and intellectual characteristics of the readers of those books rather than the books themselves.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:28 AM
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33

Jane Ausin s/b Austen


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:28 AM
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34

28--
but do you think eliot or rand gives a more accurate diagnosis of the social condition?


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:29 AM
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35

I've listened to very little Bob Dylan.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:29 AM
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32--
"To be honest I'm more often mocking the social and intellectual characteristics of the readers of those books rather than the books themselves."

just what i expected from you.
i could read you like a book.
but i didn't


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:30 AM
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37

I've never read Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, even though it's available for free on the web.


Posted by: Gdr | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:33 AM
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38

"Read it? I haven't even taught it yet!" I think I first heard that from Simon Blackburn, but its origins are apocryphal.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:33 AM
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39

Middlemarch is a pretty great book though.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:33 AM
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40

I believe Kieran has posted insightfully about this game at CT.

I have never read the paralogisms of pure reason.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:35 AM
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41

I've never read Applied Cryptography, another one that genuinely embarrasses me.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:35 AM
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42

39: I believe it. I just wasn't quite there when I was eleven.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:36 AM
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43

Austen's not easy. They don't call her Stone Cold Jane Austen for nothing.

Is there a distinction to be made between "books not read" and "books not finished"? The latter category would include nearly everything on every syllabus of every course I ever took.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:36 AM
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44

you should all be reading
Pierre Bayard . Or, oui oui, like me, talking about him without having read him first.


Posted by: mrmf | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:37 AM
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45

42: exactly.

43: I really wish I was better at not finishing books.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:38 AM
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46

Bayard or Healy.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:39 AM
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47

Metropolitan is the definitive movie for this topic.

Audrey Rouget: What Jane Austen novels have you read?
Tom Townsend: None. I don't read novels. I prefer good literary criticism. That way you get both the novelists' ideas as well as the critics' thinking. With fiction I can never forget that none of it really happened, that it's all just made up by the author.
<wince>
Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:40 AM
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48

I never finished The Man without Qualities. High school may have been too soon to attempt it. Ah well.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:40 AM
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49

Well, havent read any SF & F written since the early 80s, so Stephenson, Banks, Martin, Butler, name it. Haven't read the later PKD

As a supposed Joyce freak, haven't read the poems or play; several Mann books I've missed, especially Lotte in Wiemar;Kant...well I've read more about the 1st Critique than the ding itself;Nietzsche, imm; Wittgenstein, never made it all the way thru the PI; most of the econ classics I've gotten thru secondaries

America & Three Lives? There is always more I haven't read than read, and what I have read I haven't really read well.

Oh never read Fischer's book back when I was into Chess. In the American Chess crowd, that gets you shunned.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:41 AM
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I've never seen Titanic.

You lucky, lucky bastard. That's one I've seen.

There's a great story behind that. I had a new neighbor move in -- a very, very muscular guy, but without the body-builder definition. He was just strong. We chatted in the halls and borrowed things back and forth and one day I stopped in to have a beer while we was watching a movie: "The Titanic".

I made the kind of comment you'd expect from me -- suggesting a sequel ("Eaten by Crabs") and comparing the big effects with the sliding bodies scene to shuffleboard. At some point he revealed to me that he really liked the movie and was watching it for the third time. I apologized and he was cool.

I later was to find that he was a S&M biker type and a patient at the nearby hospital for HIV and some unspecified mental problem. He was later expelled from the building for exposing himself to a different tenant, and left town under suspicious circumstances. But a sentimentalist at heart.

Damn! that was an unrealistic movie. I wanted to shout "Kate! Screw the starving artist, but don't marry him! They're no damn good! Marry the rich guy and cheat on him! But keep on taking off your clothes whenever you feel like it, and you don't need to lose any weight on my account!"

But


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:41 AM
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51

I did my best to read every single Philip K. Dick novel.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:44 AM
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52

48: Musil's visage stares down at me from the spines of the two-volume edition on the other side of my desk. "Finish me," it seems to admonish.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:45 AM
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53

I actually bought several books today that I would otherwise be embarrassed to admit not having read: Canticle for Liebowitz, Mason Dixon, and Gödel Escher Bach.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:45 AM
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54

I've never seen titanic. And I've never heard anything about it that makes me regret that.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:45 AM
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55

I've read every single piece of science fiction Isaac Asimov ever wrote, fact which plausibly should embarrass me but doesn't, quite.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:47 AM
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56

53: I certain that GEB is one of those books with an unreasonably high owned/borrowed to actually read ratio.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:47 AM
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57

I agree that feeling ashamed is highly contextual. The only times I can remember feeling genuinely ashamed and uncomfortable were when I was with a group of people who were very literate and excited about a televison show and I hadn't picked up enough by osmosis to contribute.

I felt worse because some of them clearly thought that my lack of knowledge meant that I looked down on them for watching it. Failing! In my self-assigned task of putting others at ease.

This has caused me to become more aware of subway ads and the enterainment page of Metro.

On the other hand, people who like watching other people humiliated, often with a dash of racism/classsm (a la Cops)? Yes, I am judging you.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:47 AM
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55: some books are better when you are 12, though.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:48 AM
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30: I took a class from a moderately successful novelist (Diana Abu-Jaber, "Arabian Jazz", recommended) who confessed that she was more into movies than fiction and dreamed of writing a screenplay. bets and cutest teacher I ever had.

I have read very little fiction of any genre written in my lifetime, and most of it I red while I was younger than 21. I am a classicist.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:48 AM
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56: I probably wouldn't have gone back to it, but I took a class that referred to it extensively, so I figured "dammit, this time finish the fucker".

57: Cops is fascinating for the brutality and arbitrariness of police work, man. Don't judge me.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:50 AM
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Musil is on my "to read" list, and I enjoyed the 100 pp. I did read. I hate those fucking Germans, though. I never finished Mann either. They just work too hard.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:51 AM
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The security guard at my building was reading The Man Without Qualities for awhile, and everyone in my department was tracking his progress. At some point the bookmark just stopped moving, and a few weeks later the book disappeared from his desk.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:53 AM
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63

I've read every single piece of science fiction Isaac Asimov ever wrote

I was under the impression that doing this would take until roughly the heat death of the universe.

I've never seen titanic. And I've never heard anything about it that makes me regret that.

When Titanic came out I got some advice from a friend about the best strategy for seeing it: Go in, watch the first hour, sneak out into the theater next door and watch Flubber, and when that's done go back in and watch the boat sink.

GEB is one of those books with an unreasonably high owned/borrowed to actually read ratio.

I remember reading somewhere that in a bit of research from the late 70s on this phenomenon it was established that Dr Zhivago was the easy winner in this category.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:53 AM
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Cops is fascinating for the brutality and arbitrariness of police work, man.

Yes, once.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:53 AM
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63: I suspect that has now been beaten by something like `a brief history of time'.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:56 AM
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66

I've only seen Godfather III. I've never read more than a few pages of Jane Austen.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:56 AM
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67

I was under the impression that doing this would take until roughly the heat death of the universe.

Nah. You'd be surprised how much a committed kid with no social life can plow through. Besides, a lot of that 500 book total that gets bandied about are biology books and dirty limericks and so on. I would say there's maybe 100-150 sci-fi books, if you add it all up.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:56 AM
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I only learn what these books are after I read them. After reading some Faulkner I was humiliated for my prior self.

My freshman English teacher was notorious for excising Catcher in the Rye from the standard curriculum. Her teaching style involved having the students read the novel aloud and her moral sensibilities left her no choice but to leave it off (well, those and the delay caused by reading To Kill A Mockingbird out loud for two months). But I did read that before I got too old for it.


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:57 AM
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69

Witt is totally judging me for my heterodox opinion on Cops.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:57 AM
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70

Pasternak did a very well-regarded translation of Faust into Russian, I'm told.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:58 AM
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My freshman English teacher was notorious for excising Catcher in the Rye from the standard curriculum.

Ooh! How could I have forgotten? Totally never read that.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:58 AM
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I overheard part of a conversation between one of the caltrain conductors and a woman who was reading a Big Russian Novel as I was walking down the aisle a few days ago, and the conductor was telling the woman about French in the russian court and translation issues and whatnot, and I realized at that moment that I was a horrible person for thinking it at all remarkable that someone with a mundane job would be interested in Russian literature.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:59 AM
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73

I've only seen Godfather III.

This is pretty good, too.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:59 AM
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74

Totally total totally totally. Totally? Totally!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:59 AM
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75

And now you're too old for the Salinger schtick.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:59 AM
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76

Not if you take my valley girl idiolect as indicative.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:00 AM
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77

Sifu has partially always already read The Catcher in the Rye.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:01 AM
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My parents owned a copy of "The Catcher in the Rye" when I was about 3 (A family photo proves this) but apparently got rid of it before I learned to read. I read it anyway when I was about 14. (My mother had a gay cousin who taught prep school in NJ, and I now think of him whenever I think of Mr. Antolini in the book. The cousin was a very nice Episcopalian gentleman.)


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:01 AM
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Which is the Salinger story with the soldier and the girl? For Esme, With Love and Squalor, maybe? That's very good.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:02 AM
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80

Had never read any Chekhov until two years ago. (I, a drama specialist!) But then I read it all in a matter of weeks.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:02 AM
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81

Oh! And speaking of movies, you should all go see No Country For Old Men. Fantastic.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:02 AM
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67: I couldn't swear to absolute completeness, but odds are I can match you on the Asimov -- as you say, it's not all that much of a feat. It all goes pretty fast.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:03 AM
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83

I have gotten through my whole life, and an English degree, while never even looking at any Chaucer. I don't think that should be a big deal, but people always seem surprised.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:04 AM
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I am not surprised, LB. Hey, I bought a new non-Wiliam Gibson sci-fi book for the first time in years today.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:05 AM
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I overheard part of a conversation between one of the caltrain conductors and a woman who was reading a Big Russian Novel as I was walking down the aisle a few days ago, and the conductor was telling the woman about French in the russian court and translation issues and whatnot, and I realized at that moment that I was a horrible person for thinking it at all remarkable that someone with a mundane job would be interested in Russian literature.

Great moments in office temping -- I had a short term receptionist gig once, and was bitching to a passerby about how dull it was. He suggested that I do some improving reading, "How about War and Peace?" Which allowed me to pull it from my bag and note that I had finished it at lunch that day.

I think at that point he was legally entitled to have me shot for snottiness, but forbore.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:06 AM
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83--
not surprised, delighted. you've got a treat in store.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:15 AM
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85--
"shot for snottiness, but forebore".

a lot of people were shot for boar.
also for boer.

possibly with a four-bore, too.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:16 AM
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Man. I was hoping LB would be all proud of me and ask what sci-fi book I'd gotten. No validation for li'l nerdy Sifu! Era of kindly, appreciative attitudes towards commenters? Clearly over.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:17 AM
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Witt is totally judging me for my heterodox opinion on Cops.

But you're so cute when you're mad.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:17 AM
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90

Who is this motherfucker Sifu anyway?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:18 AM
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91

87: I'm sure most people couldn't handle a 4 bore.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:20 AM
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I think rfts is another member of the Asimov completist club. My grounding in the 19th century is really sparse. But yeah, this isn't a game that lends itself to humiliating failures unless you've a professional obligation. (The lodestone for me is J.A.K. Gladney in White Noise.) I've read Gödel Escher Bach and Applied Cryptography, though.

I watched pretty much every episode of WCW Nitro that aired in 1997.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:21 AM
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91--
you mean as a needle/cannula size?
ouch.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:22 AM
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94

I've read Gödel Escher Bach and Applied Cryptography, though.

Dammit!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:24 AM
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95

I've read GEB, Sifu. You are a total failure.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:31 AM
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96

Hey, I'm reading it right now, okay?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:31 AM
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97

GEB was too pop for me.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:41 AM
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98

Flipping the question: have watched a lot of Family Matters, and honestly enjoyed My Two Dads.

My Two Dads was a classic! Greg Evigan is a martyr to the spirit of popular culture! Shun the talentless and annoying Paul Reiser!


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:43 AM
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From what I've managed to gather, it may well turn out to be quite prescient on the actual biological basis of conscious awareness. Or anyhow, that's the way research on the subject is going right now.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:44 AM
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100

My Two Dads, that is.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:45 AM
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101

You know, one can't feel humilation of this type without having pretensions. And, really, when you get right down to it, it's the holding of those pretensions, rather than the failure to live up to them, that's the most humiliating of all.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:47 AM
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102

Hey, man, there's a limit to the timeliness with which I can be supportive -- I'm in the middle of making English muffin pizzas for lunch, and ice cream for dessert tonight. (Ice cream never works properly for me -- I don't know if our maker sucks, or I'm doing something consistently wrong.)

Golly, Tweety, what did you buy?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:47 AM
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103

Nápi is an expert.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:48 AM
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104

It was this, LB, thanks for asking!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:49 AM
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49: bob, I really think you should read Valis -- not that I really am under the delusion that I know you from having read a lot of your blog comments....but somehow it seems to me like it was written for you. I loved it anyway.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:50 AM
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I've never seen The Sopranos, but I have read War and Peace. More people tend to be shocked about the former than give a shit about the latter.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:50 AM
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Amazon's sources can't seem to decide whether it takes place in 2012 or 2018.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:51 AM
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War and Peace, that is.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:52 AM
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In Taiwan in 1983 absolutely everyone was watching "Three's Company".

Fie on you once more, Napi, with your acute accent!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:52 AM
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The blurb alleges 2018.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:52 AM
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103 -- In pretensions generally, sure, but not of this kind.

Among the Siksika this chief beneficent deity was known as Napiw, among the Abnaki as Ketchiniwesk, among the New England tribes as Kiehtan, Woonand, Cautantowit, etc. He it was who created the world by magic power, peopled it with game and the other animals, taught his favorite people the arts of the chase, and gave them corn and beans. But this deity was distinguished more for his magical powers and his ability to overcome opposition by trickery, deception, and falsehood than for benevolent qualities.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:58 AM
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So is the acute accent trickery, deception or falsehood?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:00 PM
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What's interesting is that I'm not sure there is much that's genuinely humiliating anymore. Maybe if you've been teaching something for years that you confess you've never read, but otherwise, nobody cares.

Yes, definitely. Playing this game marks one as a snobophile.

The only thing I can think of to say is The Godfather.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:04 PM
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I'm not at all embarrassed by not having read any particular book, but I am at times fairly embarrassed about the number of books I own but have not read. But I still intend to read them all! Even if that may not be possible in this lifetime...

I'm actually pretty good about reading a book whenever I specifically purchase it alone, but I've got shelves and shelves of books I picked up in large lots at various sales or other similar things. There was a time when it seemed a manageable number, but I've recently realized it's futile. I should really sell them or give them away or something. (There's no chance I'm going to do this; I'm just acknowledging that it's probably what I really should do.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:05 PM
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I used to worry about this before I finally came to the conclusion that I've read a lot of interesting books and seen a lot of interesting movies, even if they're not the kind that confer cultural capital. My students are always playing "gotcha" with me because they've read a lot more of the "classics" than I have. (The English program at Nerd U let me basically major in Nigerian lit and film, with no surveys.) But when you've read Clarissa, you have an excuse. You were busy.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:09 PM
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I skipped some of Shakespeare's sonnets. Up until 2 years ago I hadn't read Stella Adler.


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:15 PM
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I've never heard of Stella Adler. Take that, Penny!


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:16 PM
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Up until 2 years ago I hadn't read Stella Adler.

Who the hell wrote Stella Adler?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:18 PM
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I'd always thought that the correct way to play the game was to do what Becks explicitly tells us not to in the post, and announce that you're terribly ashamed that you never managed to quite make it through the last volume of the unabridged Golden Bough.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:22 PM
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Or, you know, things of that nature.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:22 PM
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Aren't we doing that already, pretty much?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:26 PM
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Yes.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:26 PM
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50 re: Titanic.

My near-MST3K moment in Titanic came when I had the nearly irrestible urge to shout out "Marco" during the "floating" scene. My wife noticed my agitation and glared me into submission.

... and so, yeah, I paid to watch Titanic at the theater.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:31 PM
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117:I have been at Pandagon and IBtP enough that I think I remember the name Stella Adler, if nothing else but the name. Give me a while, I might come up with more from memory.

Read this week:Biography of Caesar, biography of Livia, something hardcore academic on Rome(I'm tired), Hanson's book on hoplites, survey of post-Said Orientalism, starting a huge history of Islam and Arabs, parts of books on Osman II

Saw Last King of Scotland last night. Very good. Night before was this Charlotte Rampling movie on female sex tourism in Haiti, that is, women exploiting Haitian boys. Heading South is the title. Colonialist feminist themed stuff. Not that great, but interesting.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:31 PM
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I must admit that after I read Tolstoy in English I then skip directly to rereading the Russian original rather than first sampling the French translation, as I'm sure the master would have preferred.


Posted by: Cogg-Willoughby | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:34 PM
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Skipping past all these comments. I haven't read The Critique of Pure Reason. Jesus fucking christ, don't tell anyone.

Also haven't read the bible. Nor Moby Dick.

This is a deeply amusing exercise!

I've never seen American Idol, but this isn't the slightest bit embarrassing. I still have not read Small is Beautiful, or Silent Spring. That's wrong. Never seen The Deerhunter, which saddens me, or Schindler's List.

OMG, never seen a Michael Moore film.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:35 PM
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As a supposed Joyce freak, haven't read the poems or play.

You're not missing much.

As for me, I've maybe watched one episode of The Simpsons since Bartmania struck back when I was in fourth grade. (And that episode featured Pynchon, wouldn't you know?)

Also, The Family Guy's not funny. It's just not funny. Anyone who says otherwise is wrong.


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:36 PM
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Stella Adler:"Personal is the political" ??

Now I'll go look her up.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:36 PM
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Stella Adler . Not a literary figure, but it's kind of assumed you'd have read her if you were studying acting. Someone got on my case years ago for not having read her books and it made me stubborn; I kept putting it off.


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:37 PM
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I'm a bit bogged down in the last chapter of my translation of The Brothers Karamazov into Luri. Sometimes I wonder if the decision to translate it into rhyming cinquains was the right call.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:37 PM
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119-122

Rate "I only understood all of the literary allusions and puns the xth time I read Lolita." against this measure.
1st - too obviously BS.
2nd- 4th - right level of pseudo-self-deprecating arrogance
5th-8th - getting pathetic
9th+ - disturbing and creepy


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:40 PM
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126 Nor Moby Dick

Same. Moby Dick remains my Moby Dick.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:42 PM
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Fuck me. How did I confuse Stella Adler with Shulamith Firestone. The thread is about humiliation, I guess.

Haven't read nearly enough feminist work


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:43 PM
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I've never seen Titanic either. Or Forrest Gump. This has now developed into a full-blown affectation, involving my flight from rooms if either shows up on the tv. My T. and F.G. virginity is carefully guarded.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:43 PM
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Wait. People actually read Gödel Escher Bach? I wanted to, I really did. I started it. It's upstairs on a shelf, and has ragged slips of paper (bookmarks) in it in various places.

You'll tell me next that you have/haven't read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:44 PM
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I'm ashamed to admit that when I got to the Occitan passage in the 26th canto of the Purgatorio, I had to refer to the Italian translation.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:44 PM
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OT: something I will never do:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kt692UuRMyg


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:45 PM
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Which is the Salinger story with the soldier and the girl? For Esme, With Love and Squalor, maybe? That's very good.

That would be "A Perfect Day for Bananafish". The girl Esme is in that one, too.

There was a girl in my college class who called herself Esme, although her name was something else entirely. According to someone who knew her before college, this happened sometime between HS graduation and freshman orientation. I know college is a time for trying on new identities and all, but that shit was weird.

Among the works I really feel I ought to read but haven't: Hamlet, King Lear, anything by Jane Austen, anything by James Joyce (started Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man one time but couldn't hack it), Faust, Magic Mountain, and many others.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:46 PM
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"A Perfect Day for Bananafish"

Nope, not the one I'm thinking of. It's the one that ends with the soldier feeling sleepy.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:48 PM
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It is For Esme etc.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:50 PM
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Holy shit, will.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:50 PM
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Hah! I can top my own personal humiliation of having only see Godfather III. I've seen Titanic over 10 times, and I still like it! (I lived with someone who had it on DVD and liked to watch it over and over.)

137 was the most exciting video I've ever seen. Must. Not. Do.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:51 PM
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Man, I know I've read that story ogged is referring to, but I can't remember a damn thing about it.

Mind like a steel sieve.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:52 PM
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Read GEB, read Zen. Hofstadter is funny, apparently he went nuts thinking about recursion too much. SA hired him to replace Martin Gardner, and all H would write about was recursion, so they fired him. I think. Could be wrong.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:52 PM
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Nope, not the one I'm thinking of. It's the one that ends with the soldier feeling sleepy.

Ah, yes. Sergeant X. The memory is always the first thing to go, ya' know.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:53 PM
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More stuff to never do:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63CwsiAqLcA


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:53 PM
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Clearly, no one has read Jane Austen, which is therefore not eligible for inclusion in this game. I'm more embarrassed now though to never had read Austen, but to have read both Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs and Applied Cryptography.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:53 PM
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I've read Jane Austen. Wouldn't've if I didn't have to.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:53 PM
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Walt, we've been friends. I don't know what to say. How much shuffleboard can you watch?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:54 PM
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Among the things that I shamefully haven't read: Your Volvo & You: A Guide to Driving Your Car, Venus on the Half-Shell, The Qu'ran, I'm Chevy Chase And You're Not, and finally Goodnight, Moon, which was only read aloud to me. I want to get back in there and do some close readings!


Posted by: René Daumal | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:55 PM
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all H would write about was recursion

Over and over again, in finer and finer detail...


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:55 PM
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Y'all really need to watch the video at 137.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:55 PM
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I'm proud to say that I've never read a word of Tolkien. In fact, I used to enjoy the Led Zeppelin song "Ramble On," but now that I know it references some Tolkien characters, I don't like it nearly as much.


Posted by: Anthony Cartouche | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:56 PM
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I'll say.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:56 PM
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137 is so flying squirrel! I would like to see how they land, though. At the end, one pulls a parachute and still wipes out on a rock.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:56 PM
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154 to whatever.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:56 PM
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And how!


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:57 PM
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Yay, not reading Tolkien!

His association with C.S. Lewis and that lot ruined him for me forever. I even have a bitch about his Beowulf criticism (the idea that Beowulf is deeply Christian seems stupid to me.)


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:58 PM
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Hey, anyone wanna buy an American first edition first printing of one of the Tolkien books? Dropped type error, $5 price, the works.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 12:59 PM
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Well, I've never read Applied Cryptography, but it's not really in my line. As a classicist, though, I often think I ought to have been one of the bright young things scooped up from Oxford and Cambridge to go work at Blechley Park. There are snoods and high-waisted skirts involved in this fantasy. And dashing RAF pilots.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:00 PM
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Sometimes I wonder if the decision to translate it into rhyming cinquains was the right call.

What you should do is scrap it and redo it in iambic tetrameters using the rhyming scheme of Eugene Onegin.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:01 PM
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Jesus, Will, are you trying to kill me? That's the most desirable activity I've ever seen.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:01 PM
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Ogged, don't tell us you're writing it out yourself! You'll get nothing but writer's block unless you pace around the room dictating it to your young mistress as she tears up at your unforced genius.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:04 PM
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137: ZOMFG. Or, as we used to say in the old country, Jaysus.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:04 PM
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Is the proximity to the valley wall necessary to make it work out, or just for added kicks? (I'm in a café and can't turn up the sound).


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:06 PM
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Jesus, Will, are you trying to kill me? That's the most desirable activity I've ever seen.

A while back, I did parapanting while at Chamonix. (They had an instructor strapped to your back.) It was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. But I was incredibly happy to reach the ground. No way I mimic a flying freaking squirrel going 80 mph.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:06 PM
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Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg are both pretty recognizable names, but nobody's ever heard of Sanford Meisner (I hadn't, until I was reading about the origins of method acting). Is it just that Lee Strasberg took all the credit for the Actors Studio?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:06 PM
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167: I feel like I've actually come across Meisner's name more often; maybe that's because I only read revisionists?

166: parapanting? Like, MC Hammer style?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:08 PM
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31: Now cultivated taste is signaled by omnivorousness, the tendency to like or consume the best examples of many different genres. Think of the trajectory through "taste space" of artists like Johnny Cash, for instance.

Gonerill, have I ever mentioned how much I like your comments?

79 etc.: Yeah, Esme.

84: Sifu do you have William Gibson thing?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:09 PM
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169.last: sorry?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:11 PM
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I got impatient and just posted my last thing because I wish to know:

What's the Youtube thing at 137 about? I can't watch it.

Otherwise, oh well.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:12 PM
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Life is not a spectator sport. I only play shuffleboard. Now that I have to watched two wing-suit base-jumping videos, I am forced to perform the activity three times so that I can continue to annoy people with the saying "life is not a spectator sport."

YouTube has shuffleboard videos. Internets, is there nothing you can't do?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:13 PM
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Will's video is the first thing I've seen in a long time to make me actually regret my utter cowardice and lack of adventure-seeking.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:14 PM
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168.1 - That's interesting. Are you reading biographies of actors where he shows up, or what?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:14 PM
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168.1 - That's interesting. Are you reading biographies of actors where he shows up, or what?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:14 PM
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I just didn't understand what you meant, parsimon.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:14 PM
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174: I feel like it came up when Brando died. I really only read about actors or acting online, so it'd be in that context.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:15 PM
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I've never worn a wing suit, but I've been paragliding several times, various places.

It's like being on fire.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:16 PM
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137 is a video of people wearing suits with flying-squirrel-like padding, and jumping off the sides of mountains. They glide down the side of the mountain keeping 20 feet from the side. Near the bottom, they pop their parachutes. It's sheer beautiful lunacy.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:16 PM
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I had pretty much the exact opposite reaction of mrh's in 173.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:18 PM
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170:

in 84 you said: Hey, I bought a new non-Wiliam Gibson sci-fi book for the first time in years today

Suggesting that when and if you read sf you read Gibson-type stuff.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:18 PM
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I looove Mansfield Park. Nabokov was full of shit about it though.

Read the first three books of Carlos Castenada. Scored brownie points with a professor with a paper saying CC had stolen everything from Heidegger, which was a neat trick because I didn't and don't know jackshit about Heidegger. Jesus, I can't remember was I being taught Castenada? I am sure I wasn't being taught Heidegger.

That was the semester the English prof let the class decide on a book. He wanted Sot-Weed Factor I says hey how about Michener? Undergrads all go yeah, yeah, we know Michener. I says Michener wrote this book about the Chicago Convention and hippies that would be educational for kids in the early 80s. Kids go "cool". Prof says "whatever"

I drop out before they get to all the sex & drugs. That's a terrible fucking book. I was that bored & manipulative in most of my classes.

I need to get some sleep.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:19 PM
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181: oh, yeah. I love William Gibson, and he loves me. It's mutual! But yes, I'm a big fan of his.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:19 PM
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165: Added kicks.


Posted by: feldspar | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:21 PM
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Gonerill's comment in 31 was très brilliant, it's true.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:21 PM
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I've had William Gibson. He was okay.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:23 PM
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137--
they cut off the end of the video before they turn into kiwis.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:24 PM
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183: I love William Gibson, and he loves me.

I asked in part because I was an early fan of Gibson but then sort of faded away, not even sure what he's been doing lately. (Did someone here, or elsewhere, link recently to an interview segment with him in which he confessed to being bemused by his celebrity? I'll look for that.)

A bookseller friend of mine catalogued some Gibson manuscripts and ephemera in B.C. a while back .. for a university there, forget the details. It's neither here nor there.

(And my 171 crossed with your 176.)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:26 PM
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I'm ashamed to admit I have no idea what ZOMFG stands for (Z___ oh my fucking God?).


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:29 PM
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"Z" represents a clumsy attempt to hit the shift key. Keyboard-speak.



Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:31 PM
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179:

It's sheer beautiful lunacy

Fantastic. If people gliding off the sides of mountains will make me smile and cry, I'm all for it. Thanks for the explanation.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:31 PM
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188: his latest book is swell. I recommend it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:33 PM
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Anyone fascinated by the wingsuiting thing should check out, if you haven't, Herzog's short documentary The Great Ecstasy of the Sculptor Steiner. It's brilliant stuff about European ski-flying and the physics of falling, the limitations of the human body, etc. Totally thrilling 1/50 speed shots of the flying, too. The looks on their faces are extraordinary.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:35 PM
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Gibson recently on himself, the 40th anniversary Rolling Stone interview

"When you coined the word "cyberspace," did you envision that the term might be your lasting legacy?"

WG - Not at all. I thought the book would be despised to the extent that it wasn't ignored. Now, on a good day, my career seems so utterly unlikely that I wonder if I'm not about to snap out of a DMT blackout and discover that I'm not actually a famous writer of William Gibson novels but that I'm working at a used-book shop that smells of cat pee and drinking beer out of a cracked coffee mug.



Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:45 PM
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A non-ironic love of shit sitcoms is a bit better.

Yeah, I've got that too. I'm an easy laugh, and pretty desperate for the next one.


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:46 PM
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190: Why are the letters upper-case, then?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:52 PM
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196: ZOMG! Flip pwns the Internet.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:55 PM
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182: I love Mansfield Park, but I cannot love Fanny Price. I think she should have married Henry Crawford.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:57 PM
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169, 185: [blush] I should say that the observation in 31 is not original to me at all -- really just comes out of work in the last 15 years or so in the sociology of culture. The two key pieces are: 1) Richard A. Peterson and Roger M. Kern. "Changing Highbrow Taste: From Snob to Omnivore." American Sociological Review, Vol. 61, No. 5 (Oct., 1996), pp. 900-907. doi:10.2307/2096460. 2) Bethany Bryson. "'Anything But Heavy Metal': Symbolic Exclusion and Musical Dislikes." American Sociological Review, Vol. 61, No. 5 (Oct., 1996), pp. 884-899. doi:10.2307/2096459.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 1:57 PM
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Gonerill comments with footnotes? Way to show us all up, man.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 2:00 PM
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196: Big fingers.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 2:01 PM
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That's what your mom said.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 2:01 PM
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Flippanter is very cogent. However, a properly clumsy slanting approach from the left can depress the caps key first and the z key second. Only the best can pull this one off, though.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 2:02 PM
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What's the bitch have against metal? Huh?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 2:02 PM
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You like metal, John? How vulgar of you.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 2:05 PM
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Says the Titanic lover!!!1!1!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 2:06 PM
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199: Dear man, thank you for the references.

I didn't figure the observation was original to you; I appreciate your bringing it and similar observations in here on Unfogged. Don't stop. I seem to love sociologists.

Meanwhile I'm actually reading the Wm. Gibson think I linked to in 194, and what he says about Ubiquitous Computing is freaking me out.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 2:06 PM
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Nobody in Titanic would have liked metal either. They're my people!


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 2:11 PM
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I'm almost embarrassed now to admit that I *have* read most (all?) of Austen. They get funnier the more you read them.

And I've read GEB. Well, when I say "read", I mean that my dad read us all the dialogues about 25 years ago, but I do still own a copy. And mcmanus made me all nostalgic for Scientific American upthread! I fucking loved that Mathematical Games/Metamagical Themas trick. (Have the hardback MT on the shelf next to GEB.)

I have more gaps that, if not quite embarrassed, I wonder about, in films - Citizen Kane, The Godfather films, Rocky V ...


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 2:13 PM
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damn. i really want to try one of those suits.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 2:14 PM
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Have the hardback MT on the shelf next to GEB.

Metamagical Themas, that is -- so do I, have a hardcover copy on the shelf next to. Heh.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 2:17 PM
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What's wrong with metal?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 2:17 PM
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It's vulgar, dear ben. Do try to keep up.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 2:21 PM
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What's wrong with metal?

In the survey data from the early 90s, it is the exception, along with rap music, that people make when they said "I like to listen to everything." As the model of omnivore taste spreads, it's less easy to draw social boundaries symbolically through statements of the form "I listen to genre x," because omnivores are supposed to listen to some of everything. At the time of those papers, it turned out that people classifiable as omnivores generally listened to anything but heavy metal (and rap, if I remember right). Hence cultural consumption is still about drawing boundaries, just in a different way. It may be that this story has gotten more complicated since then if the scope of omnivorism has widened further.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 2:26 PM
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Interesting. IMX, the standard exception has always been country.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 2:28 PM
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I don't like having to come up with an elaborate position about all the stuff I consume.

I've got tons of music on my computer that I play on shuffle because I don't even want to know what it is. There should be some kind of software that lets you rate whatever song is playing and then uses an algorithm to weight it accordingly, while occasionally throwing in something new.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 2:28 PM
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Party Shuffle in iTunes has a "Play higher rated songs more often" checkbox.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 2:31 PM
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211: Yeah, I've got all those somewhere, including the terribly written tombeau de mareau. I even finished that one, because I'm bad at not finishing bad books.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 2:33 PM
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Interesting. IMX, the standard exception has always been country.

Yes -- Richard Peterson, the co-author of one of the papers I mentioned, is an expert on American country music and its changing position in the U.S. cultural field. Here is his book about it. And here's a list of things about the genre.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 2:34 PM
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For me the exceptions are Broadway show tunes, easy listening, smooth jazz, Christian music (as opposed to classic gospel, I guess), the stuff they now call R&B, and most top 40. Oldies but goodies, even crappy stuff, are boring but not offensive. I don't listen to much rap, and certain kinds I can't stand.

So see, I'm not an omnivore! I have taste! Omnivores are so 90s! Ruined when the sociologists got it.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 2:40 PM
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I'm not about to admit to anything because I am way too good at faking it.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 2:42 PM
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So are you an herbivore or a carnivore then?


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 2:42 PM
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What's wrong with metal?

Not enough murder, until the Norwegians came along. Even then, it lags rap as a way to convince your parents and other old people that you are on your way to being Machine Gun Kelly, Jr.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 2:43 PM
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I listen to a wide range of music, but only the best. I'm an epicure. If I don't like it, it ain't shit.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 2:44 PM
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This game is a bit difficult for me as if I am genuinely embarassed (as opposed to say perversely proud) about some book not read (or movie not seen etc.) I read it. The only example that comes to mind is the bible which I have never managed to get through despite several attempts.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 2:46 PM
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216:Robodj for Winamp

Not only is their an active window with a weighting system, not only is there an option of "ratings fade" where the weighting declines each time a song, once rated, is played; an option to highlight a particular song(s), making sure it is played once in every 50(45,35) songs...but it is all based in a large ascii hand-editable text file. My top songs are assigned numbers like 274,273,270,265 which the program uses to determine how often a song gets played. It also assigns weights to artists and albums automatically, based on the weights of songs. So play 2 songs off Rubber Soul, rate them highly. and the rest of the album becomes slightly more prominent This is configurable

It also may have the smartest randomizer out there


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 2:47 PM
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214 refers to people who report that they "like to listen to everything."

I haven't read the papers referred to, obviously, but it wouldn't be surprising if people who self-describe in that way wind up being upper-(middle-)brow whites.

Haven't looked at Gonerill's links in 219, either, but there's got to be something generational about the rejection of metal. Something racial about the rejection of rap.

Did someone say class? What a mess: economic or social?

I think I don't know anyone who claims that they like to listen to everything. Who are these people?

All that said, I mostly can't stand country. Anything you can imaginatively ride a horsie to, the twang is going to get on my nerves.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 2:53 PM
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226 cont: 2 drawbacks. Designed for Winamp and mp3's. Source code is available, so perhaps it could be tweaked to recognize flac and ogg. No longer maintained.

2) Each time it is loaded, presuming you have your entire library in your playlist, it loads that entire library, and then sorts and re-ranks the songs according to what you played last time. This can take few minutes depending on the size of your playlist. It may get a little flakey above 30,000 songs, tho that's just an impression. I have loaded more than 50k and it seems to work, it just isn't at its best.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 2:55 PM
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I'll admit that I'm embarassed that I don't have a clue what Great Books I should be embarassed not to have read. Doubly embarassed to say this as an English major, though comforted that it was a major in writing rather than literature. Honestly, I find it silly to be humiliated for not having read any particular book, but that's probably me talking defensively.

"There is no end to the writing of books and too much study will wear you out." This is from Ecclessiastes chapter something verse something. I was never talented at quoting chapter and verse, but this particular nugget, at least, stuck. For many years, I took it as a biblical mandate to go watch some more TV.

Those who haven't seen The Godfather? Get on it! At least I and II -- you can safely skip III, though for some Andy Garcia is pretty enough to compensate for the mediocre script and lackluster acting. Me, I've probably seen 3 non-Pixar movies in the last 8 years. Fortunately, I really like Pixar.

Now -- should I go to the gym and swim or crack open a bottle of wine?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 2:55 PM
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Thanks for the software recommendations, Otto and Bob. I'd thought the software always used some peer-recommendation thing, which I didn't want.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 2:56 PM
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I think that metal is a class thing. Metal heads are dorky guys, lower-middle-class at best, often countryish but without the wholesomeness.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 2:59 PM
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229 - Studio Ghibli makes a nice change from Pixar. But my kids have always watched all sorts of stuff (and not too much Disney), thank goodness.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 3:05 PM
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232 -- Had not hear of studio Ghibli before. The website looks interesting. Thanks!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 3:09 PM
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Oh Di - you have a treat (several treats!) in store.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 3:12 PM
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Studio Ghibli makes a nice change from Pixar.

My daughter is a Pixar fan but -- though I initially wondered whether she was too young for it -- she became completely fascinated by Spirited Away, in part I think because it has a young girl as the protagonist. (And not a girl who is a princess or whatever, either.)


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 3:14 PM
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Princess Mononoke is terrifyingly weird, despite being Japan's highest-grossing movie ever or whatever. Don't start there.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 3:17 PM
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Studio Ghibli's Spirited Away (the actual highest-grossing Japanese movie ever) is possibly the best children's movie ever made.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 3:19 PM
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My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki's Delivery Service are very charming.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 3:22 PM
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233: Emphatically seconded. Were you around last Halloween? Sally demanded a Nausicaa costume from one of their movies -- I ended up having to make it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 3:22 PM
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Princess Mononoke was the highest-grossing movie in Japan, and then Titanic broke its record, and then Spirited Away broke its record. Spirited Away is far more accessible though, and I would have thought more kid-friendly too.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 3:22 PM
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Citizen Kane and Casablanca.


Posted by: HamLove | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 3:22 PM
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239 is ambiguous pwnage of 237. We'll have to go to the line judge on that one.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 3:23 PM
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240: You know, I'm not sure when I showed up. I think I may have been lurking back then -- back in the days when I read a little here and there and wasn't trying to convince myself that I could quit reading any time I wanted.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 3:24 PM
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How young did y'all introduce your kids to Spirited Away? My daughter has adored Totoro since she was less than 2, I think, but we're a bit worried about the freaky imagery/concepts in Spirited Away.

For reference: She's a fairly precocious 3.5 (has watched The Odyssey TV movie, for instance). Has just recently started having nightmares.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 3:27 PM
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243: You'd remember it if you'd seen the pictures.

On the 'too freaky for kids' front? Honestly, I think there's no way to tell what will be pleasantly eerie and exciting, and what will be a huge freakout. I'd give it a shot, watch it with her, and if it's bothering her turn it off. If it gives her nightmares, something else would probably have given her slightly different nightmares.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 3:29 PM
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I had to carve Totoro on a pumpkin for Halloween, by request of the 5 year old. A very small pumpkin, just to make things harder. Impressed the hell out of my kids when I actually managed a reasonable likeness.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 3:29 PM
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244: My daughter is about the same age. We already owned the DVD and one day she insisted that she wanted to watch one we hadn't seen before, so Spirited Away it was. She knows how to work the controls so she often skips or mutes bits she thinks might be scary. She liked the dragon.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 3:30 PM
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My youngest certainly watched it younger than 3.5 - having older sibs means that sort of stuff happens all the time. She isn't scared of anything though, except some of the Doctor Who monsters.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 3:33 PM
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245: Color me impressed. Tell me you bought the icon in the center of the costume somewhere and didn't whip that up in your spare time.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 3:35 PM
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I would if I could. But instead, I will brag shamelessly. (The lowish-rez picture helps it out a lot. In person, it looks way, way homemade.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 3:38 PM
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To get a bit meta, it seems to me that not having seen certain movies is much more likely to provoke astonishment than any particular book. Until recently, for instance, the only Martin Scorsese films I'd seen were Gangs of New York and The Aviator. This always provoked astonishment and mockery. Then I saw Goodfellas, although I still haven't seen Taxi Driver or Raging Bull or whatever.

Various other 70s auteur movies remain beyond my ken - The Deer Hunter, for instance. I've seen very few classic westerns.

Most astonishingly, seemingly, I've never seen The Shawshank Redemption, in spite of it being on TV all the fucking time. Like oudemia with Titanic and Forrest Gump, I seem to be developing a kind of perverse desire to make efforts to continue not to have seen the movie.

In terms of books, as others have suggested, this is the kind of thing which would presumably largely be embarrassing to academics in literary fields. I mean, I haven't read Moby Dick, and I'd like to, but this is more driven by my internal shame than by any sense that it would embarrass me in front of other people. Catcher in the Rye has always been the only book I've not read that's particularly resulted in the kind of surprise that not seeing some of the movies I've not seen does - somehow I avoided it in high school, and since then I've pretty much determined that I'm too old to enjoy it.

The Bible is another major failing. I've read bits and pieces, but never gotten through it - my efforts to read straight through always run into the immovable rock of Leviticus, which could very well be the most boring piece of business ever written. Especially since, so far as I can tell, Numbers and Deuteronomy are not all that much better, so it's not until you get to Joshua that you get back into actually interesting material.

Have I humiliated myself sufficiently?


Posted by: John | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 3:46 PM
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Not having seen The Shawshank Redemption is no grounds for feeling humiliated, no matter how many may be surprised.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 3:47 PM
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I'm a little surprised to hear people confessing to not having read the Bible. Do they mean they haven't read the whole book from cover to cover (has anyone read the whole thing from cover to cover)?


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 3:51 PM
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Alright! Spirited Away will enter the rotation.

Oh, and as a follow-up to a long-ago question: daughter Iris changed her mind, and instead of Athene, went out as Goddess Iris. You can't tell in this photo, but the caduceus features a glow-ring!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 3:55 PM
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253: I know a number of people who read the Bible cover to cover every year. But I can't imagine why any non-religious person would sit down and read the whole thing. There's some very good stuff in there (for cultural reference if nothing else), but you'd really want to get an abridged version.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 3:55 PM
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I've seen Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke and My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki's Delivery Service and didn't understand a damn one of them.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 3:58 PM
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has anyone read the whole thing from cover to cover?

They sell "Read the Bible in 365 Days" editions, that presumably at least some people buy and complete -- not that I knowingly know any such people. Also, to the Catholics out there who actually paid some attention -- isn't the mass supposed to be designed so that the weekly readings add up to the entire Bible after some period of time? In which case, people who pay attention every week would presumably have read the whole thing. Not that I knowingly know any such people.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 3:59 PM
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Also, to the Catholics out there who actually paid some attention -- isn't the mass supposed to be designed so that the weekly readings add up to the entire Bible after some period of time?

Three years, if you go daily. Most of it isn't included in the prime-time Sunday fare, no matter how many years you go.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:01 PM
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I agree with naming-rule-breaker John that movies seem to be much more critical to seeming cultured than books - first of all, hardly anyone reads anymore, and second of all, you could read 200 books that are canonical, and still miss dozens of seemingly-obvious ones (I'd put myself in that category).

But it seems like the list of 100-200 movies "everyone" has seen is more agreed-upon. Maybe because it's a young art form - if you're over 40, you should have seen 1/4 of the Canon while they were in the theaters - and maybe because it's hard to watch hundreds of movies and not see most of the Canon (esp. the post-1939 canon that has never stopped being on TV and rep theater rotation). Also, since the agreed-upon canon is just about all popular movies, they're generally enjoyable - not much eat-your-brussels-sprouts character to it, unlike, say, Austen or Moby Dick or Tolstoy (never read, adore, and only like his short stories).

Last, on the Bible - I agree with IA that no one (even ministers, really) is assumed to have read the whole thing - I'm not sure what people are "admitting." Although I did get through the whole thing, just a couple years before giving up religion entirely - coincidence?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:03 PM
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Three years, if you go daily

I never even knew that. What would be the point of reciting the genealogical sections?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:04 PM
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I've seen Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke and My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki's Delivery Service and didn't understand a damn one of them.

This word "understand", what does it mean?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:06 PM
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What would be the point of reciting the genealogical sections?

It's believed to be sacred scripture?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:07 PM
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261: make sense of?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:07 PM
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260: I'd like to believe that ministers and priests occasionally challenge one another to get a full-length Sunday sermon out of one of the beget, begat, begotten passages.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:09 PM
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260: I've often wondered if the genealogical sections aren't intended less for direct spiritual edification and more just to provide backdrop so it makes more sense why group X keeps wanting God to smite group Y. As with most things, though, I'm too lazy to really fully pursue this theory.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:09 PM
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Having devoted myself relentlessly to discovering a cure for cancer I am embarrassed to admit titanic gaps in my knowledge of the trivial details of what the cretinous mob likes to think of as culture.

Mea Culpie, Mea Culpie, as they say in the Greek Heterodox Church.


Posted by: Bryan | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:18 PM
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The Bible is another major failing.

People keep mentioning this, and I'm one of them, but I don't consider it a major failing, certainly not humiliating. (So why did I mention it?)

It's an intellectual issue, maybe, but let's face it: I'm not a theologian, not a historian of ideas, not a philologist, not a folklorist. Why do I feel I should have some familiarity with the bible, then?

Ha. It comes up when educated people refer to sections of the bible, and I have no idea what the fuck they're talking about, and I'm like: uh-huh, right, well, there's that.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:20 PM
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I skimmed the bible for the dirty parts, but was frankly somewhat disappointed.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:22 PM
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I'm normally bored silly by animation, but Spirited Away is a great movie. I can't remember if the subtitled or dubbed version is supposed to be better. Subtitled, I think.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:23 PM
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Maybe we should have a bible reading group.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:23 PM
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other entertaining variations of humiliation:

Stupid things said by George Bush that you actually thought sounded clever at the time.

sexual acts that you have heard about but never actually practiced, bonus points if the sexual act turns out not to be an actual sexual act.

Blog threads that you had the opportunity to be first in but you didn't take it because you thought it would go nowhere and then it became world famous.

sexual acts with George Bush that you blogged about that turned out to be a wet dream when you woke up. hah ha. I said that to ruin your day if you read this far. hah.


Posted by: Bryan | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:24 PM
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270: a bible reading podcast.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:25 PM
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270: Perhaps you could post a daily passage so that we can all get through it in a year!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:26 PM
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Spirited Away is indeed entertaining, I've just never been quite sure I understood what happens.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:26 PM
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268: Were you skimming one of those Protestant Bibles that doesn't include the Song of Songs?


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:30 PM
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I skimmed the bible for the dirty parts, but was frankly somewhat disappointed.

It pretty much peaks with Psalms 92:10, aside from the Song of Solomon of course.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:31 PM
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I just got some 1958 Science Magazines with articles by Asimov and Clarke. The cover article in the May issue is "Glaciers on the Rampage: Cold Weather Ahead". They have awesome graphics but they smell bad--like something from the store Gibson talked about in Parsimon's 194.

Maybe I'll finally read War and Peace. I was just waiting for a decent translation.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:31 PM
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I love sci-fi, and Blade Runner is one of my favorite movies, but I've never read a word of Philip K. Dick.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:34 PM
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I read a Philip K. Dick novel, but it turned out to not be sci-fi. It was more like a Cold War semi-suspense novel, except in a world where the Axis had won the war.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:38 PM
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I've been told--twice, actually--that I should be ashamed of myself, as an under-40 American male, for not having read Fight Club. But I'm not ashamed of myself.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:42 PM
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279: Man in the High Castle


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:42 PM
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But it seems like the list of 100-200 movies "everyone" has seen is more agreed-upon. Maybe because it's a young art form - if you're over 40, you should have seen 1/4 of the Canon while they were in the theaters - and maybe because it's hard to watch hundreds of movies and not see most of the Canon (esp. the post-1939 canon that has never stopped being on TV and rep theater rotation). Also, since the agreed-upon canon is just about all popular movies, they're generally enjoyable - not much eat-your-brussels-sprouts character to it, unlike, say, Austen or Moby Dick or Tolstoy (never read, adore, and only like his short stories).

Also important is that you can watch any of these canonical movies in 3 hours, or the entire Godfather or Lord of the Rings trilogy in three nights of 3 hours each. Whereas significant novels take a lot longer than that to read, for most people.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:45 PM
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280 - Fight Club, the book? Really? Fight Club, the movie, is a classic of world cinema, of course.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:47 PM
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283: I've seen the movie. Meh. Good enough, I guess, but didn't make me want to run out and read the book.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:48 PM
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Grave of the Fireflies is another interesting animation for non-fans. Civilian life for kids in Japan during WWII.

I don't understand clothing at all, and imagine, probably incorrectly, that I function OK with rudimentary and clearly primitive methods of choosing stuff. Also, never read Joyce except Dubliners. I'm wearing a Ghanaian short right now, modern equivalent of dweeb in a dashiki.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:49 PM
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Wait--I take it all back! Hemmingway! I haven't read anything other than a short-story or two, and I am, in fact, ashamed.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:51 PM
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286 is plausible, since Hemingway's books are short and easy to read, following my 282.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:52 PM
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285: But don't rent it for your kids.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:53 PM
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I like The Man in the High Castle a good deal.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:54 PM
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I bought Grave of the Fireflies some years ago. I've only watched it once, though, since it is pretty sad extremely depressing.


Posted by: feldspar | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:55 PM
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270: Time at last to bid on that Interpreter's Bible set on EBay!


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:55 PM
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259:

But it seems like the list of 100-200 movies "everyone" has seen is more agreed-upon. Maybe because it's a young art form - if you're over 40, you should have seen 1/4 of the Canon while they were in the theaters - and maybe because it's hard to watch hundreds of movies and not see most of the Canon (esp. the post-1939 canon that has never stopped being on TV and rep theater rotation).

ID'ing the Canon would be a terrific thread.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:56 PM
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ID'ing the Canon would be a terrific thread.

Or, rather, a boring thread.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:57 PM
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"ID'ing"?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:57 PM
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No no, it'll be great this time around, Ben.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:57 PM
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"ID'ing"?

Intelligently Designing.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:58 PM
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Who said anything about Hemingway, Ned? I was talking about Emma Hemmingway.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:58 PM
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294: like, fingerprinting, running some background checks.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 4:58 PM
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Re: 215, 217

Country's a complicated case, as far as
the elite/non-elite business goes, because of
things like alt-country (and its antecedents -
Townes Van Zandt, Gram Parsons etc.).
Or, for that matter, Johnny Cash (as Gonnerill
said).

PS. Or has this been said in Gonerill's links at
219 - haven't read 'em yet.


Posted by: Amit | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 5:05 PM
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Cavity search.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 5:05 PM
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I'm glad you're all reminding me of Spirited Away.

I became acquainted with Miyazaki just in the last year or two, and have only seen Princess Mononoke, dubbed version by Neil Gaiman. Absorbing and fascinating.

I should see more of his films.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 5:12 PM
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Canonical movies are almost entirely a function of being cultural touchstones than of being artistic masterpieces. Whenever critics make lists of the "the best movies ever", they always put on movies like Renoir's Rules of the Game or Ray's Pather Panchali. Who's seen these movies? Nobody, that's who. Westerns used to be touchstones, but they have lost most of their cultural resonance, so there's not much stigma from never having seen any of the classic Westerns.

The only exceptions that I can think of are Citizen Kane, which is the token "great movie" everyone is supposed to see, the Godfather movies, which are still cultural touchstones because (judging from the lines people still quote) they make gangsters seem cool, and classic Scorsese, who is the token "great director".


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 5:18 PM
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I have it on very good authority that Scorsese is a sexist and a womanizer, and also that he frequently wears bathrobes (and nothing else) around his estate in mixed company.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 5:22 PM
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Oh, wait, I think maybe that's Coppola. I can never keep those two straight.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 5:24 PM
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Shoot, had to skip out.

Haven't read nearly enough feminist writing

Me neither, bob.

I don't know what's up with acting teachers getting all cultish about Sanford Meisner and trying to distance themselves from Lee Strasberg. All these guys sound just vicious to me anyway, but maybe Strasberg has too much of a 60's Hollywood vibe for these days?

Hey, I loved MT and GEB, although I didn't so much 'read' the Goedel parts as I did stare hard at the page and frown.


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 5:33 PM
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I don't know why I don't like the first two Godfather movies. They're undeniably well-made but I just got so, so bored watching them and didn't care what happened to any of the characters, as long as they weren't as successful as they wanted to be.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 5:38 PM
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302: Aren't Renoir or Pather Panchuli what people mean when they say film canon, as opposed to Titantic? And just like in literary canon, it's rare to find people reading/viewing them casually, outside of the university or a rigorous program of self improvement. (I'm an undergrad on a campus lousy with film kids, so I've seen both, and more besides - I love Pather Panchuli, incidentally).

I haven't read any Russians except Chekhov, any Faulkner except for "The Bear"...and no, I haven't read Proust. I don't think I've read a Shakespeare comedy since As You Like It. I'd have more, but I'm running into the 'what constitutes shocking admissions' wall.


Posted by: Jim Sligh | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 5:39 PM
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I amend the record to note that I posted 306.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 5:40 PM
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I like The Man in the High Castle a good deal.

Me too. NCP, if you've never read PKD, that one or Confessions of a Crap Artist are good places to start.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 5:48 PM
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I dunno, I like the weirder, more science-fictiony PKD more. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep or even Clans of the Alphane Moon.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 5:51 PM
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302: I saw The Rules of the Game on Christmas last year. (It made its rounds around then-- release of a new print, I think?) It is really good.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 5:51 PM
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Oh my word the video is 137 is pretty damn amazing.


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 6:05 PM
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Aren't Renoir or Pather Panchuli what people mean when they say film canon, as opposed to Titantic?

Well, it's not what I meant.

But I also didn't mean Titanic - that's more of a (fading) pop-culture touchstone, whereas things like Godfather and Casablanca are both popular and valuable. To me there's a canonical list of 100-200 movies that "everybody" has seen; that list includes things like Ghost Busters and Animal House, but it's mostly a bit higher-brow than that - things that are worth watching at age 40 if you missed them when you were 20.

I was actually thinking along these lines earlier today after seeing the post but before reading the thread, and also thinking of the "music you like but are ashamed of" thread last week - there are all of these things that everybody knows about, and it sounds snobbish - albeit reasonable - to say you're ignorant of them ("I've never seen a minute of Survivor"). But then there are things that everybody knows about, that are really worthwhile, and if you've missed them, you're missing out (Sopranos). There's always going to be debate at the edges, but I actually think that - at least for movies & TV - it's not too hard to get a consensus on what goes where (the dead giveaway is when the defender of Cultural Item starts off by saying that it's a snapshot of our culture that everyone is engaged by it - they've conceded the field, and only the cruel pursue further discussion).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 6:13 PM
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Oh, and I kind of agreed with mrh's "Will's video is the first thing I've seen in a long time to make me actually regret my utter cowardice and lack of adventure-seeking." I'm generally satisfied with my level of thrill-seeking, but that vid is a million miles outside my comfort range, yet seems amazingly worthwhile.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 6:15 PM
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Re 49: Wittgenstein, never made it all the way thru the PI

MetaHumiliation - I think Wittgenstein said that he'd never read a single word of Aristotle. Of course, he was Wittgenstein.


Posted by: Amit | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 6:16 PM
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Or is that Humiliarecursion- Humiliation that
calls a Humiliation. Or something.


Posted by: Amit | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 6:20 PM
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My advisor just told me to go off and read PI.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 6:22 PM
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The only great works that I am ashamed that I havent read completely are the religious texts: bible/koran/torah.

I've read a lot of the great books, but not Joyce.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 6:24 PM
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Renoir's Rules of the Game.

Very good. Grand Illusion is also well worth seeing.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 6:30 PM
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PS The instance of humiliarecursion is meant to be post 49, not 315.


Posted by: Amit | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 6:34 PM
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The Rules of the Game is one of those films that nobody's seen because, fundamentally, it isn't very entertaining. The philosophical argument about ennui is overwritten, and the pacing and occasional slapstick are both very strange, like some bad French translation of The Cocoanuts.


Posted by: René Daumal | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 6:37 PM
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I thought The Rules of the Game was very entertaining, and I don't remember any slapstick.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 6:39 PM
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321 would apply a lot more to Boudu Saved from Drowning, I think.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 6:39 PM
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Re 317: Among other virtues, it's pretty short,
as great philosophical works by Teutons go.


Posted by: Amit | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 6:43 PM
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I had a friend in grade school named Amit.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 6:47 PM
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And completely perspicuous, too.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 6:48 PM
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304: Brock gets the Cement Overshoes Award from the IAADL.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 6:49 PM
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Today's Bible verse, Ecclesiastes 12:12
And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 6:55 PM
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Re 302: Have never seen Citizen Kane .
But don't get me started on Pather Panchali . Great, great film.


Posted by: Amit | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 6:56 PM
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Back in the day I saw the whole Apu trilogy and loved it. My film-going period ended when I left college. Up till then I was normal.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 6:58 PM
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This spiritual message brought to you by the letters L & W and the number 328.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 6:59 PM
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Citizen Kane is boring.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:01 PM
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Jumping back about 100 comments or so (230), does anybody know of a system that will play shuffled music weighted toward some kind of peer rating?

When I listen to music, I only listen to albums from beginning to end (and am almost never exposed to radio). Sometimes, however, it would be nice to set up a shuffled playlist for a party or guests or whatever that played mainly "popular" songs. I'm too lazy (and don't pay enough attention to song names) to go through and rate my songs for myself.


Posted by: Dan Rathernot | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:02 PM
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On a computer, winamp keeps a tally of what's most frequently played, and allows shuffling within this playlist.
You could export the music to your portable device, and script this.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:05 PM
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Citizen Kane is boring.

Is that a straight comment, or something about which you feel humiliation?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:05 PM
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Like all my comments, that one is 110% heterosexual.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:06 PM
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Slatetrolling again, I see.,


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:07 PM
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It's the end of Eccesastes' advice to a young man, a good bit. There is apparently dispute whether it is the same Kohelet who wrote the rest of ecclesiastes. The story of how both this book and Job managed to stay in is one I would like to know. Can anyone suggest a source for historical discussion of how the later Old testament was codified?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:08 PM
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The last scene of the Apu Trilogy makes me cry. This comment, I should add, is also 110% heterosexual.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:09 PM
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332 is so right.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:10 PM
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Citizen Kane can be pretty dull at times. But I probably lose credibility for thinking M is a better movie, since not too many people have agreed with me on that.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:10 PM
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The last scene of the Apu Trilogy makes me cry.

As well it might. Sniff.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:11 PM
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Like all my comments, that one is 110% heterosexual.

"The extra 10% is all cock."


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:12 PM
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341: Titanic is a better movie than Citizen Kane, let alone M.

M is a very good movie.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:12 PM
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338: It's perhaps my favorite
piece of spiritual advice ever.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:13 PM
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M is the one with all the outcasts holding an informal trial under the city? If so, yes, that's a good movie.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:14 PM
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In 307: "Panchuli" s/b Panchali. Jesus. This is why I lurk, so that I don't look ridiculous proclaiming my love for a misspelling.

321: I honestly don't know how to evaluate Rules of the Game as entertainment; I think I'm incapable. The way I end up approaching something in studies classes (film, lit) is different enough from expectations of 'entertainment' that I don't think I could go back and watch Renoir divorced from a feeling that I have to Engage With and Consider his work - and I do, honestly.

And I do this on my own; my Netflix queue is practically a syllabus. This may be complicated by the fact that yesterday's disreputable genre films and pop art are today's film studies darlings, to be studied and appreciated (Westerns, film noir, Howard Hawks films).


Posted by: Jim Sligh | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:16 PM
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341: M is a great film. It has long rated in my personal list of the top 10 films ever made. How many other movies have virtually created a genre and still remain the best example of the genre? (If you don't think M is the best serial killer movie yet made, what do you think is better? Psycho? Silence of the Lambs? Please.)


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:17 PM
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I hear Manhunter is really good.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:18 PM
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I have apparently talked about those two movies together with the wrong people.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:19 PM
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Oh, I've never heard of "M". Onto my netflix list!


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:21 PM
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349: If we're talking about the Michael Mann film: eh. The Calderon series in Miami Vice was better.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:21 PM
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I do think it's obnoxious to just say "The movie that, more than any other movie, virtually all serious critics agree is wonderful for many, many reasons sucks" without saying anything else, but you're entitled to your opinion, of course.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:21 PM
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348 was me. I thought someone would probably bring up Manhunter, I haven't seen it yet, and given its provenance, it could very well be a great film. But I doubt it is better than M.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:21 PM
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Is CK's position mainly due to its innovations, as opposed to its greatness as a story/experience?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:22 PM
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348: So I Married an Ax Murderer.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:23 PM
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355: I'm pretty sure it's the innovations: variety of camera angles, sets with ceilings, the fake newsreel, deep focus, etc. At least this is how it was recommended to me. Some of the individual scenes I love, but there's a coldness and distance to a lot of it - especially the deep focus scenes with people walking far from the camera - that really puts me off of a lot of it.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:25 PM
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356: Actually a very underrated movie; to my mind, Myers best.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:25 PM
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Manhunter uses "Inna Gadda da Vida" on the soundtrack almost in its entirety. Like ten minutes! How could it not be great?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:26 PM
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I love the Apu trilogy, and especially Pather Panchali. A real eye-opener for me, because it made me realize what was lacking in so many other films. I can't think of too many other movies that have the same novelistic sensibility: the psychology of interiority somehow externalized, and captured on film. It's how you'd want someone to film a Henry James novel, but nobody ever does.

Citizen Kane is basically boring, though interesting as a period piece.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:27 PM
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Citizen Kane is basically boring, though interesting as a period piece.

This was what I thought about M for almost the entire running time of the movie, but the end is truly amazing.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:29 PM
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Re 325: thanks for the nice thought. As it happens, I'm probably not the same guy, though. Unless you're secretly Australian...

(That remark was 110% heterosexual - as are all Australians, of whom I am one, in case my meaning wasn't clear.)

Re 328: On the other hand, some other guy with
a long beard tells us to "seek knowledge even unto China". We have a clash of civilizations here.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:30 PM
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I think there's a whole cultural turn behind the lionization of Citizen Kane and Orson Welles. Hearst's vendetta against Welles, for instance, presaged the blacklist. Likewise, post-McCarthy, talking up Citizen Kane allows the critic to take a position against hierarchy and domination which is free of any lingering taint of Bolshevism. That's all on the level of the signified (and of reception). Looking at the signifiers, Citizen Kane plays right into the post-war obsession with Freud, whereas, with the exception of the actual films noir, most of the stuff from the immediate pre-war period is hard to take seriously, since much of it is still so bound by the early Code strictures that it wears its neuroses on its collective sleeve rather foolishly.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:31 PM
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Everything by Scorsese or Coppola sucks.

Suck on that, Ned!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:31 PM
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Incidentally, and wildly off topic, and in the spirit of humiliation, I am playing Pandora tonight with a start of Idaho & Jenny Lewis.
Getting Guided by Voices, Shins, Wilco, Tea Leaf Green, Elliott Smith,Mia & Jonah,Will Oldham, Frames, Kathryn Williams.

Slow core, sadcore, electric folky stuff. Pandora rarely fails me, but any suggestions?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:33 PM
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I can't stand Gangs of New York or The Departed actually. Both of them seem cluttered with too many subplots and not enough patience. They seem really different in that way from the couple of earlier Scorsese movies I've seen.

I don't think I like either Coppola, though I like a lot of Apocalypse Now. The ending of that movie is the worst book club meeting ever.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:34 PM
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Closing italics tags is overrated.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:35 PM
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Australians are so male and so heterosexual that they ignore women, because women are basically a bunch of sissies.

"Suddenly Last Summer" is a movie ruined by Hollywood. Pretty dark and intense throughout, and then in the end Elizabeth Taylor marries the doctor (Montgoery Clif) who almost gave her a lobotomy, and they live happily ever after. Don't know if Williams wrote it that way, but WOW!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:36 PM
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Everything by Scorsese or Coppola sucks.

Lost in Translation?


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:42 PM
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I'm almost embarrassed now to admit that I *have* read most (all?) of Austen.

asilon, don't let the Austen haters get to you! She is great and, as you say, funny.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:42 PM
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I haven't seen anything by either guy. I just know.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:43 PM
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will! I'm glad you're back to the lowercase "w." I have no idea why I am invested in the initial capitalization of your name, but I am.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:47 PM
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I can't stand Gangs of New York or The Departed

The Departed was good you hater. My problem with Gangs of New York was that I felt like the history between the priest and Bill everyone kept talking about sounded like a better story than the one I was watching.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:48 PM
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Scorcese: Last Temptation of Christ. Just to avoid the Goodfellas-Raging-Taxi trifecta, though it's really more a moving meditation on faith than the CONTROVERSIAL!! movie I'd vaguely heard it touted as.

Coppola: The Conversation, which is like The Lives of Others, but better (at least, if you exclude its completely left field ending).

I mean, not to get into a quarrel with John Emerson and his host of forgotten Central Asian nomads, but.


Posted by: Jim Sligh | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:49 PM
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The Departed makes me feel like a killjoy, because every time I see it I wish vocally that Jack Nicholson would stop masturbating all over the picture and just settle down and play Whitey Bulger.

Also, the ending disappointed only because I thought it was going somewhere more interesting. I agree with gswift in 373 about Gangs of New York.

It's disturbing how much easier it is to post about film than books, probably because I can cling to feeling vaguely knowledgeable relative to other posters in a way that I just can't elsewhere on unfogged as an undergrad lit major.


Posted by: Jim Sligh | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:53 PM
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Don't let that hold you back, Jim! Undergrad solidarity! We'll show those uppity professor types what's what.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:56 PM
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I agree with Jim Slgh on The Departed.

Gone Baby Gone is similar in tone, much less ambitious, not about gangsters, not full of gun violence, and I thought it was better.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:56 PM
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Work with me, guys. Who else sucks? The guy who made Star Wars, OK. Woody Allen?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:57 PM
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I'm afraid I cannot in good conccience watch any movie associated with the name Affleck.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 7:58 PM
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Surely completely OT, but 359 mentions "Inna Gadda da Vida".

This I dig up from a longish-ago King Crimson diary entry, a latinate summation of Big rock'n'roll in the 60s, 70s, 80s. The original should be attributed to one Martin Newell.

"Rama lama dole queuem punkus et Gaba Gaba Hei!"

Ars Classica ex Rocco


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 8:02 PM
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On another thread Dock Ellis's LSD no-hitter was mentioned. At the link we find that Ellis was listening to Inna Gadda Da Vida shortly before he pitched.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 8:04 PM
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I enjoyed the hell out of Citizen Kane in college.

I think one misconstrued criticism/explanation of it is the "innovative" one - it's not that theorists appreciate the things that Welles did first that others did better, later. Rather, it's that it can be hard to appreciate some of the things because we've seen them so many times. If CK hadn't been endlessly copied and homaged (sorry, Ben), it would, I think, be stunning today.

This is in the nature of a young artform. Godfather was, in many ways, a more impressive movie in 1972 (?) than now. Not that it hasn't held up well, but the horsehead scene, for instance, simply doesn't have much impact anymore - it's old news, in a few different ways. Indeed, for all the M-love above, I liked the movie, but I can't pretend to have watched it with an unjaundiced eye - it has aged. Same deal with CK.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 8:06 PM
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378:Jim Jarmusch. I am still trying to get banned.

OTOH, Hal Hartley I like, with one of the very best redheads who is not Tracy Griffith


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 8:07 PM
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Actually, the horse head scene is still powerful because the self-assured victim screams like an [accepted simile]. That's good film making.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 8:11 PM
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I thought the scream was a bit overdone, frankly.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 8:12 PM
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OTOH, watching the movie I finally got a "Far Side" cartoon that had utterly eluded me in middle school - two horses walking out of The Godfather, one sobbing hysterically, and the other saying, "It was only a movie, for crying out loud."


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 8:13 PM
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You've obviously never had a horse head in your bed.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 8:14 PM
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I can't recall - how clear is it in the movie that the movie exec is molesting little girls who want to be actresses? It was explicit in the book, and I seem to recall that it was hinted at, but obliquely, in the film.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 8:14 PM
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I first saw The Godfather two months ago. The violence, for which it has something of a reputation, didn't shock me, but the movie was still powerful. Also, I barely recognized Pacino not looking haggard. He was ever young?

We watched In the Heat of the Night tonight. shivbunny thinks it would have been better back in 1967, but I don't think that's a problem with the film.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 8:15 PM
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You've obviously never had a horse head in your bed.

Well, I learned from the movie, and have been appropriately respectful of the relevant businessmen.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 8:16 PM
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I should add that my wife never had the least interest in mob movies, but was utterly taken by The Godfather when it played at a summer rep series a few years back - I'm not saying I think it's junk. Just that it has lost some power, as much through cultural ubiquity as through any aging (same deal with Taxi Driver, which I saw as part of the same series; really great movie, but "You talkin' to me?" is nothing but a punchline at this point).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 8:23 PM
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JRoth makes good points.

I like our system today better, in which the artistically successful movies that will age well are completely distinct from the movies that generate ubiquitous catchphrases.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 8:24 PM
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317:

My advisor just told me to go off and read PI.

Right. All on your own.

And completely perspicuous, too.

Hal Hartley I also like.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 8:42 PM
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374: How in all the worlds could anyone like The Conversation and not go for the ending? I've always thought it among the best film endings ever--completely true to the tone & themes of the work, without giving in to the conventional drive toward neat resolution that so often makes suspense movies strained &/or silly in the last reel.

For a counter-example: I was furious at the ending of Fight Club (the film, not the book). The movie starts off interrogating an entire generation and its culture, then raises all sorts of questions about leadership, group dynamics, & the nature & limitations of revolutionary action...then suddenly it betrays itself utterly & becomes one more stupid Hollywood blockbuster about The Psychopath Who's Really Tough to Kill.

Less OT: the books I'm most embarrassed not to have read are the ones I actually own. I'm a fairly compulsive book collector & a dedicated re-reader; the "To Read" section of my library, while certainly less than a third of the total, is rather larger (I suspect) than the entire personal libraries of at least 90% of all literate people a century ago.

And tangentially: I'm so ready for the PKD thread.


Posted by: Rah | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 9:15 PM
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Some people think the end of the Conversation is cheating because the tape we hear at the end is not exactly the same as the tape we heard at the beginning -- different emphases on different words and so on, thus making somebody feel like they were misled earlier on.

I definitely loved it though.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 9:17 PM
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I was furious at the ending of Fight Club

This is so true. If you take the ending seriously the whole movie feels not only dumb to me, but aggressively dumb.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 9:18 PM
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394, 395 - This came up on Unfogged a while back, and I'm one of the people who felt cheated by it; it plays with my expectations of diegetic and non-diegetic depiction in a movie in a way that would be great if any other scene in the movie had felt like it was introducing a hint of an unreliable eye. (This ties in with some things I could say about cinema verite and direct cinema, and the ways in which Silver Age Hollywood was and wasn't experimental, blah blah blah.) Rfts is one of the people who thinks I'm crazy.

On a '70s vibe, Michael Clayton was really quite good.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 9:24 PM
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394,5: I should have been more specific. When I watched the movie, I remember thinking particularly that the sudden shift into a subjective camera was really disorienting (I'm thinking of the hotel room here). The very end was great. It's been a while since I've seen it, otherwise I'd be more precise and probably recant half of my generalized statements.


Posted by: Jim Sligh | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 9:25 PM
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My vote is for Ubik as the best PKD, but I don't know that it's the best one for a first read. I'm quite fond of VALIS and Flow My Tears as well.

S.f. nerd humiliation: I've never read any of Arthur C. Clarke's s.f. books except Rendezvous with Rama, or any of Asimov's Foundation books.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 9:27 PM
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the "To Read" section of my library, while certainly less than a third of the total, is rather larger (I suspect) than the entire personal libraries of at least 90% of all literate people a century ago.

Rah, good to see you around here. You're so modest .. shall we rumble? You're single, right?

I'm so ready for the PKD thread.

Me too. Well, "ready" might not be the right word. I bet others are more ready.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 9:28 PM
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I have seen Back to the Future III a half dozen times, but never the first two.


Posted by: Trevor | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 9:31 PM
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Rah, good to see you around here. You're so modest .. shall we rumble? You're single, right?

You're hitting on the gay partner of Unfogged's foremost insult artist?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 9:32 PM
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In my experience, many people have not seen Citizen Kane and are embarrassed about not having seen it. This actually comes up rather frequently in my life.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 9:36 PM
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Re 360: Precisely. That, and the intersection of that interiority with the metaphysical.
The film somehow manages to express spirit , in the German Idealist sense. Apu and his family have so little control over their empirical fate, but they transcend the merely empirical via their (particularly Apu's) intense awareness of their world and its meanings. And this awareness is exteriorised by Ray, as you say; he somehow manages always to find a perfect objective correlative. The rain, the spiders, the waving grass. Of course, at a slightly finer-grained level of abstraction, the difference with James is that for Ray it is as much the natural and rural, that is pregnant with these meanings, as the social and citified. Cf. that clay pot rolling away when Indir Thakrun dies vs. the Golden Bowl.

And then, at risk of getting (even more?) naively Volkisch about it ("the sensibility is at once universal and quintessentially Bengali"), there is the achievement of capturing something that might not entirely falsely be called the spirit of a people. Somewhat as in "the Great American Novel". (Actually, a good novelistic parallel might be something like Patrick White's "The Tree of Man". Good stuff; credible attempt at a Great Australian Novel.)

PS Sorry, 362's me. Also, I meant 'Australian' in the extremely widely extant sense of 'Bangladeshi-Australian'.


Posted by: Amit | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 9:36 PM
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I, on the other hand, have read, seen, heard, etc. laughably few classic works in any format, and I'm not the least bit embarrassed to admit it. I embrace my philistinism.

I have seen Citizen Kane, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 9:39 PM
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I second Michael Clayton as being good, which I hope does not discredit the position.

Ubik, The Man in the High Castle, and The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch are v. good PKD novels.


Posted by: feldspar | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 9:39 PM
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You people still like PKD? I posted him as my humiliation upthread.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 9:43 PM
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Well, now I am humiliated.


Posted by: feldspar | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 9:45 PM
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asilon, don't let the Austen haters get to you! She is great and, as you say, funny.

She is very funny, yes.

And the grand prize for the-dumbest-line-about-Austen-ever-written goes to Harvey (I'm not manly enough to not write a book about manliness) Mansfield:

One has only to think of Jane Austen to be assured that women have a sense of humor, distributed in lesser quantities to lesser brains.

Hello, my name is Harvey Mansfield, and I hate women almost as much as I hate multi-layered irony, neither of which I can understand, and hence my impotent paean to the virtues of the manliness that I so manifestly lack.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 9:49 PM
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Of course, I read him as a thirteen-year-old, and was excited about him in a thirteen-year-old manner. Maybe that's what I'm ashamed of.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 9:49 PM
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One has only to think of Jane Austen to be assured that women have a sense of humor, distributed in lesser quantities to lesser brains.

This is really in the Manliness book? Really really? Does the context make clear that "lesser quantities to lesser brains" refers to Austen herself, or to women in general with Austen being the high-water mark of womanly humor and brains?


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 9:52 PM
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Liked Michael Clayton. Went to Lions for Lambs last night: Cruise is the weak link, but then his character is the most cartoon-like.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 9:55 PM
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I recently read Ubik and the one about the mentally-challenged kid on the Mars colony who ...

And this is my problem, always losing track of the actual title. Ah: Martian Time-Slip

Both very weird indeed, not the canonical PKD. One or the other of them (I read them back to back) had a fascinating afterword about Dick's writing process, general idea being that he, er, had a tendency to spit things out willy-nilly, and god help you if you thought this was literature.

btw, in case there's any confusion, I'm aware that Rah is not single.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 9:59 PM
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I do think it's obnoxious to just say "The movie that, more than any other movie, virtually all serious critics agree is wonderful for many, many reasons sucks" without saying anything else, but you're entitled to your opinion, of course.

Gosh, then I guess I'm just that obnoxious. Look out, world!


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:03 PM
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Does the context make clear that "lesser quantities to lesser brains" refers to Austen herself, or to women in general with Austen being the high-water mark of womanly humor and brains?

Just did "search inside" on amazon for this, for the same reason. It's hard to tell: a very odd throw-away line at the least. In other writings, Mansfield is highly complimentary to Austen (as he should be, because she's a towering genius), so I incline to Gonerill's second reading.

That's not to say Mansfield doesn't exude a whiff of sexism. He does.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:09 PM
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That's not to say Mansfield doesn't exude a whiff of sexism. He does.

If by whiff you mean overpowering stench, then sure.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:15 PM
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411: I hate to hurt you, because I like to think of you as one of my imaginary internet friends, but really, really, and for real and for true, that's a direct quote from the Manliness book.

A more generous interpretation of that quote is probably possible (yeah, sure, perhaps it's not so much Austen as Austen the exception, but still, even to say that is to utterly miss the point of Jane Austen), but I'll confess that Mansfield does not always call forth the best of my better self.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:18 PM
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If by whiff you mean overpowering stench, then sure.

I wouldn't make him Dean at Mount Holyoke, if that's what you're thinking.


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:24 PM
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418: That made me laugh. But he wouldn't dare.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:31 PM
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He may think we have lesser brains, but he's probably noticed that we have much pointier shoes.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 10:33 PM
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I never look at the press decks sent to me by flacks while I'm getting briefed on tech products I will write about for money.

I have only the faintest clue what ITIL is, how CPU wafers are manufactured and I couldn't point out a spec_int2006 in a room full of nothing but spec_int2006es. And yet I write about these things daily. For money.

I have read The Idiot, The Brothers Karamazov, Crime and Punishment and Notes from Underground, as well as most of Gogol and the odd Lermontov. All in the original English.


Posted by: D. Aristophanes | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:29 PM
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Also, "It defeats its own purpose" is a much better punchline than "You talkin' to me?", all things considered.


Posted by: D. Aristophanes | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:32 PM
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Hal Hartley I also like.

I have only seen one of his movies (Amateur). I remember it as being strange.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:53 PM
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39{4,5,7}: we have definitely been through this before here and the people who dislike the ending are simply wrong. Rfts should leave you right now, snarkout; you don't merit her cooking.

I have even explained precisely why they couldn't possibly have used the same tape in the beginning and the end. It's not a matter of unreliability. I can't even begin to frame what eye might be thought to have been revealed to be unreliable. I'm SO MAD right now.

Ubik is definitely canonical PKD, parsimon. And yes, he did more or less send me off into the wilderness of PI by my lonesome, though I have read some before in classy situations and have some secondary material and has offered to read with me.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-11-07 11:59 PM
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Pather Panchali is so unlike any other movie by Ray that it's strange. I wonder how much of it is the fact that it was shot over 5 years.

Maybe everybody cries at the end of World of Apu. This could make it an effective test for psychopathy.

I really liked Rules of the Game.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:03 AM
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Every response to the initial question is bragging. The brag is usually "The books I haven't read are actually obscure and read by few, but I am the sort of person who is expected by himself and others to read them." The only way to talk about this productively is in Bourdieuvian fashion, or in a drinking game.

For me, it's Joyce. I feel as if I oughta have read some Joyce by now.

I am a big advocate of reading things with a guide.

365: Try Low, Earlimart, The National, Clogs.

will's video made me gasp, almost cry. My dreams are like that. I really want to fly.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:12 AM
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Try avoiding Clogs.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:14 AM
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I admitted that I've never read Jane Austen, seen Titanic 10 times, and that I've only seen Godfather III, and you accuse me of bragging? Neighbor, please.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:15 AM
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My sister often talks to me about what she's reading for school, and for some reason she always asks me if I've read it. "Have you read Leviathan?" "Have you read the Federalist papers?" "Have you read any Hegel?" You would think after hearing "no" the first couple dozen times she would realize that I'm not actually well-read, but apparently not.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:16 AM
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I do declare, parsimon, I'm blushing!

Flow My Tears, now that I'm obsessing about PKD, is possibly the best place to get the feel for his mature period. I also have a particular fondness for We Can Build You, because nowhere else can one find an android replica of Edwin M. Stanton, and A Maze of Death, because it's the first I read--at 13, which seems to be vital in developing an appreciation of PKD. A Scanner Darkly is a real heartbreaker, which will likely be read in future years as an historical novel chronicling the collapse of psychedelic culture (the author's explicit intent). And The Transmigration of Timothy Archer came very near to saving my life.

I wanted to mention my favorites, but clearly I shouldn't try that because I've read at least 30 of his novels (several more than once). I'm closer to finishing PKD's complete works than Shakespeare's. That's pretty humiliating. On the other hand, The Simulacra isn't that much worse than, say, The Two Gentlemen of Verona.


Posted by: Rah | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:16 AM
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What don't you like about clogs, ben?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:21 AM
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I really need to go grocery shopping. There's basically nothing in my kitchen except tortillas, Starbursts, and rum.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:21 AM
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Try avoiding Low. I saw them open once, and the final lyrics to their big closing number were, "All the soldiers are gonna die, all the babies are gonna die."


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:21 AM
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What's wrong with that? It's true.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:22 AM
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428: It's not the same brag as the one up above, but it's still a brag.

I saw a stage version of Flow My Tears. Really interesting, but not the most successful literary adaptation the company had done. That would go to Hard Times. Dickens!


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:24 AM
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433: They have a really good Christmas album.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:25 AM
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What don't you like about clogs, ben?

Something about the anodyne suckiness. I haven't listened to any of their music in a while—there's some decent stuff on Stick Music, as I recall, though I didn't like their most recent album (if Lantern is it). I think that this review makes some fair points. They really are a little too maudlin for their own good.

It's really unfortunate, because I have nothing but positive feelings concern the bassoon and would like to see it promoted in all contexts.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:30 AM
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I approve of Low, though, and especially of the Clive's Original Band album Moyshe McStiff and the Tartan Lancers of the Sacred Heart. It's really far, far better than the title might lead one to believe.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:32 AM
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Joining in with many it seems, I've never seen Citizen Kane.

I've also never read or seen a complete production of Hamlet and my undergrad degree was (partially) a lit degree.

Also, never read any Jane Austen [although I have seen at least two or more filmed versions of just about everything she ever wrote], any Tolstoy or any Dostoevsky.

re: pop culture: for years and years, I'd seen Star Wars and Return of the Jedi but not Empire Strikes Back. I was oddly confident I had seen the middle film, until I finally did watch it [in my late 20s] and realized it was completely unknown to me. I still haven't seen the final matrix film or the final two star wars prequels, but that's not really humiliating.

the odd Lermontov

I have read Lermontov. But not really, 'the odd' Lermontov since he only really wrote one [prose] thing.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:34 AM
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Interesting. I haven't heard that album, only the first two. I really like the first one, but I may be particularly susceptible to the maudlin chord progression trick.

"Tom's Night Out" and "I'm Very Sad" are probably my favorites. I think there's actually quite a bit of anodyne goodness. That word doesn't usually get used positively, but the relief of pain is not always so bad.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:37 AM
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For me, it's Joyce. I feel as if I oughta have read some Joyce by now.

I am a big advocate of reading things with a guide.

For Ulysses there's The Bloomsday Book by Harry Blamires. Did the trick for me.


Posted by: Amit | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:37 AM
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In truth, part of my strong reaction to Clogs is that I'm quite susceptible to that shit as well, and I don't like simultaneously being played and knowing it.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:40 AM
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Ooh, thanks. A friend put together a Ulysses reading group and I couldn't join because I was studying for Jeopardy.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:40 AM
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442: See, I quite like that feeling.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:45 AM
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Inspired by Wrongshore and Walt, I'll admit that I haven't read anything that was published before, say, 1920 (give or take). Nor any Joyce. (The list goes on!)

The exceptions are basically limited to Kafka and Tolstoy (not counting things that I read prior to college, or things that I was forced to read and didn't enjoy).

I won't make excuses for my ignorance and will instead writhe in shame go to bed.


Posted by: feldspar | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:46 AM
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not counting things that I read prior to college, or things that I was forced to read and didn't enjoy

These seem like odd exceptions to make.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:47 AM
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That Cogs review reminds me of the soundtrack to The Fountain -- Clint Mansell, Mogwai and the Kronos Quartet. It pushes all of the buttons identified below, but, somehow, I still really like it.

It has been proven many times over the past 30 years that repetition and incremental building is a perfectly fine compositional device, but it must be used wisely, as a means toward an end ... Simply put: harmony should never be used coercively. It is completely dishonest for a composer to try and manipulate the listener into feeling a certain set of emotions through chord progressions. In most of the slow pieces here, Clogs use minor keys and "poignant" progressions to attempt to show emotional depth and understanding but in fact only succeed in fulfilling post-rock clichés.

Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:52 AM
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I have read the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. It suffices for most purposes.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:16 AM
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Nice to know other people are into Satyajit Ray. Unique...I can't think of any other director who can do what he did. Incredible emotional power, but such a subtle and subdued style.

Scorsese used to be great. Gangs of New York was awful, The Departed just serviceable.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 4:14 AM
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445: Inspired by Wrongshore and Walt, I'll admit that I haven't read anything that was published before, say, 1920 (give or take).

Which in an anecdotal way kinda confirms my pet theory that WW1 is the demarcation line between "modern" literature (ie mostly understandable without great effort in its concerns and style to us) and "historical" literature (not directly understandable outside of its own context, needs some effort to be able to appreciate).


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:40 AM
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Low once played a Halloween show as the Misfits (warning: MP3), which is about the most hysterical thing ever.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:44 AM
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Low once played a Halloween show as the Misfits (warning: MP3), which is about the most hysterical thing ever.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:44 AM
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It's funny because in about 1920 "art literature" and "pop literature" diverged sharply, though that process began before then.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:45 AM
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I'm not really sure if that's a good dividing line. Something like Lermontov's Hero of Our Time [to pick an example mentioned above] reads like a modern work in every sense.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:54 AM
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I'd say that divergence was well in place with the start of mass literacy and the rise of railway literature in the middle nineteenth century, at least in Britain. You had the big unaffordable high literature hardcover books on the one hand, and the cheap serialised magazine fiction on the other.

For that matter, novels started out as a disreputable source of light entertainment as well, if I can believe Jane Austen.

There's nothing new under the sun, as the scribe said.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 5:55 AM
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never read any Jane Austen [although I have seen at least two or more filmed versions of just about everything she ever wrote]

I don't think Austen can be adequately filmed. The best part of Pride and Prejudice is the snarky narrative voice. (Although recent versions seem better to me than older attempts. There's a fifties version of P&P that's hilariously bad--it's very much in the vein of the Beethoven biopic where B's mother stands on the steps calling "Luuuudwig! Come in and practice your piano!" Perhaps the anachronisms of the newer Austen films are not yet obsolete enough to stand out.)


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:09 AM
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re: 456

They recently refilmed the whole lot, for British TV. They were broadcast in an 'Austen season' earlier this year. Some of them were really very well done.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:17 AM
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Really? A challenger to the infamous Colin Firth P&P then?


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:22 AM
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Which in an anecdotal way kinda confirms my pet theory that WW1 is the demarcation line between "modern" literature (ie mostly understandable without great effort in its concerns and style to us) and "historical" literature (not directly understandable outside of its own context, needs some effort to be able to appreciate).

To you and me Martin, perhaps. But do you think that an 18 year old undergrad today would find the Bloomsbury mob significantly more accessible than Thomas Hardy, for example, without some historical background? I suspect the cutoff you're suggesting has probably moved up to about 1960 by now, leaving Fitzrovia and whatever its American equivalent was on the shady side.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:34 AM
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re: 458

Actually, I don't think they did P & P. I watched a few of them but thought I'd missed P & P but it seems they didn't film it. Thy did Northanger Abbey, Persuasion and Mansfield Park and rebroadcast a previously filmed Emma.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:43 AM
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Thinking about what I've read that predates 1920 reminds me that it's high time I re-read my collection of Sherlock Holmes.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:46 AM
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re: 461

There's a complete annotated edition of Sherlock Holmes that keeps tempting me.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:49 AM
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For Ulysses there's The Bloomsday Book by Harry Blamires. Did the trick for me.

And, at least in the U.S., I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a copy of Dubliners that wasn't annotated in some form. I finally got around to reading it earlier this year, and while some of the annotations felt like they were written for an eighth-grader (I know what a stout is, thank you very much), others were quite helpful.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:56 AM
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Everyone should read Hamsun's "Hunger" (1890). It doesn't have any of the XIXc novelistic furniture. It was somewhat avant-garde in its time, but there's nothing difficult about it. A book written exactly the same way about a contemporary person would be accepted as a contemporary work.

Hamsun worked in North Dakota for a time, and was a NAzi, more or less.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 6:59 AM
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464: True. Oddly enough, 'Hunger' was Lenin's favourite novel.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:18 AM
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See, he brought people together.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:21 AM
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I was hoping this thread would serve to recommend some essential books that I haven't read, but it didn't work out that way at all. Maybe a better exercise should be "books which we look down upon others for not having read."


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:34 AM
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I've barely read any Faulkner. Just the one book, back in High School.

But! Just this weekend, I was doing laundry and came across a free box set of As I Lay Dying, A Light in August, and, um, another famous Faulkner novel. Oprah's Summer Reading, 2006. Now I can put it on the shelf with all the other good books I should be reading!

Like Turgenev's Fathers and Sons. Man, my mother has been after me for years to read that.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:36 AM
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I have that box set! It's great! (The one in the middle is The Sound and The Fury.) Read them noooow! The books are not annotated but Oprah's web site has some resources, like a glossary which is helpful if, for instance, you don't associate the words "Agnes Mabel Becky" with condoms, as Faulkner assumed you would.


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 7:56 AM
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467:some essential books that I haven't read

Ok, even as a Joyce fan, and Emerson's Germanophobia not withstanding, Doktor Faustus

1) The last modernist and first postmodern novel
2) The definitive judgement of the Enlightenment after Auschwitz, and the isolation of the intellectual & modern artist;the two cultures
3) The most personal & passionate contemplation on the interface of the personal & political
4) Nietzsche, and all he represents, directly and as metaphor or symbol


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 8:28 AM
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I mean, Jesus, I can't even wrap my mind around 10% of what Mann did in that book with his symbolist methods. The history of Germany, German literature, & German philosophy from the period of the medieval Faust sourcebook (I forget) thru German Rationalism & Idealism up to and including the Nazi patriacide. The history of music.
For two. There is a section on Mad Ludwig's castle, as symbol of course.

Like Joyce, each word carries about ten meanings, so I guess it is challenging.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 8:37 AM
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Which in an anecdotal way kinda confirms my pet theory

Always happy to help! If you (or anyone else) has any pet theories you'd like confirmed (well, not really, but close enough, right?), just ask!

You'll find my prices surprisingly reasonable.


Posted by: feldspar | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 8:44 AM
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I think the book drove me insane. "Is this crazy fucker actually trying to relate the 12-tone system to the Genocide Machine, show that they had the same roots in Romanticism, and question whether there was any creativitity or free will involved, or that once a direction was chosen, both were inevitable?"

Culture as terminal disease. Literally. In the age of Global Warming & Peak Oil...


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 8:53 AM
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Ok, bob, I'll read Dr Faustus. I've been meaning to for about 20 years anyway.

Has anybody here read any Norman Mailer? I think I once read about 20 pages of An American Dream...


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:04 AM
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I read his article in Rolling Stone about how Madonna acted as if she were a man proud of his erection. I think that's it.

I tried to read "The Deer Park", but forgot why I was doing so, and it wasn't fascinating enough to continue.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:06 AM
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475: Well, this reminded me that I read his profile of Jimmy Carter in 1976 -- all I remember about it was that it was weird.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:08 AM
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Has anybody here read any Norman Mailer?

Some. Not the novels. I read in Armies of the Night in the last few years, and The Prisoner of Sex sometime last year, but put them both down.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:10 AM
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And Leverkuhn at the piano, composed his final masterpiece, inspired by the agonized migraine screams of the dying child, Echo, in the next room.
The Symphony of Germany, never performed because those who heard it were driven mad with horror, was an extended scream remarkable for its inexorable logic and rationality. It was a music of the inevitable. Once written, it was irrevocable.

Above is mostly me. Maybe DF did drive me nuts. Maybe I'm just a sick fuck.

RA Lafferty, SF & F writer, write a rarely read parody of DF, in which the composer isn't sure if he is predicting or causing natural disasters with his compositions. He writes his masterpiece anyway, and the world ends.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:12 AM
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Doktor Faustus was on my period list for my general examinations. I'm not sure why I didn't read it-- ran out of time, it was too big, I don't particularly enjoy reading Mann. In the oral exam, my committee grilled me on it for a good twenty minutes. I still to this day don't know whether they zeroed in on the thing I hadn't read and were torturing me, or whether they thought I had read it and am just stupid.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:13 AM
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478: Well, now you gave away the ending.

Thanks a lot, bob.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:14 AM
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Hamsun rocks.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:19 AM
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Blume -- You did finally read Werther, though, right?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:21 AM
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I still to this day don't know whether they zeroed in on the thing I hadn't read and were torturing me, or whether they thought I had read it and am just stupid.

For me, the black hole was Durkheim, The Division of Labor in Society. I actually *had* read it, or at least skimmed it, but it had been a long time and I never really got it the first time around. I was able to head fake with one semi-intelligent sentence before pivoting onto a comment on Weber deliberately designed to provoke one of the examiners into a follow-up question I could answer. It worked. Pssheeew [wipes brow].

At least once a year I get the cliched recurring nightmare where I have to sit for an exam in a class where I haven't done any of the reading or gone to any of the lectures. This will probably continue until I die.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:23 AM
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Executioner's Song is brilliant, as is Naked and the Dead. Armies of the Night is a really fun, terrific take on the period, but I'd recommend it once you've decided that you're into Mailer and not before.

Some weekly once described Mailer as "the longest-running single performance art piece of the twentieth century." The first two works stand out even if you're not into the performance art.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:24 AM
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Does any one really want to hear what I have to say about Mailer? I think not.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:27 AM
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485: Everybody does, John!

Especially if you haven't read a word he's written.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:29 AM
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I did read Werther, in my first grad school year, and loved it. But oh, what a fun book to make fun of!


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:31 AM
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There's nothing new under the sun, as the scribe said.

One thing I do consistently: Confuse phrases from the Bible and Shakespeare. It's not so much that this is humiliating as it seems kind of oblivious and disrespectful. Like, I can't tell the difference between something written a couple thousand years ago in a different language, and something written a few hundred years ago in (more or less) my own language?

I didn't choose to read Dr. Faustus or Machiavelli's The Prince. I ended up really, really liking them both. Learning to pronounce "Mephistopheles" may have been part of it.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:39 AM
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487: I remember also reading a really great satire on Werther, but I can't really remember what it was called or what made it so great. Mostly just the making fun of all the woe is me, I think.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:41 AM
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Learning to pronounce "Mephistopheles" may have been part of it

What was your first take?


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:42 AM
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488: You only have this problem because the version of the Bible you are familiar was translated into English around the same time as Shakepeare lived.

If you knew the Bible in the original Hebrew and Greek there is no way you could confuse it with Shakespeare.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:43 AM
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re: 488

It didn't occur to you that the Bible [in the King Jimmy version] and Shakespeare are entirely contemporary with each other?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:44 AM
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Bah, pwned.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:44 AM
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The snark was more pronounced in ttaM's, though.


Posted by: wrongshore | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:47 AM
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489: Was it this? (below taken from wikipedia)

The "Werther Fever" was watched with concern by the authorities and fellow authors. One of the latter, Friedrich Nicolai, decided to create a satiric--and more happy--ending called Die Freuden des jungen Werthers ("The Joys of Young Werther"), in which Albert, having realized what Werther is up to, had loaded chicken blood into the pistol, thereby foiling Werther's suicide, and happily concedes Lotte to him. And after some initial difficulties, Werther sheds his passionate youthful side and reintegrates himself into society as a respectable citizen.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:51 AM
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re: 494

The snark was largely accidental. It wasn't meant to sound snooty.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:53 AM
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Sometimes the English in you just comes out.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:55 AM
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My judgment of Mailer is distorted by the fact that I actually have read some of his stuff (back around 1962 when y'all were in diapers), but let's not let that bother us. One problem is that I read some of his miscellaneous journalism (the book after "Advertisements for Myself", forget the name) and the combination of ego, pretentiousness, and macho sexual politics was unbearable. Mailer just isn't a man of ideas. Before that I had liked "The Naked and The Dead", but it was pretty heavy-handed with the symbolic ethnic groups in the platoon and so on. (Mailer had two Jews in the platoon so he could kill the whiny one). The manhood struggles between the various guys were so colored by Mailer's obsessions that in retrospect I think that was crap. (Nabokov, Lolita, intro: "War novels hacked out by sweaty-thumbed mediocrities", which I read at about the same time).

Then the Armies of the Night was worse, because it was about Mailer again, and about his attempts at ideas again.

ALL the novels of that time were guy coming of age novels, or so it seems, with the first sexual experience and the tortured relationship to the father. And after that it was the bad marriage book. Who needs that crap?

Philip Roth is the only one of those guys I can stand any more, because he's funny.

So then when the feminist thing came along trashing Mailer, I was happy, but then, by God, what did they give us but more goddamn sexual politics?

So I switched to Genghis Khan, and he's never let me down. What a sweet guy!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:55 AM
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494 made me laugh.

But to ttaM and peep's larger point: No, I hadn't really thought about when the version(s) of the Bible I'm familiar with were translated. Except the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Woman's Bible, which IIRC reads like modern-day but was written in the the 1890s.

What was your first take?

I don't remember, except that it was wildly off-base, and it took a couple of sessions of class discussion to cement the correct one, after having read the thing with my mental mis-pronunciation in place. My general inability to understand phonics may have played a part.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:59 AM
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So I switched to Genghis Khan, and he's never let me down. What a sweet guy!

I think of the classic Kliban (sp?) cartoon Genghis and Silvia Khan


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:59 AM
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500!


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 9:59 AM
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Damnit.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:00 AM
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I meant 492. Violating house style comes back to bite me.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:03 AM
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498: That's just about exactly what I think about Norman Mailer without actually having done any of the reading.

Have you read Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World? My mom told me it's a really good book.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:04 AM
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Genghis did really have, as I keep saying, a grandson or son-in-law named George, who converted to Catholicism. His daughter, a Christian but not a Catholic, ruled a small semi-independent state and spent her time reading scripture and leading military expeditions. Her husbands kept getting killed on her, so finally she just took over their duties.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:04 AM
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That's a good book but colored by Mongol nationalism. Indigenous Mongol scholarship is actually quite good, but too nationalistic.

They don't want to regain their empire, rest easy. But they want to describe the empire rather to benignly.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:13 AM
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506 : Interesting. I've never thought to accuse my mother of Mongol nationalism.

But I guess it probably does play with her general prejudice against Western Civilization.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:20 AM
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I'm sure that your mother is a wonderful person in other ways. Does she talk a lot about stacking human heads?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:29 AM
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495: Yes, yes, I think that is it!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 10:39 AM
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424: Ubik is definitely canonical PKD

You know what? You're right. How embarrassing. I was thinking of VALIS. I really need to get a grip on this problem with titles; it happens quite a bit with movies, and to a slightly lesser extent with fiction, especially science fiction, writers whose work I've read quite a bit of.

I spent several years voraciously reading everything science fiction I could get my hands on, and now I couldn't tell you which Asimov I've read, which Zelazny, and so on. Odd; I seem to operate in terms of authors rather than titles. Some of this has to do with the fact that I'm a bookseller now, so the titles are all completely familiar, and the familiarity has little bearing on whether I've read the damn thing.

I (obviously) continue to puzzle over this. Synapses, right? Right??


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:44 AM
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Parsimon: did you look at the link that started this post off? MacLemee has problems remembering books he's not only read but gone on to write about recently, and he's a young man.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:48 AM
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I also have read an awful lot of Asimov's fiction. I've read PKD's short stories in the 5 volume collection but very few of his novels. (I've noticed before that a lot of the Unfoggedariat read or used to read quite a bit of SF.)

While I've never purposely watched Titanic my innocence of it has been fairly well contaminated by being in rooms where others were watching it on TV. My claim to fame lies instead in never having seen E.T..


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 11:50 AM
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Parsimon: did you look at the link that started this post off?

Oh. No.

and he's a young man.

I've no idea what you might be implying.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:21 PM
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That it occurs to him, and to my mother, to think this forgetting is or should be a sign of age, even though it often isn't.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:26 PM
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514:

Well, I was kidding about thinking it has to do just with age.

From the article:

the same condition probably also afflicts people who have to read a lot for graduate school

Sure, of course. Anyway, McLemee is older than me. I.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 12:34 PM
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My weird memory is part of what made me a re-reader. The story I tell on myself is that I could not remember, on re-reading The Name of the Rose, which character is committing the murders.


Posted by: Rah | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 1:12 PM
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I have only watched one of these "24 great films too painful to watch twice":

http://www.avclub.com/content/feature/not_again_24_great_films_too

I was surfing the web while watching it too.


Posted by: Lemmy Caution | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 2:24 PM
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MacLemee [sic] has problems remembering books he's not only read but gone on to write about recently

I know Scott & used to be in a book group with him. If he's forgetting things, it is likely because there is actually no more room inside his head for more knowledge. He's forgotten 350x as many books as I will ever read, and remembers 5,000x more. (Also, loves cats!)


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:37 PM
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508: Sorry for not responding earlier to this.

No, my mother does not talk a lot about stacking human heads.

I have a feel this will be terribly disappointing to John, who thought he had finally found his ideal woman.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-12-07 3:41 PM
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How come no one mentioned Catch 22?


Posted by: Elad | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 7:54 AM
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My judgment of Mailer
I haven't got one, because I've never read him, but what astounds me about him is the shamelessness. I was speculating this morning that possibly it was the effect of his war experience--that is, what people said just didn't bother him as long as they weren't shooting at him. It's also a mystery to me why all those women kept marrying him. I would think it would be really embarrassing to tell your friends that you were going to marry Norman Mailer.


Posted by: XSZZaaaaawqss | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 8:13 AM
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Especially now.


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 8:19 AM
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Never read Huck Finn or Tom Sawyer. Pretty bad for an American.


Posted by: weichi | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 4:14 PM
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Re 404, 511:

Actually, I think it was a metal pot. Don't know
why I wrote "clay". Been a while since I saw the film. The mind plays strange tricks ...


Posted by: Amit | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 6:06 PM
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My judgment of Mailer:
I haven't got one, because I've never read him
.

I don't think that you understand how we do things around here.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 6:08 PM
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Pretty bad for an American.

These days, having made it all the way through an X-men comic is a step up for many.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 6:09 PM
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I don't think that you understand how we do things around here.

I don't know what came over me--I felt all faint and hardly knew what I was saying typing.

I can't make the em-dash thing work.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 11-13-07 8:28 PM
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The deficiency in 286 has now been corrected, and I am ashamed no more.

That guy is a pretty good writer.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:10 PM
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Yay Thanksgiving weekend.

While we're back here:

I would think it would be really embarrassing to tell your friends that you were going to marry Norman Mailer.

is an awesome line.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 11-23-07 8:50 PM
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