Re: Sunk Costs

1

I think the only one I ever left early was 8 MM. Or maybe it was the follow up to that, I can't recall.

I worked at a movie theater off and on for 7 years, and so I saw a lot of terribly bad movies for free - I just can't manage to walk out of them unless they're so bad that they make me feel physically ill, as did 8 MM (or 8 MM 2).


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07- 5-09 11:56 PM
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Dracula, the one with Canoe. It wasn't so much gothic as over the top. I did not walk out of Waterworld although I wanted to, really bad. Ex- figured we had paid.

This really ought to be 'Movies I have sat through for some goddamned ridiculous reason'.

max
['Like a number of movies I am having some difficulty recalling the names of.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07- 5-09 11:58 PM
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Some here will probably judge me a philistine for this, but I walked out of Secretary. It was playing at the campus cinema, to which I had quarter-long free access because of my volunteer work there, so I didn't have to confront the sunk cost fallacy. I probably would have stayed if I had been there by myself, but my then-roommate was there with me, and when he asked half hour in whether I was as bored as he was, I had to admit that yes, I would rather be drinking.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 12:05 AM
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Pinchas Zukerman was doing a concert of all of the Brahms violin and viola sonatas in SF at Davies, and though I would have left after the first note, my friends convinced me (quietly!) to stay until the end of the first piece. Yuck! Worst Concert Ever.


Posted by: ninjaphilosopher | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 12:45 AM
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Friday. Senior year in high school at the dollar theater. People love this movie. Maybe I was just too impressed with myself for being into Wim Wenders or something, but it wasn't working for me.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 12:57 AM
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I walk out of movies all the time, but I can't remember the last one I walked out on. Oh wait yes I can; The New World.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 12:57 AM
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On video or TV, plenty get turned off. But in a theater, none. Although I did go to see Chasing Amy with a friend who stormed out when the film began intimating that lesbians just need to be fucked by the right man or something. For some reason more emotionally complex than the sunk cost thing, I stayed. Found her in the parking lot with like a million cigarette butts.

There's a really funny story about my wife storming out of an Indian restaurant, but since I'm no longer pseudonymous...


Posted by: adamhenne | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 1:00 AM
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Addendum: I don't remember the last time I walked out of a movie, though I'm pretty sure I have. I've wanted to stab my eyes and ears out several times, but usually when with other people.


Posted by: ninjaphilosopher | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 1:01 AM
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Other movies I have walked out of, or stopped watching at home: Last Year at Marienbad; Gummo; In Praise of Love.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 1:09 AM
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I think the only one I ever left early was 8 MM. Or maybe it was the follow up to that, I can't recall.

I hope it was the first, if only because I like the idea of someone going to the sequel to a movie they walked out of.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 1:20 AM
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I walked out of a movie - a premerie arthouse where they were trying to fill the cinema and so were offering anyone who would hold still for it free tickets - because the movie began with a close-up shot of raindrops falling into a puddle, which went on for some time, and then got even less exciting.... and there was a movie on that I actually wanted to see, which was about due to start. But I think I would have walked out anyway.

I was at a convention in the 1980s and they were raising money for an "AIDS charity", and they were showing a TV program about the AIDS charity to explain why they were giving money to that charity.

And I walked out of that after about 10-20 minutes, or rather after the phrase "this charity is to support the INNOCENT victims of AIDS" had been repeated once too often to be bearable. It was the David Soul charity, the one he founded after his wife and son were diagnosed HIV+ because of an infected blood transfusion.

Earlier that year that a friend who was HIV+ had developed full-blown AIDS. I never liked the implication that becoming HIV+ via sex makes you a guilty victim of AIDS, but right then it was something I couldn't really listen to without exploding.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 1:23 AM
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if only because I like the idea of someone going to the sequel to a movie they walked out of.

Free movies are irresistible. Or were, at any rate. I went from watching 40-60 movies in the theater a year to maybe getting out to 6, if I was lucky.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 1:27 AM
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I've never walked out of a movie. The only time I've fallen asleep in a theatre was during Tomb Raider 2. It was more becuase I was tired than becuase Tomb Raider 2 was boring. It was bad, but not boring.


Posted by: Jeff | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 1:27 AM
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I don't go the theatres, for the reasons in their original post:sunk costs, distracting crowds. And others, the sociality of moviegoing is another sunk cost.

So I spend my money on cable. Tonight turned off Mockery with Lon Cheney Sr pretty early, watched a third of some basketball comedy with Will Farrell, and then happened on
Crazed Fruit, b/w, Japanese 1956 on TCM and remembered why I have cable. Damn it's good.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 1:28 AM
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Oh yeah, I'm pretty sure I bailed on a free audience test of "Isn't She Great", the Jacqueline Susann biopic starring Bette Midler. I did stop to express my displeasure on the way out. Constructively, I hope.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 1:30 AM
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I don't walk out on movies. I prefer to walk out on film criticism.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 1:30 AM
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Chaney. How did that happen.

I understand I miss the "big screen experience" but I wonder if the allegorical/symbolist little personal dramas I prefer aren't acceptable on a small screen in a living room.

There's other stuff. The director/cinematographer/editor doesn't really see that huge image when creating the work. I feel bullied by that 10 foot x 5 foot face being shoved at me under conditions that make it hard to escape. (I wonder if anyone has connected the monumental historical paintings of the 19th century to the cinema experience, in effect and purpose. David wanted to rock your world.

Didn't like the 100 decibel concerts either. Used to like acoustic in small clubs.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 1:51 AM
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When I was a kid my mom dragged me to Flashdance (which being a small boy I had no interest in seeing), and then threw me out at the scene in the restaurant where Jennifer Beals takes off her shoe and sticks her foot in her date's crotch. So I spent the rest of the movie sitting in the lobby by myself with nothing to do. Being kidnapped by a stranger would have been an improvement.

Other than that, I don't think I've ever left a movie in the middle.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 1:58 AM
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I don't think I've ever walked out of a movie in a theater, but I've stopped watching quite a few in the middle at home. Usually I watch the whole thing because movies aren't that long. The DVD software that came with my laptop has a speed-up function that lets you still hear the sound at up to 2x normal speed, so sometimes I put the subtitles/captions on and speed through the film (2x is too fast, but 1.5x or so is ok) rather than abandon it.

Most recently, I stopped watching The Bride Wore Black. I was happy to see that wikipedia says Truffaut eventually decided the critics were right and that the film is crap.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 1:59 AM
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quite


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 2:02 AM
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I've never walked out of a movie - partly because of principle and partly because I have a pretty good idea what a film's going to be like before I see it and I generally only go to the cinema for films that I know are going to be really good or really bad. That said, I have fallen asleep a fair few times. Attack of the Clones springs to mind.

"Some here will probably judge me a philistine for this, but I walked out of Secretary."

Philistine. Seriously, what's wrong with you? Secretary is awesome.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 3:22 AM
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21 is my experience, too.

I don't generally go to the cinema for things I suspect might be crap although i'll happy rent any old rubbish on DVD. So I don't think I've ever walked out of the cinema.

I have walked out of gigs, though.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 3:24 AM
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Actually, now I remember I left Ghostbusters early - right before the end, with the marshmallow man walking around - for some reason. My sister and dad were already waiting outside as my sister was grossed out by the slime and had wanted to leave, and had left, much earlier.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 3:39 AM
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Don't think I've ever walked out of a movie, but I rarely go, because I find they always play the soundtrack to loud. Have walked out of gigs, but never ones I've paid big money for. Did once leave a stage production of Hedda Gabler at the interval, everyone agreeing we'd get more and better high culture in the pub.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 4:25 AM
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Yes, the film soundtrack is often verging on unbearable these days.

I walked out of an Alan Holdsworth gig, once. About 8 of us went, partly on a whim [lots of guitar players in the party] but it wasn't super-cheap. Definitely the most woefully bad gig I've attended, I think. We left en masse.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 4:28 AM
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I've never walked out of a movie, though in high school we did leave Jaws 3D before it started because one of the guys I was there with threw up Everclear and purple something or other all over the seats in front of him.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 4:32 AM
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The worst gig I ever sat all the way through was Tony Williams Lifetime, which provides a slight connection to Holdsworth, though he wasn't in that lineup. It was far too loud for the venue, and the mix was such crap that McLaughlin might as well not have turned up for all you could hear him. Don't know why we stayed, really, inertia probably, plus reluctance to admit that such a great band was playing such a lousy gig.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 4:43 AM
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Holdsworth was playing the blandest, most mechanical music I think I've ever heard.* It was like elevator music generated by an algorithm and played through a cheap synth module. This was some time in the early 90s. Friends who've seen him since say that he's not really as deep into that sound any more.

* he had a really good band, too, but he might as well have had bass and drum machines running for all that it mattered.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 4:57 AM
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I saw Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back with two female friends in college, both of whom walked out after the opening scene where Jay is talking about how he puts some rolling papers between his rectum and his underwear as a means to keep wet farts from staining them, or something equally crude. I stayed for the whole thing, and wished I hadn't. What a godawfully terrible movie that was. They even managed to get their money back, I think.


Posted by: JH | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:02 AM
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I considered walking out in the middle of Ross Douthat's latest NYT op-ed, but didn't.

Here are lessons of the Sarah Palin experience, for any aspiring politician who shares her background and her sex. Your children will go through the tabloid wringer. Your religion will be mocked and misrepresented. Your political record will be distorted, to better parody your family and your faith.

Seems like somebody else in the race had their religion and politics grossly misrepresented--far worse than Palin--but I can't quite remember who. I do remember Palin being one of the ringleaders, though.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:12 AM
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I think the lesson of the Sarah Palin experience is that if you have good hair and wink and giggle your way through the campaign, conservative men like Ross Douthat will agree to overlook all the glaring indications that you're actually an idiot.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:18 AM
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I've never walked out of a film at the cinema, but I rented Brokeback Mountain and was looking forward to watching it, but C and I only managed about half an hour before we looked at each other and agreed to turn it off.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:23 AM
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Douthat must have been occupying a different universe last year; the one where Sarah Palin didn't give a snotty, obnoxious little speech at the RNC ridiculing a candidate who was self-evidently 50x more serious and qualified than her as both unserious and unqualified. What n discouraging message the 2008 campaign sent to all the aspiring nutty, village ignoramuses who think they know better than everyone else in the world. Shame on all of us for being so mean to Sarah.


Posted by: JH | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:26 AM
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Spiderman 2. Just after the bit where the villain raises his arms to the uncaring heavens and roars "NOOOOOO!" I thought to myself "NOOOOOO!" and LEEEEEFT for the PUUUUUB.
I stopped watching "The Fifth Element" on DVD about 20 minutes from the end because the phone rang. That was five years or so ago, and since then I have never felt the urge to watch the last 20 minutes of the film. There has always been something else more worth doing.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:27 AM
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I've never seen the end of Pulp Fiction -- I saw it with my parents, and my mother walked out at the scene with the gimp in the basement. Dad and I followed her out, in the interests of family harmony. I've never gotten around to renting it -- was the last half-hour good?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:39 AM
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32: Ah, but that was merely because she was playing an unfortunate role that had been foisted upon her*:

and to craft a persona more appealing than the Mrs. Spiro Agnew role the McCain campaign assigned to her.

(Not to say that that *wasn't* the role that the waterheads in the McCain campaign had mapped out for whichever VP they chose. People forget that the convention speech had for the most part already been written before the choice and was modified a bit for gender and to add a few personal touches (like the community organizer line ... ooh, snap). And she read it well. But the seeming wonderment in much of the national political media when she was not that polished or coherent on her own is one of those truly WTF media? moments. (Of which admittedly there have been a lot overt he last 15 years.)

31 has it right, the current "conservative" movement is so fucking lost that they cannot even begin to think straight.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:42 AM
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17:I understand I miss the "big screen experience"

I'm now convinced that's just marketing hype by the food concessions or parking fee lobbying groups. It used to be true when faced with the choice of watching on a 20 something inch tube with a cruddy contrast ratio or going to the mall but it isn't true now.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:42 AM
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Blair Witch Project. And I seldom watch an entire movie at home. Gummo: revolting. I walked out of a Mary Oliver poetry reading because her interstitial comments were so inane.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:59 AM
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I walked out of Jersey Girl, but sat through all of Tank Girl and Dude, Where's My Car? Go figure.

I'm noticing a lot of Kevin Smith in this thread.


Posted by: ed bowlinger | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 6:00 AM
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"Ace Ventura: Pet Detective." 'Nuff said.


Posted by: Nancy | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 6:03 AM
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I fell asleep during Back to the Future 3 and left as soon as I woke up. That was about when I stopped going to every movie ever, so I haven't walked out of a movie since, I think.

I walked out on a Beat Farmers show about 2 minutes into their first song, because it became a frat boy beer-throwing, "Hey, broseph, let's slamdance!" hideous nightmare. This was at the Cubby Bear in Chicago (across from Wrigley) and so I have no idea why I thought it would be otherwise. Country Dick died no long after, so I felt a little bit of regret, but not all that much.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 6:05 AM
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+t


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 6:05 AM
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BR and I rarely go to the movie theater. We have turned off several videos as being unbearable.

My daughter and I did walk out about 20 mins before the end of Coraline, but it was a victory that she lasted that long. (We had to walk home and it was getting late.)


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 6:10 AM
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Some here will probably judge me a philistine for this, but I walked out of Secretary.

I thought Secretary was pretty dreadful for all kinds of reasons, not least of which was the "she's cutting herself but she'll stop if she's in an SM relationship with a guy whose narcissism/fear of intimacy will be HEALED if she just suffers theatrically enough" plot line. It's like every terrible romantic comedy ever, only SM, and the whole marketing angle was oh-look-it's-light-SM!

I did not walk out, though. I just sat and grew increasingly irritable.

I've walked out of two movies, an old terrible one called Far and Away and Four Weddings and a Funeral. In each case it was the excruciating boredom rather than ideological problems that drove me away. Far and Away was a whole new level of boredom for me; I remember thinking that it was so boring precisely because the movie was noisy and awful enough to interrupt reverie.

I did stop watching Grave of the Fireflies because it got so grim so fast.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 6:25 AM
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The only movie I can remember walking out on in adulthood is Tokyo Decadence. I was bored, and the people I was watching it with were itching to leave, so we left.

I believe in the big screen experience -- the problem is less that modern TVs do it just as well as that so many modern multiplexes don't actually provide it.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 6:26 AM
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Oh my god, I saw Far and Away in the theater. SO BORING. And yet I sat through the whole terrible thing.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 6:27 AM
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A friend took me to Irreversible. He walked out, so I did too. I often wished I'd stayed, not because there was anything that I was seeing that I wanted to see more of, but because later, people told me the end is somewhat satisfying in the direction of dealing with the trauma of the first half, and I still can't walk through an underpass without getting freaked out.

OK, scratch that. I wish I'd never seen any of it. Torture porn is never something I want to see.

This same guy made me turn off Jacob's Ladder after 15 minutes when I brought it over to watch and was angry with me for weeks about it. Why would I want to do that to him?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 6:33 AM
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I just sat and grew increasingly irritable frowny.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 6:39 AM
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44.1: Yeah, that was my feeling about it, too. Like, it's not enough that people have the erotic/sexual relationships they want; it's that these two people can fix each other by doing these things they need, because they're crazy, and Lord knows nothing solves crazy like sex.

I was almost willing to spot them the irritating "You will never cut yourself again" business until the wedding dress scene. That was so fucking stupid I had no idea what to make of it. Oh look, her mother has accepted that sometimes she only wants three green peas for dinner! The whole world must learn to accept a relationship that, at its basis, is only titillating insofar as it is anti-social!

I.e., I think there is a big difference between making the argument that people with kinky sex lives shouldn't be actively shamed or persecuted and saying that it should be a big politically-embraced love-in where everything you do in private should be a matter of public celebration. Where's the fun in that?

I could be very wrong about this and am willing to be convinced that I am. I just don't understand why everything has to be framed in terms of "healing" and "community." Toleration, yes, and maybe even acceptance, but come on.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 6:53 AM
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A friend and I walked out of Alexander after two and a half hours. I know it was almost over, but it was just getting to be too much and we wanted to make a statement.

Some fellows and I also walked out of Dog Park, which was a vapid romcom which we wanted to see because it had Luke Wilson (who we loved from Bottle Rocket) and the chick from Species, and how could it be bad?

We then cheated and walked into Stigmata with Roseanna Arquette, which we should have walked out of but didn't.


Posted by: Counterfly | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 6:54 AM
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OK, scratch that. I wish I'd never seen any of it. Torture porn is never something I want to see.

Yes, this, and the Hostel movies, and Saw and all that. I've successfully avoided seeing any of them. I've felt queasily unpleasant just reading the descriptions of some of the movies in that whole genre.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 6:59 AM
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Twenty minutes into Dracula 2000, I knew I should walk out, but the gf wanted to see it and I kept holding out hope that Jennifer Esposito was going to get naked. She did not.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 7:03 AM
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So the rest of the movie isn't worth it to see Maggie Gyllenhaal being spanked?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 7:03 AM
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53: Mileage varies.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 7:05 AM
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53: Surely there are clips of the sequence in question on the internet so that you can watch it without having to be annoyed by her character, the plot, the terrible Pottery Barn house of the lawyer boss, the unending parade of kitsch-retro-hipster-sexy-secretary blouses....(Oh, another thing for which I blame that movie--I had spent years accumulating an adorable collection of non-synthetic early-eighties tie-neck blouses but after that movie they slowly grew to annoy me to the point where I gave almost all of them away.)


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 7:12 AM
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and Lord knows nothing solves crazy like sex. sex like crazy.

as has been discussed here before.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 7:12 AM
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Since I've finished a lot of objectively terrible movies, whether or not I walk out is almost entirely dependent on how manic and restless my mood is when I'm watching something. I remember walking out of Bend it Like Beckham and Virgin Suicides.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 7:14 AM
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grew to annoy me to the point where I gave almost all of them away

Sounds like you need a spanking.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 7:22 AM
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I almost walked out of Punch-Drunk Love for similar reasons. There's yet another movie in which someone who is clearly a violent and unpredictable psychotic just needs to meet a girl who's sort of turned on by that and somehow this means he will no longer be a terrifying psycho.

All I could think at the end of that movie was that the first time he imagines she's cheating on him, he'll kill her. I was not uplifted.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 7:30 AM
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I walked out of Celebrity. It was a Saturday morning and my soon-to-be wife had wanted to go. We were the only people in the theater. As she didn't walk out, I had to spend a lot of time in the lobby.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 7:49 AM
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59.2 That would probably make a more interesting movie, except you need Ashely Judd.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 7:50 AM
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"Yeah, that was my feeling about it, too. Like, it's not enough that people have the erotic/sexual relationships they want; it's that these two people can fix each other by doing these things they need, because they're crazy, and Lord knows nothing solves crazy like sex. "

As I recall (read it years ago) the short story the movie was based on is considerably more bleak.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 7:50 AM
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I've never walked out of a movie. The closest I came to doing so was during Ken Russel's Gothic. A truly craptacular film (unfortunately, since it had a promising premise).


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:00 AM
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I was infuriated by As Good As It Gets for the True Love Even Cures Severe OCD And Personality Disorder storyline.

I should have walked out of SWAT but didn't, because the whole reason I was there was to kill some time before another thing.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:05 AM
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63: Ooo, I saw that the night before the SATs --we figured it counted as vocabulary review.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:08 AM
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I don't think I've ever walked out of a movie. Robin Williams's Jack was a tempting candidate, but I didn't want to offend my cousins.

As for ceasing to watch something on home video, the only one I can think of was Jia Zhang-ke's Unknown Pleasures. "My TV is not big enough to make this movie endurable", I thought. Although the insanely repetitive nightclub punching scene was cool.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:09 AM
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I liked Public Enemies, incidentally. It was flawed, certainly, but I thought lots of it was very good.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:10 AM
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The original story is by Mary Gaitskill. I'm a fan of hers, although her stories are generally a big downer. Wikipedia describes her response to the movie like this

[Gaitskill] characterized the film as "the Pretty Woman version, heavy on the charm (and a little too nice)," but observed that the "bottom line is that if [a film adaptation is] made you get some money and exposure, and people can make up their minds from there."

I remember one of Gaitskill's stories involved an inflatable body suit. The more you pumped the suit up, the tighter it became.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:11 AM
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I wanted to walk out of Blair Witch because the shakeycam was making me ill, but stayed at the urging of Ex, staring at the floor and trying to follow things through the sound. This pattern of me putting up with pointless unpleasantness to keep her happy was pretty well established. In retrospect I wish I'd just stared at the screen until nature took its course and then puked in her lap. Deliberately puking on someone can really clarify issues in a relationship, I suspect. A bit rude to the other theatergoers, though.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:14 AM
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re: 63

Hah, a sort of semi-platonic ex of mine loved that film. She made me watch it, anticipating I'd like it. I didn't.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:16 AM
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I find it hard to stop watching things even on cable. For example, I just watched the end of ID4 on cable, even though a) I thought it sucked, and b) have watched the ending on cable 40 previous times.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:16 AM
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71: I'm like that with books, I tend to finish even bad ones. TV I can walk away from efforlessly though.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:20 AM
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55: oh no, frowner! give the rest to me if you really have to get rid of them...


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:25 AM
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72: there is no book so terrible that I won't read all of it, and sometimes more than once. husbans x bought me a bunch of pulp novels, one of which was called "studd", and we left it in the bathroom. for that reason, I've really, actually read studd cover to cover 9 or 10 times. worst. book. ever. no, garden of rama was worse. fuck a bunch of gentry lee.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:29 AM
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d


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:30 AM
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I'll turn all the pages in any book. If I'm getting bored, though, I'll start skimming, and the skimming will inadvertently get shallower and shallower, until I'm looking at the back cover wondering if anything interesting happened in the last hundred pages that I missed. This doesn't happen much, but occasionally.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:34 AM
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I was unable to get through the third book of the His Dark Materials series (as an audio book). And I *adored* the first book.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:35 AM
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garden of drama?

studdd?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:35 AM
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Garden of Rama -- I think it's an Arthur C. Clarke/someone else collaboration.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:37 AM
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the d was for "husbans."


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:38 AM
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someone else

The aforementioned awful awful Gentry Lee, even.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:39 AM
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Legends of the Fall

I walked out, but my date decided to stay to the end...


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:41 AM
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Ah. I got momentarily confused thinking that Al was complaining about Rush for some reason.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:44 AM
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there is no book so terrible that I won't read all of it

Yes, this. The only way I can avoid it is to read enough other books in the interim (I've always got a few on the go) that I kind of forget I started it. Even then, I'll pick it up eventually unless it's physically gone. It's terrible.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:44 AM
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59: Punch Drunk Love that's that relatively serious Adam Sandler movie, right? Yeah, I walked out of it about halfway through or so.

I couldn't think of any movies I saw in theaters that I have walked out of in theaters until you mentioned that one, and even that was just put on by my college's cinema club, so it was only like $2 and a walk halfway across campus. However, I walked out of movies my parents rented for us all to watch relatively often.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:01 AM
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Also, I've gotten a little better about getting rid of books (especially while moving) but I'm sure I have a good stack of pretty terrible ones spread amongst the bookshelves that I will almost certainly read again, just because they are there.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:10 AM
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AWB and I walked out of a (partial) performance of Satie's Vexations played by a bunch of people on toy pianos. I think I mentioned this here before. It wasn't bad, but the main thing on the program had already been performed and this was kinda just an extra. Also, the leader of the ensemble was making really pretentious faces and body movements as she played. And I think that piece is an invitation to walk out, anyway. Anyway, a half hour of it was enough.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:11 AM
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I see so few movies in the theater that the Big Screen Experience just completely envelops me. I get sucked into the movie's world utterly, and I probably couldn't leave if I tried. It's practically like a drug, and I'll luuuuv absolute shit.


Posted by: Mo MacArbie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:14 AM
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Wife and I walked out of What Lies Beneath, which we'd gone to see only because I used to live close to where it was filmed and wanted to see the scenery. Otherwise I used to stay until the bitter end, though I did fall asleep halfway through My Dinner with Andre, and turned off Blair Witch Project while watching it at home. I've now walked out on the whole cinema thing because the experience is generally unpleasant, and only see films at home anymore.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:18 AM
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There are movies that I rent which I find that I have to watch in chunks. Rachel Getting Married was like that, and Slum Dog Millionaire took a while. I think the latter might have worked better in the theater. The subtitles were so small that we couldn't read the hindi bits on the small screen.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:18 AM
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BG:

What did you think about Slum Dog? I dont remember hearing.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:22 AM
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I walked out of the Twilight Zone movie because--"you wanna see something really scary?"-- I was really scared. My friend and I went to see Superman III for the third time each instead.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:27 AM
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LB: The last half hour of Pulp Fiction is worth watching if you enjoyed the rest of the film and really ties the whole thing together.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:27 AM
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17, 37: Re: big screen experience.

Two of my kids went to see a showing of Jaws this weekend at a local big-screen theater. They both reported that despite repeated small-screen viewings and the now-cliched nature of the famous scenes, it was still quite shocking and scary—more so than they had anticipated it would be. It made me realize that I have never seen it in a theater (anomalous for someone my age, but I assume true for most people under 35 or so).

Lawrence of Arabia is a film that comes to mind as really workoing much better on a truly big screen.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:38 AM
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93: Yeah, all the characters get together and stomp Quentin Tarantino to death.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:40 AM
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||
No more masturbating to Robert S. McNamara.
|>


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:42 AM
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93: That last half hour really tied the whole film together, Dude.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:42 AM
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47: It's actually not quite fair to describe Irreversible as torture porn: the rape scene isn't there for gratuitous titillation or thrills. The thing is, you have to make it past the rape scene before that's really discernible -- I almost didn't, either.

Actual walkouts: Robin Hood: Men In Tights. Hudson Hawk. Ultraviolet. Catwoman. None of which I've ever even been tempted to re-view. There are a couple of others not worth remembering even as walk-outs.

I also walked out on Inland Empire the first time. In that case, though, it nagged at my brain until I finally rented and re-watched it. Now I own a copy.

I fell asleep during The Two Towers (it was a midnight showing and a bad movie), which I guess counts as checking out, if not exactly walking out.

I wanted to walk out of Alexander several times, but I'd dragged my friends to see it and they forced me to endure the punishment to the end on principle. (I mean, he fucked up the Battle of Gaugamela. How do you fuck that up? How were there no good battle scenes in a movie about Alexander the Fucking Great?) We did, however, have a lot of fun thereafter shouting "Macedoniaaaans! We must..." as a prelude to mundane activities like buying pizza.

I wish I could say I walked out of Pirates of the Caribbean 2, but I didn't. I just kind of sat there hoping it would get better, and it never did. One of countless moviegoers drawn in by the fun of Depp's performance in the first one. I did, however, avoid the third movie, which... I don't understand how that one made that much money, but whatever.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:42 AM
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When I was about 13 I walked out of Wild at Heart because I found it incomprehensible and upsetting. Later, I should have walked out of Gladiator but didn't.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:44 AM
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Lawrence of Arabia is a film that comes to mind as really workoing much better on a truly big screen.

Fact. I see it in the theater every time I get a chance.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:45 AM
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A bunch of my friends---well, friends of my ex---were involved in the making of Irreversible. The life-size plastic tortured corpse in their special effects studio upset the hell out of me, and they all warned me away from seeing the movie itself.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:46 AM
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avoid the third movie, which...
I've been told was much better than the second, so there is that.

Pinning your hopes for a movie on the performance of one, albeit main, character is always risky. Even if the actor pulls it off, the best bits can easily end up on the editing room floor in pursuit of "tightening up" an inane plot, or whatever.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:46 AM
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Punch-Drunk Love was a good movie, but disturbing. Very out-of-character territory for Sandler. I like that it doesn't -- and in this respect it's unlike As Good As It Gets* -- really try to imply the two main characters are likely to live happily-ever-after. It also has a couple of great Philip Seymour Hoffman scenes that were worth the price of admission for me almost all by themselves.

(* Which, yes, a crap premise for a romcom, but it's one of the few romcoms I've ever seen that included Actual Comedy. So, marks for that.)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:47 AM
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99: Later, I should have walked out of Gladiator but didn't.

What we don't walk out of in life... echoes in Eternity.

I wouldn't walk out on it, but cripes, what a mediocre, overrated film.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:51 AM
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Huh. I'm eager to see Public Enemy, because I love gangster movies and I always enjoy Michael Mann (I thought Last of the Mohicans was one of the great fun/adventure type movies of the last couple of decades).

I often walk out of movies, I just stay alert for the moment when I would actually pay money not to have to sit through the next X minutes. Usually unbelievably dreary Hollywood action movies...I have a weakness for good ones but god is there a lot of crap. I think the last one was the terrible remake of Taking of Pelham 123. I'm actually more offended by bad movies which feature famous actors ostentatiously acting at you.

At a certain point you really fully appreciate that Hollywood's target audience is the 16-24 age bracket.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:56 AM
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I very nearly walked out of Pirates of the Caribbean II. (I didn't, because I kept thinking "Surely it's going to get better!" and it did*, a little bit**, but I had to watch the original on DVD at home to remember that it really hadn't been the nostalgic glow on my memories that made me think the first movie had been really pretty good, by fun piece-of-fluff standards.)

I didn't go to PoCIII: I watched it on DVD at home with a friend, and we both agreed it was a good thing we weren't angry about the price of cinema tickets and unable to say out loud how awful it was. Some movies are made for home viewing with sympathetic friends.

*Unfortunately, by the time it had climbed almost to the level of the first movie, I was furious at the racism and angry no one had warned me how awful the first hour of it was going to be: I wasn't in the comfortably relaxed mood of "show me this piece of fluff" you need to be to thoroughly enjoy it.

**"You hired me. I can't help it if your standards are lax."


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:56 AM
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Some of these are bizarre. I mean, I can totally understand not seeing X or Y movie in the first place, because you don't go to the movies much or you were really busy the month it premiered or you just didn't get around to it or whatever. And in a lot of movies it's not clear what you're going to get beforehand, like Jacob's Ladder.

But I almost can't imagine deciding to see The Two Towers, Gladiator or Back to the Future Part 3 (for example) based on what you already know about it, watching some of it, and calling it a movie so bad that you don't want to see the rest. Which of those movies did people go into not knowing what to expect or expecting something other than what they got?

104: Braveheart set 800 years earlier, I thought, right down to the Australian primo uomo.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:59 AM
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re: 106

Yeah, I fell asleep both times I tried to watch PotC II.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:00 AM
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OT: What do you tip a refrigerator delivery guy from bringing you a new fridge and sticking the old one in the garage?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:01 AM
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But the seeming wonderment in much of the national political media when she was not that polished or coherent on her own is one of those truly WTF media? moments.

Exactly my reaction -- plus one of those WTF Mineshaft? moments on the same grounds.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:03 AM
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Torture porn is never something I want to see.

This was kind of how I felt about Taken. But I saw it with two friends who loved it, so I stayed all the way through.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:04 AM
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I am deeply concerned about what the motivation for remaking The Taking of Pelham 123 was. Here's a gem of a tense little claustrophobic thriller juxtaposed against the shittiness of a failed city government and the basic plodding decency of some mid-level bureaucrats in which everyone actually looks pretty much like what people in the city look like and captures some truly freaky aspects of underground transport... I know! Let's turn it into a high-tech star-studded action flick!!!

I don't trust it. I heard that Tony Scott basically admitted that he had no interest in the subway system or NYC public life. He rode it once while drunk. And his next picture? A remake of The Warriors!

What, is he trying to kill me? Is nothing sacred in this world?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:05 AM
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109: At least $10, maybe $20.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:06 AM
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Speaking of movies, I'm enjoying this gem from Ebert quite a bit right now.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:07 AM
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112: Right on!

The original is so damn good.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:07 AM
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107: I liked the first LOTR film and tolerated the third, but while the other two are merely overrated films in retrospect -- not terrible, not great -- Towers was a genuinely bad film in a way I didn't expect, and in a way it really shouldn't have been. It had by far the highest concentration of dwarf jokes and other cheesy "comedy," painfully clumsy attempts at romance, and unnecessarily boring "action" of any of the three. If the whole series had been that bad, it would've bombed, the second movie kind of sneaks by on the goodwill of the other two.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:08 AM
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112 - Stay tuned for Tony Scott's remakes of Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico, The French Connection, and Taxi Driver (with Keanu Reeves as Travis Bickle, Eugene Levy as Tom, and Dakota Fanning - as you've never seen her before! - as Iris).


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:08 AM
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unnecessarily boring "action"

(I started snoring during the Battle of Helm's Deep, for instance. I've since since the rented version of the movie in a wakeful state, and am convinced my first instinct was the right one. Legolas surfing on a shield? What?)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:10 AM
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||

The Gap Years thread is clearly dead, so I'm going to ask my question again?

Could someone tell me what's wrong with Human Rights Campaign? I've heard people from the left call it a sell-out and too corporate, but I don't know anything about specific actions that they took and/or failed to take. Could somebody fill me in a bit? A google search with sell-out just says that they're not pushing the Obama administration enough.

AWB-- I sent you an e-mail at your blog e-mail address.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:10 AM
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112: totally, really well put. The complete betrayal of the excellent original made the standard-issue thriller crappiness of this version much worse. The ostentatious star power undermined the themes of the original even more.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:10 AM
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I quite liked Public Enemies - not as dreamy as Miami Vice or as brutally spare as Heat, but visiting similar themes in a more taciturn, lower-on-the-alienation-curve era.

People who don't like The New World are philistines, writes the man who owns two editions on DVD.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:12 AM
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119: There would appear to be lots wrong.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:16 AM
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Rfts and I made the projectionist stop playing Jaded (which IMDB informs me is, shockingly, not the only movie Oja Kodar ever directed) at the late, lamented Fine Arts Cinema in Berkeley, but we were the only people there (it was being considered for the schedule) so perhaps it doesn't count.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:17 AM
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38:Gummo is brilliant. And it's supposed to be revolting.

Anyhow, I think we've had this discussion before, and I mentioned that I walked out of Underground (the Kusturica picture) because I was somewhat the worse for drink. And I remember walking out of some piece of Hollywood product in '98 or '99, but I was seeing so many bad movies in those days to review that the exact title escapes me. Other than that, never left a movie early.

I have left a couple of operas early, including the touring production of Aida from '99, which was amazingly horrible and overblown.

Finally, I'm confused at Natter and OFE's comments about leaving concerts early -- doesn't everyone? I don't even get out to see live music very often, and I've left plenty of concerts early. Not just because I was there to see an opening act and didn't care for the headliner either.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:26 AM
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We were there to see if it was worth showing, weren't we? Stopping once we knew it was truly awful seems a little different from ordinary walking out.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:27 AM
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re: 124

I wouldn't usually leave a gig early, no. If the band was awful, two or three times maybe, yeah, and if it was just a pub gig and I wasn't really there to see the band, but I don't remember leaving many early.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:31 AM
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119: Andrew Sullivan feels they are too tied to the 90s-era leadership of the Democratic Party for effective issues-based advocacy. No doubt this issue is tied into his deep dislike for the 90s-era leadership of the Democratic Party, though.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:32 AM
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It's pretty standard to leave big concerts early if you want to avoid the inevitable ensuing traffic-jam. Not so much the case for smaller gigs.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:33 AM
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Like ttaM, I'm pretty picky about what I go see in the theatre, but will try out lots of crap via Netflix. The most recent flick I couldn't make it through was the Keanu version of The Day the Earth Stood Still. Ye gods that was bad.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:34 AM
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re: 128

Perhaps I don't go to many stadium type gigs. In theatre sized venues [a couple of thousand people] I wouldn't normally leave early; can't say I never do it, but not as a general rule.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:35 AM
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Could someone tell me what's wrong with Human Rights Campaign? I've heard people from the left call it a sell-out and too corporate, but I don't know anything about specific actions that they took and/or failed to take. Could somebody fill me in a bit?

Hey, I have friends who are working on a compilation zine on this very topic! Probably won't be done for a few months though since they've just sent out the call for submissions.

What I know about them is partly structural--there are some really, really high-paid folks working for HRC, there's a lot of emphasis on glittering celebrity events ("The Human Rights Champagne Fund"). They are not, as an organization, down with the gente.

Reading from the call for submissions for the zine, the radical critique of the HRC is partly about their lack of support for trans folks, their whiteness and lack of anti-racist initiatives, their focus on assimilation and "respectability" which divides queer people into good/married/[implicitly middle class]/monogamous and bad/single/club scene/nonmonogamous. Also the focus on marriage rights that leaves out single folks. ["marriage [and shared insurance] is not the answer/single queers still get cancer"] There's also some stuff I don't know about in the call for submissions that might represent maybe an HRC endowment or something that is unethically invested? (I'm just guessing) They don't seem real responsive to the concerns of anyone who isn't white and middle class with a sexual identity that's both respectable and easy to explain.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:36 AM
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Oh, hey, also the HRC endorses some awful politicians in the interest of a very narrow interpretation of gay rights--Al D'Amato, frex. And now that I think about it, they've been totally down with all that "gay is the new black"/ POC are to blame for the vote in California stuff that is so absolutely reactionary and divisive and not even evidence-based.

Seriously, gay is not the new black. We need a nation-wide analogy ban.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:40 AM
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38:Gummo is brilliant. And it's supposed to be revolting.

I know it's supposed to be revolting. That doesn't make it any less revolting. I already know the world is ugly and people are sad.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:42 AM
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128. Like ttaM, I don't go to gigs that are that crowded. Last stadium gig I went to was Zappa, which dates it pretty much. A 400 seat theatre tipping out doesn't affect the traffic much.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:45 AM
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70 suggests a good topic: books and movies urged on you by significant others that you hated. Or maybe I just think it's a good topic because my college girlfriend made me read Ishmael, which I found puke-inducing. More recently, my lack of enchantment with Magnolia may have helped kill a relationship in the early stages.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:48 AM
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My boyfriend at the time we went to Gladiator was a special effects geek, so the violence was expected; we were appalled by the politics.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:51 AM
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Ishmael

Now there was a dissappointingly hyped book. And yes (see above) I finished it.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:51 AM
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I remember walking out of Face/Off in the movie theater at the point at which the villain, disguised as the John Travolta character, comes to live with the family of the man he's impersonating.

I decided that was just too creepy a scenario for me at that moment and walked out.

I watched the complete movie not that long afterwords and, frankly, I thought it benefited by being seen as two separate movies -- one in which I took the bizarreness of the basic premise seriously, and one in which I let the ending, with all its stylized flourishes, take all the edge off of the emotions.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:51 AM
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136: I know of several people who saw 300 for the camera lighting alone. I don't know if the politics actually drove any of them away.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:53 AM
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I suspect I have a higher tolerance for cheese in movies. I liked Gladiator as a big dumb blob of entertainment.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:53 AM
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135

Confederacy of Dunces bored me. I coulnt finish it.

Also, Blood Meridian was highly recommended to me, but I couldnt get into it when I first read it. I put it down until after I read No Country For Old Men. Now, I think Cormac is an amazing writer and I love Blood Meridian.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:55 AM
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135 is full of sadness. There was the guy I was sort of tragically in love with once (we were not dating; we worked together) who read Infinite Jest at my suggestion and absolutely adored it. Then he gave me a copy of The Corrections, hoping I would have a similar reaction. We all know how that went.

It's not like that was enough to cut the bud off our relationship, but it was awful not to be able to say, "Oh wow, thank you for this great gift; you're right--it's life-changing." I picked out a few scenes that I found tolerable and offered them as a crust of appreciation. But it was obvious that I was not exactly stunned.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:56 AM
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I know of several people who saw 300 for the camera lighting alone.

It was sometimes unfortunate to be a tag-along girlfriend during some of these outings. A whole big group of us went to see Blade II in the theater, specifically for the autopsy-of-a-vampire scene. I will never forget choking down my mocking laughter when one of the very gothy special-effects sculptors was crushed with disappointment that Blade II was not very good at all.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:57 AM
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In contrast I had to force my way through the first third of Confederacy of Dunces but after that it took off for me.

I have to read a book by David Lodge that a friend lent me. Does anybody have any idea what to expect?


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:58 AM
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I suspect I have a higher tolerance for cheese in movies.

I've got a pretty high tolerance for this too, at least when it's expected.

What really gives me trouble is films that should be good, could be good, but just fail. Especially if there is some hamfisted problem with the production or screenplay that is getting in the way.

If I go into it expecting fluff though, I'm pretty forgiving.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:01 AM
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116: Yeah, I got really upset by how much Jackson messed with the plot of Towers, to make time for bad jokes and saccharine "buddy" material. Apparently I wasn't the only one in the cinema to feel this way: a cheer went up when Sam and Frodo are wandering through a ghoul-ridden swamp, and Sam bursts out: "We're not even supposed to BE here AT ALL!"


Posted by: Cady | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:05 AM
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144: Depends which one. I thought the Changing Places trilogy was wonderful, with Small World the best of the three. Everything else of his I've read has been tolerable but unexciting.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:05 AM
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I will never forget choking down my mocking laughter when one of the very gothy special-effects sculptors was crushed with disappointment that Blade II was not very good at all.

I had several friends who were convinced--convinced!--that the Matrix movies had something profound, integral and intentional to say about reality/Zizek/The Real/whatever and they were very, very disappointed in the last one because it didn't wrap everything up in a theory-appropriate manner. I was nice about it even though I felt that as Marxists they should have paid a bit more attention to the economic dimension of movie production and managed their expectations accordingly.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:06 AM
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141.1 makes me sad. You probably hate Charles Portis and puppies and Christmas, you monster.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:09 AM
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I rarely expect a movie to have any redeeming social value above entertaining me for 90 mins.

If it does, then I am pleasantly surprised.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:11 AM
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Andrew Sullivan feels they are too tied to the 90s-era leadership of the Democratic Party for effective issues-based advocacy.

No one cares what Sullivan feels. He's an utter tool.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:13 AM
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143, 148: Some motherfuckers are always trying to ice-skate uphill.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:13 AM
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Snarkout:

Absurdistan did it better than Confederacy.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:14 AM
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142: Well, I'm exaggerating a little; the relationship went on for a couple months. But I did notice that, post-Magnolia, she would strongly resist watching or reading anything I recommended. We're still friends, but this persists to the present day (e.g. with The Big Lebowski). Now that we're not dating, we joke about it.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:14 AM
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AB read The Corrections so I wouldn't have to. I don't recall the details of her criticism, but the gist was "needed an editor."

If I've ever walked out of a movie theater, it was when I was 13 or so. As an adult, I've not gone to enough movies for it to come up (I rarely go to a movie I don't expect to like, and I'm rarely that judgmental in the theater). Even on video, I almost always stick it out to the end - it's almost impossible for me to fall asleep in front of an active screen, and, esp. in the days of Blockbuster, that tape represented a lot of sunk cost (fallacy). BOGF was always the one who wanted to rent, but was also the one who always fell asleep. I think one movie we started all 3 nights we had it out, and she never made it to the finish.

All that said, cheesy old comedies are the only category that I have a history of bailing on - The Road to Singapore is just awful (it's the first one, and they really hadn't hit their stride yet), and It's a MAd Mad... World was so shitty that AB & I were incredulous that anyone still spoke well of it. Unutterable crap.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:16 AM
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Last movie I walked out of: fuck, I just forgot its name. The one with the snipers in Stalingrad. It was just a pile of awful. Oh, yes, I just remembered it: Enemy at the Gates. Definitely a liberating experience, even though I had to stand outside and wait for the people with whom I'd gone to see it.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:17 AM
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the gist was

...is an irredeemable pile of shit, really. I can't imagine that any editor could have fixed it.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:18 AM
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153 - I didn't actually like Absurdistan so much, possibly because (and this is embarrassing) I got Shteyngart confused with Victor Pelevin and was expecting a different sort of book. (You also probably hate George Saunders, cold beer on a hot summer day, cream colored ponies, and crisp apple streudels.)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:21 AM
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144: I have no Lodge insight to offer, but why do you "have" to read it?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:24 AM
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Public Enemies sounds like it might be ok if you see it as a movie involving someone named Dillinger who is not to be confused with a historical figure of the same name.

I was surprised when I watched The Public Enemy that Cagney never really rises above an enforcer level. I started that one thinking he'd become a leader like in some of his later movies.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:27 AM
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If I walk out of a movie early, I'll never know whether the underdog Won the Finals or Learned a Life Lesson. I would wonder forever.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:27 AM
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No one cares what Sullivan feels. He's an utter tool.

So true.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:28 AM
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I wanted to walk out on Glory because I found the violence intolerable. Not at all insupportable, just much too hard to watch. But I was sitting in the middle of a long row and felt like I shouldn't disturb people, so I stayed.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:29 AM
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I would have walked out of Crash (the LA race relations one) had one of the friends I was with done so, but the movie ended before she got a chance to do so.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:29 AM
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158:

Yes, yes, yes, and yes.

(ok, Ive actually never read Saunders.)


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:29 AM
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I would wonder forever.

No, that's why there's Wikipedia.

Actually, the last time I cut short a film was when I rented I Am Legion and about 10 minutes in cut it off on the theory that something terrible was probably going to happen to the dog and I couldn't handle that. I'm told I missed nothing good.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:30 AM
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Thanks Frowner. I'd be interested in seeing that zine when it gets done.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:33 AM
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Gladiator

I was soooo disappointed by this. There was zero interest in the Roman audience, in Roman society as potentially relevant to the new world order. Rome was great though.

The Conversation is a great movie.

One of my movie highs was seeing Touch of Evil on the big screen.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:34 AM
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166 - Literally the only interesting thing about I Am Legend is that you can see the stitches where they removed the plot of the Matheson novella/The Last Man on Earth and gave it the Omega Man ending, despite leaving in all the supporting material for the Matheson version. Very odd. If I could have convinced myself that they had done it intentionally, I might even have enjoyed it as a way of subverting narrative expectations, Total Recall-style.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:38 AM
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168: You remind me of my uncle who was upset that archeology was so inaccurately portrayed in Raiders of the Lost Ark.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:39 AM
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I was soooo disappointed by this.

See, this I don't understand. Knowing where it's coming from, how could you expect something different than what was actually delivered?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:40 AM
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136: I sort of expected a Ridley Scott film about Rome to get the politics all wrong. What I was more surprised by was that they took Commodus -- who in the literature is as crazy and over-the-top a villain as anyone could wish for, like Nero meets Dubya -- and turned him into a whiny milquetoast. I think I've said this here before.

Oh, the Blade films. I didn't see Blade Trinity in the theatre, but I switched the rented version off at the Jessica Biel iPod product placement, the most ridiculous such moment I've ever seen in a movie.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:41 AM
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170: I hear that James Bond is a pretty unrealistic portrayal of intelligence work, too. Who knew?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:41 AM
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The Pelham remake was unnecessary, but I would pay money to watch Denzel Washington cut the crusts off a peanut butter sandwich.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:41 AM
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173: If only more movies were as realistic as Airplane.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:44 AM
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||
I wouldn't have walked out on this! Warning: terrible sound quality, but it gives you an idea what it must've been like (Jeff Beck, David Gilmour, Imelda May).
|>


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:46 AM
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I remember reading that Gladiator filmed some huge amount of political scenes before deciding against using most of it. My guess is that rather than make it a better movie it would have been like the parliamentary scenes in the Star Wars se-prequels.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:46 AM
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177: got to pick an audience, anyway.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:50 AM
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177: The politics was already boring and wrong. More of that wouldn't have fixed it. A better villain would have.

I mean, the action scenes were still great, and the opening battle. But they're all there really is to the movie -- that and Proximo.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:50 AM
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I'll nth the concern on the Pelham remake. Certain "big" movies? OK they get remade once a generation. But a nice little well-cast niche film? Much better would have been to do something along the lines of Double Idemnity -> Body Heat, pretty much the same plot modified a bit and with added touches. (But I guess you don't get the "recognition" boost.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:52 AM
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Lawrence of Arabia is a film that comes to mind as really workoing much better on a truly big screen.

PLAY TIME


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:52 AM
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148:Matrix Revolutions Explained

I buy this guy's spiel all the way.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:56 AM
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153: LALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU!

Human Rights Campaign is the PETA of gay liberation

135: I remember getting into a huge argument with a then-friend about the relative merits of Magnolia. I was not impressed.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:58 AM
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I know that a Superfly remake is in the works.

I just hope they don't ever remake Sweet Sweetback's Badasssss Song. It's really an extraordinary piece of anything-goes art cinema, with a fucking contest.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 12:02 PM
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Way up at 112: And his [Tony Scott's] next picture? A remake of The Warriors!

Please tell me this is a joke.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 12:03 PM
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re: Gladiator disappointment

I had high expectations of Ridley Scott, for which you can mock me if you like-- I really liked both Alien and Blade Runner. Thelma and Louise was also pretty good (movie, not political statement). As I said, there was a successful example, with much better (even too much) violence. My gripe isn't a lack of realism, but Hollywood myopia.

The second and subsequent Indiana Jones movies sucked rocks, so complaining about the treatment of archeology would be OK as meiosis. Perhaps MH's uncle has more to say?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 12:03 PM
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Ebert: Hostility is especially focused on the "Eastern Elite," to the chagrin of we Midwestern Elitists

Tsk tsk!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 12:04 PM
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I go to concerts alone, so I leave early if I am too tired. Even good bands like the holdsteady, dinosaur jr. and vashti bunyan. If I would prefer to be in bed, I go to bed.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 12:04 PM
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("Fucking" as activity, not intensifier.)


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 12:05 PM
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186.last: This was when the first movie came out, so the details are a bit hazy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 12:05 PM
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185: Sorry, but it is the truth. If you asked me what the most inappropriate choice of project could be, I would have answered the very same.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 12:11 PM
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184: Seeing Sweet Sweetback's Badassss Song with UNG significantly improved my marital satisfaction for a period of time. The effect was sadly temporary.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 12:12 PM
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Seeing Sweet Sweetback's Badassss Song with UNG significantly improved my marital satisfaction for a period of time. The effect was sadly temporary.

More than 4 hours?


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 12:17 PM
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191: I'm sorry that 117's Tony Scott's Dog Day Afternoon doesn't edge that out (although maybe Zack Snyder would be an even better choice so that it could have more delightfully homophobic humor).


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 12:18 PM
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Wanted to walk out of: Sammy and Rosie. A squalid not-by-John Hughes flick.

Did walk out of: Peewee's (somessize ?) Adventure.
David Pogue's affect voice in a TED talk about cel phones was almost as annoying.

Pulp Fiction. First time I saw it, I think the projectionist showed the last act first. Confusing !

Pulp Fiction and ResDogs (and also but less so, Clerks) inspired a generation to think of screenwriting the way (somethingorother: Hendrix, Aldo Nova, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Holger Czukay ) inspired a previous generation to pick up guitars.


Posted by: Econolicious | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 12:18 PM
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Maybe Eddie Murphy can do a remake of Watermelon Man. See, why is Hollywood optioning board games and Asteroids when it could be pissing on New Hollywood movies nobody wanted to see remade? Michael Bey's Bonnie and Clyde, with Megan Fox and Shia LaBeouf!


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 12:21 PM
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Stockhausen and Czukay inspired a generation to pick up guitars? But Czukay was a bassist!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 12:24 PM
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174: I don't remember that scene -- which movie was it in?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 12:35 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 12:42 PM
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198: LOL, I'm pretty sure 174 just meant that Denzel Washington is such a compelling actor, 174 would watch him do anything. See also "would listen to him reading the phone book" or something. (Or did you already know this and were trying to make another point/joke?)

186: Ah, Blade Runner is another movie I walked out of. Or rather, starting watching at home but never finished. I don't know why, it looked good from what I saw of it and it's the kind of thing I'd like and everyone raves about it, but at one point I just paused it and didn't restart. Maybe it's been so thoroughly spoiled for me that I just didn't feel the need. I gather there's a really, really good speech at the end.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 12:46 PM
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195: Sammie and Rosie Get Laid??? The single best Hanif Kurishi movie ever? The movie about colonialism and the awful personal price of power? Really? It's not at all a John Hughes movie, even though the marketing for it was rather sordid. And I wasn't enamored of the Magical Afro-British Guy character even though that part was really more a commentary on Thatcherism than anything else. But the constant moral dissonance between the father's charming manner and his personal cruelties; the way that he becomes more and more separate from the most ordinary connections of human life; the way his past cruelties settle up with him; the way he's deformed by his complicity with patriarchy and colonialism--it's just an amazing movie. The feeling of the movie reminds me a bit of the naturalistic parts of Lanark, where the guy is caught up in this net made of his stifled upbringing and his own bad choices.



Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 12:48 PM
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I had high expectations of Ridley Scott, for which you can mock me if you like-- I really liked both Alien and Blade Runner.

I thought Ridley Scott's first movie, The Duellists (from the Joseph Conrad story) was really fantastic, a classic, but it seems to be almost totally forgotten now.

Black Hawk Down was also excellent.

Gladiator was really disappointing, but it still had that visual sheen of his. He's better when the material inspires him to bring out a gritty edge -- that was true of both the movies above.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 12:51 PM
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archeology was so inaccurately portrayed in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Don't tell me - I don't want to know.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 12:54 PM
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Also, fuck all you Pittsburghers who bought iPhone 3GSs just because you wanted one, not because you needed one because your old phone is fucked and it's your damn work phone. Dammit.

"We get shipments every day, but we don't know what's in them." Mr. J.I.T. Manufacturing, I'd like a word with you.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 1:00 PM
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JRoth: can't you get them online?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 1:06 PM
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OT: Does Phi Beta Kappa do anything worth supporting?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 1:06 PM
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206: As if giving young kids a line on their resume isn't something worth supporting in and of itself?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 1:08 PM
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204: Not me. The only things I've ever purchased from the Apple Corporation are various iPods and a IIc.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 1:09 PM
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Michael Bey's Bonnie and Clyde, with Megan Fox and Shia LaBeouf

One of the funnier takedowns of Michael Bay lately is of course provided by the good folks at WWTDD.

http://www.wwtdd.com/2009/07/go-kill-yourself-michael-bay/


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 1:11 PM
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I flew to Pittsburgh this weekend and bought all the 3GSs in the MSA just to piss JRoth off. So worth it.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 1:11 PM
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202.2:Keitel and Carradine. I haven't forgotten it.
Joseph Conrad story I think. To know me is to know I would love that movie.

I enjoyed A Good Year with Crowe. To know me is...


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 1:12 PM
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I walked out of Soldier (1998, Kurt Russell starred). It was a freebie, or I might not have gone because I'd seen the trailer.

I don't like to be able to predict where the plot is going. I also don't like lots of gratuitous violence, especially when it is visited upon children.

There was a Borders near the theater and I had a pleasant time looking at books.

When it let out, I met my partner and asked her, "Did a, b, c happen or did e, f, g happen at the end?" She said, "You did NOT go to the bookstore, you sat back down in back."

I said, "no, it it had to go the way it was going."


Posted by: dragonet2 | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 1:13 PM
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I think that walking out of a movie in the theater and simply stopping watching a movie at home are pretty distinct.

I've always assumed that you had to be really actively annoyed or offended to walk out of a theater in the middle of a film, whereas there's a pretty low barrier for pressing the "stop" button on the DVD player. Maybe I'm wrong about this and people are more casual about leaving the theater than I imagined.

The latest that I couldn't finish at home was The Departed. My attention kept wondering, then I would focus back on the TV screen and think "Hugh? This is still going on?"


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 1:21 PM
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I don't like to be able to predict where the plot is going

That cuts out the majority of hollywood fare.. For a lot of things you have to assume predictable plots. All you can ask is the hope of an interesting twist or two, and the avoidance of blatant and unneeded telegraphing.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 1:21 PM
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Fun fact: Michael Bay and Joss Whedon went to Wesleyan together and studied under the same film studies professor. Its a small school. I can only assume they were in classes together.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 1:22 PM
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I walked out of Soldier [...] I might not have gone because I'd seen the trailer.

OMG I remember that trailer. "I'm gonna kill 'em all" says Russell. I think that was one of my most gratifying let's-go-see-some-body-count moviegoing ever. I was twenty-three and it was fun to feel dumb.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 1:42 PM
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I think that walking out of a movie in the theater and simply stopping watching a movie at home are pretty distinct.

Same here.

The latest that I couldn't finish at home was The Departed. My attention kept wondering, then I would focus back on the TV screen and think "Hugh? This is still going on?"

Then Hugh would say, "Yes, it's still going on, obviously."


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 1:43 PM
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From the link in 215:

Adds "Buffy the Vampire Slayer's" Whedon, "To go four years studying film without hearing the word 'semiotics' -- amazing!"

I like you a little bit less, Joss Whedon.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 1:44 PM
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OT: Does Phi Beta Kappa do anything worth supporting?

From what I remember of the induction ceremony, they find speakers so absurdly pompous that a roomful of college kids all promise themselves never to become that person. Is that worthwhile?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 1:50 PM
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179: I mean, the action scenes were still great, and the opening battle. But they're all there really is to the movie

OK, so I picked the right moment to wander off to the computer when I was saw the opening on cable. Keen.

184: I just hope they don't ever remake Sweet Sweetback's Badasssss Song.

I saw some bit with Jim Brown on cable, so I started watching it. Turned out to be Black Gunn. It turned out to be modestly cheesy, yet, vastly more intellectual and concerned with contemporary issues than just about any movie I've seen since 1995 or so. See Jim Brown lecturing his white congressman about mob influence! See Jim Brown mediating with black radicals! &c &c. Pretty awesome.

156: The one with the snipers in Stalingrad. It was just a pile of awful. Oh, yes, I just remembered it: Enemy at the Gates. Definitely a liberating experience, even though I had to stand outside and wait for the people with whom I'd gone to see it.

I started to see that one in the theatre since, after all, I had sat through the subtitled German movie about the same subject (Stalingrad, not snipers. Summary: 'At the end, everybody dies in the snow.') and then... bah. Pay money? Movie theatre. Wait for the video.

The first quarter (10-20 minutes) or so weren't bad as a setup. After that, it was all downhill. ('Snipers don't inevitably go for headshots. Also, the Germans did not actually possess the power of the Dark Side of the Force, so the Palpatine-style makeup job on the German boss was really gratuitous. Also also, the Jude Law character probably would not have had a nice mild tan. Maybe you could have considered Russian-accented English? Or *gasp* subtitles?')

But then, they were running Independence Day on TV yesterday. The first five minutes are ok ('Mysterious signals! Giant space object! Oooo! Maybe... Godzilla?') and then... Bill Pullman. Well, never mind that...then.

max
['Ah, for the days when a handful of plucky Englishmen, their stiff upper lips, plus some Mongolian dude saved the Soviet Union from Hitler.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 1:52 PM
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219: Yeah, I've been ignoring them for 20-plus years, but they had my s-i-l's address so I occasionally got mail from them. Now the question is whether there's any point to giving them an address that will work going forward and maybe some money. My inclination is not to, but with all the academics around here I thought I'd ask whether there's something good that they do that I just don't know about.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 2:00 PM
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I have never seen Phi Beta Kappa actually do anything besides pad resumes.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 2:05 PM
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Way up at 112: And his [Tony Scott's] next picture? A remake of The Warriors!

I here they're changing it a lot. Like, it's going to be set in ancient Persia, and the Warriors are going to be Greek. How do you say "Come out to plaaaa-aaay" in Farsi?


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 2:12 PM
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I have never seen Phi Beta Kappa actually do anything besides pad resumes.

How effective can this be, if it's generally thought to be the only purpose?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 2:14 PM
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hear.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 2:16 PM
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224: Putting Phi Beta Kappa on a resume probably looks less toolish than listing one's GPA.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 2:22 PM
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"less toolish" isn't exactly what you're going for in writing (most) resumes, is it?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 2:29 PM
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Can't you just put Summa Cum Laude* on the resume and spend less money?


*Little known fact: this means "Suzy cums loudly," in Latin.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 2:29 PM
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Should have walked out of Pulp Fiction, which is buckets of suck not even remotely mitigated by the snippet of wit at the end. (So, LB, at 30-something, the answer is no.)

Should have walked out of The Princess and the Warrior, which is suck unmitigated.

Probably should have walked out of The Hours, for which the perfect review is "Hours? It felt like days."

Matrix Revolutions also sucked, but in new and inventive ways. All the cleverness of the first movie was spent in finding original ways to suck in the third, and in that the filmmakers succeeded.

(Further, tonight I decided to get rid of about 20 books. I was prompted by someone giving me Wild by Jay Griffiths, a book so bad I was reluctant to put it on my shelves, lest some of the suck leak out and infect nearby books I knew to be good. The purged include three books of Orson Scott Card's post-Ender series, My Canapé Hell by an obnoxious Brit with a double-barrel surname, The Twilight of Democracy by an ex-CIA man who would prefer authoritarianism, Paul Auster's New York Trilogy, in-one-volume (City of Glass was so bad that there could be no thought of reading the other two), and A Crack at the Edge of the World by Simon Winchester, which is a simple but complete fail.)


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 2:34 PM
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227: Isn't it kind of expected that people applying for a IWNHL* job, with little enough career experience that their college fraternity is worth mentioning, would be kind of toolish? You don't want to be a complete tool, but a certain amount of padding is expected, so the question is, which kind of padding is least bad?

* Indoors with no heavy lifting, of cours.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 2:38 PM
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227: It's an inherently toolish art form, but IMO the toolishness can be overdone. To me, "Phi Beta Kappa" just reads as "did pretty well in school," while "3.87 undergraduate GPA" would tend to get the eyes rolling, especially if the person had been out for a while.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 2:50 PM
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(But I don't review a lot of resumes, and the ones I do tend never to make it out of very short-term memory.)


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 2:52 PM
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I have never seen Phi Beta Kappa actually do anything besides pad resumes.

But isn't there a key? Doesn't that do something interesting? What else is a key for?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 2:55 PM
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JRoth: can't you get them online?

My iPhone is/was my only work phone; I need it now. I realize that there's overnight shipping, but by then I will almost certainly be able to get one here.

Most frustrating, of course, is that I don't know for certain that I'll be able to get one here before Apple can get me one here.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 2:57 PM
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234.last ah, that makes sense.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 2:58 PM
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From what I remember of the induction ceremony, they find speakers so absurdly pompous that a roomful of college kids all promise themselves never to become that person. Is that worthwhile?

Yes.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 3:07 PM
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My wife and I used to get quite a lot of amusement from the epic self-importance of the Key Reporter.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 3:08 PM
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Based on my agreement with much of 229, I can probably safely not watch The Princess and the Warrior and take it off my queue.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 3:09 PM
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To me, "Phi Beta Kappa" just reads as "did pretty well in school," while "3.87 undergraduate GPA" would tend to get the eyes rolling, especially if the person had been out for a while.

I know someone whose resume said "4.02 GPA" when he was a professor. But then he left for a high-paying Wall Street job, so I guess the toolishness worked out for him. (Still doing well post-financial-crisis, last I heard.)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 3:09 PM
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236: But does it actually work?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 3:09 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 3:10 PM
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IIRC, the key (a) costs a bundle and (b) is meant exclusively for dangling from one's watch-fob, which doesn't exactly do wonders for decreasing the toolishness.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 3:10 PM
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229: Pulp Fiction . . . is buckets of suck

Oh hai, Doug, I remember that thread. This was the "how could people find stories about sex, drugs and violence fun" review, right?

(Man, that thread kills me to this day. I still can't believe someone actually wrote and posted the "Grave of the Fireflies is too much of a downer" comment.)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 3:14 PM
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||
Just got a sales call from Yelp -- amazingly, they did not try to extort me, and the hard sell was pretty mild by my standards.
||>

I dunno, until you've been a film reviewer, you really haven't seen bad movies. Sure, you've seen some that were over-hyped, or ruined their potential, or just never really gelled, but until you've had some sadistic editor sending you out to see a couple of Z-grade "family" comedies so that you can crank out 12 inches to fill up some space in the post-Oscar doldrums, you haven't really suffered. It's one of the reasons I jumped at the chance to be an editor, frankly. (Also, my older brother, the pimp, recommended that I do so. What a great guy!)


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 3:19 PM
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I have never seen Phi Beta Kappa actually do anything besides pad resumes.

There's a secret handshake, too...


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 3:23 PM
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There was a period when it seemed like everyone I knew loved Pulp Fiction so much that to say only that I, personally, found it boring, without even saying it sucked or anything else like that, was enough to generate a bunch of earnest, personal insults directed at me. I always thought that was kind of weird.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 3:25 PM
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240: It's a little hard to say, because the level of pomposity everyone swears to avoid is so high: normal decency prevents most people from reaching that level, even without the ritualized aversion therapy.

(In fairness, I should say that I don't remember our speaker's having been so completely awful. But alas, that probably tells you more about 21-year-old me than about the speaker.)

On the OP: I very nearly walked out of Dark Knight. Too slashy. Couldn't handle it. I gather from friends that this is weird.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 3:28 PM
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I always thought that was kind of weird.

THAT'S CAUSE YOU'RE A FUCKTARD.


Posted by: OPINIONATED EB'S FRIENDS | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 3:29 PM
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(My friends let me know about my weirdness more gently than eb's friends would have, apparently.)


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 3:34 PM
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Pulp Fiction, which is buckets of suck

I strongly disagree with this. It's a polarizing movie, but it's original and ambitious, less solipsistic than QTs later films. There's last.fm for music, librarything for books, and what for movies? I'd love to find a path from what I like to new-ish Iranian movies.

Winchester's Krakatoa book was interesting-- superficial, but well-put together and covering lots of interesting ground. What was wrong with the earthquake book? Does he get US history wrong? Even looser than Krakatoa?

Off to swim...


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 3:34 PM
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I might have considered walking out of Dark Knight had I seen it in a theater, but I probably would have stayed. Going back to someone's comment above about asking only to be entertained for 90 minutes, the problem is that some movies manage to be entertaining (even if not very good) for 90 minutes, but then they keep going on and on.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 3:36 PM
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I try to avoid watching Dark Knight because even now, if I try to watch just one or two scenes, I'll inevitably wind up watching the whole thing.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 3:38 PM
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249: I think that was more a function of our age at the time - I can't say that I was always non-insulting about other movies. Movie disagreements I'm in tend to be more polite nowadays.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 3:40 PM
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Actually, when I think back to things I've said in the past that make me cringe now, there's a whole bunch of things said about films and books. But not anything about Pulp Fiction.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 3:48 PM
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The Princess and the Warrior I loved. It's a fairy tale consisting of one long action sequence in which all of the energy comes from Franke Potente's complete lack of ambivalence about her love for her co-star.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 3:53 PM
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246: There was a period when it seemed like everyone I knew loved Pulp Fiction so much that to say only that I, personally, found it boring, without even saying it sucked or anything else like that, was enough to generate a bunch of earnest, personal insults directed at me. I always thought that was kind of weird.

I knew several people like. I knew one guy who liked PF so much, that when we discussing movies one time, I asked him who the greatest film director(s) of all time was(were), and he nearly popped out with QT. Instead, he told me to go ahead. So I mentioned the usuals and he's all like, 'I woulda said QT.' I laughed in his face. This hurt his feelings, particularly since he was Mr. Movie Guy.

lw: I strongly disagree with this. It's a polarizing movie, but it's original and ambitious, less solipsistic than QTs later films.

'Only enough schtick for one movie.' There are some cute bits in it (Walken, Jackson). And it is worth seeing the gimp scene so that one can follow the association chain

Deliverance --> Pulp Fiction --> Gitmo and the like --> Rush Limbaugh blathering about how all those pictures of torture are just the product of boys having fun!

max
['If You Know What He Means.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 3:54 PM
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Human Rights Campaign is the PETA of gay liberation

HRC liberates queers from cages? I thought that was Michelangelo Signorile.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 3:55 PM
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253, 254: Yeah, 16 was an insult-y kind of age. I had a lot of strongly held opinions that, in retrospect, were bunk. I was not above using ad hominem arguments to advocate for the superiority of that week's grunge band (now utterly forgotten) over, say, Willie Nelson. S, if you're out there, I'm sorry I was such an ass about that.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 3:58 PM
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257: Nah, they euthanize people who've been victimized by ex-gay ministries.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 3:58 PM
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Pulp Fiction was thrilling for me. Note-perfect intertextuality/metahoopdedoodle/fun. The moment when Vince Vega is challenged to dance, and you wonder, "how's he gonna handle that?" and then the answer comes, he's John Travolta is how is to me what stars are for.

I object to movies in which people get shot in the head to comic effect, though. But that's the only black mark I hold against PF.

(I hate the "she looks like Julia Roberts" moment in Ocean's 12, in case you're counting.)


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 3:59 PM
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258: I have a theory that the band likeliest to bring out this kind of urge was Mad Season. Ring a bell, by any chance?


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 4:00 PM
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244 begs expansion on many fronts:

Minne worked in newspapers?
His older brother is a pimp?
Yelp makes sales calls?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 4:01 PM
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253, 254, 258: Are entertining given the manner in which opinions about movies/books/behavior/shoes/hats are so often delivered on this here blog.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 4:03 PM
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entertaining even


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 4:04 PM
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Nope. The underlying shame was that I hadn't actually heard of, let alone heard, all that many cred-building bands...

Oof. High school. I would not have guessed at the time that those years would be even more mortifying in retrospect.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 4:09 PM
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265->261.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 4:10 PM
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On the OP: I very nearly walked out of Dark Knight. Too slashy.

Slashy? Like Bruce Wayne/Inspector Gordon?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 4:17 PM
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265: Well, hardly any of us had, there's no special shame in that. The essence of "grunge" was that it was mass-marketing of a few bands and the importation of flannel shirts into Gap stores.

Damn, strike against my theory. Alice in Chains was going to be my backup.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 4:18 PM
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267 - GB's secret identity is revealed!


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 4:22 PM
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I object to movies in which people get shot in the head to comic effect, though.

But that's kind of the point, with PF: slick dialogue and characterization interspersed with BLAM! Like the "Stuck in the Middle with You" sequence in RD, only more elaborate and punctuated.

Speaking of torture porn, I almost turned off Funny Games, but it's probably the best indictment of the genre out there. Not that I'd recommend anyone actually watch it, but I'm glad someone made it.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 4:23 PM
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270: The genre sort of is a self-indictment, isn't it? What more do you need beyond Hostel and the Saw series?


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 4:24 PM
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I graduated magna or summa cum laude (whichever), but didn't qualify for Phi Beta Kappa because I hadn't taken any science or math.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 4:25 PM
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269: Unmasked! And I'm posting from BEYOND THE GRAVE.

Er, no, actually, I'm not Wertham, and from a skim of his Wikipedia page, I'm glad of that. Though I kind of like the idea of testifying to Congress about slashiness. I dare say that would knock my testimony's credibility down a notch.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 4:30 PM
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272: Having done undergrad in a) a country that doesn't generally have much to do with these organizations, although they do exist some places and b) on a campus that disallowed the specifically, the entire thing seems a bit odd to me.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 4:32 PM
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267: No, like knives in faces. I think I could have handled a movie about punctuation use in Gotham. Might have walked out due to boredom, but I wouldn't have had to turn all the lights on when I got home and knit for hours until I'd put the images out of my mind and could go to bed.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 4:34 PM
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271: Well, SPOILER, but Funny Games manages to insult its audience for its expectations of violence and cruelty. Take-home message: "You are sick and a bad person for wanting to watch this movie."


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 4:40 PM
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I'm developing curiosity about the Saw movies, based on the comments my students have made about them. I gather that each time a person is tortured in the movie, it is comeuppance for a particular character flaw. And the character flaw is generally something common, so that the audience can identify--a little.

This fits with my general understanding of sadism in movies: The only way a non-sociopath can watch sadism directly on screen is to make them think the victim deserves it. But if the character flaw is something common that the audience can recognize in themselves...well that actually makes for a morally complex movie.

But this is all speculation. I haven't seen the movies, because a chance to watch grown up movies comes once every three months, and like hell I'm going to waste it.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 4:42 PM
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Talk of The Hours reminds me of another moviegoing experience with the college roommate. It was his idea to go see that movie, and I didn't have anything else going on, so sure, why not? We sit through the film, which I thought was decent, and as we get up he says, "I thought this was going to be about a guy's last day before he goes to prison."


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 4:43 PM
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He was thinking of 25th Hour.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 4:46 PM
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I'm developing curiosity about the Saw movies, based on the comments my students have made about them. I gather that each time a person is tortured in the movie, it is comeuppance for a particular character flaw. And the character flaw is generally something common, so that the audience can identify--a little.

Into each victim's back is sawn the name of his flaw, in elaborate calligraphy.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 4:46 PM
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Poor fella.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 4:46 PM
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I didn't think The Hours was very good.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 4:46 PM
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Thanks for the cross post, Ned.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 4:47 PM
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Does Phi Beta Kappa do anything worth supporting?

They used to publish the quarterly journal The American Scholar. I'm not sure if they still do. I got given a whole truckload (well, it seemed like that) of back issues once, and I have to admit that a) I read almost none of them, and b) the few I read were extremely good.

That said, if "support" = "give them money," I can think about 2,000 places I'd recommend before an academic organization.


Posted by: witt | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 4:48 PM
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278: My brother, in an attempt to watch Donnie Brasco, fucked up and watched Donnie Darko instead, and became confused.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 4:48 PM
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202.2:Keitel and Carradine. I haven't forgotten it.

I thought Duellists was a profound movie, actually (thanks to the bone structure of the underlying Conrad story, but the execution was perfect). Maybe the best movie on the aristocratic code of honor I've ever seen, including even The Grand Illusion.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 4:53 PM
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See, 277 sounds to me just like a movie normalizing the expectation that people should be tortured and brutalized for minor, everyday flaws. That sounds deeply reprehensible to me, not "morally complex."

276 OTOH does sound more morally complex, albeit snotty.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 4:53 PM
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280: That must be very difficult to accomplish with such an inexact instrument.


Posted by: ninjaphilosopher | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 4:55 PM
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The subway ads alone for Saw are nightmare-inducing. The principle isn't quite as hard to reconcile myself to as the right to counsel can be, but I still find it pretty repulsive that people choose to pour so much time and energy into exercising that particular version of their right to free expression.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 4:55 PM
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(The "tortured over minor character flaws," in fact, would seem to be sort of the basic wank in torture porn in the same way that "punishment of sexual deviance" works for slasher flicks. It would, admittedly, be interesting to delve into what exactly is going there.)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 4:57 PM
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I hatedThe Dark Knight. I thought it was woefully bad. Just a relentless action scene from beginning to end, with no let-up and absolutely no sense of pacing, or development. It was as bad a big studio movie as I've ever seen, I think.*

Also, I don't think the accidental gunshot death in PF functions at all like torture porn movies. Not even remotely.

* not including true gibbering Lovecraftian horrors like the Phantom Menace, naturally.


Posted by: natarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 4:58 PM
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289. Yeah, I more or less agree. I find that if I think too much about the sorts of movies that most people see I tend to get depressed, Saw being only one example.


Posted by: ninjaphilosopher | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 4:58 PM
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I thought Phi Beta Kappa was pretty meaningless but my mom really wanted to buy me the key, so I have it but of course never wear it. That and my NHS (National Honor Society, not National Health Service) pin, which I only ever wore in my ear as a blow against The Establishment. It's not that my mom was into status symbols, she was just proud of me, so they have real sentimental value as they sit in my jewelry box.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:00 PM
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I wish that I had walked out of Wanted. If ever there were an ethically horrifying movie that was laughably bad, that was it. The comic was equally horrible, and put me off Mark Millar permanently.


Posted by: ninjaphilosopher | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:01 PM
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as hard to reconcile myself to as the right to counsel can be

?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:01 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:02 PM
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295: In principle I am absolutely committed to the idea that even the most horrific criminal deserves competent counsel. In practice, and given what a particularly horrible case can do to the emotional well-being of the defense attorney, it's sometimes really hard to witness. Not enough to make me sacrifice the principle, but still.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:05 PM
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277 sounds to me like the description of many of your basic slasher flicks -- at least the Jason (Friday the 13th) style movies -- in which the victims are killed once we've witnessed each of them doing drugs, having sex, or what have you. The last potential victim standing and defending is invariably the virginal girl or valiant gent.

So the torture genre of which y'all speak above is roughly the same as this? I'd assumed it was something a bit more grisly and nonsensical (no clear moral divisions drawn). I haven't seen any of the films mentioned upthread in connection with what's being called torture porn.

On preview, pwned somewhat by 290. I'll have to look up descriptions of some of this torture porn.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:07 PM
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113: $20 was received with surprise and delight. Also, a chick saying "No, I'll hook up the water line myself," is apparently amazing.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:08 PM
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It would, admittedly, be interesting to delve into what exactly is going there.

That's basically where I was coming from.

I'm wondering if they shouldn't be watched the way Robin Wood's watched Cruising. His take was basically "this movie is reprehensible in an interesting way."


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:08 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:10 PM
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284: My understanding is that, a couple of years after Anne Fadiman was brought in as editor-in-chief, the publisher got a bee in his bonnet about something or other and fired most of the (rather eminent) editorial staff. I'm led to believe that the quality had been quite good up to that point, but I imagine there's been a drop-off, if indeed it's still published at all. (Though I'm led to believe this in part by some bitter allusions to the episode from Fadiman at a book event not too long after the firing, so who knows; perhaps the magazine has flourished now that it's thrown off the weight of the fadimanian yoke.)


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:10 PM
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298: Torture Porn is to the early 2000's what slasher films were to the 80s.

Again, this indicates that there might be something interesting there.

Many 70s gore movies are now regarded as classics. Texas Chainsaw Massacre, frex.

I've never made it past the first killing in Texas Chainsaw Massacre.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:11 PM
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The convergence of Phi Beta Kappa and slasher flicks on this thread is pleasing.

Also, a chick saying "No, I'll hook up the water line myself," is apparently amazing.

You probably could have charged him $20 to watch.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:12 PM
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303: The Seventies gore movies were genuine horror in that they really did have the "this could happen to anyone" feel about them; the killers weren't surrogates of some kind of twisted pseudo-justice set to punish anybody. Texas Chainsaw is a classic example of this, it's part of what makes the movie about a billion times more distressing than later "horror" pics with twelve times the body count.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:16 PM
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Also hated Dark Knight. Depressing dark pretentious overwrought.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:17 PM
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Speaking of films with a bit of the gruesome, where do you lot stand on films like Park Chan-Woo's "Old Boy".


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:21 PM
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Chan-Wook, no?

I haven't seen it, but he's the dedicatee of a Ken Vandermark tune.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:22 PM
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303.1: Okay, I wondered if that might be the case. It remains unclear to me whether there's any difference to speak of.

303.3: Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one of the first, no? If I remember it correctly, the bad guys are just, you know, really fucked up bad guys and the movie wasn't telling you anything in particular about who deserved to be slaughtered. Roughly what DS says in 305.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:23 PM
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307: Pretty interesting film if you can suspend disbelief for the antagonist's convoluted revenge plot. I thought it was interesting that the protagonist wasn't the hero nor the antagonist, strictly-speaking, the villain. Didn't like that female characters were mainly present in the story to function as victims.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:26 PM
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299: I grew up not knowing one ought to tip people for that sort of thing. I don't remember ever witnessing it, but I also don't remember any deliveries of major appliances or payment for moving services. I'm quite sure my parents never tipped for housekeeping at hotels (though I only ever stayed with them at Holiday Inns and the like, where I imagine tipping is close to non-existent).


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:27 PM
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re: 307

I've only seen Lady Vengeance, but I did sort of like it, although it certainly has a few uncomortable moments. It looks amazing at times.


Posted by: natarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:28 PM
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311: I grew up not knowing one ought to tip people for that sort of thing.

You aren't, or at least you don't need to. (Hence the reported surprise and delight, no doubt.) It's an expected thing to tip food delivery guys because, like waiters, it's generally known they make a shit wage.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:29 PM
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Chan-Wook, no?

Yes. Unfortunate typo.

310: Agree on all points. I haven't seen any of the others (is the 3rd made? It wasn't whenever I watched old boy). As you note, the female characters were pretty flat in old boy, so it would be interesting to see what he did with a female central role...


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:30 PM
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312: Ah, that's the one I was thinking of in 314. The only person I've talked to who had seen all three told me he thought old boy the best of them, but as I've only seen the one...


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:32 PM
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re: 314

I haven't seen the others, but the central performance and central character in Lady Vengeance is pretty interesting, I think.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:32 PM
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the bad guys are just, you know, really fucked up bad guys

Right. The thing about that movie is it's plausible in a way that much of the genre isn't.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:33 PM
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315:I've seen all three several times. My particular kind of depressed nihilism makex me partial to Mr Vengeance but Oldboy may be the greater work of art. They are all three masterpieces.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:35 PM
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Plus that image of the pale face with the red-eye shadow stuck with me for ages.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:37 PM
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318: It's been quite a while since I watched it (old boy), but my memory was that while both the plotline and the graphic violence were campy, it worked --- the effect was vastly more effective than any hollywood attention to detail and realism. The lines were drawn heavily and the gestures large, but for much the same reasons exaggerated gestures work on a stage, I thought.

Anyway, I was quite impressed.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:40 PM
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Back to The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, there are a bunch of clips from the original available on Hulu.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 6:07 PM
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270:Funny Games was one of my more difficult viewing experiences.

I wonder if the Saw series could be related to the earlier Final Destination series in terms of RubeGoldbergian pleasures.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 6:08 PM
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321:I just watched the 70s Pelham One Two Three about a week ago, and was a little disappointed. Not in the class of Serpico or Dog Day Afternoon or any number of other lower budget naturalistic NYC movies, like Panic in Needle Park, one of my favorites.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 6:12 PM
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262.1 Yes, I've mentioned it before. One cow-town weekly, one large semi-pro student paper. Newspaper work is okay, but it seems to have ruined me for any other type of gainful employment.
262.2 Please see Standpipe's other blog, where he explains Gene Fowler quotations
262.3 Please see this blog, 5 days ago


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 6:15 PM
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I think my favourite of those 70s crime movies is Charley Varrick, which is surprisingly dark but also drily amusing.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 6:15 PM
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Hey, that's a funny Gene Fowler quotation.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 6:16 PM
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Also, I liked the original Taking of Pelham 123, but it should hardly be listed in the company of Taxi Driver and Dog Day Afternoon. I doubt the remake improves on it, but it was hardly a deathless classic of the cinema. "Nothing for the men who killed Cas Casimiroff!"


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 6:17 PM
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I did not understood "just got a sales call from Yelp" to mean "just got a sales call through Yelp". Do I have it right now? Before, I was all, Yelp calls people?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 6:19 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 6:21 PM
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I put the original Pelham more in the company of Three Days of the Condor, though the latter is more about anti-government paranoia and the former about municipal failure. It's an actioner that just has a better lived-in feel than the other movies, a moviemaking accomplishment though not necessarily a dramatic one.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 6:22 PM
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I think my favourite of those 70s crime movies is Charley Varrick, which is surprisingly dark but also drily amusing.

It's great!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 6:26 PM
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In high school, we were assigned "An American Tragedy" for summer reading, and days before the start of school in the fall I of course hadn't read it. However, the back cover mentioned that it had been adapted into a movie called "A Place in the Sun", so I went off to the video store to rent it, figuring I could b.s. my way through the required in-class essay so long as I knew the basic plot.

En route to the store, I apparently forgot the exact name of the movie, and ended up renting "A Raisin in the Sun" instead. The plot was tragic, and took place in America, so I figured I was set.

I didn't figure out my mistake until the morning of the first day of school, at which point I frantically read through the critical introduction in my copy of the book in an attempt to figure out what the actual plot was. Managed a decent grade on the paper in the end.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 6:28 PM
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figure figure figure.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 6:29 PM
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Update to 321: The whole movie is actually on Hulu; I was paying insufficient attention.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 6:50 PM
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328: No, Yelp calls people. I didn't quiz the sales rep, but she offered me some introductory, free "business account". I don't know exactly what you buy (besides, allegedly, favorable coverage and the downgrading of critical reviews) -- banner ads, opportunity to post your own info -- but they're selling something alright.

Aha! From Wikipedia: "Businesses may advertise with Yelp for preferred search result placement and extra listing features. For the advertising fee, the business may include an individualized message and photo slide show onto the web page for its listing as well as receive reports on listing traffic. Additionally, these advertisers, called "Sponsors" on the site, are allowed to highlight a specific review and communicate with reviewers."


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 6:59 PM
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325, 331: Don Siegel, man. (It seems to be an urban myth, unfortunately, that Invasion of the Body Snatchers was Dan Mainwaring's allegory about McCarthyism and Don Siegel's allegory about the Communist threat.)

Re: 270, rfts and I were discussing Paul Verhoeven's work and the extent to which his entire English-language ouevre is meant as a gobsmacked and disgusted commentary on the idea that Americans like to watch this.

And I don't think the slasher films evolve into torture porn thing is entirely accurate -- they're pornier than that, somehow, in a way that I'm not sure that I can fully describe but which has something to do with the disappearance of a sense of fun and something to do with a fetishistic focus on the body. And they're... differently misogynistic. Like slasher films plus early Cronenberg plus that Penthouse cover of women being fed into a meat grinder plus Se7en with the technical expertise stripped away. Maybe there's a selection bias going on here and there were slasher films as grindingly tedious and feel-bad-about-watching making as Hostel that I've never seen.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 7:01 PM
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I've only seen the first two of the Vengeance movies. I didn't like the first one at all - thought it was just a bunch of violence wrapped up in a plot that could be interesting but wasn't and not filmed in an interesting way. I liked most of Oldboy, which I thought was much better made all the way around except for the whole motivation for the antagonist, which made the whole thing seem silly. My sister and her husband seem to prefer the third - they like all three - but I've never gotten around to seeing it. I figure it's either like the second, so it's marginally worthwhile to me to see it, or it's like the first and there's no reason for me to see it.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 7:07 PM
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336.2: Gary Farber got ticked at me over a comment at Obsidian Wings in which I suggested that the movie Starship Troopers was more of a commentary on the book than an adaptation. So I reread the book. Sweet Jesus is the movie ever superior. I absolutely loved the book when I was 14, but it's most certainly a book for boys of that mental age. The movie is eye candy crap, good fun if you're in the mood, but the book simply reeks of that crypto-fascist libertopianism of Heinlein's (unsurprisingly). Plus Neil Patrick Harris as the Gestapo Psychic was awesome.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 7:18 PM
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"When was the last time you walked out of a movie?"

Never.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 7:32 PM
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Penthouse cover of women being fed into a meat grinder

Hustler, iirc.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 7:37 PM
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Verhoeven's Black Book is a film I'd maybe have considered walking out of if I had been at a cinema, that's a nasty piece of work if ever I've seen one.

I did quite enjoy Starship Troopers, though.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 7:38 PM
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GF kibozes or 338/339 a massive coincidence? Will the world ever know?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 7:44 PM
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"Gary Farber got ticked at me over a comment at Obsidian Wings in which I suggested that the movie Starship Troopers was more of a commentary on the book than an adaptation. "

I've certainly made pungent remarks at many times in many places over the notion that the movie is an accurate adaption of the movie, but I don't recall getting irate at anyone for suggesting that it was a "commentary" on the book. I'm not saying you're wrong; I can imagine saying something in that neighborhood, but I'm idly curious if you might have a link to that exchange so I can re-examine it. (If not, don't worry about it; hardly of earth-shaking importance.)

As for the book, it's not as if I'm an advocate of the philosophy it espoused, you know. My point about the movie was that it, for better or worse, parodied what it interpreted that philosophy to be, and got it wildly wrong. Also, it was incredibly stupid in innumerable ways, which I generally save time by simply pointing to Jim MacDonald's review rather than repeating the salient points.

If one has never read the book, critiques about the philosophy are irrelevant, to be sure, but simply as a "military" movie it's quite insane.

Even if Neil Patrick Harris looks great in his leather Nazi coat, and Denise Richards is hot.

"crypto-fascist libertopianism"

Isn't that kinda a contradictory accusation? How do you get to be both a libertarian and a crypto-facist? Also, did the author of Beyond This Horizon, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, "Coventry" and Stranger In A Strange Land really write crypto-fascist work?

I should add to my mention that I've never walked out of a movie that I've certainly turned off plenty on tv, of course. And there are certainly movies I avert my eyes from during certain bits.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 7:50 PM
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"Will the world ever know?"

Indeed.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 7:51 PM
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325: I think my favourite of those 70s crime movies is Charley Varrick, which is surprisingly dark but also drily amusing.

It is somewhat of a disconcerting mix. I have no recollection of it from when it came out, only discovered it years later on cable. No Country for Old Men brought Joe Don Baker's role in Charley Varrick to my mind (he was something of a mix of the Javier Bardem and Woody Harrelson characters), and I have no idea if there is any real connection, but Wikipedia notes, One of the descriptions of torture that Boyle [Joe Don Baker] suggests involves a pair of pliers and a blow torch, imagery later used by the character Marcellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 7:52 PM
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"Penthouse cover of women being fed into a meat grinder

Hustler, iirc."

Cartoon, not cover, as well. (No, I wasn't reading Hustler; I read a lot about free speech issues, though.)


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 7:53 PM
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Maybe there's a selection bias going on here and there were slasher films as grindingly tedious and feel-bad-about-watching making as Hostel that I've never seen.

Certainly there were. I Spit on Your Grave, perhaps?

Or am I only considering that a "slasher" because it was from the slasher time period?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 7:57 PM
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Has Verhoeven actually made a single good movie since Soldier of Orange, by the way? (I'll grant Robocop, maybe. And I've only seen seven of his films, although frankly I fast-forwarded through chunks of Showgirls.)

I suppose one could call Basic Instinct "effective" at what it tried to do, but it's still not what I'd call a "good" movie.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:02 PM
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Cartoon, not cover, as well.

Huh? Looks like a cover to me. Am I misunderstanding, and did you mean something like "cartoon" in relation to "photo illustration"? (Link NSF human beings who don't like seeing graphic images.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:06 PM
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Cartoon, not cover, as well.

Cover.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:07 PM
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Damnit, Witt.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:08 PM
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Jinx!

(Not pwnage since we both came up with the same link, and there were a lot to choose from.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:08 PM
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I know! I saw your link in gray and thought, hey, what the...


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:09 PM
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"Huh? Looks like a cover to me."

You're right; I was wrong. I was working from memory; always a bad idea.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:09 PM
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Specifically, I was working from memory of the free speech debates about it, which always called it a cartoon, and I stupidly forgot to recheck the details. Bad me.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:10 PM
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I was working from memory; always a bad idea.

Apparently not, as I was also working from memory.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:12 PM
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OK, that image is horrible. I'm having trouble understanding its relationship to the quote. Is the a commentary on the image or vice versa? Which is meant to be ironic?


Posted by: ninjaphilosopher | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:13 PM
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The image shows the way in which the quotation will be made true.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:14 PM
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Incidentally, in a complete and utter non-sequitur, I put a moderate amount of effort into today's post on Richard Nixon, Vietnam, and that theory about how liberals Made Us Lose By Stabbing South Vietnam in the Back, so I'm going to tout it here, since I've only gotten two links so far.

[/end self-promotion]


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:16 PM
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357 s/b "Is the QUOTE a..."


Posted by: ninjaphilosopher | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:16 PM
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347: I Spit on Your Grave

(On further search I see that this is a different movie than the one whose book is described below (it's also "Graves". Ha!)

I just bought and read that book (based on the serendipitous result of an Unfogged-inspired search). My short version is that if you took the seamy parts (both explicit and implied) of half-a-dozen Faulkner novels, and removed all the "flowery" language and any actual knowledge of what the South was really like you'd have I Spit on Your Graves. The story of the book's writing is more interesting than the book itself, as is the fact that the author, Boris Vian who was feuding with the filmmakers, apparently died during a screening of the film, A few minutes after the film began, he reportedly blurted out: "These guys are supposed to be American? My ass!" He then collapsed into his seat and died from sudden cardiac death en route to the hospital.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:17 PM
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"I was working from memory; always a bad idea."

I beg pardon: always a bad idea for me. And I don't actually mean "always" literally, either.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:17 PM
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I wonder if I Know Who Killed Me is the worst movie I've ever seen all the way through. (We rented it out of prurient curiosity.) It really had no redeeming features at all. It wasn't outlandish in an interesting or funny way. It was just boring, horrible, senseless, and gross.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:17 PM
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347 - I don't think of that as a slasher movie. An exploitation movie, to be sure. (And yeah, the torture porn stuff seems more like that or Ms. 45 than it does like My Bloody Valentine or Halloween.)

343 - Gary, I'm not saying you're wrong, but one might as well say that it's contradictory that a guy running for Congress as a backer of Upton Sinclair's Ham and Eggs social credit plan would end up being science fiction's most prominent Vietnam hawk. He wrote "Coventry" 20 years before he wrote Starship Troopers. I don't think anyone is claiming that Heinlein was Celine; that doesn't mean Starship Troopers isn't creepily militaristic or that other creepyisms didn't sneak into Heinlein's work.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:18 PM
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358: Would you elaborate?


Posted by: ninjaphilosopher | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:19 PM
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For example, Rock and Roll Nightmare is stupider and hinkier and crazier, but it's terrible in a way that is fun to watch. I Know Who Killed Me is just dreadful.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:20 PM
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Per Krassner's autobiography, the meat-grinder cover was absolutely intended as a joke, albeit a misogynist one, and the whole thing was in the context of some ongoing feud with some feminists. Not that this explanation excuses anything, but the story of the image is often presented as though it happened in some political vacuum and was an accurate and unconscious representation of how Flynt and the entirety of the sex industry felt about women. And also, that it was intended to be erotic in and of itself.

And to Gary, how could a libertarian who harbors fascist leanings be anything but a crypto-fascist? Having said that, and with the knowledge that you have already forgotten more than I could ever care to know about Heinlein, I don't think Heinlein was precisely a crypto-fascist, but there's plenty of reasons why people might interpret his output as such.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:21 PM
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I'm sorry, that's "Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare"


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:22 PM
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367 - You know, I read Confessions of a Raving, Uncontrolled Nut, and I had no recollection of Krassner being involved with that. Really? Dude.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:24 PM
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Sorry for being dense/naive, but the idea is that Flynt/Hustler will no longer hang women up like pieces of meat because they will become actual pieces of meat?


Posted by: ninjaphilosopher | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:24 PM
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"that doesn't mean Starship Troopers isn't creepily militaristic "

I don't in any way think it's unfair for someone to come to that conclusion; I don't recall ever saying that.

"...or that other creepyisms didn't sneak into Heinlein's work."

Nor would I even disagree with that.

I was simply saying (in that comment) that referring to "crypto-fascist libertopianism" seems a bit contradictory, and that "of Heinlein's" struck me as having an implication of a consistent such theme in Heinlein, when in fact the politics of his books/stories varied considerably over the years (as you note). That's all.

Heinlein's a complicated subject, and one I know far too much about (I did a light and informal copyedit on the early 1000+ page manuscript of his officially authorized biography that will eventually be coming out from Tor, among other things), and he's too often simplified in discussion. God knows I have no shortage of my own critiques of his work.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:26 PM
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I had to go see Starship Troopers because my girlfriend at the time worked for the studio that did the special effects. Since the only special effect anyone remembers is the co-ed shower scene, the money spent on my girlfriend's salary was wasted.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:30 PM
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"And to Gary, how could a libertarian who harbors fascist leanings be anything but a crypto-fascist?"

Okay, I can kinda see that argument.

"I don't think Heinlein was precisely a crypto-fascist"

Neither do I; I disagree with quite a few of his views at various points in his life -- and as I said, I'm hardly an advocate of the views espoused by Johnny Rico, et al -- but I don't think careful examination of the book will really hold up that charge. It's hyper pro-military, of course, but fascists, crypto or otherwise, don't swear by letting everyone quit the military at any time but during battle, or making joining the military absolutely voluntary, for instance. In short, "pro-military" doesn't equal "fascist." Which is one of the largest places Verhoeven went wrong. (Along from portraying the military tactics as insane.)

But on "but there's plenty of reasons why people might interpret his output as such," well, many people have interpreted the book that way since "Starship Soldier" was first serialized in F&SF. One thing the story has never been is not argued over.

Anyway, I don't really want to argue the point at any greater length, having been there, done that, about ten zillion times.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:35 PM
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359 doesn't have a [begin self-promotion] tag! When did the self-promotion begin? The beginning of the thread? The beginning of Unfogged? The beginning of time itself?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:36 PM
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"Since the only special effect anyone remembers is the co-ed shower scene, the money spent on my girlfriend's salary was wasted."

I didn't bother to mention that somehow (in the movie) the Bugs can apparently spit meteorites across light-years at FTL speeds. WTF?


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:36 PM
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369: News to me too, but apparently he was, and in some manner "related" the story either in a 1984 Lewis Lapham story in Harper's entitled, "Is This the Real Message of Pornography?" or in a subsequent letter he wrote on that piece and published a few months later. If someone is a subscriber, links here and here. Would love to know what he said. (And possibly minne is recalling the magazine article/letter rather than his autobiography.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:37 PM
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"of Heinlein's" struck me as having an implication of a consistent such theme in Heinlein, when in fact the politics of his books/stories varied considerably over the years (as you note). That's all.

And yet The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, the most vocally libertarian of middle-period Heinlein, opens with Shorty nobly dying for the still a-birthin' nation of Luna. Despite Manny's continuing protests, the whole novel could I think be safely read as a developing and authorially-approved sense of the love of one's country. (Similary "Coventry", honestly.) I think there very much is a continuing thread in Heinlein's work of two-fisted patriotism being an unalloyed virtue. The Lazarus Long books (which I haven't read repeatedly, as they are awful), do this too; when you overlay this with over-the-top militarism or Communist allegories (Puppet Masters) or not-really-defensible racist tropes (Farnham's Freehold), you end up with a career that a lot of people are going to feel is crypto-fascist.

But since you don't want to argue the point again, and I don't blame you, I'll instead say that RoboCop is awesome.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:37 PM
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376 - I read that book (he apparently wrote at least one other memoir) in high school, so I would not be shocked to discover that I've forgotten incidents from it. The only thing that really sticks out is him meeting either Kevin Kelly or Howard Rheingold and each thinking the other one was a narc.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:40 PM
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"When did the self-promotion begin? The beginning of the thread? The beginning of Unfogged? The beginning of time itself?"

I was born on a dark and stormy night in November of 1958....


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:42 PM
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RoboCop is indeed awesome. I also think Verhoeven is awesome, and don't really get looking at Starship Troopers as a commentary on the Heinlein book. It's not! It's a commentary on society, in its daffy, Verhoevenian way. The book was, you know, a way to get the rights. Nobody calls 2001 a commentary on Clarke's book.

But anyhow: Verhoeven is awesome. Such a complex nutcase! I even like Total Recall. Why? Fuck you, that's why.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:42 PM
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I had to go see Starship Troopers because my girlfriend at the time worked for the studio that did the special effects. Since the only special effect anyone remembers is the co-ed shower scene, the money spent on my girlfriend's salary was wasted.

I had to see Starship Troopers because my boyfriend of the time worked for a different studio that did special effects! He liked the bugs, never fear! He also argued that the casting of Denise Richards was part of the elaborate irony of the movie, seeing as though nobody (nobody!) could take her many plastic surgeries seriously. I suspect he saw the co-ed shower sequence as evidence for his Decadent America interpretation.

(I'm just realizing that I must really go for guys that reinforce my latent puritanical streak.)


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:42 PM
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378: that's deeply funny.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:43 PM
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Deliverance --> Pulp Fiction --> Gitmo and the like --> Rush Limbaugh blathering about how all those pictures

The causality arrows just seems bizarre to me. Pasolini made more sadistic films, Sergio Leone used brutality for humor in pop movies decades before QT. I have less and less tolerance for brutality on film myself as I get older, but I don't care for US musicals either. QT is coarse and more interested in film than in reality, soit, but this is an odd way to dismiss an interesting film.

Further, the violence in PF is noteworthy for being just barely omitted-- the scene in the car cuts away just before the gunshot, and the degrading basement scenes, though very clearly suggested, are not shown. When characters are injured or hurt in PF, their agony onscreen is an uncomfortable fact that disturbs plot and dialogue, which is not true for most violent films where consequences are usually silent and anticipatory terror is lingered over instead.

It's possibly overrated, certainly admired by many for superficial reasons, but I think it's a film that rewards some attention.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:43 PM
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367: Per Krassner's autobiography, the meat-grinder cover was absolutely intended as a joke, albeit a misogynist one, and the whole thing was in the context of some ongoing feud with some feminists. Not that this explanation excuses anything, but the story of the image is often presented as though it happened in some political vacuum and was an accurate and unconscious representation of how Flynt and the entirety of the sex industry felt about women. And also, that it was intended to be erotic in and of itself.

That was when Flint had found Jesus. So he was going to make Hustler 'clean', or so he said. Thus, the last issue with 'porn' in it, or at least of the meatgrinder type.

max
['And then, he did something, and then he decided to hell with Jesus.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:45 PM
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363:O have a high tolerance level, but I Know Who Killed Me far exceeded it. Got about a third of the way thru. Really really bad.

Note:Just watched a doc on Sundance about Barney Rosset, Grove Press, and Evergreen Review. I am cocooning in 60s nostalgia.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:48 PM
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I also think Verhoeven is awesome, and don't really get looking at Starship Troopers as a commentary on the Heinlein book. It's not! It's a commentary on society, in its daffy, Verhoevenian way. The book was, you know, a way to get the rights. Nobody calls 2001 a commentary on Clarke's book.

I agree. The whole time he is going "This is what you crazy people think is good entertainment, yes? You people! That is sick! Really? How about this, I will make it like THIS. It is a parody, no, it is not a parody, it is just me giving you what you want while I stand over here and make faces. Maybe a little bit a parody. But no, you like it! Here is the top, will you like it if I go over the top? You will! You will cheer! That is gross, you know, of course. We all know that. Here, let me make you cheer a little more. Kaboom!"


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:51 PM
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"I think there very much is a continuing thread in Heinlein's work of two-fisted patriotism being an unalloyed virtue."

Yes, but. Not unalloyed. He was also very consistent about the virtues of walking away from your country if it no longer embodied or upheld the values he thought worth upholding. That's how TMIAHM ends, in essence. He mocked the hell out of America in Stranger.

Bog knows I'm not going to be caught dead defending Farnham's Freehold, one of the very worst of his books, and the first truly awful one.

Neither will I defend his late work, save to say that Friday was the least bad, even if it doesn't really have much of a arc to it; it simply wasn't as much of an indulgent mess as the rest of the late doorstops were.

I might argue for The Moon is a Harsh Mistress as his best novel, but I'm quite fond of some of the juveniles, as well. (Let's set aside Rocketship Galileo as a maiden effort, and also note that he had quite procrustean strictures from Alice Dagleish, his Scribners editor.)

Not that I'm arguing anyone has to like Heinlein of any vintage!

I'd apologizing for derailing the thread, but that isn't possible at Unfogged, so far as I know.

Anyway, Heinlein was certainly an ultra-patriotic American. And at times was offensively so. (At his Guest Of Honor speech at the Worldcon in 1976 he was insistent there would be a nuclear war; a number of people understandably booed and walked out; he also was highly offensive to Arthur C. Clarke simply because Clarke disagreed with the concept of SDI, simply because Heinlein felt Clarke, as a non-American, had no right to an opinion, although he did later more or less apologize to Clarke about it.)


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:52 PM
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RoboCop is awesome.

Every movie thread on Unfogged makes me suspect that I am the most undiscriminating movie watcher ever. I liked a bunch of the movies that people listed: all three Pirates of the Caribbean movies (except for the racist bit, which sucked), Four Weddings and a Funeral, Hudson Hawk, the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, Gladiator, the Dark Knight.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:59 PM
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I can only assume they were in classes together.

This assumes that Bay ever went to any classes, doesn't it?

On other topics:

The only QT movie I've even remotely enjoyed was Jackie Brown. The rest of them, of the ones I've seen, have all been unrelenting pretentious ego masturbation. Honestly, two hours of QT stroking it to a Polaroid of himself stroking it would have been more interesting and I am not hot for the guy. I have hated everything else I've ever seen that in any way involved him (with the exception of Sukiyaki Western Jango, which I pretend doesn't involve him).

I loved The Dark Knight. Loved it from start to finish. Saw it in IMAX, even. So good.

When Pulp Fiction came out I missed the outing to go see it with friends. Meeting them after I asked what they thought and one friend whose tastes align closely with mine said, "I just paid $3.50 to watch people die. It was awful." That turned out to be pretty much what I thought of it, too, when I finally saw it years later.

And, finally, much like Witt I am both adamantly for free expression and deeply disappointed that there are people who worked so hard to make that movie happen, much less that there are now, like, seventy sequels. What an extraordinary exercise in the worst humanity has to offer.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:00 PM
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"Nobody calls 2001 a commentary on Clarke's book."

Heh? Clarke and Kubrick co-wrote the book and movie script simultaneously, colloboratively, although Kubrick had the last word on the script and Clarke the last word on the novel.

"I even like Total Recall. Why? Fuck you, that's why."

Well, that is the best argument I've ever heard. (There were a couple of minutes in it that were genuinely Dickian -- specifically, that quick bit where the guy walks in and tells Arnold he's stuck in a memory and has to take the pill to get out. Beyond that, well, Arnold's made worse movies, but that's hardly saying anything, given Commando or End of Days. It's just another of those movies that people like Because It's So Bad; not that there's anything wrong with that! But it's hardly the same as making a good science fiction film -- not that anyone has to be interested in those!)


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:00 PM
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Also, yes, RoboCop is awesome. This is objective fact.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:01 PM
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Also, 386 is the best comment ever written. Seriously, it is a masterpiece.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:04 PM
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388.2: Remember that silence in comment threads is not assent and stark assertions of objective badness or goodness* are best simply passed over out of kindness.

*Written before I saw 391. Honest.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:04 PM
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Pasolini? Seriously? We can't read anything into the fact that Pulp Fiction was a gigantic success that made 100 million dollars, because Pasolini made more violent movies?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:04 PM
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(There were a couple of minutes in it that were genuinely Dickian -- specifically, that quick bit where the guy walks in and tells Arnold he's stuck in a memory and has to take the pill to get out. Beyond that, well, Arnold's made worse movies, but that's hardly saying anything, given Commando or End of Days. It's just another of those movies that people like Because It's So Bad; not that there's anything wrong with that! But it's hardly the same as making a good science fiction film -- not that anyone has to be interested in those!)

Yes well, you take your contemplation on the lonely weirdness of staffing a moon base (when it comes out), and I'll take my three-boobed mutant and truly, truly insane Michael Ironside performance, and we can just retreat to our respective corners.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:06 PM
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343: It was in comments at ObWi sometime in the last year or so, but that's hardly helpful. Better than that requires google-fu beyond mine.

The upshot of your objection, was the the movie effectively destroyed the possibility of a movie being made which was truer to the book, which is IMO quite correct. You also made most of the objections you've raised upthread.

I do see your point, though I do think your reading of the philosophy espoused in the book is more charitable than is entirely warranted. Heinlein regularly danced around the borders of fascist ideas, but always with a kind of force-fit individualism which worked just fine because all those rugged individualists happen to subscribe to the same underlying assumptions.

You obviously have a better depth of knowledge on the topic, whereas I'm coming at it from the standpoint of dodgy memories coupled with a general irritability due to dealing with too many people who look to Heinlein as some kind of profound moral philosopher.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:07 PM
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I like Four Weddings and a Funeral, Gladiator (ignoring the wacky distortions of history, and taking it purely as fiction), and adore The Dark Knight, myself.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:08 PM
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*Written before I saw 391. Honest.

Bah! This is the internet and the internet is for proving everyone is wrong. Name your weapon and I shall see you on the field of Usenet at dawn!


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:09 PM
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This is the internet and the internet is for proving everyone is wrong

Robocop 2 is better in every way than Robocop. The lack of the mushy human interest compassion inner conflict bs is a featute, not a bug.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:13 PM
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399: OK, bob's cleverly demonstrated wrongness in multiple ways, who's next?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:18 PM
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"...with too many people who look to Heinlein as some kind of profound moral philosopher."

There are certainly too many of those. I'm often irritable at folks who are either hyper-positive or hyper-negative about him, myself. Obviously everyone is entitled to their opinion, but, of course, I'm entitled to think they're wrong.

"Name your weapon and I shall see you on the field of Usenet at dawn!"

I choose Time Cube.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:20 PM
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386: Machine-gunning bugs with gore splattering everywhere is objectively awesome. Ditto fire-squirting bugs, crashing spaceships, and naked hotties showering. The little parody elements make it obvious that the whole thing's in fun. If he'd wanted to do what you assert the bugs would have been much easier to identify with.

Also, apparently Farber and I have oddly symmetrical relationships with Gladiator and Starship Troopers. I can't enjoy the former due to distortion of history far beyond the elastic limit. Perhaps it's a commentary on Cassius Dio.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:32 PM
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I'll go next to get myself out of the way: when I went to see Independence Day, which I still love, I was so wicked high that when the President made his "this will be our independence day" speech before the big assault I was so moved that I cried real and enthusiastic tears.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:33 PM
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I choose Time Cube.

Dude.

You win.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:36 PM
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The only QT movie I've even remotely enjoyed was Jackie Brown. The rest of them, of the ones I've seen, have all been unrelenting pretentious ego masturbation.

Did you see Death Proof, his contribution to Grindhouse? I really enjoyed that one---and for once thought his female characters were wonderful---and recommend it very highly with only a few caveats.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:39 PM
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401.last, 404: Yeah, I did not realize the full extent (unfortunately minus formatting wonderfulness):

Humans are evil bastards to claim that a god is all-powerful when it is impossible for a male queer god to give birth to a baby or breast-feed it - a power that only a Mother posseses. Humans are Evil bastards to claim that a god is all knowing - when the queer bastard is too stupid to comprehend that 4 simultaneous corner 24 hour days and 4 Earth rotations occur within a single 24 hour rotation of CubedEarth.

Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:42 PM
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Did you see Death Proof

No, but it has now been added to the queue. Thanks for the tip!


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:46 PM
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403: OK, me next. When I come across either The Postman or Waterworld on cable, I seem compelled to watch until the end. Just did it with Waterworld again this weekend. (I also heard a couple of songs (and interview) from Costner and and his group on World Cafe the other day).

Ride, Postman! Ride!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:48 PM
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Jackie Brown was good but Out Of Sight way out-Jackie Browned Jackie Brown.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:49 PM
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403: Wow. I don't know if I've ever been that high.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:50 PM
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CubedEarth

AKA Htrae, AKA Bizarro World?


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:51 PM
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408: At least I can blame drugs.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:52 PM
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Uh, Robust, I hope you like car chase sequences.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:53 PM
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I confess to making an effort recently to catch up on allegedly iconic comedy films of my generation, namely, Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Wayne's World. Both sucked, the latter much more than the former.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:55 PM
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412: I blame life.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 9:55 PM
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405: You thought Death Proof contained LESS pretentious ego masturbation than his other films? I swan. Do incredibly hot women in Austin, Texas all really think and talk exactly like Quentin Tarantino? If so I have to make sure not to move there.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:14 PM
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399: Robocop 2 is better in every way than Robocop. The lack of the mushy human interest compassion inner conflict bs is a featute, not a bug.
400: 399: OK, bob's cleverly demonstrated wrongness in multiple ways, who's next?

Heh. I don't think bob's necessarily wrong. If the first movie is about marketing and branding and dehumanization, then the second movie is as well, and much harsher on the topic. OTOH, the second movie was simple rehash2 and lacked the amusing touches of the first one. I liked the first one a lot better before I saw the second one (some years after it was released).

402: Also, apparently Farber and I have oddly symmetrical relationships with Gladiator and Starship Troopers. I can't enjoy the former due to distortion of history far beyond the elastic limit.

I agree with you on Gladiator (or on as much of it as I have seen), and I agree with Gary inasmuch as people take the movie as representative of the novel, which it mostly isn't. (That is, I agree with Sifu.)

403: I'll go next to get myself out of the way: when I went to see Independence Day, which I still love, I was so wicked high that when the President made his "this will be our independence day" speech before the big assault I was so moved that I cried real and enthusiastic tears.

You, sir, are a sappy, sentimental bastard, and that was a bad movie. ID beats Love Story though, I think, so you escape.

max
['I will look askance at you if you tell me how much you love Robinson Crusoe on Mars.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:20 PM
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I do, in fact, love car chases!


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:21 PM
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You, sir, are a sappy, sentimental bastard, and that was a bad movie.

Your music's bad and you should feel bad.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:28 PM
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I will look askance at you if you tell me how much you love Robinson Crusoe on Mars.

Or if you cried when "Wilson" floated off in Cast Away. (My youngest was pretty broken up, if I recall. He was 8 or 9 at the time. And, yes, I felt a pang, big sap that I am, "Here I am, Mr. Hollywood! Come and manipulate me!")


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:34 PM
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Independence Day is such a horrible horrible movie, though maybe not when high; I have no idea. Dark Knight, on the other hand, is objectively awesome. Therefore the haters are wrong.


Posted by: ninjaphilosopher | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:39 PM
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405 is quite right. Cyrus, don't move to Quentin Tarantino's Austin.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:40 PM
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Man, I need to Netflix Total Recall and Robocop. It's been years since I've seen those.

All this reminds me that I have high hopes for the upcoming G.I. Joe flick.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:49 PM
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423b: Me too! But I expect them to be dashed. Much like my high hopes for the first (live action) transformers movie. I don't have quite the attachment to GI Joe because my parents wouldn't let me watch it due to the nationalism and pro-military stance. Now it just seems like another super hero movie, though since I hadn't expected Transformers to be pro-military maybe I should be even more worried.


Posted by: ninjaphilosopher | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 10:55 PM
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I want to see two movies this summer: the mobster Johnny Depp vehicle and the Sherlock Holmes Robert Downey Jr vehicle. There's really no point in pretending to myself that I would be going to these movies for any other reason than to ogle these actors in nifty period costume. I mean, I hope the movies are okay too.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:05 PM
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I had to go see Starship Troopers because my girlfriend at the time worked for the studio that did the special effects.

The one that was nominated for an Oscar for its work on the film? And that ended up producing a sequel? I used to know a couple of guys who worked there... now I'm wondering if I've met your ex.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 11:19 PM
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Yes well, you take your contemplation on the lonely weirdness of staffing a moon base (when it comes out)

It is out and I want to see it.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:00 AM
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426: Yes, it's that studio. It's quite possible that you've met her. She was a sysadmin rather than an animator.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:09 AM
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24 hours and 400 comments in, and this thread is still about movies? Wow.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:33 AM
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I'd heard that with Starship Troopers the director had achieved the dubious feat of making a movie that was actually worse than the novel, which struck me as odd since normally bad novels make good movies (and vice versa). But I didn't go see it.

Then I picked up the video for free, and watched it at home, and thought: why on earth in all the reviews of it I have ever read did no one acknowledge that the movie itself is a propaganda mockumentary made by the government of the society Heinlein describes in order to get people to join the military?

The movie Starship Troopers is a metafic. It's signalled in several very obvious ways throughout the movie - the reiteration of "Do you want to know more?", the framing that opens and closes the movie...

It's a lot more subtle that American audiences have been deemed capable of understanding in the past - a lot more - and of course 386 is right too.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:46 AM
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"It is out and I want to see it."

Sorry: what's the "it" being referring to here?


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:54 AM
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"...why on earth in all the reviews of it I have ever read did no one acknowledge that the movie itself is a propaganda mockumentary made by the government of the society Heinlein describes in order to get people to join the military?"

A) You must have read very few reviews of the movie.

B) It was done with the subtly of a jack-hammer, and is too obvious to bother emphasizing, rather than taking for granted as an interpretation.

"It's a lot more subtle that American audiences have been deemed capable of understanding in the past - a lot more"

[eyeroll]

It's got all the subtly of Natural Born Killers.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:58 AM
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"Also, it was incredibly stupid in innumerable ways, which I generally save time by simply pointing to Jim MacDonald's review rather than repeating the salient points."

Jim MacDonald's review was one of the (half a dozen) reviews I'd read in which the reviewer plainly hadn't realised the film was meant to be a propaganda mockumentary - since none of his "it's stupid" points make sense when considered within that framework.

As you appear to think MacDonald's review was worth linking to, I took for granted that you hadn't figured out that it was meant to be a propaganda mockumentary either.

*drops Farber-bait, watches thread hit a thousand*


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:14 AM
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A few trenchant points before bed:

1. A movie can be terribly clever and witty in its intended premise, and still be mostly bad and stupid in its execution. I cordially propose the Verhoeven Starship Troopers boosters should just suck it up and admit that this is what happened to that movie. John Travolta's exaggeratedly ludicrous Battlefield Earth would not suddenly have become a brilliant satirical takedown of the already-dreadful Hubbard novel if he'd thought to put nifty framing devices around it; it would still have been a bad movie. No defense of Heinlein is required to acknowledge that Starship Troopers is simply a bad movie. Comparing it to Robocop is like comparing fake rubber dogshit to Belgian chocolate.

2. Pretentious ego masturbation is highly underrated. Without pretentious ego masturbation we wouldn't have 78.35% of the decent art that currently exists. If in fact Death Proof contained incredibly hot women who talk like Quentin Tarantino -- which isn't remotely the case, by the way -- I don't see how that would be a terrible thing.

3. Walt in 388: I'm not going to argue with them about it, but between you and me, the people complaining about how terrible The Dark Knight is are smoking a certain amount of rather low-quality crack. There's some justice to ttaM's complaint about relentless pacing but it's almost-objectively nuts to contend this overwhelm's the movies other virtues.

4. (OTOH, also to Walt: ye Gods I have no idea at all how you ever sat through Hudson Hawk. Maybe it got better? I left when the bad guy was outlining his plan for world domination and have never watched another solitary second of that film. Did it get better? In your opinion, had funny things happened to that point, and was it devoid of thuddingly unfunny things?)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:17 AM
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I am not going to bother to weigh in on Starship Troopers (or Chasing Amy for that matter) because you're all a bunch of jerks.

Congratulations on your chilling effect, Mineshaft.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:17 AM
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All this reminds me that I have high hopes for the upcoming G.I. Joe flick.

I watched The Story of G.I. Joe recently. It's not at all like the cartoons! Knowing this is half the battle.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:19 AM
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431.1 True.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:21 AM
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Huh, how did that happen?

Please ignore 437.

435.1 is true.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:22 AM
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Just between me and the people who don't like the Dark Knight, 434.3 is all wrong.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:25 AM
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I heard that.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:30 AM
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(innocent whistling and sound of footfalls, fading away)


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:34 AM
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255: Franka Potente is a whacked-out nurse in a mental institution who jerks off the patients. Her putative co-star makes even less sense. They jump off a four-story building, fail to die, and the movie continues for another inexplicable five hours. Or maybe forty minutes. At that point, it was not only awfully hard to tell the difference, it was just awful. And no, it is not any better in the original German.

238, 246, et seq.: Glad to see, eb, that I was not the only one having those experiences regarding Pulp Fiction and QT.


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:52 AM
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And sorry, also, for reaching so far back. I blame the time zones.


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:56 AM
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Bog knows I'm not going to be caught dead defending Farnham's Freehold, one of the very worst of his books, and the first truly awful one.

Well I hope we can all agree on that, if nothing else.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:29 AM
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Verhoeven deprived me of power armour fight scenes. DAMN YOU VERHOEVEN!


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:40 AM
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445: But someday, someone will adapt Rimrunners as a movie* and then you can have power armour fight scenes. And C.J.Cherryh's power armour sounds like it would actually work, whereas Heinlein's power armour is comic-booky.

*It even comes pre-failed as to Bechdel Test, because the only scene in it where two women talk to each other about something other than a man is when Bet apologises to her neighbor for coming back to her bunk drunk, unshowered, and probably kinda noisy. But I like Bet Yeager.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:51 AM
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446: doesn't that mean it passes the Bechdel Test? (If only just...)
Not read Rimrunners or much else by Cherryh (except Foreigner which was rather good) - I might have to give it a try.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:55 AM
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doesn't that mean it passes the Bechdel Test? (If only just...)

Oh yes, if they left that scene in, it would pass... but it would be so easy to leave it out (it's barely even a line in the novel). Whereas Cyteen, there's young Ari's interactions with young Catlin, with Amy, with her foster mother and with Mary the lab technician and Nelly, and with older Ari, none of which could be omitted or turned wholly to "conversations with men".

Bet does acknowledge at some point that she needs to make friends with some of the women - to have buddies - but she never actually does do it in the course of the novel.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 4:25 AM
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If you're new to Cherryh, Rimrunners is a good novel to begin with, IMO - it's not that long (Cyteen is a trilogy) and because Bet Yeager doesn't particularly get or care about the wider politics of it all, you don't have to know about them either.

There's a few other ship-novels that are also one-offs in the Alliance-Union series: Merchant's Luck, which I think is the weakest, Finity's End, which I love but which is pretty heavily dependent on your having read the big spacestation novel Downbelow (all the other ship novels take place after Downbelow, but most of them you don't have to know what happened in that novel to enjoy the ship-novel), and Tripoint, which I don't much like because I don't much like either of the two young male central characters.

If you want to go back to the beginning of the Alliance-Union history, there's Heavy Time and Hellburner, but they both take place in the solar system.

Foreigner is fantastic, and so are the next five novels in the sequence. (The next three are not so fine, though still readable - but if you get through the first six I suspect you may be hooked.)


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 4:32 AM
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Downbelow Station.

Er.

Before Gary wakes up and the thread gets Farbered over the name of a Cherryh novel. ;-)


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 4:40 AM
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446-450:Oldfart chips in to remember the very beginnings of Cherryh, when, according to some histories, she returned Romance, nobility/honour, and storytelling to science fiction. Gate of Ivrel series with a very tough female swordslinger;Faded Sun trilogy;one offs like Brothers of Earth and Hunter of Worlds with female queen equivalents.

On reflection, Cherryh's female protagonists weren't quite male-equivalent action heroes, but more complex than that. Did I mention the "Chanur" series? The 1st novel was moving on several levels. Maybe just fun to build a society on a lion pack model (females hunt, males guard homebase, must fight younger challengers)...

Anyway. I stopped somewhere around Downbelow Station, but her 70s stuff was among my very favorite goodreads.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 6:10 AM
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||

Great moments in religious counseling:

Stevens had been told for most of her life that she was a boy, but in her 20s had discovered the truth about her sex -- that she had been born a hermaphrodite, and that doctors had conducted surgeries on her genitalia as an infant. After learning the news, she consulted her priest, who said that while God usually condemns suicides, for her he might make an exception.

|>


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 6:14 AM
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Mars Attacks. I found the repetitive massacres physically upsetting in being both pointless and un-cartoonish. (About a third of the way through; maybe it got better.)


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 6:18 AM
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re: 453

What part about the people being zapped by beams that turned them into green skeletons wasn't cartoonish?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 6:22 AM
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Looking back, I wonder if Cherryh was so important to my youth as to be formative. She did a bit of a mashup of 70s trends and there was something a little medieval about her work. I don't know much about real 70s historical Romance. but Cherryh had elements of actual horror:the female protagonists were so smart and tough, and entire worlds and species were often threatened with extermination. Bushido bullshit:"Fuck up this tea ceremony, and your entire tribe will become slaves." Cherryh built unforgiving universes.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 6:22 AM
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Donald Wollheim who published Cherryh and Doris Pischeria


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 6:33 AM
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I've read some of C J Cherryh's fantasy novels, but I greatly prefer her science-fiction.

but Cherryh had elements of actual horror:the female protagonists were so smart and tough

V. poor use of punctuation there.

...I hope.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 6:38 AM
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457: "A lot of men are intimidated when they meet women who are more intelligent than they are. And I can understand how they feel. If it ever happened to me, I'd be scared shitless."
-- unfortunately I can't remember the original speaker.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 6:45 AM
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457:Well, supposed to be a semicolon, and yet I remember Cherryh's female warrior/queens as being very often terrifying. Her formula usually meant that the horrific destruction was deferred, but her skill was convincing the reader that her female protagonists were completely capable of it, and even creating empathy with a Hunter of Worlds

Like I said, formative, in that I perhaps learned that Romance requires philosophical pessimism.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 6:50 AM
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422: Um, OK, but I probably wouldn't move to any Austin, QT's or not, what with the climate and my delicate Northern sensibilities. How did I get dragged into that?

Re: The Dark Knight, I liked it, but it's hard to evaluate it as one movie. It's the sequel to a superhero movie, and having the origin and all that pesky character development out of the way means they can just make it nonstop action. It's also the final, very unique performance of a gifted actor; Ledger got lauded more than his performance alone deserved because of his death, but his performance did deserve quite a bit of lauding. And it's also a lot less episodic than most superhero movies: there's an ongoing plotline of Batman's role in the city that evolves over the course of the film, which depends on details of Batman Begins and informs and constrains (should constrain, at least) any future sequels. You might as well say that BB plus TDK is all one big origin story, setting up a future path for Batman's career. And it also has a lot of political/philosophical themes, with not particularly intelligent handling or treatment.

So you can sit back and enjoy the movie, but if you want to answer the question "yes, but was it good?" you have to weigh the action sequences against Heath Ledger's Joker against the innovative handling of comic book adaptation against the schizophrenic presentation of a surveillance state... tl;dr version: it's fun, and it was ambitious, but it has its downsides.

And as for Starship Troopers, I always saw the movie as a commentary on, sort of a ground-level view of, Ender's Game. I'm surprised no one else noticed this.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 7:41 AM
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Starship Troopers, the movie, began as a simple send up of American military propaganda. The best description of it I've seen is "Sarcastic fascism"* Midway through its development, they attached the name of Heinlein's novel to it, in order to boost ticket sales. It can be viewed as a send up of almost any bit of crypto-fascist sci-fi, which gives it a lot of resonance, since the world is full of crypto-fascist sci-fi.

*I googled "Sarcastic fascism" to find the origin of the phrase. The second hit was me, commenting on unfogged, making more or less the same point I am making now.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 7:53 AM
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Another hit for "sarcastic fascism," from a spam porn site:

Boob fat womens will mishear the very sarcastic fascism.

It looks like the original phrase came from "Brownskirts" an essay in the Buffy and Philosophy book.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 7:57 AM
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I also liked Natural Born Killers. Maybe you people just don't like movies, and should find another hobby? I've heard good things about masturbation.

Everyone who liked Starship Troopers brings up the framing device. I thought it was a cheap gimmick that you apply to literally any movie. "Wait, I made a stupid movie? I just need to spend ten minutes shooting this framing device, and then suddenly it's deliberately a stupid movie."

I'm surprised you didn't like Hudson Hawk, DS, just because it lends itself to a DS-style defense -- the laundry list of kick-ass movie elements:

1. Sandra as the villainess.
2. The love interest is an undercover nun who works for the Vatican's secret service.
3. A team of burglers who time robberies by singing songs.
4. The movie villain gives a speech that goes "History, tradition, culture... are not concepts! These are trophies I keep in my den as paperweights! ... Face it, if Leonardo di Vinci were alive today, he'd be eating sushi, naked, in the back of our limo."

I still crack up at the scene near the beginning where the English butler does something completely unfunny, and the villain says "Ah, another example of your dry British wit." A friend of mine and I would say that to each other whenever we made a completely unfunny joke.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 8:01 AM
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I havent read much of the thread. But, I am voting with Walt. (S)he sounds very convincing.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 8:09 AM
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re: 463

Conceptually much of Hudson Hawk should have been good, it was just crap.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 8:12 AM
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463.1: But we were discussing movies we don't like! The thread for movies we do like is next door!

463.2: I didn't like Starship Troopers. I thought the director was trying to have his cake and eat it - make a film which could be seen on one level as metafic about the pornographic use of violence in millitary pro-war movies, and on another less subtle level as a rollicking piece of violence-porn where most of the audience would never pick up on the meta and realise the director was mocking them. He was too subtle. There is a corollary to the rule "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public". And I think he deserved to.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 8:15 AM
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I'd heard that with Starship Troopers the director had achieved the dubious feat of making a movie that was actually worse than the novel, which struck me as odd since normally bad novels make good movies (and vice versa). But I didn't go see it.

Then I picked up the video for free, and watched it at home, and thought: why on earth in all the reviews of it I have ever read did no one acknowledge that the movie itself is a propaganda mockumentary made by the government of the society Heinlein describes in order to get people to join the military?

The movie Starship Troopers is a metafic. It's signalled in several very obvious ways throughout the movie - the reiteration of "Do you want to know more?", the framing that opens and closes the movie...

It's a lot more subtle that American audiences have been deemed capable of understanding in the past - a lot more - and of course 386 is right too.

Jim MacDonald's review was one of the (half a dozen) reviews I'd read in which the reviewer plainly hadn't realised the film was meant to be a propaganda mockumentary - since none of his "it's stupid" points make sense when considered within that framework.

As you appear to think MacDonald's review was worth linking to, I took for granted that you hadn't figured out that it was meant to be a propaganda mockumentary either.

Yes, it's a parody of propaganda. That is true. We are not idiots. IT STILL SUCKS.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 8:16 AM
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On the other hand, maybe I am an idiot, having once again forgotten that the proper way to quote six paragraphs in a row requires one to use six <i> tags and no </i> tags.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 8:18 AM
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Yes, it's a parody of propaganda. That is true. We are not idiots. IT STILL SUCKS.

See 466.

having once again forgotten that the proper way to quote six paragraphs in a row

Is there any proper way to quote six paragraphs in a row when you're quoting from the same thread?


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 8:29 AM
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Heh. Back to the torture porn for a minute:

209: One of the funnier takedowns of Michael Bay lately is of course provided by the good folks at WWTDD.

The Awl had a great review ('review'?) of Transformers 2:

Have you ever fallen into a city-sized Cuisinart that is grinding its way through a vast Chinese scrap metal field and had your face abraded with shards of aluminum and eyelash-size scraps of rusty torn iron, so all the skin is peeling off your face, your delicate nose-bones being flayed by grinding gear bits and yesterday's shredded microchips and at the same time that song "Citizen Soldier" from the National Guard commercials is blaring at top volume, and somewhere in the distance you can see that "The Hurt Locker" is screening for no good reason and there is sand inside what remains of your teeth and then Megan Fox float-flounces by (like the cow in "Twister"!) with her nipples nearly pouring out of her crop-top camisole and some kid is trying to give her a flower but she is like "I am sooo busy getting highly paid and even though the makeup department set their mirror to 'evening' instead of 'day' and so my beautiful perfect skin is sort of plastered needlessly with foundation, I am still the hottest sex doll on two legs," and so she doesn't take the flower, the poor sad flower, which stands for natural beauty, a flower which is then blenderized like a sad goose sucked into a jet turbine? If so, then you have seen the new "Transformers" movie, which opens tonight at midnight, and despite all this awful noise and machinery, the real star of this movie is Megan Fox's rack, which is unparalleled in our modern time.
Megan Fox is a magical Disney cartoon, a Jessica Rabbit run wild, and she eagerly invites the camera to attend to her every crevice and flesh-folded intersection. Even as an avowed homosexual, I cannot help but notice just how feverishly she thrusts her secret parts towards the camera at every opportunity. (Of course, the camera thrusts back, as it has the hideous, orc-like eye of "director" Michael Bay leering behind it, and clearlyhe is touching some grotesque and unnaturally short and discolored protuberance of his own flesh the whole while.) In a slightly worse world, Megan Fox would be the star not of Hasbro's idiot "Transformer" franchise but of something that has the phrase "Double Penetration" in the title. All on her own, she is reeling back twenty years of gender and film studies textbooks. While we may have thought the male gaze was wilting or troublesome, Megan Fox proves that (for her and a select few others, at least) the male gaze is just some flimsy and pitiful little ray to rub her flesh up against so as to keep warm her nearly-exposed rump. She is hard to believe, with the soft kitty-cat stripper ways of a Gina Gershon melded with the hard machineness of a Linda Fiorentino.
While I was fetching the link for that, I scrolled through the front page and they linked to the trailer for Jennifer's Body:
Jennifer's Body tells the story of a seemingly-perfect cheerleader whose life is thrown into disarray when she gets possessed by a demon, begins eating boys in her small town, then faces off against her best friend and the Satan-worshipping band that made her evil.
It's Buffy reworked! It's a slasher movie! It's a horror movie! It's a comedy! It's a soft-core porn movie (or is that a soft-pore corn movie?) that frowns at warns people about the horror of sluts! It's the Popeil Pocket Movie!

max
['Sadly, I don't think it's crypto-fascist.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 9:02 AM
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"445: But someday, someone will adapt Rimrunners as a movie* and then you can have power armour fight scenes. "

Forever Warmovie in production.

"Oldfart chips in to remember the very beginnings of Cherryh,"

David Cherry is her brother, incidentally, I mention on the off chance you care and don't know. Wollheim added the "h" to her name to make it sound unique and "less like that of a romance writer."

Wollheim got an immensely huge number of good (and not so good) writers started on their careers over the extremely long arc of his editorial and publishing career. His daughter Betsy has continued the tradition.

Though I've always admired him for being a Futurian and a Michelist. Possibly dumb question, Bob: are you familiar with the Michelists? They were literally sf's Boy Communists of the Thirties.

"Midway through its development, they attached the name of Heinlein's novel to it,"

They did a lot more than attach the name. (That's what they did with the movie called I, Robot, which then also threw in a few Asimovian details, such as a robot scientist character named Susan Calvin, who bears no resemblence to the character Asimov wrote about.)


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 9:03 AM
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Ebert on Transformers 2.

He starts:

"Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" is a horrible experience of unbearable length, briefly punctuated by three or four amusing moments. One of these involves a dog-like robot humping the leg of the heroine. Such are the meager joys. If you want to save yourself the ticket price, go into the kitchen, cue up a male choir singing the music of hell, and get a kid to start banging pots and pans together. Then close your eyes and use your imagination.
More Ebert on the topic, and yet more.

"It's Buffy reworked!"

You've heard the idiotic fact that they're remaking the first Buffy movie with no input from Joss Whedon, I expect?

"The Awl had a great review ('review'?) of Transformers 2"

Yer link is broken.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 9:08 AM
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470: Now I want to see Transformers.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 9:08 AM
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You've heard the idiotic fact that they're remaking the first Buffy movie with no input from Joss Whedon, I expect?

ZOMGAH MY WEEEEEEEDON


Posted by: OPINIONATED INTERNETS | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 9:16 AM
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473: Same here. I might/probably won't, just because I don't get to the movies much and I'd almost be embarrassed to ask any of my friends to go to this one, but I enjoyed the first Transformers movie - not great, of course, but fun - and the horrible reviews hate TRotT for exactly the kind of things you'd expect from a Michael Bay Transformers sequel, and the political stuff seems like a fun little Easter egg (it would have been more fun if I hadn't known about it in advance, but still), and I remember Megan Fox as hot but I don't remember her being as amazingly hot as these reviews make her sound so now I wonder if I missed something or if the director did something to really, really focus on her.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 9:30 AM
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It's about time somebody IMAX'ed something besides nature scenes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 9:33 AM
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476 to 475/470, I assume.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 9:39 AM
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477: Yes. Isn't Transformers II in IMAX?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 9:41 AM
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Machine-gunning bugs with gore splattering everywhere is objectively awesome. Ditto fire-squirting bugs, crashing spaceships, and naked hotties showering. The little parody elements make it obvious that the whole thing's in fun.

Agreed. I don't understand why people can't simply enjoy the movie of Starship Troopers. Beautiful naked people, gleaming spaceships, evil insect enemies! It's all quite delightful and enjoyable. Not a grand political statement, but an adult's ironic eye for what's fun about the fascist fantasy.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 9:41 AM
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I guess now would be a bad time to mentioned that I watching Nip/Tuck for the first time and think it is funny.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 9:46 AM
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463: I'm surprised you didn't like Hudson Hawk, DS, just because it lends itself to a DS-style defense -- the laundry list of kick-ass movie elements

This hurts me, Walt. This hurts me deeply. You are a hurter.

You know, as much as I love "kick-ass movie elements," I'm not quite nuts enough to actually view movies as mere lists of elements. One scene should still connect to another. Or if doesn't, the content should at least be able to sell itself as genuine surrealism. And if it's a comedy, there should be jokes that are funny, delivered in funny fashion.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 9:47 AM
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The quoted bits in 470 are the funniest thing I have read in weeks and I would without a doubt agree with them. However, agreeing with them would require seeing Transformers 2, which I won't do until there's a RiffTrax for it. (The RiffTrax for Transformers is some excellent watching.) Seeing the first of Bay's Transformers movies left me agog at the idea that the movie had ever made it to production. No one in the film is likeable. There is no character who is neither snide nor simple in some way that immediately makes me pull for the Decepticons. Transformers described a humanity that, by the time the movie got around to showing me any robots at all, didn't deserve to be saved from them. When my sister fired up Transformers on DVD last Christmas, or maybe the one before, whenever it came out, I got up and walked out of the room and drove 250 miles to go home. It's not about some sentimental attachment to the toys for me, either. Honestly, I couldn't give a rat's ass if they used the Autobots logo to sell crystal meth to kittens. It's a bad movie about people who are unrelentingly terrible. When they are not mocking one another they are being used to make mockeries of us for tolerating their inclusion in that movie.

Also, I thought Mars Attacks was hilarious.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 10:42 AM
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All of which is to say that somehow or another I think I managed to make off with bPhD's bag of random strongly held opinions.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 10:46 AM
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479: So you're saying it's much better than the book then?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 10:49 AM
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"Agreed. I don't understand why people can't simply enjoy the movie of Starship Troopers."

The question is actually why anyone would see any movie made from a novel or history, and let the novel or actual history get in the way of enjoying the movie.

Some people never will, some people will in the case of one, but not the other, and most people will be selective. None of these preferences is objectively right or wrong; it's all subjective.

But the answer to your query lies in this larger question.

And implying anyone has a wrong response in any of these responses is just silly. It's saying "I don't understand why anyone has taste and past experience different than mine!"


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 10:55 AM
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Agreed. I don't understand why people can't simply enjoy the movie of Starship Troopers.

Because it's stupid and makes no sense and is a waste of my time. Maybe if it was 15 minutes long it would succeed as the post-meta-ironic work of loving fanslashfic which people apparently appreciate it as.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 10:57 AM
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And to follow my 485, it occurs to me to add that the same must be said of why anyone would let a previous version get in the way ("can't simply enjoy") of enjoying a remake. Or possibly vice versa.

In many cases it's because people inevitably make a comparison and find one wanting. Why would this even be a question?


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 10:57 AM
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Re 485 and 497: and the same for why anyone could be bothered by historical fiction that isn't accurate.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 10:59 AM
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Er, 485 and 487; I wasn't intending to anticipate.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 10:59 AM
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Why don't people on the internet just all get along? Let's hold hands. It is a day of mourning.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 11:02 AM
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Lastly, on 379, because most readers of the book don't agree that it's a "fascist fantasy." (Many do, but the book has sold millions of copies, and I don't believe that's the overwhelming majority of buyers have bought it because of pro-fascist word of mouth, or inability to properly detect fascism, or because they really wanted to own a book they hate.)

Now, if you were talking about The Iron Dream, you wouldn't have an argument.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 11:03 AM
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I think lots of people dislike Starship Troopers, the film, for reasons completely unrelated to its lack of fidelity to the book.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 11:03 AM
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479! Apparently my ability either to tell numerals apart, or type, is disintegrating!


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 11:04 AM
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492: That, too, certainly.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 11:04 AM
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Cryptic Ned is right about ST. And the "it's clever and meta" defense is lipstick on a pig, people.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 11:08 AM
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Thanks DS. I speak, of course, as someone who has never even considered reading the book.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 11:11 AM
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but the book has sold millions of copies

I've never really seen this successfully presented as a measure of a books quality.

Personally I recall thinking ST was crap for reasons beyond it's fascist overtones, but it was long enough ago I can't remember the details. Then again while I liked a few of of his stories, I think Heinlein is very much overrated, and of very uneven quality.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 11:12 AM
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but the book has sold millions of copies, and I don't believe that's the overwhelming majority of buyers have bought it because of pro-fascist word of mouth, or inability to properly detect fascism, or because they really wanted to own a book they hate

People buy it because it is an appealing power fantasy, and they don't think about political implications either way.

Starship Troopers only has one brief scene of attractive naked people, no? Clearly it falls down in the pandering to the male gaze department.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 11:14 AM
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496: The book is crap, too, just in different ways.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 11:15 AM
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The idea that something is worthy of respect because it's sold millions of copies is what I hate about some movie blogs that are interesting at other times, like David Poland's. He'll say "I saw this movie and it was groundbreaking! It was great! I can't wait until it gets released and you all see it!" and then after it makes 30% of its budget back, he'll say "Well, that director certainly has to start doing something else with his time because that didn't work at all."

Starship Troopers only has one brief scene of attractive naked people, no? Clearly it falls down in the pandering to the male gaze department.

Yeah, and it's one of the first scenes in the movie. More support for my suggestion that it should have been 15 minutes long.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 11:19 AM
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490: Hey, lighten up!* Anyone would think that someone died and the funeral was today.

*Or get a nose job. Or buy the Beatles songs. Or [even more tasteless joke deleted]


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 11:20 AM
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Today should be a day when everyone donates $10 to victims of child abuse.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 11:21 AM
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"Well, that director certainly has to start doing something else with his time because that didn't work at all."

To be fair, it's hard to stay solvent if you're only making 30% of your budget back.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 11:21 AM
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On a related topic, Molly and I have a movie night tonight. This is the only theater close to where we are right now.

Maybe we can make the kids and grandma leave the house so we can watch Caprica on DVD.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 11:22 AM
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Somewhat belated:

The only QT movie I've even remotely enjoyed was Jackie Brown.

Yes! I re-watched Jackie Brown a couple years ago and liked it much better than I remembered. So much about that movie is great, starting with the soundtrack.

As far as the Out of Site comparison, I think they are very different type of fantasy. Jackie Brown is fantasy, but it also makes clear that Jackie's actions/decisions as really ethically borderline. She isn't justified in what she does by anything except the fact that it's her only way to really get out of a lousy situation (cue "Across 110th St.").

Also, I am reminded me that unfogged is less entertaining when you can't follow it in realtime. Ah well . . .


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 11:24 AM
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491: Most readers of comics don't think they're fascist fantasies. Most defenders of 300, in either book or film format, didn't think it was a fascist fantasy. But the name they choose or don't choose to put on it really has nothing to do with how the narrative is functioning. It's actually quite common for authoritarian cultural product to try to pass itself off is non-authoritarian -- arguably there's a fair amount of this in American SF generally, not just Heinlein, though I suspect it's more common yet in the "techno-thriller" genre.

(ST is more strictly speaking a militarist and authoritarian fantasy. In the strictest poli-sci sense, the word "fascism" doesn't quite apply -- a thing can be militarist and authoritarian without being technically fascist. In the practical sense, I don't know that the distinction is all that meaningful.)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 11:24 AM
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Also, I thought Mars Attacks was hilarious.

I caught the last third of Mars Attacks on TV in a hotel at some point, and that was the perfect amount for me. I thought it was hilarious, but I'm not sure I would have wanted to see the whole movie.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 11:26 AM
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Gary: You've heard the idiotic fact that they're remaking the first Buffy movie with no input from Joss Whedon, I expect?

Eh, nope, but I have now. I imagine they're going to mke it pornier and more violent. Probably less funny.

"The Awl had a great review ('review'?) of Transformers 2"
Yer link is broken.

Eep. You are correct, sir. Try that again: "The Awl had a great review ('review'?) of Transformers 2".

max
['Fixxored.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 11:26 AM
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Comics in 506 refers to the superhero genre, specifically.



Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 11:27 AM
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though I suspect it's more common yet in the "techno-thriller" genre

Wait, are you suggesting that even Tom Clancy is politically problematic?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 11:27 AM
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410: A shocking possibility, I admit it!


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 11:31 AM
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(511 to 510 obvs)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 11:31 AM
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Funeral? Is that why my world is helicopters?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 11:33 AM
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Most defenders of 300, in either book or film format, didn't think it was a fascist fantasy. But the name they choose or don't choose to put on it really has nothing to do with how the narrative is functioning. It's actually quite common for authoritarian cultural product to try to pass itself off is non-authoritarian

FREEDOOOOOOOMMMMM!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 11:35 AM
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Funeral? Is that why my world is helicopters?

Maybe the authorities are just on to you, Wrongshore.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 11:36 AM
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It's actually quite common for authoritarian cultural product to try to pass itself off is non-authoritarian

This is a side issue, but something that's always cracked me up is that in Heinlein's big libertarian novel, The Moon is A Harsh Mistress, spends a lot of time describing a decentralized revolutionary cell structure. And then, after a couple of pages of exposition on the subject, says something along the lines of "Actually, in practice, we just had the superintelligent computer manage everything centrally". Don't they take away your libertarian card for saying stuff like that?

Also, from some guy named Kenneth Anderson at the Volokh Conspiracy a while back:

A moderate libertarian like me has read Heinlein, of course, and even read long sections of The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress aloud to his adoring, or anyway somnolent, child until she took over and finished it herself. So my operating assumption has generally been that a shortage of females in a suitable place - a penal colony on the moon, for example - would mean that women would be able to command a suitably high marriage price, and contract for favorable plural marriage conditions. My (lapsed) Mormon background rendered me quite unoffended by the concept of plural marriage as such.

Exposure to the wider world, however, has left me persuaded that abstract libertarianism must sometimes give way to the realities of cultures and actual conditions. My view today is that - drawing on conversations with Eberstadt in which he noted that he, too, had read Heinlein - it was far more historically common, and almost certainly the more common direction of things today, that in a world with scarcity of women - especially in a world of scarcity of females and yet a cultural preference for male births - the result would be increased treatment of women as property. More valuable property, yes, but increasingly as property precisely as the perception of its value increased.

Ya think?

I was going to post something derisory about that when I saw it initially, and then decided that it didn't make sense to make fun of someone at the moment when he'd realized he was wrong, regardless of the idiocy of the initial wrongness.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 11:40 AM
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Buffy movie remake.

As for ST the novel, it won the Hugo Award, which of course is nothing but a popularity contest among a self-selected particular bunch of people; perhaps more to the point, it's still wildly debated decades after publication, which also of course is no mark of objective quality.

But the point is that there is no such thing as a single objective measure of quality of any aesthetic work. There are objective measures of certain aspects of works that one can subjectively choose to value above others, and there's subjective appeal or lack of it. Beyond that, people's opinions are what they are, and are neither right or wrong.

People's declarations that they like or dislike something are always reasonable, and always inarguable. People declaring that their opinions are objectively true are, at best, making for arguments that don't seem to have much point.

506: I have no argument with this, save that I think that when you say "comics," you mean "superhero comics," and that even then it's something of a simplistic over-generalization.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 11:41 AM
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506: (ST is more strictly speaking a militarist and authoritarian fantasy.

Ok, I can work with it; it is also staunchly anti-racist. (In our non-fictional context the correct derogatory word would be 'specieist', however that should be spelled.)

In the strictest poli-sci sense, the word "fascism" doesn't quite apply -- a thing can be militarist and authoritarian without being technically fascist. In the practical sense, I don't know that the distinction is all that meaningful.)

Well, it really depends on whether you consider May Day parades in Moscow prior to the fall of the Soviet Union to be fascist (or crypto-fascist) or not. If having all those tanks and missles whirling by wasn't a fascist display, then I don't see where ST (the book) is either. Since ST has more in common with the the American Army 'documentaries' (propaganda) shown in movie theatres in the 40's than anything else.

That's where Voerhoven's framing device comes in: Alexi Panshin noted the 'army recruitment film' parallels in ST the book, back in 1968, and I'm sure that's where PV got his framing device from. On Heinlein's part his attitude was (paraphrased, but accurately): 'Glorifying the military infantry? Damn right I am!'

Part of the reason the book turned out as staunchly pro-military as it was was that Heinlein got into a dispute with his editor about just exactly that subject. She (the editor) disapproved of glorification of the military in the juvenile book he originally wrote, so RAH and the publisher parted ways and the book was revised somewhat, emphasizing the adult military aspects and dropping the tone he had used for the juveniles (really, YA, but that categorization didn't exist at the time) he had previously written.

max
['So there's that.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 11:47 AM
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||
Speaking of libertarian ideals (i've got mine...) , or more accurately of middle class guilt: I'm considering taking a job somewhere with an economic landscape that makes Mississippi look good. I probably have enough leverage to insist on rough parity with salary expectations in the field for most of the USA. Which would take me from reasonably well paid compared to my neighbors into multiples of average family income territory. The cost of living isn't going to drop though.

I'm not exactly sure how I feel about this. It may also be a moot point.
|>


Posted by: Jimmy Carter | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 11:52 AM
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506-509: Sorry to respond to this because the comment thread is long enough without debating the philosophy of comic books, but you brought it up...

Your statement about superheroes isn't totally wacky (Batman remains a more-or-less-sympathetic protagonist even though Gotham is frequently shown as a police state under his rule, and Superman is literally an ubermensch), but (a) there are numerous and significant exceptions, chief among them being almost all the X-Men family, and (b) it's using "fascist fantasy" so broadly as to sap the words of any useful meaning.

Superhero comic books are primarily an escapist power fantasy. Maybe a fascist's escapist power fantasy, maybe not. Lots of people like to imagine power and escape. Call them militant and anti-authoritarian, if that makes any sense.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 11:55 AM
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I don't quite understand what you mean by 'the cost of living isn't going to drop' -- it sounds as if you're getting a job that pays what you're used to, in an area where the cost of living is what you're used to, but where there are a whole lot of poor people. At which point I don't see the issue -- you should probably be giving more to charity, given that most people should be, but how physically close you live to poor people doesn't seem to affect that much.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 11:56 AM
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"And then, after a couple of pages of exposition on the subject, says something along the lines of 'Actually, in practice, we just had the superintelligent computer manage everything centrally'."

Yeah, Heinlein did a sleight of hand thing there; he cheated with Mike, as the whole enterprise would have been impossible without a literal deus ex machina. (An actual machine!) (And effectively killed Mike at the end so as to eliminate what would practically subsequently turn Lunar society into a secret dictator-through-use-of-superduper AI, thus defeating any point to the novel.)

For the record, Heinlein never claimed to be a libertarian. He's championed hugely to be a libertarian icon (see J. Neil Schulman, for one huge example) by libertarians, but he himself didn't identify himself as one, or with any other particular political label.

It's helpful in understanding Heinlein to recall his age: his formative years were the WWI era (he was born in 1907), and in the culture of ultra-patriotic small-town Missouri. Plus the fact that he worked like hell to get an appointment to Annapolis, and was forced with the greatest unwillingness into early retirement for health reasons (primarily tuberculosis) in 1934 . As regards the latter, I'd say there was a certain among of compensation/inculcation in his worldview as a result, and as regards the former, his initial political views were formed by the patriotic fervor of pro-WWI folks. This was followed by his frustrated inability to be re-accepted in the military after Pearl Harbor.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 11:57 AM
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Cost of living isn't going to drop? That sounds odd. Not even the price of food?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 11:58 AM
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I don't think it's inappropriate to insist on an American-style salary. It would be right of you also use your leverage to make sure that treatment of local colleagues was not exploitative.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:00 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:01 PM
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Not really, no. From this you can probably figure out where it is.

512: Pretty much my thinking on it, too. There, by current standards poverty level includes nearly half the population.

If there is an issue here at all interesting it isn't my (potential) job, etc. it's the question of forcibly removing the blinders that are all to often easy to wear.

If I felt like I were actually depriving someone local of the job opportunity, that would be different, too. That isn't really the case, though.


Posted by: Jimmy Carter | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:04 PM
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I don't think it's inappropriate to insist on an American-style salary.

To be clear, I don't think it is inappropriate either. I brought it up only because it is interesting (to me, anyway) the way this is forcing me to consider what that means more directly than I usually do.


Posted by: Jimmy Carter | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:05 PM
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517: In terms of Heinlein and quality of writing, I think it probably serves us well to remember that in the late Fifties, people weren't really holding SF to the kinds of standards we're judging these books by today -- litsy and artsy weenies in particular, of course, but in general I think today's SF faces a more sophisticated readership. For all that Forbidden Planet or Star Trek might occasionally riff on Shakespeare, the aesthetic standard by which SF was judged was essentially that of pulp. And by that standard, Heinlein is damned impressive.

By any standard beyond that, I think it should be reasonably non-controversial that trying to defend the political and aesthetic sophistication of his books is a flawed endeavour. There are many other genre writers -- LeGuin of course, also McHugh, Roberts, Anthony, Reynolds -- who run circles around him by pretty much any reasonable measure of political depth or aesthetic accomplishment. Stranger in a Strange Land excepted, perhaps.

518: I'd put "staunchly anti-racist" as "shallowly multiculturalist" in the case of ST. It has characters from different cultural backgrounds, but none of those backgrounds really a make a difference to the characters, they're just all American-by-default. About as impressive as having Uhura on the bridge of the Enterprise as a receptionist -- a relative positive, but I think a bigger deal gets made about it than it really warrants.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:06 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:07 PM
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And by that standard, Heinlein is damned impressive.

This is fair. I find his stuff overrated and uneven (some of it very weak) mostly because I do hold it to a higher standard. I'm certainly not claiming there's a large body of his contemporaries (in genre) who were doing better.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:08 PM
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today's SF faces a more sophisticated readership

Unless we're talking the series books related to properties like Star Wars or RPGs of various kinds. But who knows, maybe those are more sophisticated too, I don't know as much about them.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:08 PM
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I'm pretty sure Jammies and I make a good bit more than everyone else in our neighborhood. Our "small" house is significantly bigger and newish compared to the rest of the neighborhood, and it's the only one built up and above the floodplain. (Our house really does seem reasonably modest to me - 1300 square feet, and a lot of the houses seem tiny, like you wonder how it can possibly be divided into a bare minumum number of rooms. Obviously there are plenty of equally small apartments that house the same number of people, but still. Tiny houses.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:09 PM
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I'd put "staunchly anti-racist" as "shallowly multiculturalist" in the case of ST.

I thought he meant that the bugs were people too.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:09 PM
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somewhere with an economic landscape that makes Mississippi look good

Welcome!


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:11 PM
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532: I think this is probably true of many (and not, of many) people here. But is there a difference in kind between "a good bit more" and knowing that the family across the way is probably raising three kids on half or a third of your one salary? Perhaps it's a false distinction.


Posted by: Jimmy Carter | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:14 PM
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These bites still itch like hell, by the way. The largest one, one the back of my calf, really is a good three inches in diameter, but I suspect I got stung more than once there.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:14 PM
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But is there a difference in kind between "a good bit more" and knowing that the family across the way is probably raising three kids on half or a third of your one salary?

I don't think there's a difference. I mean, I presume this is true about many of the families in the neighborhood.

Actually, probably not true about either one of our salaries alone, but true about total household income.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:17 PM
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"Ok, I can work with it; it is also staunchly anti-racist."

Juan Rico's family was Filipino, fwiw. And Rod Walker in Tunnel In The Sky is, very subtly, black. (This at a time, 1955, when black heros in sf were almost unheard of.) Eunice in the not-very-good (IMO) I Will Fear No Evil was written by Heinlein with pictures of two women in front of him, one white, one black, in an attempt to remind himself to make Eunice not specifically either in any way. Farnham's Freehold, which I mentioned earlier as extremely painful, wasn't intentionally racist in any way, but like all of Heinlein's work, was a product of his background. It was, of course, intended to be anti-racist, but like some other aspects of Heinlein's work as viewed by readers who grew up in later times than he did, some of it is, at best, extremely grating. (Similarly some of his male-female dialogue in various works, which into his last books retained a lot of flavor of the 1920s, as well as some of his treatment of women, which was generally very enlightened for his era, but not so much in retrospect.)

516 is correct. The editor was the aforementioned Alice Dagliesh, who imposed a lot of idiosyncratic restrictions on Heinlein's earlier juveniles, as I earlier mentioned.

Starship Troopers (originally "Starship Soldier," the title of the earlier, somewhat shorter, serial version in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction) was written in a white heat; Heinlein had been in the middle of writing what became Stranger In A Strange Land when the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy took out newspaper ads in 1958 calling for a unilateral suspension of nuclear testing, which drove Heinlein mad with fury he considered it such bad policy (he was wrong), and he dropped what he was doing to immediately write Starship Soldier/Troopers. It is, of course, a polemic.

He and Virginia simultaneously created the "Patrick Henry League," and he wrote some political pamphlets, and various political articles he couldn't sell. After Alice Dagliesh and Scribner's rejected SS/ST, he sold it successfully to Putnam's as an adult work. Which was a transition that ultimately did his commercial career a considerable good, fwiw.

520: "Superhero comic books are primarily an escapist power fantasy."

Ditto lots of YA sf, which is to say, essentially much early sf. Precocious adolescents (of all ages) like to read stories that empower images of themselves. Film at 11. Ender's Game is a quintessential later example.

To be sure, better modern day, as well as much better earlier day, sf does not fit in this category at all, and people who dismiss all sf as such are, we shall politely say, ignorant.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:18 PM
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Mitigating factors being that our neighborhood is not very big, and is sort of the most walkable neighborhood in the town, close to downtown, the university, and the parks along the river. There are richer, nicer neighborhoods, historical districts, and poorer, sadder neighborhoods. Our hoods' flavor does not describe the entire town.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:20 PM
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Actually, probably not true about either one of our salaries alone, but true about total household income.

But that's part of the difference. If Rosalynn doesn't work at all, we're in that position. Probably heading for a multiple of five or six if she does. And it's not a matter of neighborhoods, but easily of the majority of the population.


Posted by: Jimmy Carter | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:22 PM
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whups. can someone fix that?


Posted by: Jimmy Carter | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:22 PM
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I knew it! I totally knew you were JC! I'm so good.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:23 PM
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Oh, and I'd like to emphasize one bit of what I just wrote in 538: Heinlein wrote SS/ST in the middle of writing Stranger In A Strange Land -- he picked up writing the latter again when he was done with SS/ST, and the latter is more or less never accused of being "facist"; this wasn't a matter of, as suggested earlier, Heinlein's political views changing over the years (though, of course, they did to a considerable extent over many decades), but of his views being in many ways rather complex than any simple reading of any given of his work suggests.

(On the down side, SIASL was where he was first given reign to really let a character start pompously lecturing at length, namely Jubal Harshaw. This tendency only grew far worse in his late period when he went essentially unedited.)


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:23 PM
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well, heebie-geebie I wasn't trying to be mysterious so much as circumspect. I assumed it would be easy enough to figure out. However, I'd appreciate a redaction.


Posted by: Jimmy Carter | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:25 PM
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taking a job somewhere with an economic landscape that makes Mississippi look good.

You're getting a job at UC Merced?


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:27 PM
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The location still kind of mystifies me -- I can't think of anyplace with a US cost of living and a much larger percentage of the population living in poverty than the US. (Is India not cheaper than the US?) Not that the location is important, but it means I don't have a feel for the situation at all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:28 PM
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Dammit, I am so pawned.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:28 PM
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544: Are you saying I'm not so good?

Also, are you moving out of the country?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:29 PM
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LB, think more locally.


Posted by: Jimmy Carter | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:30 PM
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546: California's Central Valley (particularly the San Joaquin) comes to my mind, although housing costs have gone down.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:30 PM
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El Paso?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:31 PM
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520: For the main drift of superhero genre, the basic, underlying, foundational fantasy, rooted in the pulps, is that of solving problems and dispensing justice by violent means and without having to resort to courts or the legal process. (During WWII, this transmuted into being able to punch Hitler in the nose without worrying about niggly stuff like logistics and allies and chain of command -- a rawer form of power fantasy.) If the cops come into the picture, the bulk of the time they're ultimately there to rubber-stamp the work of the vigilante -- or occasionally to complicate their lives when a villain or a nitwit or evil politician tricks the law into standing in the way of what's right and attacking the heroes. Whether or not we choose to call it fascist, it is simply not possible for a fantasy thus structured to be anti-authoritarian.

There are exceptions, of course, but this overwhelmingly is the basic structure of the bulk of superhero narrative, variously embellished.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:31 PM
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Also I keep confusing Starship Troopers, which I never saw, with Galaxy Quest, which I love.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:32 PM
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These bites still itch like hell, by the way. The largest one, one the back of my calf, really is a good three inches in diameter, but I suspect I got stung more than once there.

Wrong thread?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:33 PM
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553: They were pretty much identical.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:33 PM
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Is there ever really a wrong thread?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:34 PM
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546: Dubai or some other place where expatriates are totally segregated?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:36 PM
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Also, I'm dashing and probably can't say this very clearly, but I would say the larger issue for Pres. Carter isn't any abstract "What does this mean?", but the smaller, everyday "What is it going to do to you to live in that situation?"

For some people (the kind who can live happily with a Western job in Dubai, perhaps), the answer is "Nothing." For a few, it may be uncomfortable bordering on upsetting in the long term. And for the majority of others, something else entirely.

Insofar as this is a question, I think it's a deeply personal one.



Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:37 PM
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528: "...I think it probably serves us well to remember that in the late Fifties, people weren't really holding SF to the kinds of standards we're judging these books by today...."

Yes, although I'd hold up Alfred Bester's short stories, and some of Sturgeon's better, and a number of other examples of the time as up to very high standards, and contra the stereotypes, indeed.

"And by that standard, Heinlein is damned impressive."

Yes, Heinlein, like any artist of a given time, has to be judged in the context of his own times. And in many ways, socially as well as technologically, he was very ahead of his times. A lot of that is lost in a retrospective reading. (When he had characters pull phones out of their pockets in Between Planets in 1951, that was a sense-of-wonder moment, for example. Ditto, for the most part, his treatment of women at the time.)

"LeGuin"

It's "Le Guin." Almost everybody gets this wrong.

"they're just all American-by-default"

I wouldn't make any claims at all towards Heinlein's ability to get inside the perspective of non-Americans. Definitely the opposite, IMO.

"About as impressive as having Uhura on the bridge of the Enterprise as a receptionist -- a relative positive, but I think a bigger deal gets made about it than it really warrants."

But not for its time. Star Trek (the original) is just jam-packed with nauseating sexism in retrospect, but in its time, on television, it took steps forward. American tv had almost no African-Americans on screen at all. Julia didn't come on until 1968, two years after Star Trek (four years after ST was conceived); I Spy was practically it. Before that it was pretty much Beulah, Rochester, and Amos 'n Andy. I think there literally may have been no other regular African-Americans on American tv at all between those latter and Star Trek. (though, to be sure, Uhura was from the United States of America, and was a native Swahili speaker, not African-American).

And, of course, the original executive officer of the Enterprise was Majel Barret; it was the network that vetoed that.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:40 PM
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I've got it. Jimmy Carter is moving to Wilkinsburg.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:40 PM
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Jimmy Carter is going to be surrounded by peanuts.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:41 PM
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"Uhura was from the United States of America"

S/b: "was from the United States of Africa."


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:43 PM
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546. I'm imagining more a doctor (say an obgyn) moving to the rez.


Posted by: BA | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:46 PM
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The question is not where Jimmy Carter is moving, but when Jimmy Carter is moving.

Hired to time-travel back to the 1970's (to fix up the tall ships? to work on gritty social action movies? to rectify the errors of his own administration?) he will still be paid a typical 2009 salary. Nice work, Mr. Carter!


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:46 PM
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The amount of regional variation in CA unemployment amazes me. Perhaps it shouldn't. But at the MSA level, you've got everything from 7.6% in Santa Barbara and 8.3% in Napa to 26.8% in El Centro.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:49 PM
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It's also worth pointing out that, for all his faults and for everything he was wrong about, Heinlein is pretty consistent on the message that education is important and figuring things out for yourself is important, so much so that I can take away from ST the idea that military service is admirable and valuable to society while remaining extremely anti-authoritarian and anti-war, and that I can rationally extrapolate from the free-love & anti-jealousy material in SIASL to the strong bisexualist position that Heinlein was too afraid to look closely at.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:49 PM
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Because it's stupid and makes no sense and is a waste of my time.

I don't question the validity of your perceptions (ST certainly didn't attain greatness, even by SF movie terms) but I don't get them because I actually really did enjoy the movie. In a visceral and non theory dependent way. Within about ten minutes I was thinking to myself...cool, an entertaining space opera! And treats the source material with some wit and the proper (lack of) seriousness! This will be fun. And so it was. As for being stupid nonsense, name the humans-vs.-alien-space insects movie that made sense.

In the strictest poli-sci sense, the word "fascism" doesn't quite apply -- a thing can be militarist and authoritarian without being technically fascist. In the practical sense, I don't know that the distinction is all that meaningful.)

As you know there isn't any standard accepted definition of "fascism". (As we unfortunately were reminded by Jonah Gold/bergs horrible book). I think of fascist movements as putting authoritarian state militarism at the center of social order, the highest value, and then beyond that the various fascist movements differ based on the social/national context.

Since ST has more in common with the the American Army 'documentaries' (propaganda) shown in movie theatres in the 40's than anything else.

Sure. I don't think America is a fascist country at all (we've become pretty militarist, but it's not our central or highest value). But I do think the glorification of the military coming out of WWII introduced an incipient facist strain into American political and cultural life, which has grown since then, especially over the cold war. The Iraq period was scary because all that stuff was highlighted.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:51 PM
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Anyway, this is probably not realistic advice, given that I'm still having a hard time picturing the situation, but one possibility would be to conform your lifestyle (wholly or partially) to that of your poverty-stricken neighbors, sock away the money you're saving, and do something with it that makes you feel better about the situation. Wholly conforming is probably unrealistic, but if most of the population is getting by on a third to a sixth of your household income, cost of living or no you can probably get by on a lot less than you're making.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:52 PM
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568, obviously, to Jimmy's quandary.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:53 PM
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Uhura was from the United States of Africa, and was a native Swahili speaker, not African-America

Not established in the primary text, contra wikipedia, other than that she was a fluent speaker of Swahili.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:54 PM
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If you live in a US city, and have a professional job, it's got to be more likely than not that you have neighbors who have 1/4 to 1/5 of your income, unless you define neighborhood very narrowly or live in a fairly exclusive middle class suburb. I mean, cities are chock full of 2-3 person households making $20,000/yr total. Maybe the question is how it will feel to make significantly more than people you'd view as your peers? Or to be closer to the top of the relative income distribution than you were before?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:55 PM
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Galaxy Quest, which I love.

me too!


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:55 PM
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559.penultimate: Apparently the 1968 episode with this Kirk-Uhura kiss was "widely banned" in the South at the time (per Michael Bérubé at Crooked Timber).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 12:56 PM
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479

Agreed. I don't understand why people can't simply enjoy the movie of Starship Troopers. Beautiful naked people, gleaming spaceships, evil insect enemies! It's all quite delightful and enjoyable. Not a grand political statement, but an adult's ironic eye for what's fun about the fascist fantasy.

I sort of agree with this as I liked the movie. On the other hand it was a commercial failure which suggests it must have some shortcomings as fluff entertainment as well.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:00 PM
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Or Mr. Carter can start paying people to do the work he'd normally do in the house and the yard. Colonial economics are very pleasant for the advantaged.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:01 PM
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571: Mmm. Part of what I'm being befuddled about is that back when I was working in a law firm, I was, come to think of it, basically in Jimmy's situation -- our income was easily five times that of plenty of people within walking distance of our apartment. And while a lot of that difference went to debt service, it really didn't seem upsettingly strange to me. This may simply be one more of the many things that indicates bad character on my part, of course.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:01 PM
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I'm imagining more a doctor (say an obgyn) moving to the rez.

That was my guess too. Not that I had any kind of insight, I've got a buddy who's dad and stepmom are doctors on a rez in Norcal.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:04 PM
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Hmm, 3.5% unemployment in Bismarck, ND. Perhaps a good option to keep in my back pocket should finding a job after graduation prove too difficult. And wow, look at that state capitol building.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:10 PM
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572: re: Galaxy Quest

At lunch today I referred to myself as "Crewman Number Six" with regard to a particular work situation.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:11 PM
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578: I'm not sure what the unemployment rate is, but for state capitols, you really can't beat Nebraska. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:DSCN5022_nebraskacapitolwithfountain_e.jpg

For those whose Freud-bell goes ding when they see the photo, you should know that the statue you can see on top if a guy sowing seeds.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:13 PM
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578.last: Because there needed to be one tall building in the state that wasn't a grain elevator?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:13 PM
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'...is a guy sowing seeds."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:14 PM
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Hired to time-travel back to the 1970's

The thing is, if you're paid in 2009 dollars, would the time-machine automatically transform them to 1973 dollars when you got there? Like, for every dollar in your suitcase, you'll arrive with three quarters? Because that will make your suitcase very heavy.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:15 PM
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Wait, when did ST stop referring to Starship Troopers and start referring to Star Trek?

It seemed like in 506, ST was very firmly Starship Troopers. Slack wanted to make a nice distinction between being militariarist and being full blown fascist, and putting Starship Troopers on the militarist side. Then Gary jumps in and said that "ST" was staunchly anti-racist, which makes no sense in the context of 506. (The military nature of Star Fleet is weak in the first series and gets progressively weaker in later incarnations.) And now we are talking about whether Uhura was a step forward for black people in the US. (For the record, Dr. King thought so, and told Nichelle Nichols that personally.)


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:19 PM
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552
For the main drift of superhero genre, the basic, underlying, foundational fantasy, rooted in the pulps, is that of solving problems and dispensing justice by violent means and without having to resort to courts or the legal process.

True - this is why it's called a power fantasy - but same could be said of probably 30 to 40 percent of all fiction, a lot of which predates fascism.

If the cops come into the picture, the bulk of the time they're ultimately there to rubber-stamp the work of the vigilante -- or occasionally to complicate their lives when a villain or a nitwit or evil politician tricks the law into standing in the way of what's right and attacking the heroes. Whether or not we choose to call it fascist, it is simply not possible for a fantasy thus structured to be anti-authoritarian.

This statement about the role of cops (more generally, authorities in civil society) is doing almost all the work in this argument, and your second scenario, when they are tricked into complicating the hero's life, is only authoritarian if it only happens occasionally. If that's the rule rather than the exception, then that depiction of authority really isn't positive or effective enough to be called authoritarian.

For Batman those are both true; they really do either rubber-stamp him or pursue him and if they're pursuing him it's because they've been duped by a villain or bureaucracy. For Superman those are often true, but there are glaring exceptions, like, um, er, when Lex Luthor got elected president for a really big example, and most of the post-Crisis era when he was a legitimate but very corrupt businessman. For Spiderman that's definitely false. Individual officers and the man on the street are often grateful to him, but The Man is always out to get him. Same for the X-Men. The entire run of all the X-Men books and spinoffs* are a paean to civil disobedience in the name of minority rights. I don't see how you can call that authoritarian.

Forgive me for being so geeky, but I don't see how you can talk about superheroes without mentioning Spiderman, the X-Men or Superman from the 1980s on.

* Of course, they weren't all focused on that same theme, but most were, and that was the backstory.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:19 PM
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"Not established in the primary text, contra wikipedia"

I haven't bothered to look at Wikipedia, but it was in the series bible, fwiw. You're correct that it was never stated on camera in the original series, but Americans don't grow up speaking Swahili as their first tongue (shown in "The Man Trap"), and for god's sake, do you really want to argue what is and isn't Star Trek canon?

"this Kirk-Uhura kiss was 'widely banned' in the South"

That's a complete myth. The network insisted that it be filmed with the kiss not being shown face-to-face, but Roddenberry had both versions filmed, and then used the one actually used. NBC was worried, but there was no actual "banning" or not showing of the episode anywhere. Myth.

According to Nichelle Nichol's autobiography (which I haven't read; only quotes from), the network in the end got exactly one letter of protest.

574: "On the other hand it was a commercial failure which suggests it must have some shortcomings as fluff entertainment as well."

There are actually two direct-to-DVD sequels I've yet to be able to bring myself to try watching. They're not said to be improvements on the original.

Believe it or not, there was also an animated tv series, which I've also never seen a moment of.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:29 PM
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"According to Nichelle Nichol's autobiography (which I haven't read; only quotes from), the network in the end got exactly one letter of protest."

That was probably from somebody writing Kirk/Spock fanfic.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:33 PM
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"What is it going to do to you to live in that situation?"

Yes, something like this. Or at least, what is it disallowing you to ignore.

To people saying that this sort of disparity exists everywhere in the states, of course it does. That wasn't the point. Consider where you are living now. Now move to another city in the US where the poverty level approaches 50%, and the average household income approaches 50% of where you are now (with similarly uneven distribution). Assume cost of living is constant, and we aren't just talking about an economically depressed county, you can't drive to the next city and change things. We're talking about a significant shift in the economic situation of most everyone around you. This can't help but shape things differently.

What I'm saying above is that thinking about this focuses me on the privilege I have because I can no longer box things away as "a poor neighborhood" or whatever. The average expectations of the average family are just radically different than what my view of "average american family" would be. That's what is, at least to me, different from the situation LB describes.


Posted by: Jimmy Carter | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:34 PM
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"Wait, when did ST stop referring to Starship Troopers and start referring to Star Trek?"

DS first brought up Star Trek in 528, although still using "ST" to refer to Starship Troopers. I don't think I've used "ST" to refer to Star Trek in this thread. I'm not noticing that anyone else here has either, actually.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:36 PM
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I'm not asking this to be snarky, but sincere - since you're pseudononymous, is there a reason to withhold the destination city?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:36 PM
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"That was probably from somebody writing Kirk/Spock fanfic."

You're probably just kidding, but the first K/S fiction wasn't actually written (or at least published anywhere) until 1974, and even then wasn't made explicitly so; the first clear K/S wasn't written until 1976. (Yes, I know far too much about this stuff; I'm friends with some of the people who did the very first Star Trek fanzines; not to mention that there have been a variety of academic papers and even books on the history of this by now.)


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:40 PM
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I'm not sure what the unemployment rate is, but for state capitols, you really can't beat Nebraska.

The Prick on the Plains!


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:42 PM
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590: Right -- I'm getting really stuck on where we're talking about that would be shockingly different from the rest of the US. I don't know how bad things are in New Orleans?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:42 PM
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585 - The Greg Rucka/Ed Brubaker (Brubaker being the finest writer of superhero comics working today) "Gotham Central" series had some pretty good stories that fall into your excluded middle there, everything from lingering resentment of the vigilantism to a sense that Batman represents an unsubtle rebuke to their ability to do their jobs. Since Denny O'Neal, basically all the good writers of Batman have operated from the premise that he is, one way or another, a very sick man, but it's hard to write about the Hardest Man Alive without it turning into an authoritarian power fantasy, even when you're a weirdo Brit like Alan Moore or Grant Morrison.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:43 PM
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Most of the poor people in New Orleans are no longer in New Orleans.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:44 PM
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591: Yes, I was kidding.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:44 PM
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I'm using ST to refer to Starship Troopers, and I wish it a long and happy life with Blume.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:45 PM
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590: No, not much reason; I didn't actually mean to leave it open as long as this, but got called away to a meeting. I didn't initially say because it wasn't important, and also a bit for pseudonymity on the off chance I might want to discuss more important issues about the jobs plusses and minuses here (I won't, now). But now this has grown into a subthread I should just tell you.

Except also I became curious if anyone could figure this out from the outline I've given. It's part of the US, and it sort of surprised me that nobody put there finger on it yet. I'm still kind of interested by that. It's in a fairly unusual economic situation, after all, and I thought it would have been easy, if not obvious. So one more chance to guess.

It's not a single city. Everyone tired of guessing? If so, I'll tell you.


Posted by: Jimmy Carter | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:46 PM
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I was guessing Detroit in my head.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:46 PM
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For reasons of my own, I use 'ST' as the postal abbreviation for South Dakota. If you use the correct ZIP code, it still works.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:46 PM
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Maybe the Rio Grande Valley would fit as well.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:47 PM
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Hmm, 3.5% unemployment in Bismarck, ND. Perhaps a good option to keep in my back pocket should finding a job after graduation prove too difficult

Fargo is so much better than Bismark. I am just saying is all.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:47 PM
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598: The Twin Cities? The Quad Cities?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:48 PM
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It's the cost of living thing that's so mysterious. How can the average income fall off so dramatically with the cost of living remaining the same? Are you moving to where the laws of supply and demand have been eliminated? Or some kind of super-isolated place where it's hard to supply anything? Not trying to be picky about this, but it's hard to get a handle on the situation you're describing.

If you're just moving to a poorer area, enjoy a bigger house and a gardener, try not to be too ostentatious, and be friendly, and you should be fine.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:48 PM
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Everybody must shop at the company store!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:49 PM
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Or some kind of super-isolated place where it's hard to supply anything?

Well it's not clear I'm moving at all.

But yes, location has something to do with the cost of things, and while the law of supply and demand hasn't been eliminated, the local economy is weirdly distorted by outside forces.


Posted by: Jimmy Carter | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:51 PM
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584: "For the record, Dr. King thought so, and told Nichelle Nichols that personally."

For the record, so far as I know, the only testimony to this has come from Nichelle Nichols. Not that I don't believe her. I'm just sayin'.

585: "or Spiderman"

That's "Spider-Man," if we're being properly geeky. Also, the whole current "Dark Reign" storyline rampaging through Marvel is all about the bad guys being in charge of the U.S. and everything.

Plus we could bring up a zillion other storylines, and that's just mainstream Marvel and DC, such as the whole Wonder Woman committing murder thing, or the whole goshdarn post Civil War stuff at Marvel, which is to say, the entire run of everything they've done for three years now, or, for that matter, everything at DC post Infinite Crisis, which is everything done for the past four years. Or we could delve back to decades ago when Captain America quit for quite a long time because he realized the American government wasn't run by good guys, etc. That was, let's see, thirty-five years ago.

(Roxxon was particularly unsubtle, but, then, comics were very unsubtle in those days.)


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:52 PM
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Hawaii is a high cost of living, low salary type of place, but not to the kind of extreme Jimmy is describing.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:52 PM
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The only place I can guess would be New Orleans, where maybe the weird post-Katrina economy means lots of very poor people combined with high prices. If that's right, move to New Orleans -- it's frigging awesome.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:52 PM
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Puerto Rico?


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:53 PM
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604: The answer to me seems to be that the cost of living like an average (or average upper-middle) American is the same there as everywhere, but the most people live below that average standard so can get by on less income. So, I'm going to guess West Virginia (prompted by the 'company store' in 605.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:53 PM
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598

Puerto Rico.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:53 PM
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Yeah, count me as one of the mystified. (And I feel stupid now that you've indicated you thought it was going to be blindingly obvious. You hurt my feelings--waaaah!) Parenthetical's UC Merced guess seemed like a pretty good one, but I guess that's not it?


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:53 PM
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609: No, not New Orleans. Although I agree, it's awesome and I wish I could spend more time there.

NPH, more extreme than Hawaii, yes.

I should have saved this for a Friday game.


Posted by: Jimmy Carter | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:54 PM
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Shearer FTW.


Posted by: Jimmy Carter | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:54 PM
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No wait, Bave was first.


Posted by: Jimmy Carter | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:55 PM
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But he was mealy-mouthed about it, using a question mark instead of Shearer's more certain period.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:56 PM
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Oh neat! That sounds amazing! How does the job itself sound?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:57 PM
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I should have been able to put that together with the earlier clues, but I suck at puzzles.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:58 PM
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How can the average income fall off so dramatically with the cost of living remaining the same?

This, exactly -- I'm getting stuck on possibilities like "It's someplace like Hawaii, in that it's expensive because stuff we think of as necessities all has to be shipped in from a great distance, but (less like Hawaii) there are a lot of poor people who simply don't have the money to buy imports, and live a completely different lifestyle than richer people."

And the income disparity described is too small to be shocking, except in the sense that we should all be shocked all the time at the injustice of our society. The average household income in my ZIP code was $29,479 in 2000, and there were a couple of years in the last decade where our household income was well over $200K, so not too far from ten times. And it just doesn't look that weird.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 1:58 PM
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you've indicated you thought it was going to be blindingly obvious.

I really didn't think blindingly obvious at all, just that you'd come up with it after reflection.


Posted by: Jimmy Carter | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:00 PM
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The answer to your personal struggle is obvious. Give back on behalf of all of us who have taken. Form a street gang and stage a musical about it.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:01 PM
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I met a guy who had professorship in Puerto Rico. He said when they hired from the mainland, they only hired single people, because a trailing spouse would inevitably force the couple to leave after a couple years.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:01 PM
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621: I know. Was exaggerating for (attempted) effect.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:01 PM
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Ah, and pwned while I was writing. You know, I don't know anything specific about Puerto Rico, but my 568 (live like your poorer neighbors) sounds like it might be possible. That is, that there are very distinct high income and low income segments of society, and it might not be necessary to live in a high income style. If you ended up there, you could try to figure out how a moderately prosperous but not rich local would live, and see if you could tolerate living like that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:03 PM
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623: I could see how being a trailing spouse could hurt if you had to work for the local wage or couldn't work because there was too little need for your skills.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:03 PM
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"Since Denny O'Neal, basically all the good writers of Batman have operated from the premise that he is, one way or another, a very sick man"

Not to mention being kind of dead for a while, but apparently he's gotten kinda better, despite having a corpse and all. Reading these summaries can make anyone's head explode.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:06 PM
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How does the job itself sound?

On paper, pretty amazing. Of course, there are issues to consider.

And the income disparity described is too small to be shocking

It's not shocking, certainly not in the sense that moving to a really economically depressed country on a 1st world salary would be. But I think you're reading my earlier statements too strongly:
and see if you could tolerate living like that.

It's not a matter of "tolerating" at all, but of commenting how much it makes you (well, me) take a look at the disparity that exists here, too.

PR is a funny place, because while from a mainland US perspective the economic situation looks pretty dire (14% unemployment pretty consistent, avg. household income still below your 2000 numbers LB, and that's for the whole place), on the other hand they are a hop skip and a jump away from places like Haiti, so locally they're an economic powerhouse.

And of course there are definite upsides to living there, I was just commenting on one little piece of the "should I go?" puzzle.


Posted by: Jimmy Carter | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:11 PM
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My acquaintance also had a T-shirt promoting the idea that the United States should become the 79th municipality of Puerto Rico. He said this was a reasonable alternative to Puerto Rico becoming the 51st state.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:14 PM
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607: Fair enough, but I wanted to stick to comic book characters and stories that:

(a) I was reasonably familiar with. Snarkout's comment on Batman in 594 is well taken; most Batman stories I've seen and read have been outside mainstream continuity. Sticking to what I know also rules out most DC characters and almost all comics from the past year or two, since my comic book reading has diminished to almost nothing in recent months; I still notice some buzz online, and still buy or browse comics a little, but I couldn't tell you nearly as much about "Dark Reign" as about similar events from five to 15 years ago.

(b) is reasonably representative of the genre. Popular characters, in stories where superheroes are taken at face value, set in a sorta real-ish world, etc. The alternate reality story where Superman was raised as Tarzan really doesn't tell us a thing about politics in comic books in general. Nor does Watchmen.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:14 PM
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Br's sister has a house in PR. They loved it and spend about a 1/5 of the year there.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:16 PM
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629: That whole issue reminds me a bit of Quebec.


Posted by: Jimmy Carter | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:16 PM
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632: Quebec should become a part of Puerto Rico, too?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:18 PM
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I'm curious -- what's your basis for saying the cost of living isn't lower in PR than where you are now? I don't know anything about it, but I also don't know where you'd look that up, and what sort of a market-basket you'd use as the basis of the comparison.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:19 PM
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Jesus Christ: I'm considering taking a job somewhere with an economic landscape that makes Mississippi look good. I probably have enough leverage to insist on rough parity with salary expectations in the field for most of the USA. Which would take me from reasonably well paid compared to my neighbors into multiples of average family income territory. The cost of living isn't going to drop though.

OK. If that's PR, well, I don't see there's a big problem.

JC: What I'm saying above is that thinking about this focuses me on the privilege I have because I can no longer box things away as "a poor neighborhood" or whatever. The average expectations of the average family are just radically different than what my view of "average american family" would be. That's what is, at least to me, different from the situation LB describes.

They certainly will be. I think though, that your cost of living will drop in some significant aspects. Beyond that, I do not know what to say. I don't see how you can behave differently than you do now; if PR is in the US (which it isn't, quite), those income differentials exist now.

max
['Heebie's two guesses were also mine before I saw the PR thing.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:21 PM
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Ahhh, Puerto Rico. I have a hard time believing that you won't see a pretty big cost of living improvement, though, at least for property and some labor-intensive things. I knew a guy who lived there for a year and seemed to think it was cheap.

I'd imagine that general culture shock would be a bigger issue than the income disparity per se.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:23 PM
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490: Hey, lighten up!* Anyone would think that someone died and the funeral was today.

*Or get a nose job. Or buy the Beatles songs. Or [even more tasteless joke deleted]

ZOMG HATER!


Posted by: OPINIONATED CRAZY PERSON | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:25 PM
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"The alternate reality story where Superman was raised as Tarzan"

Mort Weisinger Nostalgia Moment: "An Imaginary Story!"

Unlike, you know, the others.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:26 PM
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And then I thought: "Huh, I wonder what happens when I google Puerto Rico 'cost of living.'" And turns out I get some calculators: Salary.com suggests that the cost of living in San Juan is a little less than half of NYC.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:26 PM
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628: PR is a funny place, because while from a mainland US perspective the economic situation looks pretty dire (14% unemployment pretty consistent, avg. household income still below your 2000 numbers LB, and that's for the whole place), on the other hand they are a hop skip and a jump away from places like Haiti, so locally they're an economic powerhouse.

See, this is why I woulda gone with HG's first or second guesses. People in the Valley are poor. Housing project poor, without the access to local services. None the less, they live across from the even poorer people in Mexico. So if you moved to the Valley, the effect would be near identical (excepting the tax breaks PR gets).

I'd think the question probably amounts to, 'can I live with being one of the richest and whitest people for miles and miles around?' I have no answer to that question.

max
['Because I'm... not you.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:26 PM
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634: Well all the CPI based indices etc., plus my own looking around, tell me it's not that much different. Perhaps a little bit more than where I am now (a cheap city by US standards, mind). Gasoline is about the same, cars are much more. Houses in the city I'd move to are maybe 50-100k more expensive than they are here on average (again, this city is cheap housing though). Food doesn't drop as much as you'd might think, because they have to import quite a bit. Tourist friendly restaurants are probably twice as expensive as what I'd pay here, less tourist/anglo friendly ones closer to par with here.


Posted by: Jimmy Carter | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:29 PM
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639: It suggested a 5.5% lower cost of living in San Juan than Pittsburgh. I'm starting to see why Pittsburgh comes out so high on those 'affordable cities' survey things.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:30 PM
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How much subsistence farming still happens in PR? Samoa was a weird place, because it shows up statistically as just about the poorest place in the world in terms of money, but the subsistence fishing/farming works well enough to support a not particularly nightmarish life for people with almost no money at all. PR's obviously infinitely richer than Samoa, but I wonder if there may be the same sort of non-monetary activity that provides some lifestyle support.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:30 PM
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"Gotham Central"

I recently picked up the first collection of this, as I've just gotten accepted as a new contributor to a group comics blog focused on gay comics readers and I want to get up to speed on Renee Montoya/The Question (plus I'm told Gotham Central is just wicked good). I'm afraid that as series go I've let basically all things DC fall off my personal radar for a long time now, outside of Seven Soldiers and Morrison's recent Superman series. (Yes, I am adding Detective Comics, since it's the new All Lesbians All The Time Superhero Review, and Morrison's Batman & Robin, to my bag at the local shop.)


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:31 PM
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567:I think of fascist movements as putting authoritarian state militarism at the center of social order, the highest value, and then beyond that the various fascist movements differ based on the social/national context.

I do think racism, or at least an state-defined Schmittian "Other", even if only communism /capitalism as during the Cold War, is important to the understanding of movement fascism. Part of the dynamic is that the dehumanization of the Other allows the citizen to be defined only in terms of relationship to state or movement etc.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:32 PM
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LB: Using your same index calculator, I get a small increase in cost, not decrease. So your cost of living is about 2x mine here, also.

See, this is why I woulda gone with HG's first or second guesses.

Yeah, they weren't crazy guesses.


Posted by: Jimmy Carter | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:32 PM
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I forget how weird NYC is, cost of living wise. Double, within the continental US, does surprise me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:33 PM
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You could probably take your mind off the wealth differential by surfing for a couple hours a day. That is harder to do in Texas or the California ag valleys.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:35 PM
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How much subsistence farming still happens in PR?

As I understand it, not enough. It probably helps a fair bit at the very low end, out of the cities. There is a lot of food imported though.


Double, within the continental US, does surprise me.

Yeah, that surprised me a little bit too, but texas in general is pretty cheap I think. Hence the big internal migration numbers lately.


Posted by: Jimmy Carter | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:35 PM
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He said when they hired from the mainland, they only hired single people, because a trailing spouse would inevitably force the couple to leave after a couple years.

I am kind of curious about this. I could see the reasons 626 affecting some people, but I can't see why it would be so ubiquitous as to be comment worthy.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:35 PM
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I'm a good guesser!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:35 PM
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646: I can still remember when we almost moved to NYC for my wife to go to school. Married student housing (of about 400 square feet) cost more than a house payment does here.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:36 PM
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Although checking back I was misreading it -- prices in San Juan are 46% less than those in NYC, not 46% of those in NYC. So more than half, not less than half.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:36 PM
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645: OK, but there's a lot of "othering" associated with militarism in general as a value, since it's all about, you know, killing people. The enemy has to be devalued. Starship Troopers neatly sidesteps the "othering" issue by making the enemy literal insects.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:36 PM
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650: I don't think it's quite that ubiquitous. However, high local unenemployment, and only 25% of the population can speak english fluently probably combine to cut a lot of non-professional jobs from being practical for spouses. You may find that some departments had bad luck with this.


Posted by: Jimmy Carter | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:37 PM
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653: Right. Still a big shift from your -46% to my +2.5%


Posted by: Jimmy Carter | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:38 PM
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That is harder to do in Texas

The surf in Texas sucks.


Posted by: Jimmy Carter | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:39 PM
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586: [Spoc-Uhura kiss] That's a complete myth.

OK, sorry I helped spread it then. However, it really was not germane to my main point which was in support of yours that Star Trek was somewhat progressive for its time on TV. The interracial kiss being another example.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:42 PM
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Married student housing (of about 400 square feet) cost more than a house payment does here.

Yup. I'm always astonished by the size of people's living space when we visit people outside of NYC.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:42 PM
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659: How many square feet is your apartment?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:44 PM
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658: [Kirk-Uhura] ... jesus.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:45 PM
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I can't remember exactly but about a thousand? I think? It's a big apartment by NY standards, but pretty tight for a family of four outside NY.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:46 PM
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659: The astonishment also goes the other way. We've got something near 1500 square feet, plus a basement/garage and I consider us as having accepted cramped quarters to get into a better neighborhood/save money.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:46 PM
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661: Kirk and Uhura made out with Jesus? I totally don't believe they showed that in the South.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:47 PM
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662: That sounds cramped to me, for my current lifestyle. We would definitely have to pare down. (But not so cramped that we'd be incapable of doing so. But I like our stuff!)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:50 PM
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664: Yeah, no white on black on Puerto Rican romance allowed to be shown there in the '60s.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:50 PM
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We've got something near 1500 square feet, plus a basement/garage and I consider us as having accepted cramped quarters to get into a better neighborhood/save money.

It's pretty much only in the (non metro parts of ) US and Canada that such a thing is even a thinkable norm. Suburbanization at this level is pretty bizarre, globally speaking, and relies on an unusual confluence of space, GDP, building technology, and cheap fuel to have achieved it. Perhaps temporarily.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:51 PM
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How many bedrooms in your thousand square feet, LB?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:52 PM
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665: Didn't you say you had a smaller house a couple hundred comments ago? There are only three of us, only two of whom are can reach the sink.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:52 PM
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I might be misremembering -- 1000 is coming to mind, but so's 1200. Two decent sized bedrooms, one living room, a tiny tiny kitchen, two bathrooms, and two entrance foyers (it's a studio and a one-bedroom combined into one apartment, so they both have foyers) that together are about the size of a bedroom. I think in room-count rather than square feet.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:53 PM
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Sorry. 665 was to 662 not 663.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:54 PM
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670: Where do you eat?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:55 PM
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652: Married student housing (of about 400 square feet)

{trying to find jaw under desk} You didn't strangle each other?

649: Yeah, that surprised me a little bit too, but texas in general is pretty cheap I think. Hence the big internal migration numbers lately.

Yeah. They were talking (somewhere) about people from Cali moving to Oklahoma, which I think puts the Dust Bowl --> Okies --> California thing exactly in reverse.

max
['For your historical irony files.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:57 PM
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673.1: We wound-up elsewhere, so we never found out who would have strangled who first.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:58 PM
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Having lived somewhere where my wife and I were living on a stipend that was easily 25-100x what some of my neighbors were earning (though hopefully less than my dentist/landlady; it was a stipend, not a salary), I can say that it does test you. You both have to figure out how to deal with people viewing you as not (not incorrectly) a rich person and the way that that can distort your relationships with them. You also have to figure out what kind of wealthy ex-pat you're interested in being, because sliding into being an unfeeling asshole seemed stunningly easy for some of the people I knew.

In PR I would think there would be the added question of cultural identity. I suspect that you'll be much less likely to be assumed to be a priveledged asshole if you speak decent Spanish and are willing to go with that first in most interactions.


Posted by: Jimmy Pongo | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:58 PM
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Forgot the dining alcove/space -- to get a sense of size, if we pull the table away from the wall, six people can sit around it, but they're all backed up against a wall pretty closely.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 2:59 PM
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400 sq feet is pretty tiny.

Two of us are living in

When I lived in the bay area a while ago I had a studio place that was 550 or so, iirc, but very close to work (where I spent far more time). Next door there was a family of 4 in the same space, who I fel t pretty badly for. The kids were very small, but still.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:00 PM
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585: This statement about the role of cops (more generally, authorities in civil society) is doing almost all the work in this argument, and your second scenario, when they are tricked into complicating the hero's life, is only authoritarian if it only happens occasionally. If that's the rule rather than the exception, then that depiction of authority really isn't positive or effective enough to be called authoritarian.

I disagree. There are all sorts of profoundly authoritarian fantasies about being plagued by incompetent authorities -- right-wing movements like the Patriot movement, and in fact the whole authoritarian wing of American conservative politics, base their entire self-image on being insurgents. I agree with you that this relationship to authority becomes a much more prominent theme in something like Spiderman (though the civil authorities' beef with Spidey was usually half-hearted, the real establishment antagonist was Jameson) or the X-Men. That does little to alter the basic nature of the "punch evil in the nose" fantasy*.

And I'm sorry, I'm going to have to dispute you that over a third of all fiction boils down to something akin to the superhero fantasy. Outside the boundaries of comics I simply don't think that's true at all.

What about X storyline? Don't I remember that Captain America quit during Watergate? I can't speak to comics in the last three or four years, since I no longer read "the capes," but in general I'll say that many storylines that seem to depart from the vigilante power fantasy model do so only superficially -- Captain America "quit" during Watergate to become another costumed vigilante, for instance -- or briefly, as a break from or commentary on the norm. It's like how Roman masters would serve wine to their slaves for a few days of the year during Saturnalia: the departure was a release valve for and confirmed the norm.

(* Yes, yes, yes, I know it's canonically stated that the X-Men storyline is a kind of stand-in for minority rights. But to be honest -- and understand I'm not saying this as a hater, I read the X-Men myself from back in the days when comics cost a quarter -- the minority rights analogy doesn't really stand up to that much scrutiny IMO... which is a polite way of saying I think it's a kind of genial bullshit. Power fantasies are precisely mismatched with talking about minority rights struggles except as a cathartic compensation for a minority's sense of powerlessness... like Superman.)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:02 PM
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oops, forgot about the html issue. Should have read:

Two of us are living in < 700 sq ft. currently, and it's fine for us (big kitchen, actually).


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:02 PM
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There's a family of three living in the studio corresponding to ⅓ of our apartment on the floor below us. With an excitable dog. They seem to be pretty content.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:03 PM
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680: I should have been more specific; I don't think the 550 sq ft. thing was as much of an issue as the open layout --- four people and no proper rooms.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:06 PM
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654: "Starship Troopers neatly sidesteps the 'othering' issue by making the enemy literal insects."

Similarly to the way the prequel Star Wars pictures made almost all of the "enemy" soldiers robots. (Which helps no end in getting a PG rating.)

664: "Kirk and Uhura made out with Jesus? I totally don't believe they showed that in the South."

No, but Kirk did kill "God" in the pretty damned awful Star Trek V.

Which doesn't make up for the overt (and unique for Star Trek, what with Roddenberry being a passionate atheist) references to the "truth" of the "son of God" in the Original Series episode "Bread And Circuses." (The one with the Romans-on-another-planet, which was otherwise one of the more fun episodes, and for K/S fans, actually had Spock mounting Kirk with no shirt, while Kirk moaned). (You'd think you could find a picture of this on the interwebs, but I'm not seeing one.)


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:06 PM
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The interleaving of threads here is amusing somehow.


Posted by: Jimmy Carter | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:07 PM
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And actually I'm just being contrary -- they do seem to be managing fine, but I'd be cranky, given that they don't really have a separate room for their four-year-old. Tiny rooms don't bother me, but not enough rooms is worse.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:07 PM
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678: "Power fantasies are precisely mismatched with talking about minority rights struggles except as a cathartic compensation for a minority's sense of powerlessness... like Superman."

You're just racist against Kryptonians.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:09 PM
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684: Yeah, the layout of these places was fine for a single guy like myself at the time. Kitchen open sided into living area which angled into a little nook for a bed you could draw a curtain/screen across.

But even for two people there was just no separate space. I don't know how the couple did it with two kids, but I know why: this was near the top of the dot-com boom, and even studio apartments were more than $1000/month in lots of the valley.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:11 PM
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685: I just think they should immigrate to our planet legally, like everyone else.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:13 PM
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680: When I sold my first apartment one of the families that wanted to buy it were a couple with two children, boy and girl. My apartment had one bedroom, with a bunkbed, a sitting-room with a kitchen alcove, and a tiny shower-room with loo. I had on occasion had an adult guest and up to three children stay there for a few days, but I couldn't imagine how two adults and two children would live there long-term. On the one hand, it wasn't my problem, really: on the other, I went with the highest bid for the place, and that turned out not to be this family.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:18 PM
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680: They seem to be pretty content.

I have a lot of books, probably less than many of the bookier people, but way way more than Joe Sixpack, I have a lot of tools, and a number of (old) computers. The actual space I use to live in is pretty small, but I take up a lot of 'office'/workshop space. I also tend way more to claustrophobia than agrophobia (but actually agoraphobia would be my major phobia), so yeah, if I got rid of everything, and could move about 400 sq. ft. would be OK, I think, but I would live completely differently than I do now, and I don't think I would enjoy it much.

That's why I have never much wanted to go to NYC: it seems too cramped. (If anybody/everybody else is OK with it, great. Not my bag.)

max
['I'm weird; I admit this up front.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:20 PM
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I might be misremembering -- 1000 is coming to mind, but so's 1200. Two decent sized bedrooms, one living room, a tiny tiny kitchen, two bathrooms, and two entrance foyers (it's a studio and a one-bedroom combined into one apartment, so they both have foyers) that together are about the size of a bedroom. I think in room-count rather than square feet.

This is a little smaller than our place, I think. We have a bigger kitchen, and three bedrooms, two of which are pretty tiny, instead of two sizable ones, plus--huge bonus--a basement. But you have two bathrooms, which makes the idea of four people living there sound more palatable. The bathroom we do have is also tiiiiiny. In my mind, our place would be super for three, cramped for four, and it's luxurious but not absurd for two. I think we'll be sad about the bathroom if we reproduce while we're here, but otherwise it's very nice.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:21 PM
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I just looked at the records, and our place seems to be about 1000 or 1100 square feet (it's a little hard to tell, because the records include the attic, which we don't actually have access to -- the landlords, who live on the other side of the duplex, have the whole thing), but then also the basement, which makes everything much less cramped by providing storage plus a place for the washer, dryer, and cat box.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:25 PM
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690: The bathroom really doesn't come in to much extra use until kids get older. Of course, if you just have a shower without a tub, that could be a small hassle before the end of year one.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:25 PM
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689: You'd probably tolerate it better than you think; people can get used to pretty much anything. All the space people have who live outside of NYC looks pleasant, but it's not tempting at all compared to living here.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:27 PM
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McAfee thinks it is dangerous to visit the site linked in 639. Any comments from people more qualified than me to judge?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:28 PM
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Whoops. Sorry about that, if I've spread anything unpleasant.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:30 PM
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I'm in 960 sqft, which is way more luxury than one person needs, comfortable for two, and I'm wondering how long it would last me with kids. My worry is that it has two bedrooms, so kids would have to share. I know a family grew up in there in the Fifties, but in the Fifties kids ran feral until dark and only came home to sleep.

I completely love the floorplan, which is just about this one, although I want everyone to know that my porch goes all the way across the front. The whole way. Not some half-porch situation.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:31 PM
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There's a tub, but it's weird to use because there's a sliding door instead of a curtain, so you can only have access to half it from outside at a time. The tub is surrounded on three sides by bathroom wall, and then the last side is the sliding door. That also means that there's a metal track thing to poke you with, instead of a nice smooth rim. I suspect also plenty of bonking your head on the sink would ensue. And then just no room for a stepstool, and barely for a diaper pail. But it's true, the bathroom tininess probably only would become a real problem at toddler age at the earliest.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:32 PM
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697: We had that same kind of door for our tub. I took it off before the kid hit 9 months due to the imprint/pain from leaning on the metal track. It was just a couple of screws, though the tub has a couple of rust spots from where the track was sitting.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:35 PM
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You'd probably tolerate it better than you think

No, I agree -- comparing your place to ours directly makes methink, oh, well, that's pretty similar size-wise, and then it's in New York. Not so very cramped, under the circumstances, and if the layout is good, so much the better. Though of course your place presumably costs a great deal more than ours!

What happens when Sally and Newt get too old to share a bedroom? Or is there no such thing? Do you have a washer and dryer in the apartment?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:36 PM
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696: It's a matter of gender. Two samesex kids can share a bedroom indefinitely (I shared with my sister until she left for college), opposite sex you want to split them up before puberty so they can have some privacy. We have a plan to rearrange to split up Sally & Newt, but we've been dawdling partially because the plan leaves Newt with no window. Sally's just turning ten this month, so we should do it pretty soon.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:37 PM
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Do you have a washer and dryer in the apartment?

In loads of places in europe I've seen smallish apartments seemingly standard with a high efficiency, high speed front loading washing machine --- and no drier. They spin off really well though, so people have a little rack or hanger of some sort on which clothes will dry the rest of the way while you're at work or whatever.

I wonder if these are common in NYC? I've never seen them elsewhere here.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:39 PM
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Does the rearrangement involve converting a foyer into a bedroom? I find this kind of discussion pretty much endlessly fascinating, so apologies if it's outrageously boring for others.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:40 PM
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I wonder if these are common in NYC?

Not really. Every apartment building I've ever lived in in NY disapproved of in-apartment washing machines for fear of flooding. Some people have them, but you're hiding them from the landlord, generally.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:41 PM
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687: "685: I just think they should immigrate to our planet legally, like everyone else."

I'm sure Superman pays far more in Social Security taxes than he'll ever take out.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:43 PM
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702: That's it. Currently, the kids are in the bedroom of the one-bedroom, and we're in the bedroom of the studio, with the studio foyer as dead space (and holding Buck's servers, but those are going to move soon). When we rearrange, we'll move into the bedroom of the one-bedroom, Sally will get 2/3 of the studio bedroom (with the window), and Newt will get the foyer plus 1/3 of the bedroom, divided with one of those temporary walls.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:43 PM
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Some people have them, but you're hiding them from the landlord, generally.

Yeah, that meshes with what I've heard elsewhere. It's weird though, because they are ubiquitous elsewhere seemingly without significant problems. These same people who wouldn't think twice about a front loader in their rental unit thought Americans were crazy to allow waterbeds, when those were popular.

Anyway, it's also a supply issue. You don't see them for sale. Sort of like how induction ranges are very common some places, and obscure here.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:44 PM
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We have 1060 square feet for two adults plus almost-teenager plus frequent teenage/almost-teen guests. It's usually plenty but sometimes irksome, so we've been looking. A second full bath, more storage, and better confinement for videogame-related activities would be nice.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:45 PM
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678
There are all sorts of profoundly authoritarian fantasies about being plagued by incompetent authorities -- right-wing movements like the Patriot movement, and in fact the whole authoritarian wing of American conservative politics, base their entire self-image on being insurgents.

Huh. Good point, maybe. You might be right, but I think this might be just because fiction isn't reality. In real life, if people with authoritarian personalities don't see like-minded people in power, they have to believe it's due to incompetence; to admit otherwise would be contrary to their personality. In fiction, though, the writer can create his own authority and the reader can pick and choose. I think (making this up as I go) that writers who create and readers who read about deeply flawed authorities - as a rule rather than as a one-off exception, as the status quo rather than as a foil to be overthrown - believe that that's how things actually work.

And I'm sorry, I'm going to have to dispute you that over a third of all fiction boils down to something akin to the superhero fantasy. Outside the boundaries of comics I simply don't think that's true at all.

Just to have your description handy, I'll quote it again: "solving problems and dispensing justice by violent means and without having to resort to courts or the legal process."

Your own description was very broad. As you say, it describes the pulps, and it also describes A Time to Kill, Dracula, Grosse Point Blank, Last of the Mohicans and Henry V. If not "over a third," then surely you could agree that 25 percent? 20 percent even? of fiction shares that attitude of glorifying or at least reveling in extralegal violence which you now call "akin to the superhero fantasy." None of those are fascistic, AFAIK, and except for the one about an actual king I don't think they're particularly authoritarian for their times. (I'm not very familiar with every example I listed.)

Power fantasies are precisely mismatched with talking about minority rights struggles except as a cathartic compensation for a minority's sense of powerlessness... like Superman.

True, I guess, but I don't see what that has to do with whether comic books are fascistic and/or authoritarian.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:46 PM
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There has to be a way to get a mashup going of the apartment subthread and the comic book subthread, but I can't see a good one.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:48 PM
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I'm enjoying the counterpoint.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:49 PM
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Although, when almost-teenager leaves the house for school in six years, your house will be a great size for two adults.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:50 PM
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711: This is true. Unfortunately it's also poorly oriented on the lot, which bothers me a little more all the time.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:53 PM
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This is all reminding me that while I don't have a roommate, I should move my clothes into the other bedroom. Separate sleeping and dressing rooms are wonderful.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:53 PM
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709: If anyone here was caught up on Grant Morrison's epic "Zillow and Dingbat" series, we could start with that.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:53 PM
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706: The thing about waterbeds is that they are damn heavy. You have to locate them carefully with respect to structural members or risk breaking the floor.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:54 PM
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715: Right, which makes it all the more weird that apartment owners will allow (insured) wb's, while disallowing washing machines in general, since the technology seems to be there. I can see disallowing top loaders or whatever. On the other hand, perhaps it's a plumbing issue.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:55 PM
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If it was more of a fantasy thread we could talk about King Offer and Mortgage Le Fay.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 3:58 PM
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716: I'm not clear why a top loader would be worse than a front loader. I'd have assumed it was the other way around.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 4:04 PM
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which bothers me a little more all the time

You're probably sensing the accumulation of bad chi from the wrong orientation. I'm sure pay more attention to matching your personal direction to the facing direction of your house during your next search.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 4:04 PM
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"There has to be a way to get a mashup going of the apartment subthread and the comic book subthread, but I can't see a good one."

Peter Parker has to deal with living in a crappy apartment in the Spider-Man movies (though it's still arguably a little large for a guy who only occasionally gets paid as a freelance photographer and a pizza delivery guy).

Superman could live in a really tiny apartment if only he used his Phantom Zone projector to get away. Besides, sometimes he has his Fortress of Solitude as a get-away. And no rent whatever!

Batman in The Dark Knight has to deal with Wayne Manor having burned down at the end of Batman Begins and is currently operating out of an apartment building. Naturally he has no problem having a large enough apartment, of course.

In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Relics," where Scotty from the original episode gets out of a transporter he's been stored in for eighty years (don't ask), he's astonished at how large the rooms are on the Enterprise-D, and waxes nostalgic about how the Dolman of Troyius complained about how small the Captain's Quarters were on the NCC-1701 she was given in the episode "Elaan of Troyius," to the point where Scotty bores the crewman showing him around.

See, not hard at all!

Digression: one of my pet peeves about tv shows and movies is that endless numbers of characters live in NYC, but are almost never shown locking their doors after entering. (Would take valuable screen time, but the lack of realism always throws me, because I'm an obsessive nitpicker.)


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 4:07 PM
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718: the amount of water in a top loader is much greater than the amount of water in a front loader. If the drain hose springs a leak, the flooding will be correspondingly worse.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 4:09 PM
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On the other hand, perhaps it's a plumbing issue.

I have seen this as an explanation -- that washing machines cause clogs for some reason (lint)? That always seemed implausible, but who knows?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 4:11 PM
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Separate sleeping and dressing rooms are wonderful.

Really? Can you elaborate? My parents had this, but it always seemed rather superfluous. Is it just clearing the extra space in the sleeping room that makes it nice?


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 4:14 PM
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693: All the space people have who live outside of NYC looks pleasant, but it's not tempting at all compared to living here.

Oh, I am certain I could get used to being one person in a very small space or multiple people that I liked in a somewhat larger space. Have done both. However: CROWDSBAD

709: There has to be a way to get a mashup going of the apartment subthread and the comic book subthread, but I can't see a good one.

Living in spaceships?

max
['But you could go outside, where there's lots of room!']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 4:18 PM
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For me, it is that the only clutter I'm likely to accumulate in my bedroom is clothes-related. If I move that to a room I'm not sleeping in, making my bed in the morning restores the room to tidy. The other room is still strewn with clothes but I close that door.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 4:22 PM
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Samoa was a weird place, because it shows up statistically as just about the poorest place in the world in terms of money, but the subsistence fishing/farming works well enough to support a not particularly nightmarish life for people with almost no money at all.

In the right climate, and with a little luck, subsistence farming can be a damn enviable way to live. Its exactly the sort of good that gets left off of GDP statistics.

Maybe next semester I will assign something about Bhutan's gross national happiness project, so I'll have the time and an excuse to read about it.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 4:22 PM
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719 is not in any dialect I recognize. I just would like to have the windows in the living/dining/kitchen area facing the nice view of the park and mountains rather than the neighbors' houses.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 4:22 PM
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Your feng shui means nothing to you, NPH?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 4:28 PM
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722: I have seen this as an explanation -- that washing machines cause clogs for some reason (lint)? That always seemed implausible, but who knows?

Depnds on the hookup, but yeah, it's implausible. A washer (top- or front-) can flood, but one hooked up to a spigot can flood really really good. I would suspect that a washing machine bouncing around due to an off-balance load is probably the biggest nuisance though.

max
['Unhappy neighbors.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 4:29 PM
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"Living in spaceships?"

Ever see Silent Running? Lots of living space.

(Great Peter Schickele serious soundtrack, incidentally. And for a big surprise, Bruce Dern goes a little mad!)


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 4:29 PM
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708.1: I do beg pardon... I'm not really following this, now. Could you rephrase?

708.2: Your own description was very broad. As you say, it describes the pulps, and it also describes A Time to Kill, Dracula, Grosse Point Blank, Last of the Mohicans and Henry V.

Yes and no. Certainly not A Time to Kill, which is a courtroom drama. Henry V is most certainly about solving problems violently -- as fictions about war often are -- but the character is the anointed sovereign of a country at war, confirmed by a legal process, which distinguishes the example from one of the common key specifics of vigilante fiction. (Though obviously an Elizabethan play about the monarchy isn't likely to be anti-authoritarian.) Grosse Pointe Blank, sure.

In general, absolutely the description, adapted a little, would apply to lots of action-adventure fiction beyond just comics. James Bond and Dirty Harry are basically superheroes, for instance, as are most of Ah-nuld's characters. And not coincidentally, lots of that product has authoritarian overtones, too.

Basically, I'm characterizing as basically "authoritarian" the fantasy of being able to wield violence according to personal conscience to set the world to rights (and if someone else is impeding this, they're either a villain or an illegitimate/incompetent authority). This is obviously a very situational definition of "authoritarian" proceeding from a presumption of liberalism and power-constrained-by-law and process, which is a relevant practical usage of the term in a North American context and talking about a largely North American form in the superhero comic. Obviously there are other forms of authoritarianism possible, boosted by different kinds of conventions, they're just less relevant to the North American context.

In the bigger picture of fiction, action-adventure stories are important but they're hardly a fifth of the picture. Mainstream fiction, romance fiction and crime fiction together probably make up a larger share of the market. Fantasy and SF partake heavily of action-adventure but don't map simply onto it.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 4:30 PM
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705: I would also have assumed that you'd need to move the kids a little before puberty, but I was talking recently with a scarily conservative friend who noted in passing that OF COURSE opposite-sex kids shouldn't share a bedroom past the point where the oldest enters kindergarten. The implication was that parents who permit room-sharing to persist past that point are putting their kids (possibly just their sons; unclear) through something awful and possibly encouraging gender nonconformity. Eh? I was and remain baffled. Can anyone shed some light on this?


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 4:30 PM
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Can anyone shed some light on this?

Your friend is crazy and stupid.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 4:32 PM
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706: We have one of these (or a model very similar). You can get compact front-loaders in the U.S., there just aren't many models on the market, and they're concentrated in the expensive end of the range.

Front-loaders are awesome. The only issue is that when it spins up to 1200 RPM it sounds a bit like a plane taking off, and if the load is a bit unbalanced it'll end up making the house vibrate.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 4:33 PM
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733: Yeah, that was kind of my impression. Shame.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 4:38 PM
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Well, it does encourage gender-nonconformity if your sense of gender-conformity includes a belief that the opposite sex is alien and repellent -- it's hard to work up a good "Boys/Girls are icky" when you've got one in the other bunk of the bunkbeds. (There's plenty of personalized conflict, but not so much gender war.)

I can see people not too far outside the mainstream who would think that depriving a boy of the capacity to consider anything associated with femininity contaminating was damaging him.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 4:39 PM
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Your feng shui means nothing to you, NPH?

That's a fair summary. My quaint folkways run more to "avoid lutefisk" (aquavit, on the other hand...).

732: You really can't be too careful about protecting a son from girl cooties.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 4:42 PM
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Cooties have a relatively long incubation period, generally appearing around kindergarten at the earliest.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 4:43 PM
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"Mainstream fiction, romance fiction and crime fiction together probably make up a larger share of the market."

Romance fiction, for the record, has the largest percentage of the fiction market by far.

[...] Romance fiction: $1.375 billion in estimated revenue for 2007
Religion/inspirational: $819 million
Science fiction/fantasy: $700 million
Mystery: $650 million
Classic literary fiction: $466 million
Also noted: "Approximately 8,090 romance titles were released in 2007. "

And for the hell of it, to get more nitty-gritty than many will care about:

[...] Romance Fiction Breakdown by Subgenre
Of the romance releases tracked by Romance Writers of America in 2007:
* Contemporary series romance: 25.7 percent of romance releases in 2007
* Contemporary romance: 21.8 percent
* Historical romance: 16 percent
* Paranormal romance: 11.8 percent
* Romantic suspense: 7.2 percent
* Inspirational romance: 7.1 percent
* Romantic suspense (series): 4.7 percent
* Other (chick-lit, erotic romance, women's fiction): 2.9 percent
* Young adult romance: 2.8 percent
My distant-from-the-market-place-these days position strongly suggests that the sales of paranormal romance have been going up dramatically in the last few years. Time-travel fantasy romance, too. And as probably most folks have noticed, vampire romance fiction is more the rage than ever. (But not much zombie romance fiction, despite major sales of Pride And Prejudice And Zombies.)

And note that Christian fiction tends to escape the notice of most of us secular folk, but it's huge business.

Those figures aren't definitive, of course.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 4:46 PM
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My friend has a strict and rather archaic understanding of gender roles, but aspects of her family history made me hope that the girl cooties thing wouldn't be an issue. Then again, she was an unwitting beard for a while, and was scarred. (I feel that to a nontrivial extent the scarring is her own damn fault; if she could manage to find gays less sinful, the situation would have been a heck of a lot less unpleasant. Not great, what with the lying about the basis for the relationship, but less unpleasant.)

Not to dwell on this, but I feel that I should note for the record that, wacko conservatism notwithstanding, this woman has been a good friend to me at some key junctures. I get the impression that she's living in a really conservative community and not getting any pushback on her naturally somewhat conservative tendencies. Basically what happened to me living in Cambridge, but in the opposite direction (pushing left vs. pushing right, and good vs. bad).


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 4:55 PM
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732: This is the sort of conversation that provides no end of amusement for some of the graduate students we have who came from India, some of whom grew up in communal houses...


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 4:55 PM
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My (male) friend considers getting girl cooties one of his top priorities.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 4:55 PM
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734: Right, my impression is that it's basically a solved issue (and I've seen very quiet ones too), but the technology hasn't caught on here. Again, somewhat like induction ranges (but those aren't nearly ubiquitous anywhere I've been)


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 4:57 PM
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And I should add, these high efficiency front loaders aren't an "apartment solution", really. Some places they're the same thing people have in their houses, and nobody seems to miss a dryer.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 5:08 PM
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740: Fucked up views on What One Must Not Do To Children are by no means confined to the political right. My own belief is that the very best way to mess up your kids is by convincing them that the world is full of such horrors that constant parental vigilance is their only hope, but what do I know?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 5:13 PM
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245 seems right to me. There are plenty of folks with fine politics but (IMO) completely whacko visions of how to "protect" their kids.

I had a Euro style front-loader washer/dryer combo in a 1 bedroom apt in LA. It was great. My landlord was German, which might explain things.

In the current house w/plenty of space, I use this, which wasn't significantly more expensive than a low-end washer at Sears once you factored in a rebate for low water use.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 5:18 PM
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2=7.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 5:18 PM
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Yeah, no, definitely didn't mean to imply that only right-wingers will damage their kids. I suspect there's no one best way to do that.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 5:20 PM
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I suspect there's no one best way to do that.

GB is Tolstoy?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 5:22 PM
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747: I'm afraid I simply can't agree with that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 5:23 PM
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740: "if she could manage to find gays less sinful, the situation would have been a heck of a lot less unpleasant."

Unless she wanted to have sex or something.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 5:26 PM
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750: You should let him explain his reasoning, LB.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 5:27 PM
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OK then, it's on.

5=8.
Snow is hot.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 5:28 PM
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This is some high-quality trolling, people.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 5:29 PM
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741: "732: This is the sort of conversation that provides no end of amusement for some of the graduate students we have who came from India, some of whom grew up in communal houses..."

I once lived for a year with a roommate in his railroad apartment on Clinton Street on the Lower East Side in NYC, during the Nineties, where more than one other apartment in the building were filled with the classic 20+ Chinese immigrant restaurant workers. (My little room was in between Robert's bedroom on the one side, and the kitchen, bathroom, and entrance on the other.)

747: "2=7."

This explains the bank failures.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 5:29 PM
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753: I wouldn't have said so myself, but de gustibus...


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 5:30 PM
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Well, my own belief is that the very best way to mess up your kids is to keep them shackled in the basement for 12 years with only the collected works of Laurel Hamilton and Who Moved My Cheese?.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 5:30 PM
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721

the amount of water in a top loader is much greater than the amount of water in a front loader. If the drain hose springs a leak, the flooding will be correspondingly worse.

I believe the real worry is a feed hose will spring a leak and run indefinitely.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 5:31 PM
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749: No, I think there are also a lot of ways to raise kids right. At least I really hope so.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 5:32 PM
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757: OK, the very best SWIPPLE way to mess up your kids, then.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 5:33 PM
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751: But she didn't! I mean, presumably she did want to, but she certainly didn't want to want to, not until marriage. Though I presume they exchanged a chaste kiss.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 5:35 PM
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761: Abstinence-only sex education is a conspiracy by closeted gay conservatives to ensure a ready supply of beards.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 5:50 PM
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761, 762: It shouldn't be that hard for a woman to tell, even without sex. Just wear something plunging and make sure he stares when he thinks you are looking away.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 5:54 PM
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516: Amusingly, I am FaceBook friends with that particular Kenneth Anderson, who is also the Kenneth Anderson quoted a couple of times in Jon Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven.

As for apartments, for most of my childhood and youth I believed I would one day live in a slum loft like Jean-Claude van Damme's in Hard Target. I am stupid.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 6:10 PM
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730: Ever see Silent Running? Lots of living space.

Heh. Not so much, if you look carefully. But yeah, I saw it when it first came out, when I was five or six or whatever. Five! I recall being very fond of Huey, Dewey and Louie.

732: The implication was that parents who permit room-sharing to persist past that point are putting their kids (possibly just their sons; unclear) through something awful and possibly encouraging gender nonconformity. Eh? I was and remain baffled. Can anyone shed some light on this?

{cough} Incest. {cough} A most potent taboo.

757: Well, my own belief is that the very best way to mess up your kids is to keep them shackled in the basement for 12 years with only the collected works of Laurel Hamilton and Who Moved My Cheese?

... Maybe that was one of ex-'s issues...

max
['No. Kidding. Mostly.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 6:17 PM
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I'm glad Gary Farber is here to provide his input on just this comment thread.

731
708.1: I do beg pardon... I'm not really following this, now. Could you rephrase?

What I meant by 708.1 was, I'm not sure what to think about your claim in 678 (that you "disagree [with the idea that the antagonistic role of cops 'is only authoritarian if it only happens occasionally'. There are all sorts of profoundly authoritarian fantasies about being plagued by incompetent authorities"). Maybe you're right and I'm wrong. On the other hand, it seemed telling to me that your examples were of real-world reactions to real-world authorities rather than fiction. Sure, American authoritarians are disrespectful of existing authorities, but maybe that's just because modern America is relatively liberal and non-authoritarian by world-historical standards, and if so it doesn't have anything to do with portrayals of authority figures in fiction.

I hope that rephrasing is clearer, but I fear it isn't.

Certainly not A Time to Kill, which is a courtroom drama.

I was thinking of the black father who shot the guys who attacked his daughter. A Time to Kill gives a sympathetic treatment of him, right? (Of the examples I gave, that's the one I know the least about. Maybe I'm completely wrong. if so, mea culpa.)

You mentioned Die Hard, James Bond and Schwarzenegger characters. I didn't give them as examples because I would say (and you would agree, I think) that they are authoritarian. Implicit in all this is my assumption that authoritarianism and/or fascism requires or at least strongly implies a belief in the rightness of authority and of violence in service of existing authorities. That's true of James Bond and police detective John McClane, but almost never of the X-Men or Spider-Man, and varies writer to writer and issue to issue for many comic book superheroes.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 6:19 PM
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I believe the real worry is a feed hose will spring a leak and run indefinitely.

I can't see why this is a more common failure than with a dishwasher, which loads of apartments have here.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 6:22 PM
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765.4: Seriously? In kindergarten?

I'd have thought believing that took more crazy than believing in cooties. More crazy than my friend has, even.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 6:22 PM
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765.4: Seriously? In kindergarten?

In that sense that some thing will wind up going somewhere it shouldn't and then when the aforementioned kids hit 11 or 12 or whatever, they'll be like, 'Hey, I have an idea...'

I'd have thought believing that took more crazy than believing in cooties. More crazy than my friend has, even.

I would expect it's unconscious and assumed. As in, 'Well, I don't know why, but you JUST SHOULDN'T.'

max
['They make laws about that stuff.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 6:25 PM
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A lot of parents don't really want their kids to grow up contented and well-adjusted. They want them to grow up with the same hangups they have.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 6:34 PM
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So to summarize the argument from 506 on, by DS's definition of "authoritarianism," basically all superhero comic books are authoritarian. By mine, a bunch are, probably a majority, but it varies and many notable ones aren't. My, what people will argue about online.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 6:34 PM
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The actual space I use to live in is pretty small, but I take up a lot of 'office'/workshop space.

This. Also, it's very important to me to have space for guests and entertain. So I live in an absurdly gigantic amount of house, but it makes Thanksgiving for 19 a lot easier. And foreign exchange students. And house concerts! Well, I haven't had one yet, but I'm doing my first one next month.

I can't see why this is a more common failure than with a dishwasher, which loads of apartments have here.

Probably not. Maybe, though: a) more likely to have an amateur doing the hookup (do lots of New Yorkers sneakily install their own dishwashers? I think not), and b) more subject to idiotic user error (people put a lot of crazy stuff in washing machines that just makes NO sense. Where did you think it was going to go, again?)

A Time to Kill gives a sympathetic treatment of him, right?

ATTK is a two-hour long apologia for his vigilantism, yes. You were quite right to cite it as (broadly) representative of the theme under discussion.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 6:35 PM
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770 gets it right.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 6:40 PM
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...except I think I'd take issue with the "contented" part.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 6:41 PM
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I can't see why this is a more common failure than with a dishwasher, which loads of apartments have here.

Dishwashers and front-loading washers both load their water into a sealed container. Top-loaders dont, and top-loaders also use way more water than frontloaders.

I've had a top-loading washing machine flood an apartment before; I think that the "tub full" sensor somehow malfunctioned and it just kept pumping water in.

Never had a problem with a dishwasher (or my front-loading washing machine).

Sample size of one and all that, but still.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 6:41 PM
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766.1: The point of confusion is I don't think the real-world authoritarians are reacting to real-world authorities at all, or not to any great degree. The authoritarian fantasies in question often rely heavily on fictionalizing the incompetent authorities / liberal establishment, this is what makes them fantasies. They do this quite extensively in fiction qua fiction, too.

As I said in my last post, there, the definition of "authoritarian" I'm using here is very situational, premised on authoritarianism as founded in impatience with liberal restrictions like law and procedure. Of course that's premised on starting from a relatively liberal society. I'm using it that way because we're talking about a largely North American form in the superhero comic (there are superhero comics elsewhere, but nowhere else do they so dominate the medium), so it's relevant. There are obviously other types of authoritarianism that would be identifiable by different conventions.

766.3: The main action in A Time to Kill is the court case convened to wrangle over the legitimacy of the shootings. It really doesn't apply to what I'm talking about.

As for belief in authority and violence in service of existing authorities: sure Spiderman and the X-Men exemplify it, of course they do. In fact, they exemplify a much, much more exaggerated idealization of it: that a vigilante should act violently in the service of authority even when that authority routinely rejects and shits on him/her. The Daily Bugle will blast Spiderman on its front page time and again, the cops will half-heartedly chase after him once in a while, and it matters not a whit to his allegiance to the establishment. That's precisely how you know he's a superhero.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 6:42 PM
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731 - (Though obviously an Elizabethan play about the monarchy isn't likely to be anti-authoritarian.)

"Know ye not that I am Richard II?" (The Earl of Essex staged Richard II as part of his uprising against Elizabeth, who seems to have taken the matter with a surprising amount of good humor.)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 6:48 PM
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772: ATTK is a two-hour long apologia for his vigilantism, yes.

It's two hours of his lawyers trying to defend him as not guilty by reason of temporary insanity. Apart from an act of "vigilantism" starting the case in motion it really hasn't a thing to do with the trope we're talking about.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 6:49 PM
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778: I for for 'two-hour apologia for vigilantism'. And a fairly convincing one at that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 6:53 PM
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Back to Puerto Rico for a second...(my next guess was going to be rural Alaska). On the cost of living, it's not just shipping costs for getting food or whatever flown in. It's also the costs of shipping *you.* So factor in a higher-than-usual amount of money to get anywhere you need to be. If you're likely to have to travel to weddings, funerals, visits, conferences [that your work won't pay for], etc., then it's just like a surcharge that you have to tack on to everything.

On the social angle, a question mark for me would be to what extent I expected to have a local social circle, and how comfortable I was with basically not having time off from negotiating power dynamics. A person who has already spent a lot of life-hours as the (elite or excluded) class, race, or religious minority in the room has a leg up on the rest of us, but it's one thing to dip in to a situation like that and quite another to immerse yourself full-time.

I suspect that the cognitive overload in managing this factor is part of what turns some elite expats into jerks. It is really hard and really tiring, and the temptation to retreat to a social circle of other expats and/or to distance yourself from the discomfort via abrasiveness and denial must be correspondingly strong.

It's not so much the being comfortable around people who aren't operating with the same resources you are,* as handling the endless daily implications of that fact. Complicated stuff, and IME people really differ in their ability and comfort level in handling it.

*which I suspect Sr. Carter is well-versed in

Other considerations: Violence. Not unlike other American cities, and AIUI mostly drug-related, but it's not insignificant.

And don't forget you'll be voluntarily disenfranchising yourself, at least at the federal level.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 6:53 PM
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777: See, I did not know that.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 6:54 PM
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further to 780:

You have to keep EVERYTHING tightly locked up or it will get stolen. Like Costa Rica, things get taken quickly and violently if left visible or not guarded closely.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 6:56 PM
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779: In the fiction we're talking about, vigilantism largely does not require an apologia. Or to the extent it does (because of Douchebags Who Don't Get It like J. Jonah Jameson) the hero certainly doesn't spend most of his time in lockup awaiting the court system's judgments of his actions. That's pretty central.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 6:58 PM
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783: OK, point taken. I'm ignorant enough of many of the titles you're discussing that I probably shouldn't have leapt in, anyway.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 7:01 PM
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783: That's true. I just remember walking out of the theater thinking Samuel Jackson should probably be allowed to shoot people when he feels strongly. Various producers have had the same thought.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 7:01 PM
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I forget. DS writes romance novels?


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 7:03 PM
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"Implicit in all this is my assumption that authoritarianism and/or fascism requires or at least strongly implies a belief in the rightness of authority and of violence in service of existing authorities. That's true of James Bond and police detective John McClane,"

This seems to require a couple of asterisks. First of all, if we're discussing Bond, are we discussing Fleming Bond, movie Bond, or both? Either way, Bond spends a certain amount of time -- a minority, to be sure, but not an insignificant minority -- being a rogue. He actually spends much of time being only a minor rogue, only in the sense of disobeying specific instructions in pursuit of the larger mission. But some of the time he's a full-fledged rogue, as in the movies License To Kill, in which said license is revoked, and MI-6 agents try to kill him when he escapes, going off to avenge the attack on his friend Felix Leiter and Leiter's freshly killed bride, or in the most recent movie, Quantum of Solace, in which more or less the same plotline is repeated, save that he's avenging Vesper, his dead lover, rather than Leiter.

In the Fleming short fiction (not the movie), "The Living Daylights," Bond disobeys orders to assassinate someone, and as noted at the link, ends the story hoping to be discharged from MI6. In the novel of You Only Live Twice, which has little in common with the film beyond the title and the setting of Japan, he spends most of the novel wandering around with amnesia, certainly not a figure following the orders or desires of authority. Various other examples of Bond's resistance to or outright disobedience of authority abound.

And John McClane, while certainly a "good guy," is also someone who is never under anyone's direct authority when onstage, but in fact is almost always shown disobeying the orders given to him by the legitimate authorities.

As I said, I'm not quite disagreeing with these examples, but I am footnoting them as rather imperfect examples at best of figures with "a belief in the rightness of authority and of violence in service of existing authorities."

In fact, they're far better examples of figures who are playing roles in "profoundly authoritarian fantasies about being plagued by incompetent authorities."

I'd look elsewhere for better examples, myself. "Ed McBain"'s 87th Precinct, for example. But, then, those detectives are not authoritarians; they're just legitimate representatives of what are generally represented as legitimate and non-abusive authorities; that set-up is pretty much what defines the genre of police procedurals. Similarly, the hardboiled detective, while in the service of justice, doesn't serve authority.

But the "violence in service of existing authorities" of both Bond and McClane is rather shaky.

Super-hero comics as a whole, in the post-late-Sixties era, I'd have to say are far more usually in tension, if not direct opposition, with authorities, than not. There are exceptions, such as Tony Stark's side in the recent "Civil War" of Marvel, where he's actually Secretary of Defense for a while, but even there his side breaks away after a period, and even before that he's fired from his position of governmental authority (and later from his position as head of "The Initiative"), and subsequently goes into full-blown opposition to the new, evil, government. This sort of thing is really generally more typical than not of post-late-Sixties superhero comics. (Though certainly in the era previous to that you're assertion about superheroes servicing authority, and arguably servicing authoritarianism, is, I think, correct.)

And I'm setting aside the very large body of works very deliberately set up as counter-point to that old-line authoritarianism, such as, obviously, Watchmen, or, of course, Miracleman.

On the yet other hand, superheroes are generally, by definition, vigilantes, although, again, in recent years there have been a large number of examples particularly in Marvel of the government setting up its own superhero teams specifically because they don't like the idea of people with these powers running around making decisions on their own (a theme that runs back to the very first issues of Stan Lee's The Avengers, as it happens). And in almost all such cases, the government-run teams end up being Used For Eveeel.

Which doesn't seem to make much of a case of them serving the cause of fascism. Vigilantism, yes; fascism, no. I'm reminded very much of the entire plotline of the opposition between the two, as respectively represented by Batman versus Superman, in Miller's famous The Dark Knight Returns. See also Kingdom Come for a completely explicit playing out of this theme of the vigilantism versus implicit fascism. Or, in fact, Robocop.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 7:04 PM
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"My, what people will argue about online."

Washing machines are inherently authoritarian. True individualists hand-wash.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 7:06 PM
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Between Galaxy Quest and Die Hard, we may as well turn this into an Alan Rickman thread.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 7:06 PM
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786: Don't even get me started on the fascism in romance novels!


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 7:08 PM
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Gary's here to make my loquaciousness look normal, y'all.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 7:08 PM
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789: I agree with you, The Fifth Element was very fascist.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 7:13 PM
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787: Haven't read any of the comic books you mentioned, nor seen most of the movie (except Die Hard). I'm sort of played out on comic book movies, but I've never walked out of one if somebody gets me to go.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 7:14 PM
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787.9: I think the theme post-Seventies tends to shift from the superhero servicing specific institutions to their serving the ideal represented by those institutions. (The "Civil War" storyline I can't comment on.) That's tensions with authorities but not necessarily with Authority in the larger sense. I think it's what's really going on in the dynamic I note in 776.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 7:14 PM
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I just like to touch on the original topic from time to time.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 7:14 PM
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776: "The authoritarian fantasies in question often rely heavily on fictionalizing the incompetent authorities / liberal establishment, this is what makes them fantasies. They do this quite extensively in fiction qua fiction, too."

Want some spanking good example of that? The Punisher. The Matt Helm novels of Donald Hamilton. Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir's "The Destroyer"/Remo Williams novels. These are all about guys either deciding to kill a ton of people because they need killing, or directly serving a boss who decides so. See also Robert Heinlein's early short story "Gulf," which he directly repudiated decades later in his novel Friday.

"Spiderman and the X-Men exemplify it, of course they do."

The X-Men have spent just about all of their existence either being hunted down by the authorities, or successfully in hiding from them, in fact. Really. Honest. (I'm not going to go into all the permutations of various X-teams, to be sure, because one would have to be insane to try to do that.)

"...the hero certainly doesn't spend most of his time in lockup awaiting the court system's judgments of his actions. That's pretty central."

Not to the past seveal years of both DC and Marvel comics it ain't. This assertion is, at best, dated. I mean, Captain America, for example, was specifically locked up and on the courthouse steps when he was killed. (He's just about to get better.) Again, the whole point of "Civil War" which went on for several years was the super-heros being hunted down and locked up. And similar plotlines went on in DC.

The comics world does not, in point of fact, in the modern era, remain static. No matter how mainstream. (I'm not even talking about a venture as as semi-mainstream as Vertigo, let alone the smaller publishers.)


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 7:17 PM
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||
We have an extra ticket to the Cubs day game tomorrow, if anyone is interested.
|>


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 7:23 PM
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776.2, and 794 by extension, are good. I'm glad this is being developed. Thanks.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 7:24 PM
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Don't even get me started on the fascism in romance novels!

Too true. Jackmormon tried to get this discussion started once before, but the thread derailed into a discussion of Teo's sex life, of all the unlikely topics.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 7:24 PM
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789: "Between Galaxy Quest and Die Hard, we may as well turn this into an Alan Rickman thread."

As Sheriff of Nottingham he was most definitely authoritarian.

792: "789: I agree with you, The Fifth Element was very fascist."

Also another example of a movie constructed purely to look pretty, and make no sense whatever.

794: "That's tensions with authorities but not necessarily with Authority in the larger sense."

Kingdom Come most definitely was in opposition to the very concept of authority. And Watchmen and Miracleman, just to take two examples I'm pretty familiar with, were in opposition to the entire concept of vigilantism, and superheroes. (The movie of Watchmen represented the comic/graphic novel in this quite well.)

"I'm sort of played out on comic book movies, but I've never walked out of one if somebody gets me to go."

I've continued to avoid giving Catwoman a chance. I wouldn't fault anyone for walking out on Schumacher's Batman and Robin. Good lord, that was terrible.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 7:25 PM
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OT: Geek, dweeb, or doofus?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 7:25 PM
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796.1: Yes, the Punisher totally comes to mind here.

796.3: Read on after that sentence, though. For most of that history, how many examples are there of them actually acting against those hunting them? Does the Mutant Registration Act drama in the Eighties turn them against the American government, for instance? Do any of them even publicly protest it?

I'm not, of course, counting the past several years of either DC or Marvel, neither of which I read anymore. But superheroes being a decades-long phenomenon, I question the ability of a timeframe that short to mitigate the basic observation, especially since the primary delivery system for superheroes today is films, which tend to be based on the older storylines and use the older tropes as reference points.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 7:26 PM
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re:PR: There's also a big difference between San Juan (and the NE coast) and everywhere else. Most of San Juan is a lot like Oakland in terms of safety, but outside that it can get pretty sketchy/foreign.

Also, Alan Rickman.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 7:26 PM
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792 was me.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 7:35 PM
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800.6: Kingdom Come most definitely was in opposition to the very concept of authority. And Watchmen and Miracleman, just to take two examples I'm pretty familiar with, were in opposition to the entire concept of vigilantism, and superheroes. (The movie of Watchmen represented the comic/graphic novel in this quite well.)

Gary has me intrigued: "against the very concept of authority." I'm not familiar enough with the comics mentioned.

Is it fair to say, at least, that where institutional authority is questioned, and/or fought or shunned, and/or depicted as victimizer, our heroes claim moral authority? I imagine the question might then be whether that's tantamount to authoritarianism in its own right -- which seemed to be the line of thinking DS was pursuing.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 7:41 PM
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Gary Farber is quite right in 776. The X-Men titles do have a long history of presenting their heroes as genuinely subject to and troubled by government authority--mutant registration acts, etc.--and engaging with fairly interesting questions about what constitutes appropriate resistance given the complexity of power imbalance involved. On the one hand, the government has the real power of the state; on the other, mutants have the real power of being all superpowered and shit. Of course there is also swooning over cigar-chewing, beer-slamming ass-kickery (Wolverine), and the comforting loveliness of a saintly, paraplegic panopticon headmaster who only wants what's best for you (Professor X), so, you know.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 7:44 PM
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800.3: Watchmen surely is one of the exceptions that prove the rule, right? I at least am talking about what the norm is, not what the exceptions are. The norm for superhero comics does not consist of Alan Moore deconstructing the superhero comic.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 7:44 PM
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806: "Subject to" and "troubled by" are exactly right. "Opposed to," almost never. (I mean, I'm sure some wild shit happened in the Civil War storyline, I guess, okay? Stipulated. I'm talking in the decades before that.) In fact, the X-Men's primary antagonist for a considerable stretch of time was identifiable by the fact that he wanted to reject government authority and set up his own mutant government.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 7:47 PM
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For most of that history, how many examples are there of them actually acting against those hunting them? Does the Mutant Registration Act drama in the Eighties turn them against the American government, for instance? Do any of them even publicly protest it?

God knows I am no expert on the truly vast X-[everything] back catalog. But isn't the sympathy/repudiation tension surrounding Magneto all about how the question of how to deal with such things is a genuine, live question? And I seem to recall real rifts among the X-everyone about the appropriate response. It's certainly true that the core X-ethos comes down, always, on the side of going along to get along, the value of supporting the standing government if not its individual representatives. But at least it doesn't pretend it's not an issue.

I have to confess that this very earnest liberalism and all the teamwork and everything are probably why I never got all that into those titles.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 7:50 PM
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Oh, cross-posting, I sympathize with/repudiate you!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 7:53 PM
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(Kingdom Come looks pretty interesting, BTW. My personal favourite from-within dissection of the superhero comic will always be Marshal Law, which no doubt warped me as an impressionable kid.)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 7:54 PM
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809: Certainly Magneto stands out in comics as a villain with some semi-sympathetic rationale for his actions beyond being a stock Evil Overlord or a gussied-up version of the Mafia or something. There's a stark limit to how much it's treated as a live question, though; so appealing is Magneto's cause that it's supported by "The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants."


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 7:57 PM
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so appealing is Magneto's cause that it's supported by "The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants."

Point!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 8:00 PM
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805: "Gary has me intrigued: "against the very concept of authority." I'm not familiar enough with the comics mentioned."

I did provide a link to a plot summary. Which is outside the mainstream continuity, to be sure.)

A really short version is that after vigilante "superheroes" who do kill rouse greater public respect than Superman -- take this as an analogue for the popularity of Punisher, some aspects of Wolverine, etc. -- Superman retires. Ten years later, he's persuaded to come back and start teaching these morally debased "heroes" a lesson, but his course of action involves taking upon himself and his followers the personal authority to start imprisoning them in what becomes derisively known as "the Gulag." Eventually, Batman starts yet another group in opposition to all the super-powered guys, and make an apparent alliance with Lex Luthor, no less, while Batman himself has turned Gothan City insto something of a fascist town, policed by giant Batman robots, no less; frightened human authorities, who are scared of all these freaks, eventually decide to launch special anti-superhero nuclear missiles to kill all of them.

Meanwhile, Captain Marvel has been driven insane by Luthor, and pretty much checkmates Superman. When the missiles are in flight, Superman can't decide if the right thing is to defy the human authorities, and save the lives of the super-powered folk, or just let them all die and submit to human justice. In the end, a human is empowered by The Spectre, who essentially is representing God, to decide for Superman, and the missiles kill off most of the super folk, though some survive, and Superman, enraged, decides to go kill everyone at the United Nations in retaliation. In the end, he doesn't, but everyone retires from being a vigilante. The end.

I suppose I didn't quite represent it accurately by saying it opposed the concept of authority itself, but it certainly opposed any notion of superheros following human authority, save perhaps at the very end, when it simply gets rid of superheros entirely as Just A Bad Idea.

Back in mainstream DC continuity, though, it's been five years since 2004's Identity Crisis, a whole lot of killing and mindwiping goes on, leading to Infinite Crisis, where a whole lot more killing off goes on, during which Wonder Woman murders Max Lord by snapping his neck, leading Superman and Batman to repudiate her. Later, Superman turns the entire planet into a police state. Then it gets really complicated.

Over at Marvel, Thor spent a year conquering Earth a few years ago, which turned out to be a bad idea. Really, superhero comics ain't what they used to be, and aren't going back.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 8:08 PM
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I've completely lost track of what this has to do with authoritarianism: yes, the X-Men are essentially procedural liberals from whose perspective the reining institutional authorities are suffering a crisis of legitimacy.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 8:13 PM
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807: "Watchmen surely is one of the exceptions that prove the rule, right?"

No, my point is Not Any More. The whole set of concepts of "heroes" being unambiguously good has been pretty much tossed out the window by the mainstream, more than not.

806: "...and the comforting loveliness of a saintly, paraplegic panopticon headmaster who only wants what's best for you (Professor X), so, you know."

I certainly have lost track of the number of times this has happened, and the specific lengths of time, but offhand it seems like Professor X has spent as much time, if not more, being dead at various points than alive, for the record. (This is convenient, because a good guy who can control almost everyone with his mind is really an inconvenience to story tension.) Not to mention the time he destroyed the Marvel Universe for a year or so as Onslaught.

They killed off all of Kirby's New Gods, too, incidentally.

I should also mention that most everything I know about comics in the past twenty years, with a smattering of exceptions, comes from reading plot summaries on the internet, although I have subscribed to the frustratingly incomplete Marvel digital comics site, where I occasionally catch up on some stuff, and get pissed off at the way they withhold crucial issues even years later.

There's a certain amount of free stuff there, as I believe I've mentioned here before, btw. I wish DC had a similar setup.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 8:16 PM
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Further to 815: Nevermind me, I'm meanwhile reading the Wikipedia description of Kingdom Come and laughing quite a bit at how easy it would be to substitute "Dick Cheney", "Doug Feith", "George Bush", "Bill Clinton", "Donald Rumsfeld", and so on.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 8:19 PM
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Oops, and fix those italics tags, would you?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 8:21 PM
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812: "so appealing is Magneto's cause that it's supported by "The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.""

Well, they did drop that name somewhere around thirty years ago. (Hmm, a quick google shows 1981, to be specific.)

It always did give me a big laugh, though.

But since then Magneto became a good guy, headed the x-men, turned bad again, was regressed into an infant, came back incognito, etc., etc., etc. Stuff in comics just doesn't stay static and generalizing about what they were like thirty years ago as if it was relevant to the past ten or twenty years just doesn't make any sense. It's kind of like analyzing tv today, say, Deadwood and The Wire, based on assertions about Leave It To Beaver. It's just not like that any more.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 8:24 PM
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Over at Marvel, Thor spent a year conquering Earth a few years ago, which turned out to be a bad idea.

Ah, see, once I stopped paying the money, I stopped paying attention. That would be 1985 or so, when it had gone and got silly. (Well, yes, I did get older, and they were always silly, why do you ask?) All this new business sounds even sillier.

yes, the X-Men are essentially procedural liberals from whose perspective the reining institutional authorities are suffering a crisis of legitimacy.

John Brown: 'Pussies!'

max
['Speaking of which: wouldn't Zombie John Brown be an excellent comic book?']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 8:26 PM
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There's also a big difference between San Juan (and the NE coast) and everywhere else. Most of San Juan is a lot like Oakland in terms of safety, but outside that it can get pretty sketchy/foreign.

There's pretty big differences within the greater metro too, from what I've seen. Of course the touristy part is a bit like touristy parts everywhere. I've a friend on the west coast. I don't think that making a go of it on much of the island without decent spanish would be much fun.


Posted by: Jimmy Carter | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 8:27 PM
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821: Oakland in California or Oakland in Pittsburgh?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 8:28 PM
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821: On reflection, you almost certainly mean the one in California.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 8:30 PM
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820: "['Speaking of which: wouldn't Zombie John Brown be an excellent comic book?']"

I can't quite tell from this if you're saying this in the context of Marvel Zombies or not. (Example.)


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 8:30 PM
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Also, that whole thread now looks to me like I'm crawling up my own navel about this stuff. I'm not, honest! Just thought it was interesting.


Posted by: Jimmy Carter | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 8:33 PM
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808
"Subject to" and "troubled by" are exactly right. "Opposed to," almost never.

Sure, Magneto and Morlocks calls them tools of the man. And no, they don't carry cardboard signed at protests. However, they sure spend a lot of time resisting arrest and destroying government property (Sentinels).


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 8:36 PM
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"However, they sure spend a lot of time resisting arrest and destroying government property"

So, if only I had a mutant power, I'd fit right in.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 8:45 PM
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I defy anyone to read Grant Morrison's Animal Man starting twenty years ago, and then Peter Milligan's run, and explain to me how it relates to authoritarianism. Ditto Doom Patrol of the last twenty-five years, followed by Rachel Pollack's run (she used to be a Usenet buddy of mine!, as well as someone I'd sporadically hung with in Seattle Back In The Day).

To quote Wikipedia, which is accurate, "He took the Doom Patrol, and superhero comic books in general, to places they had rarely been, incorporating bizarre secret societies, elements of Dada, surrealism, and the cut-up technique pioneered by William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin. He also borrowed the ideas of Jorge Luis Borges and Heinrich Hoffmann. Morrison and artist Richard Case turned the title around, and the series quickly gained a cult following, but some[who?] derided it as incomprehensible."

I mean, really, authoritarian? Not a paradigm that makes the remotest sense in a comic with the Society of Dada running around.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 8:50 PM
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to places they had rarely been


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 8:53 PM
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had been.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 8:56 PM
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Zombie John Brown walks a-mouldering
Zombie John Brown walks a-mouldering
Zombie John Brown walks a-mouldering
His corpse is marching on

Glory, glory, hallelujah
Glory, glory, hallelujah
His corpse is marching on


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 8:56 PM
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831: I tried to sing it, but couldn't get the first three lines to fit the music. Do I need to hold some syllables?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 9:01 PM
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830: And relatively rarely go. Grant Morrison stands out, much like Moore or Gaiman, as an unusual writer in the genre. (And even then the depth of the "departures" from tradition may not be that great. The Brotherhood of Dada were, if memory serves, a team of villains.)

I'm now starting to get irritated with your pretense that I don't know there are exceptions to the generally dominant trope. But we can cite The Invisibles and Sandman til we're blue in the face -- they will still be exceptions, not the rule. Grant Morrison is not the comics industry. Neither is Alan Moore.

Also, as I mentioned earlier, even the limited departures and instances of satire / deconstruction in recent years in comics -- which are exceptional, not the rule -- start to become less relevant to the superhero trope in popular culture when comics themselves have ceased to be the dominant delivery system for the superhero. If the films are still using the tropes of twenty years ago, and they are, those tropes are still relevant.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 9:04 PM
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819: But since then Magneto became a good guy, headed the x-men, turned bad again, was regressed into an infant, came back incognito, etc., etc., etc.

There are all sorts of wacky storylines in comics too. Hey, I sort of noticed that! I've read one, from time to time! That has nothing to do with the basic trope I'm talking about.

826: However, they sure spend a lot of time resisting arrest and destroying government property (Sentinels).

The Sentinels almost always appeared as rogue mad-science machines, right? They're government property in, let me guess, a storyline of the last few years?


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 9:13 PM
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I tried to sing it, but couldn't get the first three lines to fit the music. Do I need to hold some syllables?

I'm no good at scansion, but I figured that since 'zombie' has as many syllables as 'body', it would work out. Doesn't it?


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 9:14 PM
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"...when comics themselves have ceased to be the dominant delivery system for the superhero."

That's kinda a matter of POV, but I suppose we should drop the discussion if I'm irritating you now.

Personally, though, although I love The Dark Knight, I'd far rather read a good superhero comic than see, say, Spider-Man 3 again, or X-Men 3, or Superman Returns. But that's a matter of personal preference.

Although my own opinion is that such movies are the "dominant delivery system for the superhero" for most people because they're ignorant of modern comics. It's as if one claimed that Star Wars or Star Trek somehow represented modern science fiction. Just because the mass of people are ignorant of a given topic doesn't mean their view of it is correct.

Or one might argue that perhaps most people don't understand non-representational art. But so what?

Anyway, I'll try to let you have the last word here, if I can manage that.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 9:16 PM
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835: I thought the original song was "John Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the grave." You could just do "walks a-mouldering in the street."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 9:18 PM
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Whoops. Sorry. Right.

How about 'road' instead of 'street', though? Better for marching. (Streets are in towns, right?)


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 9:22 PM
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I don't suppose Baudrillard ever wrote about superhero comics.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 9:24 PM
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838: Sounds good. Finish it, record it and put it on You-Tube.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 9:25 PM
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Dammit, I have to go to bed. Baudrillard s/b Barthes.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 9:28 PM
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I've been haunted by the idea all day, DS, that I've hurt you. And yet I must hurt you again by disagreeing with you.

Unless you regard all violence, including revolutionary violence such as the French Revolution, as authoritarian, they I don't think you can argue that the use of violence in superhero comics is necessarily authoritarian. Vigilante justice is with reference to a perceived naturalized order that transcends the actually-existing authorities. Other than maybe vigilante pacifists, the political valence of perceived order is what determines the political valence of the vigilantism. The canonical superhero versus supervillain battle has no political valence at all, unless inserted there by the writer.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 9:36 PM
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834
The Sentinels almost always appeared as rogue mad-science machines, right? They're government property in, let me guess, a storyline of the last few years?

No to your guess, yes to the rest. They were the enforcers (or maybe the oppressors themselves, I don't know) of an alternate future's police state as early as 1981, and were introduced in the 1960s.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 9:36 PM
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Barthes did write about professional wrestling though, I think.

836: I didn't mean to sound over-pissy, I'm not that irritated.

When I call film the "dominant" delivery system in the present day, I'm talking in terms of market share. In that sense I don't think it's even a remotely close contest. But maybe more of those exceptions-to-the-rule will start making their way to the big screen; From Hell and Watchmen have both had big-screen treatment, after all, the latter doing reasonably well, which is encouraging even if I'm a bit of a Zack Snyder skeptic.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 9:36 PM
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Sounds good. Finish it, record it and put it on You-Tube.

Didya hear that, Ma? I'm going to be a star!


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 9:39 PM
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842: All sorts of revolutionary violence is authoritarian. The French Revolution is surely an awfully good example of that, innit?

I'll let my earlier clarifications of my usage stand, I don't have much to add to them.

843: An alternate future's police state. Okay... don't see the relevance, then.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 9:39 PM
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surely it could be done to "Stormy/Walk him along", hardly any changes at all:

Zombie John Brown, he is dead but not gone
walking along, John, walking along
Oh Zombie John Brown, he is dead but not gone
walking away from his burying ground

Chorus:
Calling brains, and gore, he
walking along, John, walking along
All-a brains, and gore, he
walking away from his burying ground

We dug his grave with a silver spade,
His shroud of the finest silk we had made.

Ch.

We lowered him down on a golden chain,
On every link we carved his name.

Ch.

etc.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 9:41 PM
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So would you define all violence as authoritarian?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 9:43 PM
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849

For no other reason that we're writing songs and somebody mentioned the French Revolution. Here's my
"French Regimes Since 1789." Sing to the tune of "Twelve Days of Christmas".

Five French republics,
Four with no DeGaulle,
Three ousted kings,
Two emperors,
And a Vichy fascist regime.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 9:45 PM
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That's wonderful. I think I'll stick to whatever it is that I do well.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 9:45 PM
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850 to 847, though 849 is very helpful.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 9:47 PM
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Gary: I can't quite tell from this if you're saying this in the context of Marvel Zombies or not. (Example.)

Well, no. And it puts me in mind of Tom Lehrer and 'satire is dead'. (Also, wow, that superhero person has a skinny skinny body, and amazing large breasts. Someone has been browsing JPop too much.)

No, I was thinking more like Ned the Happy Christian (Ned is strongly Christian and he has a Mac-10 and a bunny) or Johnny the Homicidal Maniac ('The wall must never dry out!'). Zombie John Brown could be sorta Punisher-like in sorting out the evildoers (real people, not supervillains), mini-comics style. Not really a superhero comic.

Hrmm. I was gonna say that Zombie John Brown doesn't have large breasts, but he could, say, get G-cup implants or something two or three issues in.

max
['I don't quite have the riff developed yet.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 9:47 PM
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850: ah, but it's only a permutation of the (half-remembered) original, so I cheated.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 9:51 PM
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454: I suppose it would be more accurate to say that despite the effects it didn't feel cartoonish to me, it felt horrific, and not in the horror-movie way.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 9:55 PM
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828: God, the Grant Morrison run of Doom Patrol was some awesome fucking shit. Just totally fucking whacked out. Time to go rummaging around in my comic boxes, I see.


Posted by: dob | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 9:55 PM
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"Also, wow, that superhero person has a skinny skinny body, and amazing large breasts."

Ever see Power Girl?


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 9:57 PM
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I agree with 842. (The French Revolution might be a bad example, though, because wasn't La Terreur pretty authoritarian itself?) DS's definition of "authoritarian" still seems unreasonably broad.

And, back to 704: depends. What's his lifespan? I know I've seen him in futuristic settings with a long white beard, but maybe those were all pre-Crisis. And I know a post-Crisis comic referred to a man in red boots witnessing the sun going supernova in the distant future, but (a) that's actually a Flash comic I'm thinking of, so maybe the unnamed man in boots wasn't Superman at all, and (b) is even post-Crisis continuity operative any more, after "Infinite Crisis"?


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 9:57 PM
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857: I feel so close to you now. Did you like Hudson Hawk?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 9:59 PM
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796

"The authoritarian fantasies in question often rely heavily on fictionalizing the incompetent authorities / liberal establishment, this is what makes them fantasies. They do this quite extensively in fiction qua fiction, too."

Want some spanking good example of that? The Punisher. The Matt Helm novels of Donald Hamilton. Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir's "The Destroyer"/Remo Williams novels. These are all about guys either deciding to kill a ton of people because they need killing, or directly serving a boss who decides so. See also Robert Heinlein's early short story "Gulf," which he directly repudiated decades later in his novel Friday.

I don't think this is particularly accurate as regards Donald Hamilton and Matt Helm. Helm is depicted as a specialized part of the establishment not as opposing it.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 10:10 PM
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859: Except for the killing people part, I think it fits the A-team fairly well.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 10:14 PM
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858: From what I've seen of it, yes. But I don't think I've ever seen more than five minutes or so of it at a time.

846.last: The relevance is that it wasn't an alternate future in the Twilight Zone sense of "crazy freaky thing that could happen (but really never would)", it was an alternate future in the Terminator sense of "this horrible thing will happen unless you do this to stop it right now."

I use the example of the alternate future story published in 1981 only because (a) it's long before "the last few years", (b) there's no ambiguity at all in that story about them being the bad guys or about them being misused by illegitimate authorities or something, and (c) I'm familiar enough with it to talk about it definitively. I would have said they have been government property since they were introduced in the comics in the 1960s, but I haven't read the comics in which they were introduced. The sentinels basically and at heart are government property. The are The Man.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 10:18 PM
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Ever see Power Girl?

Gah. That post made me vaguely ill. Filed under reasons I quit reading superhero comics a long long time ago.

If I remember correctly, the mini-comics dude was talking about Bill Ward (I think) who had been drawing women with huge breasts for so long, he could no longer draw them to look like actual human beings - they didn't look right.

max
['Bleh.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 10:19 PM
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It should be observed that of course Bond is authoritarian, even, and in particular, when disobeying the post-war British state. It's like the UDA and the anti-Wilson stuff in the British intelligence community.

(Have I ever ranted here about why Harry Potter is an awful reactionary series politically in many ways? And historical romance novels are really shocking for this as well. The Whigs seem to have been wasting their time from those novels.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 10:39 PM
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Did you like Hudson Hawk?

Late to the game, Walt, but I'll back you up on that one. I thought it was amusing.

(Of course, given my opinion of WALL-E, you may not want my endorsement...)


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 10:53 PM
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731 and 776 to 848.

"Did you like Hudson Hawk?" would be a hilariously awesome pick-up line. It would almost never work, but still... awesome.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 11:21 PM
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(Or to answer 848 a little more fully: not all violence is authoritarian. But there's no authoritarianism that is not violent. Ergo there's a pretty heavy overlap.)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 7-09 11:24 PM
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Basically, I'm characterizing as basically "authoritarian" the fantasy of being able to wield violence according to personal conscience to set the world to rights.

Has anyone (outside the government) ever used violence for any other reason? Maybe professional criminals.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 6:38 AM
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867: ????

Crime has got to be the leading source of non-state violence. Certainly that's the case in North America. Even terrorists and revolutionary groups tend to devolve into criminal operations.

The other big source of non-state violence is relationship violence.

The number of people using violence out of personal conscience has to be absolutely minute, unless you are counting "bitch cheated on me" as personal conscience.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 6:53 AM
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865: Rarely work? I'd already have gotten Cyrus and Josh, and that's not even knowing it's a pick-up line. Now I just have to take it down to the laboratory and... perfect it.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 7:13 AM
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868: !!!

"Bitch is cheating on me" is self-evidently personal conscience. There's an interesting book by a criminologist (who's name I forget) that argues that when people commit murder that at the moment they commit the murder they usually feel that the person has it coming to them, and that the murder is committed in a self-righteous fury.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 7:21 AM
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Yeah, you'd have a job to demonstrate that the average domestic violence incident is motivated by the conceit of maintaining order or upholding justice, save in the most abstract possible sense. Personal crimes of passion don't apply.

People also occasionally use violence for actual self-defense, which also doesn't apply.

OTOH, there are lots and lots of instances of criminal violence that really does see itself as upholding order and setting things to rights where the law is insufficient, whether or not it's actually doing so, from Militia movements to lynch mobs to the Mob. If "real-life superheroes" (who do exist) were ever to become something more than eccentric hobbyists, the chances of their eventually resembling such a group would be pretty high. Unless they imposed considerable institutional strictures on themselves, as the Guardian Angels -- arguably the closest thing in existence to a benign vigilante group -- have learned to do... in which case they'd no longer resemble super-heroes.

And I don't see a reason to confine this effect to "outside the government" since a lot of it ultimately relates to ideas about how government should be run: Jack Bauer -- the Bush era's James Bond -- fits the trope to a tee and has been explicitly used by Republican figures to justify a largely extra-legal torture and prison complex.

869 describes a truly evil plan. And yet... I support it. A conundrum!


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 8:27 AM
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I once read a book by a well-known criminologist where he said that the average murder is committed in a state of "righteous indignation". Someone feels they have been wronged or disrespected in some way.

Yeah, you'd have a job to demonstrate that the average domestic violence incident is motivated by the conceit of maintaining order or upholding justice, save in the most abstract possible sense.

It seems quite plausible to me that many domestic abusers are motivated by maintaining what they see as the proper order within their household.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 8:46 AM
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WTF, I was so sure no one else had read that book I didn't even look up the thread, but now I see that Walt not only read it but got my comment in first.

I'm going to kill you, Walt.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 8:48 AM
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"The proper order within their household" isn't what we're talking about.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 8:48 AM
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Also, if we presume an incredibly wide definition of social engineering, altruism is rarely practiced outside of attempts at social engineering.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 8:51 AM
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(Or at least it's not what I'm talking about. The fundamental conceit of heroic violence is that upholds social order, whatever its relationship to personal issues.)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 8:51 AM
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875: See, I've actually been extremely specific about my definition of the term "authoritarian" in this thread. I'm unpersuaded by repeated claims that this extremely situational and specific definition, adopted to discuss a specific trope's relation to a specific political context, is somehow supposed to be dreadfully over-broad.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 8:54 AM
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870, 872: you're right, there is a strong connection between authoritarianism within the family and authoritarianism in society. This has been a standard line since Adorno.

I'm not sure how this helps your case against Slack's claim the superhero genre is basically authoritarian.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 9:12 AM
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876:The fundamental conceit of heroic violence is that upholds social order

I have stayed away from DS's argument because it mostly confuses me that anyone could view individual political violence as always authoritarian, but Gavril Princep? Sirhan? Alexander Berkman? JW Booth? McVeigh?

Farber explained enough recent history of comics, which I know nothing about, to show the narratives of violence as at least anarchic in effect if not in intention. Now if the point is that every violent act i based in an ideology that is in implication authoritarian, well, that is true of almost every moral system or personal conscience, and so trivial and not explanatory.

Whatever.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 9:16 AM
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879: I have stayed away from DS's argument because it mostly confuses me that anyone could view individual political violence as always authoritarian

Yeah, that would sure be confusing if I'd ever said any such thing.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 10:13 AM
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880:

The fundamental conceit of heroic violence is that upholds social order ...but upholding social order is not authoritarian?

Angels on pins. Like I said, I haven't been able to follow. I don't think it is my fault.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 10:34 AM
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881: I've been explicit enough about the context of sentences like that one at enough length that I don't feel the need to go into it again.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 11:20 AM
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882:Well you know my reputation & interests so I really have been trying to follow the argument, reading and rereading all your comments.

Part of my problem was Farber's style of argument:

"Well, you use James Bond as an example but in Bond novel #7 Bond did X twice and Y three times (you have read Bond novel # 7, haven't you) and so I don't think you can really say that Bond does Y that much more often than Bond does X. So your argument that Y is a common trope in heroic fiction isn't really proved by your James Bond evidence. Did I ever tell about the year I was Ian Fleming's roommate?"

So much comic books that I presumed the question was entirely geekish and limited to comics and not any general social theory about heroic violence and authoritarianism, or even about comic books as reflecting social attitudes. Y'all lost me somewhere around Matt Helm's Infinite Crisis.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 12:01 PM
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Y'all lost me somewhere around... Infinite Crisis.

This demonstrates true understanding of comics; the rest is just commentary.

(I don't know who Matt Helm is. I see the name upthread but only as an example of other stuff rather than explaining the referent itself, and not in connection with "Infinite Crisis." My point in this comment is merely that comic books are often a mess.)


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 12:18 PM
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"Did I ever tell about the year I was Ian Fleming's roommate?"

I hope it was in Jamaica.

Matt Helm. Purely the novel series; the movie series with Dean Martin had just about nothing in common with the popular novels. The popular novels featured a secret agency that just killed bad guys, as authorized by the President, while Matt Helm ruminated a lot about what wimps most people (liberals) were for not understanding the necessity of Tough Men To Do Tough Jobs Like Killing Lots Of People In Secret.

It's pretty much what Nixon really wanted, in his dreams, out of the Plumbers, and what G. Gordon Liddy seriously thought was probably going to develop out of them. (Liddy advocated killing Jack Anderson, for example.)

As Wikipedia notes, Matt Helm "appeared in 27 books over a 33-year period beginning in 1960." They sold very well, and spawned a number of imitators, such as The Executioner, Mack Bolan. Don Pendleton originally wrote "37 of the original 38 Bolan books," but Gold Key went on to peddle 590 more of the suckers, counting all the spin-offs, by hiring an endless series of hacks to keep that series going.

Bolan and his team started off not working for the government; they just killed Mafia guys and other "scum"; later they were hired by the government to do an endless series of such jobs. Tons about it here. Spin-offs are still being published, though I haven't looked at one in decades.

Apparently, unsurprisingly, "Able Team's primary missions are to fight domestic terrorism throughout North, Central, and South America" nowadays.

Similarly, Remo Williams, "The Destroyer" has had over 145+ novels on identical themes: kill the bad guys, because ya gotta, and it's secret because of all the wimpy liberals.

[...] On July 11, 2006, it was announced that The Destroyer would be moving to Tor Books, part of the St. Martin's publishing group. Along with the change of publisher, author Somheil was dropped in favor of previous author Mullaney, who will co-write the novels with Warren Murphy. The last novel published by Gold Eagle, Dragon Bones, came out in October 2006. The first Tor novel, The New Destroyer: Guardian Angel, was published in May 2007, as well as a re-release of three older novels in a collection called The Best of the Destroyer. The second novel, Choke Hold, was out October 31st, with Dead Reckoning to follow in April 2008 later that year. If the series does well there may be hardcovers in the future.
There's always been a market for this sort of right-wing wet dream fantasy, and there, totally unsurprisingly, still is. I'm not even getting into all the lesser imitator series, a couple of which I have to admit to having unwillingly been forced to work on when working inhouse at one publisher. We managed to be incompetent enough, I'm proud to say, to have killed that series off.

So if y'all want to be talking about authoritarian fantasies....

Oh, and Tom Clancy can easily be said to be something of a high falutin' descendent of these guys, to some degree.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 1:07 PM
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883: Yeah, I would say there's a fair bit of forest-for-the-trees going on in some of Farber's comments. "Comic books have wacky plots" doesn't speak to the basic endeavor those plots ultimately serve, for instance, and superficial embellishments like Dada-themed supervillain groups are beside the point, too, and there seems to be a disconnect about that. His other point is that there are comic books that feature specifically anarchist violence -- and very carefully constructed as such -- or that comment specifically on the authoritarianism of the themes that constitute the norm, which there are, and they're interesting exceptions. I don't think he's succeeded in portraying this as the New Norm.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 1:13 PM
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I might also add that all these guys were direct descendents of the various pulp heroes: The Shadow, The Spider, etc., and that Marvel's The Punisher, and the two movies derived from that series, are direct descendents of Helm/Bolan/Williams/etc.

The primary way most genre publishers function, in their more base form, and with their more base editors and publishers, is to look at what's selling well for someone else, and try to imitate it. Same way the big Hollywood studios work. Being original is hard work, and risky.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 1:14 PM
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Hey, you don't get to see "Tom Clancy" as the referent of "high falutin'" very often, though.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 1:16 PM
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Oh, BTW, Gary, your Nixon post is really excellent.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 1:18 PM
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Reading this thread reminds me of reading David Foster Wallace.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 1:20 PM
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Growing a sentence with David Foster Wallace.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 1:30 PM
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888: "Hey, you don't get to see 'Tom Clancy' as the referent of "high falutin'" very often, though."

Compared to the series of hacks who've written Mack Bolan....

Though I have to say that when I was eight to eleven years old, I enjoyed the original Donald Hamilton books; he was good at what he did.

Thanks, DS, for 889; remember, everybody, that really triff serious post by me is here. Lots and lots of linkin' goin' on there on the serious lies of Nixon, and the contemporary rightwing, about Vietnam. I like to think I knows me some Nixon, and some Vietnam War.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 1:32 PM
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Oh, I wasn't denying the context Gary, just commenting on the rarity of that sentence out of context.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 1:33 PM
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that was funny. thanks, DS. (sorry, no time to Wallacize it.)


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 1:38 PM
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"Also, wow, that superhero person has a skinny skinny body, and amazing large breasts."

"Is UltraGirl's superpower being able to squeeze that figure into that costume?"

"Nah, they can all do that."


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 1:47 PM
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883/886: See my prediction in 433.

Actually, I'll go as far as to say that anytime a thread gets Farbered at Unfogged, it will hit a thousand.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 2:00 PM
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"gets Farbered"

It's always charming of you, Jes, to continue your years-long campaign to try to turn my name into an insult in places where that sort of thing doesn't get you banned. How very substantive of you.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 2:13 PM
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And, Jes, if you can muster only 3-4 votes/comments from folks here telling me they'd like me to cease commenting, I will most certainly do so.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 2:14 PM
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perish the thought.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 2:18 PM
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896-898: I reiterate my general comment: Can't we all just be brothers/sisters/siblings/cousins at least?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 2:44 PM
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I, for one, would opt for continued Farberization, so if that counts as -1, then Farber needs 4-5 votes/comments to cease. I wonder if someone might devise a similar point scheme to get read to come back.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 2:55 PM
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901: I suppose I already voted so, so it's -2 at current count.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 2:57 PM
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900: Sorry, Sifu and Blume, LB says your marriage is barred by consanguinity.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 2:58 PM
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901: It'd be nice, but I think the only vote we need there is Read's.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 3:01 PM
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All my responses to Gary in this thread can be counted as votes for continued Farberization.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 3:07 PM
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Really? A discussion of comic books has spawned calls for banishment? Lord.

Also, "Farberized" makes me reflexively think we're talking about letting someone cry it out and go to sleep.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 3:15 PM
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906: I think we're just dealing with some history here between Auld Enemies.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 3:20 PM
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Jes and Farber have annoyed each other for years over at Obsidian Wings. Me, I'm fond of them both, so I'm staying out of it.

Nothing's ever actually about the comic books. Except the summer blockbusters, and even those aren't really about the comic books.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 3:21 PM
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Really? A discussion of comic books has spawned calls for banishment? Lord.

No, not really. Which is good.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 3:25 PM
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Can't we all just be brothers/sisters/siblings/cousins at least?

Only if we want a bloodbath, although others may have had a calmer family dynamic.

God help unfogged if I am allowed to have a vote. Ogged would resurrect and wreak havoc.

Mostly Farber makes me revisit my aversion to evidentiary argument. James Fraser collected, what, 12 large volumes of multicultural data in support of madness? The Friedmans did that comprehensive study of banking that turned so many decent liberals into vicious monetarists?

Knowledge is bad. Now I need a method to prove it.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 3:33 PM
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908: It's the coverup, not the comic.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 3:39 PM
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Knowledge is bad. Now I need a method to prove it.

Actually, Bob, I think a method is precisely what you don't need.

Do you think my methods are unsound?
I don't see any method at all, sir.

Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 3:41 PM
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Oh, yeah. I suppise I should link, but this question did come up in the eulogies to McNamara, his obsession with data collection and analysis during the Vietnam War. His detractors essentially go to irrationalisms about the NV will to win and determination vs American dispiritedness etc. How the heck do we measure that? How dare we make critical decisions based on cultural essentialism?

Maybe we need a poll.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 3:41 PM
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I'd sort of forgotten how effective a procrastination medium this place could be. I've wasted a good chunk of the afternoon talking about starbucks, ferchrissake.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 3:42 PM
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Jes and Farber have annoyed each other for years over at Obsidian Wings. Me, I'm fond of them both, so I'm staying out of it.

So what you're saying is you are going to let them cry it out until they fall asleep on their own?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 3:57 PM
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A discussion of anarchist violence in comics and no mention of V for Vendetta?

I'll go ahead and stake out the position DS has been avoiding: violence is inherently authoritarian. You are trying to impose your will on another, rather than communicating with them like a person in an effort to reach an uncoerced rational agreement. People who are generally anti-authoritarian may sometimes use violence, but they are undermining themselves.

I cite as comic book evidence the fact that V is an avowed anarchist who kidnaps and tortures a woman allegedly for her own good.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:15 PM
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I think I just trolled McManus.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:16 PM
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"906: I think we're just dealing with some history here between Auld Enemies."

Without going into my view of history, I have nothing whatever against Jesurgislac as a person. I like her, and agree with her on most things. The worst I'd say of her, and the worse I'm aware I've ever said of her (more elaborately) is that I think she often has some unfortunate traits in her arguing style that don't serve her well. And sometimes I find that annoying; but no more so than I find many of my best friends annoying at times. I'd be perfectly happy to sit down and have tea and and an afternoon's conversation with her, though. So far as I'm aware, the only negative things I've ever said about her are to either disagree with her opinions, or on rare occasion point out the unhelpfulness of of her frequent style of arguing. To be sure, I have no problem understanding that she likely finds both annoying.

She's had a thing about me, on the the other hand, for several years, to the point where she's repeatedly said she'll never, save on a rare occasion of personal crisis to make nice, respond to anything I ever say.

Ahem.

Oh, and I do dislike her attempts to make my name an insult. But that's it from my side. (This is not, on the other hand, an invitation to her to elaborate on her views of my perfidy. Rather, I'd be happy if she'd agree we can disagree cordially about some things, and otherwise be friends; that's up to her, though.)

I like Bob, too. Even if he is a bit doom and gloomy.

MacNamara: "his obsession with data collection and analysis during the Vietnam War."

Actually, most of his problems there were that his data were wrong, and he was, initially, getting incompetent analysis. As time went on, and he got better data and analysis, he realized correctly that the war was hopeless. Unfortunately, he didn't bother to make that opinion public until the mid-Nineties.

Not that his opinion proved relevant; when he made it clear to Johnson, Johnson tossed him to the World Bank, where his views on how the war couldn't be won were irrelevant. Eventually Johnson also realized there was no military solution to the war, but that was far too late. Nixon came into office knowing perfectly well there was no military solution to the war, but chose to use that fact as a means to guarantee both his initial election, and his re-election. Both did unbelievable evil, but Nixon's was far more conscious, if that makes any difference. (It doesn't to the dead.)

If folks want to talk Vietnam, we can really send the number of comments past a thousand.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:24 PM
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"Knowledge is bad. Now I need a method to prove it."

Perhaps you should collect some evidence.

[ducks]


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:26 PM
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Eh, I think we're broadening the meaning of "authoritarian" to an unsupportable degree. Without getting into dreary hypotheticals, it seems to me that there are realms of violence that aren't about imposing authority at all. Obviously, violence which resists authority would be a prime example. My anarchism stems in part from my belief that violence will remain a facet of human life for some time. Therefore, as a participant in human society, I'd prefer to keep violence at the smallest and most decentralized level possible. Concentrating violence in the fewest hands -- which is what the state and capital do -- inevitably leads to war, famine and genocide. It's always going to be easier to order the elimination of a million people from behind a big desk than it is to stab one person to death with a knife.
Having said all that, I'm not sure that most violence in comic books is not inherently authoritarian. The best comic book explorations of violence that I've seen are in Jason Lutes' Berlin and in Marvel Comics' The 'Nam (specifically in the issue of The 'Nam that focused on the biography of a Kit Carson Scout [former NLF fighters who defected to the US/ARVN side]). V for Vendetta could be read (in what I would argue is a resistant reading) as advancing the "violence is inherently authoritarian" argument, but frankly I don't support that reading. Alan Moore just has creepy politics.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:26 PM
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"A discussion of anarchist violence in comics and no mention of V for Vendetta?"

I took DS to rule out further mention of Alan Moore as one of those many exceptions not further allowable in the discussion.

Besides, I was serious when I said I'd try to let him have the last word on the last topic, the moment he said he was starting to get annoyed. And he's right that I didn't really have a major argument, anyway, beyond a general opinion that there's been a significant movement in mainstream superhero comics in recent years away from the link between vigilantes and authorities. This is not actually an issue I feel is of Great Importance In Life, to put it mildly.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:29 PM
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916:See, I am having problems with this use of "authoritarian." "Authority" is a social construct.
An individual can be an asshole, but not a patriarchy or patriarchal. An individual can be a dictator, but not a dictatorship.

Saying an individual can be authoritarian feels to me like saying an individual can be demcratic or libertarian. They can have such beliefs, but no person can act democratically without a lot of context. A democracy of one? An authority of one?

Bzzzz. It just does not compute.

So individual violence or direct action is always anarchic. It is the context, the interpretation of the larger framework of observers that makes it terrorism, freedom-fighting, or authoritarian.

"Jane Doe blows up a building" says nothing useful.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:29 PM
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916: Yeah, they're not quite the same but I don't think there's as bright a line between "anarchist" and "authoritarian" violence as some would like to think there is. I'm a bit amused that Bob cited Tim McVeigh as an example of anarchist violence -- this would be the McVeigh from a movement whose cultural touchstone is The Turner Diaries.

I can't quite go to the inherency argument because I genuinely wouldn't be comfortable calling, say, a guy who defends himself against an attack from a bunch of skinheads / gang members / whatever on the street an authoritarian. But I certainly would call lots and lots of violence authoritarian, I have no problem with that at all.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:30 PM
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916: Rob is clearly doing his part in the push to 1000. Are you Ms/Mr Unfogged commenter?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:33 PM
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925

Farberization rolls too nicely be considered an insult.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:33 PM
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918: I... thought Jesurgislac was a guy. I learned something today.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:34 PM
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927

Oh, but I can't let a discussion of superheros and authoritarians go without one mention of A href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Authority">The Authority, which I also have to note I've never read a single page of; just a fair amount about.

But if you read the plot summaries, I don't see how the comic can be left out of a discussion of the topic. (Of course, it, too, can be declared yet another in a list of "exceptions" that I'm curious how large DS thinks can be before possibly conceding that there are an awful lot of these "exceptions" in the past twenty years.)

And now over to that last word not from me....


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:35 PM
horizontal rule
928

Must ... not .... joke .... about .... 926.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:36 PM
horizontal rule
929

Take 926 ... please. I mean what a dull number, not a prime, but its factors are 2 and 463? Bo-ring! 926, certainly ain't no 1729.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:55 PM
horizontal rule
930

Not even a 7-8-09.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 4:59 PM
horizontal rule
931

930: And it's past 4:56 here.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:03 PM
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932

927: In the average month, Marvel and DC together publish how many superhero titles? The distributor Diamond Comics lists a monthly Top 100. The exceptions would need to be a significant fraction of that number to no longer be exceptions.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:05 PM
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933

926 has to be interpreted in light of the fact that 2=7.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:09 PM
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934

932: Research project for bob?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:10 PM
horizontal rule
935

934: I like it.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:21 PM
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936

"The exceptions would need to be a significant fraction of that number to no longer be exceptions."

If you're interested in continuing this subdiscussion -- and, honest, it's fine with me if you want to drop it -- could you also do me the favor of re-stating clearly what it is that you want to see exceptions to? I'm not 100% I've kept correct track at this point.

Is it exceptions to examples of superheros serving as figures of authoritarianism by serving authorities, or exceptions to examples of superheros serving as figures of authoritarianism by not serving incompetent authorities, or both, or what?


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:22 PM
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937

The Farb is making sense re: people with traits that rankle.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:37 PM
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938

936 is... not a joke, is it?

* thunks head repeatedly, yet with the utmost respect, against desk *

I think I may pass on continuing the subdiscussion, but thank you.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 5:46 PM
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939

I... thought Jesurgislac was a guy. I learned something today.

New here, I see. Or, DS!

Do you know for how long I thought Evelyn Waugh was a woman? I was informed today, tangentially, that "The Daily Beast" is a newspaper featured in a Waugh novel, perhaps in Vile Bodies.

Just doing my part on the road to 1000.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 6:17 PM
horizontal rule
940

939 - Scoop.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 6:31 PM
horizontal rule
941

Do you know for how long I thought Evelyn Waugh was a woman? I was informed today, tangentially, that "The Daily Beast" is a newspaper featured in a Waugh novel, perhaps in Vile Bodies.

Scoop, actually.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 6:33 PM
horizontal rule
942

OH GODDAMMIT. Now I am going to have to walk across the room and sit on you.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 6:34 PM
horizontal rule
943

Or perhaps it was the lesser-known title PWNED!


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 6:34 PM
horizontal rule
944

942: hawt.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 6:39 PM
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945

927 - In the Millar run (which is after the original, excellent Ellis run, in which the Authority kicks the snot out of Fu Manchu, Martians, and God), the Authority kinda-sorta take over the world, so I'm not sure that it makes any sort of point about superheroes being non-Authoritarian. In discussion with Rfts, the best example I could come up with of a superhero comic that got away from the violence-and-authoritarianism axis entirely was Concrete (about a person transplanted into an invulnerable Thing-like body, who fights crimes by... working as a travel writer and occasionally serving as a spokesman for good causes), but that's really stretching the definition of the term "superhero".


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 6:40 PM
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946

939: I had the same issue with Evelyn Waugh's gender. I also tried mightily to read Scoop. Maybe I'll go back to it now that I'm getting better sleep.

On a related note, I was sitting in graduate school before it hit me that the Max Weber I kept reading about was the "Veber" that people kept talking about.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 6:42 PM
horizontal rule
947

Scoop, actually.

I will pass this along to my alleged informant.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 6:42 PM
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948

Scoop started very strong, but I got side tracked. I also tried to read the one where the author on the boat goes crazy, but also got sidetracked. I should probably go re-visit the books I never finished during the 'up-every-three-hours' phase of child-raising. I'm thinking I just wasn't in shape to read anything new.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 6:45 PM
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949

Wait til you guys get a load of Leslie Fiedler!


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 6:48 PM
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950

949: ? I read a moderate number of pieces by him back in the Seventies and early Eighties, since he was one of the first academics to bother to start looking at genre fiction, and specifically sf, but I'm not at all clear what point you have in mind here.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 7:02 PM
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951

950: People whose gender one could be confused about if one were looking only at their first name, I think.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 7:04 PM
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952

See Section II of this link, as relates to comments 939 and 946.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 7:05 PM
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953

Sorry if I'm a little grumpy, I have really bad cramps... I just rode my folding bike without toe clips, and my calf muscles are KILLING me.


Posted by: OPINIONATED PAT | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 7:10 PM
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954

If Leslie Fiedler and Evelyn Waugh had had appearances in the movie It's Pat, I might have stayed through the whole thing. Full circle!


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 7:16 PM
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955

I knew that Evelyn Waugh was a man. This made me think that all British Evelyns were men--or at least the prominent ones. I thought that Evelyn Underhill was a man for a long time.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 7:22 PM
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956

Or Leslie Nielsen. Coulda been.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 7:22 PM
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957

956 - Alexis Georgoulis could have co-starred.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 7:27 PM
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958

926: I just like to confuse people.

Practically everything in 918 is Farberization of the truth, but that's life (and Gary). Or possibly just being a guy? I guess a guy would conclude that ignoring him for years must mean I have "some sort of thing about him".

We could always talk about comic books about Vietnam, and the Farbered Unfogged could get to two thousand!


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 7:36 PM
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959

Wars about comic books or comic books about wars? Which are worse? Discuss at length.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 7:39 PM
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960

Until this moment I thought Leslie Fiedler and Evelyn Waugh were the same person.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 7:40 PM
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961

946: I was sitting in graduate school before it hit me that the Max Weber I kept reading about was the "Veber" that people kept talking about.

This comes up repeatedly in the book trade, as you can imagine. We no longer have an open shop, so we no longer listen to people asking for books by "Go-eethy" or some such, but it arises now and again, and the usual quick mental debate kicks in: Shall I correct, or shall I not?

I think the only time I repeatedly correct my book-partner is over his pronunciation of "Frege." If he says "Freg," I immediately say, well, "Frege." I'm afraid I am unable to render this phonetically, but I really can't let that pass. Though it makes me laugh.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 7:45 PM
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962

955: There's a truly peculiar story by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro in which all the characters have gender-neutral names ("Robin", "Evelyn", etc) and the point of the story is essentially that you have no idea what gender anyone is, ever. It's published in her collection Cautionary Tales, I'm fairly certain, though I can't remember the title without looking it up.

Melissa Scott did a much neater trick in The Kindly Ones, where the gender of the protagonist is never made clear: and it is left so subtly invisible that I actually read the novel all the way through never noticing that I didn't know. Yarbro's story looks like a parlor trick by comparison.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 7:47 PM
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963

Parismom, you should alter the "correct" pronunciation of "Frege" every couple of times.

"...Freg..."
"That's Frayga."

"...Freg..."
"That's Freedge."

"...Freg..."
"That's Frikh."


Posted by: Cryp[tic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 7:48 PM
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964

963: You square-bracketed complete bastard, Cryp[tic Ned!


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 7:50 PM
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965

Then gradually stabilize on something really silly, like "Frigate".


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 7:50 PM
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966

I actually read the novel all the way through never noticing that I didn't know.

Did you actually maintain agnosticism, or had you picked a gender in your head that you only later realized wasn't determined in the book?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 7:52 PM
horizontal rule
967

You are all horrible people.


Posted by: OPINIONATED UNPRONOUNCEABLE | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 7:53 PM
horizontal rule
968

Or possibly just being a guy? I guess a guy would conclude that ignoring him for years must mean I have "some sort of thing about him".

Ha ha, yeah, total guy thing. What losers!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 7:55 PM
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969

966.2: I'd picked a gender in my head. I thought the protagonist was female. But there isn't a thing to justify that opinion - Melissa Scott even took the trouble to make clear that the protagonist is bisexual, so not even heterosexism can justify assuming gender by the gender the protagonist is attracted to. Scott just is that good...


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 7:57 PM
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970

I note that you use no pronoun to refer to Melissa Scott.


Posted by: Cryp]tic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 8:03 PM
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971

I wouldn't dare. Wikipedia thinks Melissa Scott is female. But who knows?


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 8:07 PM
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972

(I really need to go to sleep. I stayed up to watch Torchwood season 3 on BBC iPlayer, three episodes so far, and, er, omgCOAT. Also, Ianto/Jack goodness. Also, important things happen involving beans and potatoes. None of this is actually a spoiler.)


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 8:10 PM
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973

963: The thing is, we like to explain things to each other every once in a while, since it comes in handy. Otherwise, sure.

Did you know that the island of Phuket is not pronounced "Fuckit?"


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 8:10 PM
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974

Did you know that the Brazier Burger at Dairy Queen is not pronounced "brassiere burger"? I learned that at age 13 in the company of "friends". I showed my face in public again at 17.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 8:14 PM
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975

||
I am disappointed by the USA team in this soccer game against Honduras. I thought we had come so far, and yet there's still a trustafarian on the team.
|>


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 8:36 PM
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976

961: 'We no longer have an open shop, so we no longer listen to people asking for books by "Go-eethy"'

I actually asked somebody who 'Gerta' was. I've also confused 'Morrisey' with 'Jim Morrison', but everybody thought I was joking so I got away with that one.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 8:39 PM
horizontal rule
977

"I guess a guy would conclude that ignoring him for years"

That would explain why you spontaneously brought me up here, when I never mentioned you, and why you have continued to go on about me.

"Farberization"

See, you're still continuing your obsessive efforts to turn my name into an insult. It would be nice if you would stop that. If you're going to ignore me, please try ignoring me.

"must mean I have 'some sort of thing about him'. "

Also, kindly do not make up quotes out of whole cloth and attribute them to me with quotation marks. Thanks.

If you want to address something I've said of substance about any topic, go ahead; please otherwise quit your obsessive personal attacks. Thanks.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 8:40 PM
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978

974: Well, for god's sake, I never thought Phuket was pronounced "Fuckit"!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 8:49 PM
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979

975: Shit the fucking soccer game, forgot all about it.

From Beckerman's Real Salt Lake City bio: Enjoys fishing, listening to reggae music, playing guitar and skateboarding in his free time


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 8:52 PM
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980

Did you know that the Brazier Burger at Dairy Queen is not pronounced "brassiere burger"?

I was very confused for a while about brassieres and brasseries. A latterly-denominated establishment opened in a shopping center near my high school and I thought it was a very strange choice of name. They did have good drinks and pastries, though!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 8:55 PM
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981

978: Sorry, did not imply that you did, but *I* most certainly did make the mistake about "Brazier" and your comment simply brought it to mind (and it was all posting Tourette's from there).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 8:56 PM
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982

980: Pastries s/b pasties?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 8:58 PM
horizontal rule
983

981: I understand. I am sorry for your scarlet-faced 13- to 17-year-old self. If it helps, I once pronounced Chihuahua, while reading aloud in class in junior high school, "Chi-hoo-ah-hoo-ah". No, I have not forgotten it.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 9:02 PM
horizontal rule
984

No pasties of any sort.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 9:04 PM
horizontal rule
985

985: Full-on topless. Got ya.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 9:16 PM
horizontal rule
986

I see I arrived at this thread too late to get into a detailed discussion of Sentinels. A shame! But then, I really should get to sleep early tonight.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 9:17 PM
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987

987: Full-on topless. Got ya.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 9:25 PM
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988

Oops.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 9:29 PM
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989

See, you're still continuing your obsessive efforts to turn my name into an insult. It would be nice if you would stop that.

I think the thing that really annoys you about the verbing of your surname, as "Farbering a thread" is that every time it's been used, everyone knows exactly what it means - because everyone's been around when a thread got Farbered by lengthy comments focussing in great detail on offtopic points and minor errors, comments then defended or attacked at equally great length.

Just as (equally appropriately) it could be said that a thread gets Jesurgislac'd when someone makes a passing positive reference to being pro-life and a raging argument about a woman's right to choose and the evils of forced pregnancy then ensues: so that kind of agglutinative accumulative thread-drift is reocgnisably Farbered.

And at Obsidian Wings, or any blog where keeping on-topic and trying to maintain a reasonable standard of debate, to say that a thread has been Farbered (or Jesurgislac'd) is to say that discussion has failed.

But the point you are missing here, I think, in your own slightly obsessive need to make sense of my ignoring you: on Unfogged, any thread can get Farbered, and it doesn't matter a bit. (Obsessive Jesurgislac'ing, on the other hand, gets discouraged by a kind of Unfoggian judo: everyone sits down and reaches for the popcorn and starts discussing S'mores recipes.)

So I feel that, at least on Unfogged, you can - if you want to - just let go of your idea that if someone verbs your surname, it must be insulting.

And since I hope to be asleep before this thread hits a thousand, I declare it Farbered!

Anyone got any good S'mores recipes?



Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 9:30 PM
horizontal rule
990

989.last: I just eat the marshmallows and the chocolate. Anybody want the dry crackers?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 9:33 PM
horizontal rule
991

Jesurgislac/Gary: No one gives a shit.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 9:34 PM
horizontal rule
992

991 was me.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 9:35 PM
horizontal rule
993

"So I feel that, at least on Unfogged, you can - if you want to - just let go of your idea that if someone verbs your surname, it must be insulting. "

Thank you for making that decision for me; obviously, it's up to you to decide if I should feel insulted when you insult me, and try to turn my name into an insulting verb.

On ObWi, your repeated attempts to use my name as an insult have gotten you repeatedly warned you'd be banned if you do it again. Ditto lies about other contributors, and personal attacks, earn bannings. So you mostly behave yourself, though not enough to not have gotten numerous warnings that you'd be banned if you again tried the "Farbering" thing.

Oddly, I've never been even warned once about any violation of the posting rules there, in any way.

And here, we get to see exactly how you "ignore" me.

Bye now.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 9:44 PM
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994

Not yet, Gary, we only have 7 more to go!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 10:07 PM
horizontal rule
995

If this thread reached 10,000 comments, we could shout Wilt!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 10:10 PM
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996

With you loquacious motherfuckers, the bigger challenge is preventing a thread from reaching 1000.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 10:11 PM
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997

973: Did you know that the island of Phuket is not pronounced "Fuckit?"

The first time I ever saw read it, I said, "....Puke-it?"

max
['Tra...']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 10:13 PM
horizontal rule
998

Some of us are laconic.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 10:13 PM
horizontal rule
999

yep


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 10:14 PM
horizontal rule
1000

nope.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 10:14 PM
horizontal rule
1001

What the hell was going on in this thread?


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 10:14 PM
horizontal rule
1002

Freg?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 10:14 PM
horizontal rule
1003

1001: Nothing.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 10:15 PM
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1004

Fuckit.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 10:16 PM
horizontal rule
1005

969: Melissa Scott even took the trouble to make clear that the protagonist is bisexual, so not even heterosexism can justify assuming gender by the gender the protagonist is attracted to. Scott just is that good...

I was very fond of The Kindly Ones. I was, up until you said something, basically certain the protagonist was female.

That said, later Scott novels got more into having each character should 'I'm gay! Really really gay!' every third paragraph or so.

Which sucked.

max
['...la....


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 10:16 PM
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1006

Doesn't this thread have to be closed now lest a machine crash occur?

max
['...la...']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 10:20 PM
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1007

And yet, when we finally reach 1000, what feelings were we left with? Emptiness. Disappointment. A reawakened sense of our own mortality, as we realized that the goal that we so long strived for would not actually fulfill us. We looked into the gaping maw and it stared right back at us.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 10:24 PM
horizontal rule
1008

I'm gonna throw up.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 10:25 PM
horizontal rule
1009

Ok, so no one look in awb's gaping maw.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 10:26 PM
horizontal rule
1010

I like being filled with emptiness. It's better than not being filled with anything at all.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 10:27 PM
horizontal rule
1011

If we want to close this down, maybe Bob could give us the latest update on the fire-ant-related puss.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 10:27 PM
horizontal rule
1012

Walt is wise in the ways of paradox.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 10:28 PM
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1013

1007: and he we did the only thing that men can do when they know themselves, which was to weep and weep and weep.
-- Jane Smiley, The Greenlanders


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 10:29 PM
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1014

101: I like being filled with emptiness. It's better than not being filled with anything at all.

So you prefer being void to being null?

max
['Signed, sealed...']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 10:32 PM
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1015

To my sorrow, I had to make an Excel spreadsheet today. I was surprised to find out that there's no way to return "no value" in a formula. The page that I found to describe it said that such a thing would violate the nature of formulas. I half-expected them to launch into an analysis of the noumena and the phenomena of Excel formulas.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 10:38 PM
horizontal rule
1016

1014: 1010/101=7


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 10:38 PM
horizontal rule
1017

I feel much more like I do now than I did when I got here, only moreso.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 10:38 PM
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1018

1016: 1014: 1010/101=7

=2! =2! Damn you!

max
['|-0-| <-0-> |-0-|']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 10:42 PM
horizontal rule
1019

I learned that only by loving authority can I be anti-authoritarian.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 10:54 PM
horizontal rule
1020

{caption}Somewhere in Gotham a cry goes up in the night, and the sound of police sirens fill the night.

{next panel caption} Suddenly.... a gleaming shaft of light appears, and causing a round oval to play across the clouds...

{next panel caption} It's....

max
['... the Bexsignal!']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 11:05 PM
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1021

{ ... }
[ ... ]

What I admire most about max is his use of the full palette of grouping symbols.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 11:11 PM
horizontal rule
1022

100 Quatloos on Farber!


Posted by: OPINIONATED BRAIN IN A VAT | Link to this comment | 07- 8-09 11:50 PM
horizontal rule
1023

885

Matt Helm. Purely the novel series; the movie series with Dean Martin had just about nothing in common with the popular novels. The popular novels featured a secret agency that just killed bad guys, as authorized by the President, while Matt Helm ruminated a lot about what wimps most people (liberals) were for not understanding the necessity of Tough Men To Do Tough Jobs Like Killing Lots Of People In Secret.

I think Helm's opinions were more nuanced than this suggests. And I think the Helm series has more in common with James Bond or Aaron's Sam Durrell series than with the Executioner or Destroyer books.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07- 9-09 12:00 AM
horizontal rule
1024

991: Soon, we will have an entry on fanfiction.com.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 07- 9-09 2:39 AM
horizontal rule
1025

and he we did the only thing that men can do when they know themselves, which was to weep and weep and masturbate and weep.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07- 9-09 10:20 AM
horizontal rule
1026

1025: Dammit, cannot believe I missed that opportunity. Even the right number of "weep"s!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 9-09 11:56 AM
horizontal rule
1027

We've broken the kilokobe barrier at 1024 and this one could be described as ICQobe if you had an outdated ports list. I eagerly await 310 more comments so that we might achieve leet enlightenment.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07- 9-09 2:34 PM
horizontal rule
1028

Hrmf. Given that a Kobe is 100, isn't this merely a decakobe?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-09 2:49 PM
horizontal rule
1029

I'm always unclear on why 100="Kobe!" instead of "Wilt!"


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07- 9-09 2:51 PM
horizontal rule
1030

I thought a Wilt! was 220 Kobes, and thus unlikely to be achieve due to software limitations.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-09 2:53 PM
horizontal rule
1031

I know that we did get a"Kobe!" for the millionth comment, but I had really been hoping to get in with "Kobe3!".


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 9-09 2:58 PM
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1032

1031

Wouldn't that make it about 6.80956x10^192?

A lot more than a million....


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 9-09 3:14 PM
horizontal rule
1033

1032: 100x100x100 still =1,000,000, right? Or is this some fancypants new math?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 9-09 3:17 PM
horizontal rule
1034

Yes, but then similarly for 100!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 9-09 3:18 PM
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1035

Or Kobe! I meant. (Also to 1033.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 9-09 3:20 PM
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1036

1033:

I was just being silly.... and using the standard meaning of "!" as factorial.

so if Kobe! == 100 then Kobe ~= 4.89255

etc.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 07- 9-09 3:22 PM
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1037

Given that a Kobe is 100, isn't this merely a decakobe?

Well, fuckbunnies. My brain is broken.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07-10-09 6:40 AM
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1038

I know this thread is dead now, but I thought I'd throw in this link to Queerness In Stranger In A Strange Land as a counterpoint to some of the earlier discussion of Heinlein.


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07-11-09 4:56 AM
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1039

Long time no see, Gary. How are you adjusting to your new locale?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-11-09 5:42 AM
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1040

North Carolina? It's been a year now. Badly.

Or did you mean dropping by Unfogged again?


Posted by: Gary Farber | Link to this comment | 07-11-09 7:40 AM
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