Sunday, March 31, 2013

Good Will Hunting, Mary Sue, Picket Fences

I did finally read someone say what I thought all along---that Will Hunting, the character Matt Damon portrayed in Good Will Hunting from his own script, was a "Mary Sue". The term "Mary Sue" was first used in reference to Star Trek fan fiction:
Mary Sue stories—the adventures of the youngest and smartest ever person to graduate from the academy and ever get a commission at such a tender age. Usually characterized by unprecedented skill in everything from art to zoology, including karate and arm-wrestling. This character can also be found burrowing her way into the good graces/heart/mind of one of the Big Three [Kirk, Spock, and McCoy], if not all three at once. She saves the day by her wit and ability, and, if we are lucky, has the good grace to die at the end, being grieved by the entire ship.
It's the author's fantasy version of him or herself in the story.

The first time I watched the movie, it reminded me of an episode of Picket Fences (season 3, episode 12) I had seen a short time before. The stepmother smacks the 12-year-old son who nearly killed his little brother while trying to move the car. That happens in the first five minutes. The stepmother spends the rest of the episode trying to be nice to the kid who almost killed his brother. He sulks and accuses her of hating him and she spends the episode trying to convince him otherwise.

I would have said, "Now, honey, you did run over your brother, after all."

But the episode did affect me for some reason. I tried to figure out why. When I saw Good Will Hunting not long after that, I realized this was a common fantasy, to be an angry, self-pitying youth and have people trying as hard as they can to help you because you're so special.

I don't know why people fantasize about being former abused children. I suppose it's similar to people who falsely claim to be traumatized war veterans. But how could they not recognize that there's something weird about this and try to conceal it?

What the royal family should do

There's a report that the queen of England wants William to be the next king, not Charles, because she thinks the monarchy needs an infusion of fresh blood to keep it afloat.

If she thinks that, she should have abdicated decades ago.

I don't know what makes them think William is such a prize. I'm sure inbreeding has taken its toll on him, too.

Charles should be the next king. He'll be so old by then that he won't last long anyway. People can amuse themselves by charting his physical decline while anticipating the coming reign of King William. And if William turns out to be as embarrassing as the rest of them, they won't be stuck with him as long.

The princes should have been urged to marry women from families where none of the men live past fifty. It would keep things moving. The last "queen mother" lived to be over 100. Thanks to her genes, the British people have been writhing under the scourge of Elizabeth II for sixty years and there's no end in sight. She's 86 and will probably last another fifteen years. By then, Charles will be 79. William will be 45. Would you rather be stuck with Charles for twenty years or William for 55 years?

It would liven things up if the queen abdicated. Not only would someone new take over, but it would set a precedent and people would start demanding that other members of the royal family do the same.

It would make it more interesting if the queen gave some vague hint that she was abdicating due to her role in a shameful scandal that continues to be hidden from the public.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

They're going to prosecute Justin Bieber?

If the internet is to be believed, Justin Bieber has been racing through his quiet peaceful gated community in his Ferrari at 100 miles per hour. When a neighbor knocked on Justin's door to complain, he says that Bieber spit in his face and threatened to kill him.

Prosecutors take spitting attacks seriously because it's disgusting and unsanitary.

TMZ reports that the sheriff's department will push for Bieber to be prosecuted and that they think the young fellow needs professional help to control his anger and his behavior.

Those bodyguards of his need to take his car keys away and get him to a psychiatrist and they better do it before he kills somebody.

He's only 19. He shouldn't be living by himself. Where is his mother?

I don't know if he's cracking up or if he's just been horribly warped by years of stardom. Or if he's completely innocent and never did any of the stuff he's being accuse of. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The wit of Matt Damon

Here's Matt Damon's improvised bit from Saving Private Ryan:
This, this one night, two of my brothers came and woke me up in the middle of the night. And they said they had a surprise for me. So they took me to the barn up in the loft and there was my oldest brother, Dan, with Alice, Alice Jardine. I mean, picture a girl who just took a nosedive from the ugly tree and hit every branch coming down. And... and Dan's got his shirt off and he's working on this bra and he's tryin to get it off and all of a sudden Shawn just screams out, "Danny you're a young man, don't do it!" And so Alice Jardine hears this and she screams and she jumps up and she tries to get running out of the barn but she's still got this shirt over her head. She goes running right into the wall and knocks herself out. So now Danny's just so mad at us. He, he starts coming after us, but... but at the same time Alice is over there unconscious. He's gotta wa... , wake her up. So he grabs her by a leg and he's drag, dragging her. At the same time he picks up a shovel. And he's going after Shawn, and Shawn's saying, "What are you trying to hit me for? I just did you a favor!" And so this makes Dan more angry. He tries to swing this thing, he looses the shovel, goes outta his grasp and hits a kerosene lantern; the thing explodes, the whole barn almost goes up because of this thing. That was it. That was the last, that was, Dan went off to basic the next day. That was the last night the four of us were together. That was two years ago.
When I saw this, I figured they were trying to show that Private Ryan felt bad about his brothers' deaths, something most of us would have taken for granted. Maybe they were worried that we'd feel bad about their deaths, too, and were trying to make us feel better about it.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Good Will Hunting stunk

It's been sixteen years since I've seen Good Will Hunting. I found it rather disgusting.

I just read a thing on the internet that said that Matt Damon's thing in Saving Private Ryan where he blathers unnecessarily about his dead brother was improvised, which was pretty obvious since it sounded just like the crap in Good Will Hunting.

And you know the scene where Matt Damon says to the snooty college boy, "Do you like apples? Do you like apples? Well I got her number. How do you like them apples?" That annoyed me because, what if the guy didn't like apples?

Here's some more of that Oscar-winning dialog:
"Oh, fuck you and your Irish curse, Chuckie. Like I'd waste my energy spreading my legs for that Tootsie Roll dick? So go home and give it a tug yourself."

"And why does he hang out with those retarded gorillas, as you called them? Because any one of them, if he asked them to, would take a fucking bat to your head, okay? It's called loyalty."
"Morgan! If you're watching pornos in my mom's room again, I'm gonna give you a fucking beating!"

"What's up fellas?"

"Morgan, why don't you jerk off in your own fucking house. Man, that's fucking filthy."

"I ain't got a VCR in my house."

"Aw, c'mon, not on my glove."

"I didn't use the glove."

"That's my Little League glove."

"What do you want me to do?

"I mean, what's wrong with you? You'll hump a baseball glove?

"I was just using it for clean-up."

"Stop jerking off in my mother's room!"

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Young would-be celebrities, Teenage Paparazzo and P-Star Rising

Teenage Paparazzo 

I finally watched the movie from a couple of years ago, Teenage Paparazzo, about Austin Visschedyk, then 14, who runs around with a $3,000 camera taking pictures of celebrities.

The kid probably would have been fine if he hadn't been the subject of the documentary. Thanks to the film, he was becoming a celebrity himself. There were news stories about him, Teen Vogue had a photographer taking pictures of him taking pictures of celebrities. He was adorable. The young women celebrities he harassed wanted to mother him. He and his mother signed a contract to develop a reality TV show.

The movie started out as an interesting story about a cute little kid with a giant camera running around with the grown-ups taking pictures, but it ended up cruelly documenting how a 13-year-old kid becomes brattier and brattier when people start treating him like a star himself.

The movie ends with the filmmaker going back and talking to the boy again. He's 16 now and is back to normal. He says what he remembers about watching the documentary was seeing himself acting like an asshole. He doesn't want to be famous for being paparazzo.

I can understand the parents allowing the kid to be a paparazzo, especially for the amount he was making. I can sort of understand them allowing the documentary to be made and the news stories about him. But how could any mother in her right mind agree to a reality TV show about her child? The kid was already making a fortune, $500 to $1,000 a shot. They couldn't have needed money that bad.

P-Star Rising

A 2009 PBS documentary about a single father. He has two daughters who are 13 and 18 by the end of the movie. Their mother has a serious drug problem. When the thing begins, they're living in a single room in a shelter where they've been for nearly two years. The younger daughter, Priscilla, aka P-Star, is an aspiring rap star. Her father, who had worked in the music industry in the early '80s as a rapper and producer before serving a two-year prison sentence, puts everything into her career. It will be their way out of poverty. With all the family problems, the older daughter is failing in school.

He says that his time in the music industry was the best time in his life. He was making money. It's something he knows, it's his only profession, and it makes sense he would go for it again.

They sign with a record company. Priscilla, only nine-years-old, gives a speech to the group when they sign the contract. The contract provides the family with a pretty good signing bonus and a leased car.

It actually goes surprisingly well, at least for a while. And, ultimately, Priscilla does wind up starring on The Electric Company.

Compare and contrast

You have this contrast between the two movies. Austin is from a middle-class family, he starts making a gobs of money as a paparazzo, something his mother probably shouldn't have let him do, while Priscilla was from an impoverished family with a sad background, with no memory of her mother. Austin is tempted by the chance to become famous for being famous, or at least famous for taking pictures of famous people while Priscilla is very bright and talented. Austin starts to turn into a brat while Priscilla stays the way she was (her being a couple of years younger may have played a role.)

But Austin didn't set out to become famous. He just wanted to take pictures and earn some money. The chance to become a celebrity arose. He was only thirteen and wanted to take advantage of it. He quickly realized it was a mistake. He started out as a nice enough boy and after some unpleasantness, he ends up as a nice enough kid again.

In the case of Priscilla, her father put everything into her career. With Austin, it was mainly a matter of his mother letting him to do what he wanted.

Not becoming a celebrity was the best thing for Austin and his family---they really dodged a bullet when that reality show didn't pan out--but it was a shame that Priscilla's career as a rapper didn't last longer.

Friday, March 22, 2013

I'm out of touch

When I was a kid, I kept up with new movies by reading the parodies of them in Mad Magazine. I knew about all kinds of movies I had never seen. I could turn on the TV, see the middle of movie, and recognize it because I read it in Mad. Later, I watched Siskel & Ebert just to save myself the trouble of ever going out to a movie.

I don't read Mad anymore and I don't know if they've changed their format anyway. Gene Siskel died and Roger Ebert has had terrible health problems. They really didn't like each other, at least at first. Roger Ebert said that, when he was offered the chance to do the show, he was acquainted with Siskel and would rather have worked with anyone but him.

What critic you'll watch has little to do with whether you agree with them. Siskel and Ebert gave rave reviews to Dan Ackroyd's terrible, terrible movie, Dragnet. Just awful. Rex Reed and Dixie Whatley panned it but I still liked Siskel and Ebert better. I don't know why. Did they just have better voices?

And while I'm thinking of it, do you remember that Liquid Plumber commercial? Real plumbers hate that stuff---they refuse to work on drains where people have used that stuff because when they open the drain, they get all the horrible chemicals on them. But the ad had two plumbers sitting there talking about Liquid Plumber. And they vaguely resembled Siskel and Ebert. I thought it was an obvious attempt to tap in on their popularity.

The Son's Room, etc

You have these comedies---the early films of Woody Allen, the films of Mel Brooks that came after The Producers and The Twelves Chairs, and lots of others---which consist of a series of barely connected gags. They edit them together and they somehow add up to a coherent movie. Although John Baxter, in his biography of Woody Allen, said that Allen had trouble putting some of his movies together. He had to bring in a new editor to make something out of Take the Money and Run. Someone pointed out that it was almost impossible to write a synopsis of many of these movies.

I recently watched Nanni Moretti's The Son's Room, about a psychologist and his family coping with the death of his teenage son and it was put together almost the same way. Much of it seemed to be series of short, unconnected scenes. We see the psychologist listening to patients. He goes to his son's school---he's in the principal's office. Some Hari Krishnas are walking down the street when he gets coffee in the morning.

It worked very well.

Although I recall Siskel and Ebert attacking a Mario van Peebles movie for being a series of very good scenes that didn't add up to much. It doesn't always work.

And I saw a made-for-TV movie many years ago starring the woman who played Bill Cosby's wife on The Cosby Show. She was really very bad. She played a crusading district attorney going after a deranged plastic surgeon who was attacking and disfiguring models so he could operate on them and restore their looks. It was made up of very short scenes. It got annoying. I gave the impression that the writer couldn't write a three-minute scene. There was a twenty-second emotional break-up with her detective boyfriend who she turned in for planting evidence.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Never let Mark Rappaport or Jon Jost leave their junk at your house

Jon Jost has responded to Ray Carney's response. Jost says that Carney is a pathological liar because he incorrectly believed that Jost was married to the woman with whom he had a child and because Carney got mixed up as to which 911 conspiracy theory Jost subscribes to. It turns out that Jost doesn't think that explosives were planted in the buildings, he just thinks that the Bush administration knew all about the attacks and let them happen so they could use it to their advantage. And Jost claims that Carney committed perjury in his depositions although the court didn't seem to notice.

Two people have suggested kickstarter campaigns to raise the money to get the stuff back. Jost hasn't shown the slightest interest. I don't know what Rappaport thinks of the idea.

Jost posted a photo of the stuff in question. It took up more space than Jost suggested earlier. My feeling is that Jost is the type of person who would ask you to store his crap at your house, not the type who would store anything for anyone else. He doesn't recognize it as the slightest imposition even when it goes on for years.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Obama in Israel

Well, Barack Obama is in Israel now, where 39% of the Jews believe he's a Muslim, where the majority of Jews wanted Romney to beat him in the elections, where only 9% of Jews think that he's pro-Israeli. Romney went there during his campaign and attended a huge fundraiser run by American Jewish traitor Sheldon Adelson. The Israelis called Obama an "anti-Semite" because he failed to keep Mubarak in power in Egypt like the Israelis ordered him to.

He'll be landing there to hear Israeli demands that Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard be released from prison. Meanwhile, they refuse to extradite Samuel Sheinbein who fled there after murdering and dismembering an American teenager in Maryland.. Sheinbein killed the teenager for practice----he wanted to eventually murder and dismember his boyfriend's other boyfriend. His father, lawyer Sol Sheinbein, who had dual citizenship in the US and Israel, helped his son take off for Israel and was charged with obstruction of justice.

The Israelis refuse to extradite a twice convinced drunk driver who killed a man in Florida because Florida prisons don't provide kosher meals. He was released in Florida on $50,000 bail pending appeal and took off to Israel when he lost his appeal. He must have been drunk on kosher wine when he killed that guy.

Obama may be able to convince the Zionists that he's a Christian, but they hate Christians, too. The majority of Israeli Jews say they want to drive anyone who isn't Jewish out of the country. That includes European workers who've been there for years, as well as their children who were born there. 20% of Palestinians are Christian.

If he had any self-respect, Obama would tell them to go fuck themselves. What's Israel ever done for the US?

Jews are falsely accused of controlling the banks and so forth, and there's a type of person who is so used to denying that Jews control things that they even deny that Jews control Israel. They claim that Israel doesn't want to be a nasty, racist little country constantly attacking and threatening other countries----the US forces them to. They claim the U.S. is using them. But they can't cite an example of anything Israel has done on the United States' behalf. Noam Chomsky cited one thing, an aborted intervention in Lebanon in the 1970s, so there was something Israel almost did.

No, the US is getting less than nothing for it's money. The Israelis should be groveling at our feet, but our politicians keep groveling at theirs.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Ray Carney, Mark Rappaport: It's all over

It's all over. Ray Carney has responded to the attacks from Jon Jost and Mark Rappaport. And what he says makes sense, more sense than Rappaport's claims. He posted on his website several years ago that the items he received from Rappaport were his. Rappaport knew at the time that Carney said this and didn't object. There's just the fact that Carney had been holding the stuff for eight years---as I said before, can you imagine storing someone's stuff in your home for eight years? Can you imagine asking someone to store your stuff in his home for eight years? What if Rappaport had wanted the stuff back after fifteen or twenty years?

Rappaport needs the digital masters he gave to Carney so his movies can be made available on streaming video. I wish Carney would send them. But Rappaport's demanding everything back and Carney wants to be partially reimbursed for the money he spent having the films cleaned and restored and the space he had built to store the films properly. He's asking for $27,000. Jost and Rappaport quibble over the cost. Has either one ever hired a contractor? Rappaport's from New York and presumably an apartment dweller. The one time I saw Jon Jost in the 1980s, he mentioned that he once lived in a friend's sauna because he didn't want to get a job.

Jost posted Carney's email response on his blog. I wonder if he actually read it this time. He says he posted another email Carney wrote without reading it.

On Jost's blog, in the comments, there are some half-hearted attacks on Carney, generalized attacks ridiculing him without mentioning or refuting anything he said.

Jost does pretty much the same thing when he responds to comments that take Carney's side or that suggest Carney has a point.

I mentioned the suggestion Arthur Vibert made, that an account on be set up and money be raised to pay Carney so Rappaport could have his stuff back.

Jost ignored the suggestion and replied in part:
...In his published item on this, he says a handful of false things about me, which I see as an indication that he is more than happy – as he was when I printed his diatribe against BU on my blog, colluding with him to make it appear I’d printed this on my own, when he asked me to do so, re-wrote his ever-so-long piece numerous times before giving the go-ahead to print it – to deal in falsehoods and lies when he thinks it, in his mind, serves his purposes....
Vibert replied to Jost's reply:
You are obviously determined to vilify the man. I’m confident a solution can be sorted out if people are willing to discuss it rationally. Surely the time for pointing fingers is over now. What does it gain anyone? Are you so determined to bring the man down that you are unwilling to consider solutions? It only makes you look petty and small. Let’s stop hurling accusations and fix this.
Yeah. It's all over. I hope Jost and Rappaport have the good sense to stop.

If someone wants to start the kickstarter thing, I'll pitch in a hundred bucks. I do want Rappaport to have the stuff back, the digital masters if nothing else.

I wish Carney had responded sooner. I would have been defending him all this time. I can't remember all the stuff I wrote on this blog about this situation, but when I go back and look, I'm pretty sure I'm going to be terribly embarrassed.

Habemus Papam -- We Have a Pope (Italy, 2011)

For some reason, I thought I should watch a pope movie. Anything with a pope. The Pope Must Diet, Foul Play, Brother Sun, Sister Moon. Just so long as I could watch it on Roku and not have to make any special effort. I'm not Catholic and have never practiced any religion.

Found a couple more pope-related movies. The Pink Panther 2 with Steve Martin and We Have a Pope (original title: Habemus Papam.)

We Have a Pope is the only one I could find on streaming video, so I watched that. Nice-looking movie by Nanni Moretti. Made for about ten million dollars in 2011. Europeans seem to get more for their money than Hollywood. Ten million dollars is a fortune in any other context, but it's nothing in Hollywood.

Listed as a comedy-drama. A cardinal is elected pope, but before he can go out on the balcony and be introduced to the world, he has a severe anxiety attack and can't go on. But he is Pope, after all. What can they do? No one can make him do anything.

It wasn't anti-Catholic at all, but there was the absurdity of cardinals treating this guy like he had been sent by God even though they had just elected him themselves and even though it was obvious that they made a terrible mistake. He was elected by a two-thirds majority.

There was a scene where the new pope talks to a psychiatrist. He has to keep his identity a secret. He has to tell her that he has no family, has never been married, and he's fine with that, and that he still works even though he's old enough to retire. Watching the cardinals hanging around the Vatican---they can't leave until the new pope is presented to the world---playing solitaire, sitting alone in their rooms putting together jigsaw puzzles, you remember that these are all elderly virgins.

Moretti himself plays another psychiatrist who was brought to the Vatican to talk to the new pope. Now he can't leave. He sits and plays cards with some cardinals, distracts them by talking about being separated from his wife who has a new boyfriend, and beats them.

Ray Carney responds

Ray Carney has emailed a response to the accusations against him. The final paragraph reads:
...In line with my continuing ethical commitment to “take the high road,” and not conduct a war of counter-accusations against Mr. Rappaport in public or private—and additionally not to open myself to the kind of selective misquotation and wholesale misrepresentation that Mr. Rappaport has previously employed against me to falsify the meaning of past communications with him or others—I would ask that you not otherwise circulate or publish this email, which is intended to be read only by the recipients and other, directly involved, senior Boston University officials.
I don't know how Jon Jost got hold of it, but he posted the full text on his blog.

And Carney made a pretty good point in the email. He's had the stuff for eight years. Is it really believable that he agreed to store Rappaport's stuff indefinitely for years on end ready to hand it back at a moment's notice? Can you imagine storing anything for anyone that long? It could just as easily have been fifteen or twenty years before Rappaport decided he wanted it back.

The fact that the better part of a decade went by before Rappaport asked for the stuff tends to indicate that he had no foreseeable use for it when he handed it over to Carney.

Carney's story was that Rappaport told him he had already donated all the good stuff to different museums and archives. What he had left was crap he was going to toss in the dumpster unless Carney wanted it. So, what the hell. Carney took it. It included actual films which had to be properly stored. 

Rappaport's version was that he was fretting about what to do. He was moving to Paris, but what was he going to do with this stuff? Put it in storage? He happened to bump into Ray Carney on the streets of New York and he jumped at the chance to store it for him. Which...seems sort of odd that anyone would jump at the chance to store another person's belongings indefinitely.

But it's possible that neither one remembers accurately. Rappaport had no foreseeable need for the items and Carney probably figured he would be saddled with it from then on whether it was given to him as a gift or not. It just wasn't important at the time.

This started with Rappaport's request that Carney return digital tape masters which he needed to make his films available through streaming video. Carney was "off the grid", as they say, working in his summer cottage or whatever it is in Vermont. He didn't get the messages and didn't know about it until he got served with papers demanding the immediate return of ALL the stuff.

If Rappaport had gone to court only for the digital masters, would Carney have returned them?

When this thing first started, someone talked about raising money for Rappaport to continue his court case against Carney. It would have been a lot cheaper to raise money for Rappaport to simply make a couple of new digital masters of the films or to pay Carney the amount he asked for to cover his costs for keeping the stuff all these years.

Arthur Vibert has now suggested the same thing in a comment on Jost's blog:
1) Let’s determine what amount of money will make Ray feel comfortable about turning over the materials. Obviously we would need Ray’s input on this.
2) We start a Kickstarter fund in Mark’s name for that amount. All of us contribute. I’ll be first with $50.
3) Once that amount is reached Mark is free to do what he wants with it – give it to Ray to get his materials back, or go make another film. If we want to limit this to retrieving the materials we can put it in a 3rd party’s name who will orchestrate both the giving of the money to Ray and getting the materials to Mark.
The suggestion was part of a longer comment. Jost responded to the comment but ignored the suggestion.

This situation could have been cleared up six months ago if they had done it then.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

New pope

As you'll see, I have very little to say about it.

I was going out to lunch. Saw a bunch of police cars speeding in the general direction of a large high school which made me nervous. I turned on the radio to see if there was news about anything horrible happening. Instead I heard that they picked a new pope, a South American who would be called "Francis I". Later learned he was from Argentina.

Well, good for him! I don't know anything about him, but he must feel pretty good about being pope.

I don't know how driven Catholic clergy are to become pope. Seems like I saw a TV miniseries with a priest whose family was hoping he'd play his cards right and eventually become pope. Orson Welles turned down a chance to run for Senate because he didn't think there was any point in being a senator unless you had a shot at being president, and he didn't think a divorced actor could be elected to the White House.

I heard the news as part of a talk show on public radio. They went from that story into a continuing series of reports on bullying. They spoke with a guy who had been a neighborhood bully when he was a kid. He was ashamed of it anyway, and he was Catholic so having to talk about it right after hearing about the Pope made it even worse. The poor guy came from a tough neighborhood. He was a victim of bullies and he said he had to see what it was like. Even at the time, he felt bad.

I never did find out what the police cars were for.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Deep Water

Watching a documentary about a British weekend sailor, 35-year-old Donald Crowhurst, who enters a non-stop 'round the world solo yacht race in 1968 sponsored by the London Times.

He had some idea that he could do it with the help of electronic navigation aids. He raised the money to do it. He had a wife and children. He was always smiling and cheerful during interviews, then when the cameras turned off, his face would drop. He seemed to know what he was doing wasn't such a good idea.

He sets out in the race. He starts out very badly. He soon realizes that his boat is in bad shape and that, if he continued on the trip, he wouldn't survive, but, if he quit the race, he would be financially ruined. His sponsor in the race was a businessman who knew nothing about sailing. If Crowhurst dropped out of the race before it started or early on in the race, he would be forced to buy the boat being built for him.

But he has an alternative. This was the '60s. There was no GPS. There was no way for anyone to know where he was. So he simply radioed in his position and lied. Suddenly, he was breaking speed records, traveling hundreds of miles in a day.

He stopped and was floating around in the Atlantic ocean radioing in his position. He finally said he was having trouble and wouldn't be radioing them anymore. He started keeping two logs, one with his real position, one that was fake. But the fake log would be carefully examined and he knew, if he "won" the race, that he would exposed as a fraud.

This wasn't that big a problem. All he had to do was come in last place in the race. No one would be interested in studying the log of the loser. He would finish the race and spare himself humiliation.

But there were problems with this that he didn't foresee.

I won't tell you what happens. It's all on Wikipedia if you want to see.

For some reason I keep watching documentaries and being surprised at the ending.

The movie was interesting but depressing. Imagine spending nearly a year completely alone on a boat, in serious danger the whole time. And imagine having your husband out there. Imagine being a child whose father is out there.

It reminded me of the amateur mountaineers who are now dying on Mt Everest. Now that you can call home from anywhere in the world with a satellite phone, they imagine it's perfectly safe climbing up there.

Well. I can understand it to a degree. In the 1980s, some people I knew in The Communist Party flew a small airplane across the country, down to Florida and across to Cuba. They had a good time seeing the place. A couple of them had been in the USSR in the 1920s.

And I suppose, in a way, it's like the low budget filmmakers who put everything into making a cheap horror movie. Like the fertilizer salesman who made Manos, the Hands of Fate, or the couple who made Teenagers from Outer Space. They never made their money back.

But it also reminds me of the idiotic things people do to avoid relatively minor problems. Making drug deals or embezzling to avoid bankruptcy, murdering spouses to avoid getting divorced. Marriages and business partnerships break up every day. Is it really that terrible?

The prize for winning the race was only 5,000 pounds. An average salary in Britain back then was 1,607 pounds. You could buy a house back then for about 5,000 pounds.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Justin Bieber needs a vacation

The boy may be cracking up. He tried to attack photographers in Britain and had to be dragged away by his own bodyguards. He collapsed on stage, he's tweeted about having the worst birthday ever. He's started appearing late for his concerts even though his fans have early bedtimes.

He's only 19. How long would an actual adult last living the way he does? Look what happened to poor Britney Spears.

Surely he's not famous everywhere. He needs to get away. If not to Western Europe, then Eastern Europe. If people recognize him in the south of France, try Bulgaria. If Bulgaria is a problem, try a Black Sea resort. I know people who have visited Mongolia and it's beautiful.

He should get away and live for a while as a normal kid, or at least a normal tourist. Maybe visit a clinic and have some of those tattoos removed. Let himself go a little. He's awfully sinewy.

And, yes, I know he's legally an adult and a millionaire, but someone needs to take those sports cars away from him. No teenager of mine would be driving one of those things unless I had a huge life insurance policy on him. He should drive a safe, slightly underpowered sedan, mid-size or larger, with an automatic transmission so he could pay attention to the his driving, not shifting gears. And no friends in the car to distract him!

His mother should talk with his pediatrician about the stress he's under.

And no more marijuana!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Teachers with guns

As Ramon Rojo said in A Fistful of Dollars, "When a man with a .45 meets a man with a rifle, the man with a pistol will be a dead man. That's an old Mexican Proverb...and it's true."

And when a teacher with a Lady Smith & Wesson meets a lunatic with an assault rifle, the teacher with the pistol will be a dead teacher.

Come on, now. Surely the gun nuts see the problem with this.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

MST3k---a bunch of damn hecklers?

There are a few ironies about Mystery Science Theater 3000. It was about a guy being tortured by being forced to watch bad movies, and, in order to produce the show, he was forced to watch those very movies over and over.

But there's also the fact that the people involved in the show were stand-up comics. I think one of them was a local theater guy, but the rest were comedians.

And yet they were acting basically as hecklers. You know how those people hate being heckled themselves.

The first thing I posted on this blog was about Jamie Kennedy, a stand up comic who was incredibly bad when he starred in Son of the Mask. I mean incredibly bad. If you haven't seen it, he was far worse than you're imagining. But he was so pained by criticism that he made a movie called Heckler in which he and other comedians express the depth of their outrage that people don't always enjoy their work. This included people talking back to them in clubs, movie critics, bloggers and pretty much anyone else who doesn't like their work and says so in any context.

"Don't you want me to improve?" Kennedy kept asking, sulking his way through the movie. He kept saying he wanted constructive criticism, like he wanted acting and comedy advice from critics and hecklers.

He confronted a couple of cheerful hecklers from a club. They didn't back down. Kennedy asked one what he did for a living. He was a babysitter.

Kennedy crudely suggested he listen to a baby's excretory functions instead (an example of his brilliant comedy).

It'd be better than listening to you, the babysitter said without missing a beat.

Of course, I like Mystery Science Theater 3000. A lot of people who worked on the movies they attack like them, although some have been disturbed by personal attacks made against them on the show. But after reading message board for MST3K fans, I'm beginning to have my doubts. They seemed like jerks. They seemed to imagine that the show was really sticking it to those low budget filmmakers, but I can't figure out why they want to. They didn't seem like the brightest people, one of them explaining at length why a racist "joke" wasn't racist.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

You Tube celebrity in student film

A while back I mentioned Dylan Eshbaugh. He had a You Tube series called Dylan's Couch in which he would tell plausible-sounding anecdotes about his life as a teen. That ended some time ago. He was in a movie called Echo Beach made in Canada,

So I googled him to see if he's done anything else and found that last year he appeared in a student film directed by NYU film student Shannon Strong, "The Woman in Red", which you can view here:

Was the shot of the couch a reference to Dylan's earlier work?

You can watch more of Strong's stuff here:

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Technology's gotten too good

This happened long ago. They were doing some sort of gag on The Late Show with David Letterman. They had a cheerful child reporter on satellite. Dave asks him a question. The kid doesn't quite hear him and suddenly the picture is gone, it turns to static. Oh, we lost our satellite feed!

Then Dave jokes that it's amazing how, at the first problem with the interview, there's a sudden technical problem. Isn't that amazing.

They were sitting in the control room with their finger on the button ready to save the child from embarrassment.

Then the same thing happened on Rachel Maddow. She interviewed a gay cadet from West Point or some such place. The problem was that the guy immediately started talking like a West Point Cadet, shouting everything like a recruit in basic training. He didn't actually say "SIR, YES, SIR!" but he sounded like he might. But that only lasted a few seconds because the screen suddenly turned to static.

Maddow "joked" that she thought it was some conspiracy to silence him.

I think it's good that they spare people public humiliation by pulling the plug and pretending it's a technical glitch, but the problem is that it's too obvious. It's obvious because this is the only time it ever happens.

They need to have it happen now and then at an inopportune moment, in the middle of a big exclusive celebrity interview or during a celebrity trial, or something else celebrity-related.

My trip to the coast

So, I was out at the coast this weekend. I was sitting in the car in the motel parking lot for some reason and I heard a long, loud inhuman howl. It sounded like a hound, but toward the end it sounded like human crying.

After a moment a distressed-looking woman was walking along the sidewalk. I thought maybe I should go and talk to her, but I didn't know what I could do for her. I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing that I didn't since I found out later she had assaulted a couple of people including her boyfriend.

I didn't know it but she had been at the motel screaming obscenities at her boyfriend. She wanted the car keys but he wouldn't give them to her because she was drunk. There was a children's party going on at the motel pool so they couldn't have that and she was ordered to leave. I'm not sure what the sequence of events was, but she went into a pub where she attacked her boyfriend and a woman. Someone from the fire department was there and made sure she didn't have the car keys, but she somehow got hold of them, jumped in the car and sped away. She narrowly missed running down a few pedestrians, nearly crashed into several cars and then jumped a curb, sped across a lawn and drove off a 150 foot cliff.

I didn't know about any of this either. I was sitting in a restaurant waiting for an order. There was a siren. A police car sped by. I thought, Oh, crap. I hoped it wasn't that woman I saw and didn't bother speaking to. A little later, a fire department SUV sped by followed a minute later by an ambulance.

She survived the crash. It was only a Chevy Cavalier, but it held up remarkably well considering it went off a cliff and crashed on the rocks. She wasn't wearing a seatbelt.

It turns out that she is a local actress and singer. She went to Julliard. That long strange howl was years of voice training.

Well, I don't think there's anything I could have done for her other than call 911, which wouldn't have been a bad idea but I'm one of the few people walking around without a cell phone so I couldn't even have done that. And if I had talked to her, she might have slugged me anyway. Other people tried to deal with her and she seemed more belligerent than anything else.

It was just by sheer chance that no one was killed.

Bonnie Franklin, RIP

I knew that Bonnie Franklin was fighting pancreatic cancer, and I heard over the weekend that she has died at age 69.

I haven't seen it in years but I heard that One Day at a Time hasn't held up well over the decades, which isn't a strike against it. It was topical, as much drama as comedy. Being recorded on tape in front of a live audience didn't help.

The episodes that stand out in my mind are the one where the feminist Ann Romano (Franklin) realizes that she's been sexually harassing her underling. Her victim finally complains to her boss, John Hillerman. "I really need this job!" he says. And there was the corporal punishment episode. Alex has been cutting class at school to play video games. The vice principal is going to paddle him. Ann Romano goes to the school and talks him out of it. At home Alex reveals the depth of his emotional troubles--his father killed by a drunk driver and his mother leaving him to be raised by his father's girlfriend---and Ann makes the bizarre parenting choice of spanking him with a bread board even though he was fifteen.

I never understood Mackenzie Phillip's appeal, but I was surprised that they kicked her off the show. You'd think the cast and crew of a topical sit-com would be more understanding, but they really didn't have much choice. The poor girl had a serious drug problem, and she recently revealed that drugs were the least of it. Strangely, back when the show began, agents for Phillips and Franklin fought over who should get top billing.

It wasn't until fairly recently that someone pointed out that the show was about a single mother who allows a lecherous building superintendent to let himself into her apartment and hang out with her teenage daughters.

Franklin worked mostly on TV, but she had an uncredited role as a child in Alfred Hitchcock's The Wrong Man.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Something on the Ray Carney case

No new information. I wouldn't be the one to get it from if there was any. But there was a comment on Jon Jost's Cinemaelectronica site from someone called Chris B. It was the only reasonable-sounding defense of Carney I've read.
...Did Rappaport lend his copies to Carney, or to Boston University? Under what terms? Why did Carney believe it was a gift? Is Carney in that case completely deranged, and has been for many years – wich must be the case if what Rappaport claims is correct, considering the fact that Carney wrote about the material (mentioning it as a gift) on his web-site several years ago?
Could it be that Carney planned or was working on something wich implies access to the material? A book about American independent cinema, say, Rappaport in a greater context, his script notes in comparison with the finished works? Could it be that this material was valueable to him professionally, but when terms suddenly changed (and Rappaport had taken it for granted that Carney would work as an archivist for FREE) he wanted to stand firmly on the legal issues (or be paid for the work)?
Carney might have held morals high in his work, in his writings, but I don’t think he ever claimed being a saint.. Could it be he just felt a little bit used too?
Read the whole thing here.

Carney needs to give the stuff back in any case. But this is the only thing I've read in his defense that wasn't calling on us to overlook the [alleged] theft because Carney was doing such good work otherwise or claiming that Jost's efforts were overkil.