Pavilion Digest: April 2003

A plethora of perplexing pavilion posts. The Pavilion Annex thread, the Pavilion Discussion thread, and monthly digests of all messages from the Pavilion.

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P.A. Berman

Ahbhu Lives!!

Postby P.A. Berman » Mon Apr 28, 2003 7:16 am

Name: P.A. Berman
Source: unca20030523.htm
Just wanted to tell Harlan about a story one of my seniors wrote. Their assignment was to approach one of the short stories we read from a different POV, or to tell a prequel/sequel to a story. One student rewrote "Ahbhu" from the dog's POV. It was very sweet and portrayed you and your love for the dog and his for you in a very touching light. Well, *I* was touched anyway. I wish I could send it to you so you could read it too.

Brightened my day...

PAB

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Harlan Ellison
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Postby Harlan Ellison » Mon Apr 28, 2003 9:09 am

Name: HARLAN ELLISON
Source: unca20030523.htm
DAY 10,000 OF THE MARTIAN DEATH FLU:

Vestiges remain. Only vestiges. I'm up and working; and it is an aspect of synchronicity of WHAT I'm working at, that draws me to you, despite the hacking and coughing and invasion of the phlegm wads. Susan, also, peregrinates. But before I deal with that synchronicity, I have a few replies.

FRANK CHURCH: I, too, loathed the sachharine Collodi-parody of AI ... and saw snippets of it the other day as I lay on my bed of pain, by way of HBO; and liked it no better. Then, this morning, I pop in here to catch up on all your postings for the past week, and saw your comments. Once again, Frank, you dismember me. What an absolutely astonishing take on that film. And I wouldn't be surprised if you weren't dead on the money. When next I gird sufficiently to watch AI, I will have the Frank Church Precis in mind. A tip of the Hatlo hat.

RAY CARLSON: Might I impose on you for a smallish favor? I don't belong to the Quality Book Club (though I once did DREAMS WITH SHARP TEETH for them). But I would very much like 2 copies of the QPB edition of the McSWEENEY's with my yarn in it. For my files. If you would be so good as to order them for me, on your account, and have them shipped directly to me (either I or Rick will give you the address, if you say yes)... I would be enormously grateful. I will, of course, reimburse all costs to you, whatever they may be, as well as a little more for the effort. Please let me know.

TO YOU ALL: My brain seems to be going into retro more often than usual these days. I am not about to be 70, as my previous post suggsted; I am going to be 69. In May.

Okay, here's the synchronicity.

BARNEY: Give your sweetie daughter a hug for me. I'm pleased the piece about Ahbhu reached her. And your showing it to her at this instant in time is propitious because... The new VIC AND BLOOD is coming out shortly, and Diamond Distributors told iBooks that they wanted to do a special edition, if I would write something new for it. Well, as you know, Vic and Blood are Ahbhu and me. I wrote the stories for him. Except Blood is Ahbhu AND me, smart and funny; and Vic is a brute. Not Ahbhu, but an ignoramus whom Blood (Ahbhu) tolerates. I have just written a new 1000-word snippet called "This Is a Conversation on a Wednesday Night." It is a chat between Vic and Blood for the Diamond special edition, and I wrote it last night, sent it off this morning.

Ahbhu's influence lives on.

Stay well y'all: yr. pal, Harlan

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Postby Ray Carlson » Mon Apr 28, 2003 10:17 am

Name: Ray Carlson
Source: unca20030523.htm
HARLAN,

Can do. It'd be my pleasure to place the QPBC order for you.



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FrankChurch
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Postby FrankChurch » Mon Apr 28, 2003 11:17 am

Name: Frank Church
Source: unca20030523.htm
Harlan, I am blushing, you know that? My comments about AI were based on my utter, undying love for the film. The subtleties at the end of the movie can be interpreted in different ways. I was just giving my take based on certain odd moments after many repeated viewings; also, I think I have a pretty good eye for what makes a movie either good or bad.

More little things to make the ending more clear:

They go into Manhattan, it is half underwater, the obvious starting salvo of the coming global melt down. Once again, man's "genius" with this in mind is rather seedy. Hitler in some ways was a genius as well, but for what ends?

They are told it is a "mecca restricted area". Strange, since it is man who should be restricted. Why would mecca be restricted from such a place? I believe so, because man does not want his mechanical creations to see the impure world that they have created, which might make the mecca decide to serve man's needs no longer. I feel man possibly feared a reprisal by the smarter mecca.

Notice how David becomes so agitated with the other David mecca, that he actually destroys the bot in a fit of scary, mindless violence. David, you see, is not so loving after all.

David even later, decides to commit a form of suicide, but is saved by Gigolo Joe. Depression, my friends is the first sign of strange behavior.

Notice, David cares more about the fucking Blue Fairy then his buddy Gigolo Joe, whom he could have possibly saved. David was never saddened by this loss of his friend, and cared only about his selfish pursuit of the Blue Fairy.

When saved by the uber-bots David plays them like a rat, and blackmails them into making the one day old Mommy. "Then you know what you have to do", David warns the uber-bots, as he selfishly uses the good graces of the uber-bots to aid his selfish need.

Listen to the voice-over of the uber-bot, when David shows Monica his water colors of past events. The voice over is a bit snide, not sweet.

Once again, look at David's face, when he turns himself off. Does he look at peace? He looks more like the kid who got Mommy to buy him a pony. The kind of face you might see on a serial killer after a satisfying kill. What was heart breaking about the end was how shocking it all was. The term "love" was turned into a corporate logo in Davids sick mind. Love Inc. is sadly the way most humans deal with actual human emotion: I will say that I love you, but what will you do for me first? That is sadly, this worlds answer to that question.

And don't forget the Flesh Fair. Strange that they would call killing robots, the same as killing "flesh". Flesh even, is a matter of context. They kill the robots, because deep down they are envious of the robots, and how they act more human than they do. That is what kills the human race in the end. Robots become the true humanity. A sick joke, but a good one. Hats off to Mr. Spielberg and the late Kubrick.

------------

I sat through fucking Spider, and fell asleep. You people need to quit admiring such boring fare. Ralph Fiennes drooling on himself is not my idea of a good time. And could the dialogue be any clumsier? You all are making me thing the film was some scary horror movie, and it ends up being a story about a guy who wanted to fuck his mom. Shame on the room. No hickies this week.

---------------

For a good laugh and a good gross out, rent Return Of The Living Dead, Starring the amazing Clu Gallagher. A great parody of the zombie films of Romaro. Scary and at the same time funny as fuck. Much more fun than Spider.

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Ben
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Postby Ben » Mon Apr 28, 2003 11:32 am

Name: Ben Winfield
Source: unca20030523.htm
MSRL. (My Summer Reading List)
FOUNDATION by Isaac Asimov
ONE MORE FOR THE ROAD by Ray Bradbury
MOBY DICK by Herman Melville
FIRST BLOOD by David Morrell (That's right, the birthplace of John Rambo. Don't be fooled...the Rambo of the book is a little 'different', from what I've heard.)

More to come.

FRANK,

"You all are making me thing the film was some scary horror movie, and it ends up being a story about a guy who wanted to fuck his mom. Shame on the room. No hickies this week."

Why, Frank...are you trying to PROVOKE us? Shame on YOU, m'lad!

Chris L

Postby Chris L » Mon Apr 28, 2003 12:06 pm

Name: Chris L
Source: unca20030523.htm
Frank said:

**also, I think I have a pretty good eye for what makes a movie either good or bad. **


Don't we all?

See, you thought I'd have something snide to say, didn't you?

Frank makes an energetic argument for his spin on A.I. and a not entirely unconvincing one. I never considered the ending a sentimental one in the first place and I do think Spielberg is trying desperately to achieve some nominal level of cynicism in the ending - he's just not very good at it. The big mistake, IMHO, is the humanizing of the mechas. Why did Gigolo Joe try to rescue David, for example?

The interesting dynamic here was appearances vs. reality. The mechas appear to be human and humans, with their overactive pattern recognition devices, will impart human behvaior to them simply because they look like humans. But they aren't. In any way. And shouldn't be. If Spielberg stuck to that vision and kept stringing out that tension, the film would have been much more interesting. Instead, he felt the need to "develop" the mecha characters - a big mistake, IMHO. Starting at the Flesh Fair, the movie undermines all it accomplished in the opening scenes and once we get to Dr. Know (if that was the Robin Williams' character name) the movie jumps the tracks completely.

In other movie news, huzzah and kudos to the American public for almost entirely ignoring The Real Cancun this weekend. A full saturation ad campaign (was there a single online film site that wasn't carrying Real cancun banners and popups this weekend?) couldn't polish this turd. Here's hoping so-called "reality film" bites the dust. We already have reality films - they're called documentaries and they're some of the best movies being made today.



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luluthebeast
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Postby luluthebeast » Mon Apr 28, 2003 12:32 pm

Name: luluthebeast
Source: unca20030523.htm
Ben, One More For The Road is a great book,but if you have the chance (assuming you haven't read it already) you must get Bradbury's From The Dust Returned! I think this is finest book in years. It's why I have always loved his writing, ever since my parents gave me R Is For Rocket back in '62 for my 11th birthday. It's why I, and some others that I know, love autumn and halloween and the beasties in it, both real and imagined!
Right now I'm reading his Let's All Kill Constance, a rather rollicking who-done-it.

As far as hollywood changing characters around, I think the biggest one was The Natural. I had read it before the movie and I couldn't figure out how they were going to do that to Robert Redford of all people. Oops! My mistake, they just changed the ending 180 degrees!




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Jon Stover
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Postby Jon Stover » Mon Apr 28, 2003 12:41 pm

Name: Jon Stover
Source: unca20030523.htm
Etc: Yes to Hoban, Miller Jr., Heinlein and Finney. The Alice Springs quote is the first line of Bruce Chatwin's _The Songlines_ (I got introduced to Chatwin's _In Patagonia_ by Alan Moore's use of it in _Swamp Thing_ back in the mid-1980s, by the by). The remaining line is from Ramsey Campbell's _Incarnate._

Hoban, you may recall, also wrote _Riddley Walker_, _Pilgermann_ and _Turtle Diary_, the last with the movie adaptation written by Harold Pinter...

Cheers, Jon

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Postby JosephFinn » Mon Apr 28, 2003 12:55 pm

Name: Joseph J. Finn
Source: unca20030523.htm
Chris L said:

"Frank said:

**also, I think I have a pretty good eye for what makes a movie either good or bad. **

Don't we all?"

I don't think so. I'd say we call certainly have the faculty for discerning whether or not we like a movie, or whether a movie strikes us as good or bad, but I'd say the ability to discern the reasons for quality of lack thereof (beyond obvious things like incompetence) is a more developed skill that is not especially innate. Can people develop it by studying and watching films (and especially by watching a much better class of film than the ordinary Friday sludge)? Absolutely

Frank,

As for the "mecca free zone," I tend to think it's because (a) meccas are metal, and therefore prone to sink (the wiseass remark) and (b) the mecca design center is there; given that the mecca are considered to be self-aware, to whatever extent, perhaps their designers made a conscious choice to keep the meccas from seeing the place of their "conception." Hell, David certainly didn't react well to it, now did he? I may be speaking out of my nether regions here, but perhaps the designers foresaw a certain amount of trauma for self-aware machines seeing a place where they are parts and stock pieces. I'd imagine Meccas are also banned from their factories and mecca stores for the same reason.

Regards,
Joseph

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Postby BrianSiano » Mon Apr 28, 2003 1:08 pm

Name: Brian Siano
Source: unca20030523.htm
I'll do a minor reply to Frank's comments re AI, even though I've posted about the film before.

I didn't go in with the expectations that a lot of other people seemed to have. Frankly, it seemed to me that people went in with their reviews already written: Spielberg dumped a shitload of saccharine onto the brilliant Kubrick's project which, as everybody claimed to know, was either a) more intellectually rigorous or b) darker and more violent than Spielberg was capable of doing. In other words, if it wasn't a remake of _2001_ or _A Clockwork Orange_, it wasn't worth the effort.

Granted, I was favorably disposed to the movie, as it was a Kubrick project that Spielberg had the decency to finish, and I know that Spielberg hadn't changed that much of it. So sentiment was working in its favor. Also, I knew it wasn't going to be _2001_ all over again, and that its intention was to be a fairy tale for a technological age. I don't think the movie was completely successful (the Flesh Fair sequence looked too much like _The Road Warrior_ for me), and the linkages to _Pinocchio_ were pretty heavy-handed.

But let's talk about that ending. I've lost count of the reviews I've read that say, "Kubrick would have ended the movie under the ocean, leaving the robot boy praying to an indifferent statue." Sorry, gang, but Kubrick had the ice-age ending in mind for _years_.

And what I absolutely _loved_ about the ending was its melding of Spielberg's sentiment and Kubrick's detachment. Suddenly the film jumps outside of _everything_ of Man. It's an analogue of the white room in _2001_, or the final title card of _Barry Lyndon_. The human race is gone, and none of our desires, morals, or values matter. They're not even dust.

The mechas of the future regard David as a first-stage link with Mankind. There may be some irony in the fact that an artificial boy is the last representative of Mankind, but no more so than a mask of Tutankamen or pastel heiroglyphics represent Egypt to us. There may be irony in the mechas satisfying David's preprogrammed desires with a mom almost as "fake" as David is-- but given the mechas' explanation of how they brought her back, I'd have to say that she's just as real as the original. (If the point is that Monica is "fake," then why couldn't the Mechas fashion a Monica-mecha that'd last more than 24 hours?)

So if there's irony here, it works like this: David was created to satisfy emotional needs in humans, and now a human was fashioned to satisfy an emotional need in a mecha.

One point seems to have been missed by many people. William Hurt creates a doll in the image of his own, dead son, and sells it to thousands. But he gives it a curse: it really does feel love, but it will need that love reciprocated-- by individuals whose emotions change, and who will probably die long before the mecha wears out. Once again, as with Kubrick, man fails to properly anticipate the consequences of his actions. But here, the one who suffers is a robot.

I don't agree with some of Frank's analysis, because I don't agree with his interpretations of events in the film. For one thing, I don't see that David's abandoned Teddy: recall that Teddy is seen crawling onto the bed with David and the dying Monica. I also don't see David as "nutty." He's limited by his programming, and let's not forget, he's been on ice for two millennia. Also, I don't think we can definitely say that David is switched off at the end. The phrase the narrator gives us is ambiguous: it may very well mean that David has a newfound ability to dream.

So another interpretation of the ending is this. David has become a real boy, because he has learned that the love he wants from his mother cannot always be there. He gets it, but he knows it's only for a day. He is no longer ruled by the program that, for two thousand years and tremendous grief, has demanded that he love his mother. To me, it's neat irony that David's becoming a "real boy" involves _mastering_ one's emotions, and coming to grips with mortality, rather than having the emotions fulfilled and mortality rejected.






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BillGauthier
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Postby BillGauthier » Mon Apr 28, 2003 1:17 pm

Name: Bill Gauthier
Source: unca20030523.htm
I'm so SICK of hearing about how Spielberg ruined A.I. The fact that Kubrick always wanted Spielberg's involvement, had asked him to direct, what, TEN YEARS before it was made, seems to escape the Spielberg-as-Satan idea. Hey, maybe I'm wrong, but if someone connects with as large an audience as Spielberg has, and if his work isn't all shit, which his isn't, then it can't be that bad. Everyone who doesn't like semtimentality can kiss my ass. A little bit from time to time ain't gonna hurt NOBODY!

Thanks for listening. I'll return to the other side of the tracks now, with the other know-nothings.

Bill

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Postby DTS » Mon Apr 28, 2003 2:04 pm

Name: DTS
Source: unca20030523.htm
HARLAN: You recently mentioned that you'd be editing a collection of stories by Jacques Futrelle for (I think) Everyman's Library (or maybe it was Modern Libary -- I'm having a senior moment)...anyway, just wondering how the folks that run that publishing line decided to pick you as the editor (was it the Block edited anthology?); AND (this entire paragraph is, of course, to be read without pause for breath), have they indicated that one of your books might be under consideration for the "classics" treatment? If not, do you know how the editors (or editorial board members) go about choosing selections for each year? (Perhaps a letter writing campaign by all the readers of this board might be in order -- I'll help organize it).

Thanks (in advance) for reading (if not answering) this oddly typed and extremely goofy question.
--Dorman

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Faisal A. Qureshi
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Postby Faisal A. Qureshi » Mon Apr 28, 2003 2:22 pm

Name: Faisal A. Qureshi
Source: unca20030523.htm
Chris,

Your right, Kubrick start using prose treatments for 2001 but he started shooting prose on set on ACO instead of a film script (Believe me, I heard some crazy stories like Eyes Wide Shut was once planned to have a hallucinatory cruxifiction sequence and I won't go into that now).

The vaginal jelly was a typical comment from what I can gather.

FAQ

SJ

Postby SJ » Mon Apr 28, 2003 2:35 pm

Name: SJ
Source: unca20030523.htm
Thanks to Michael Zuzel for posting the link to the Seattle Times interview with Harlan.

QUESTION FOR HE: You say in the interview that if you were starting out now, you couldn't make a living by writing short stories. So what *would* you do, if you were a beginning writer today?

Thanks.



DTS
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Postby DTS » Mon Apr 28, 2003 3:04 pm

Name: DTS
Source: unca20030523.htm
ALL: Hie yourselves over to www.randomhouse.com/modernlibrary/
and cursor down to where it says "suggest a title" (or something like that). It'll ask you for your professional affiliation, and since a lot of you folks are trying your hand at writing, (published or not) you _can_ type in "freelance writer." (A multi-purpose title for a mult-purpose job). Now, if you're going to suggest a title by Harlan Ellison, you COULD type in the title of your favorite Ellison tome...BUT! Since I already suggested DEATHBIRD STORIES (a title that lots of universities and even a few highschools have used in their literarture courses), and since the more votes there are for one title, the better the chances of catching the attention of the folks at Modern Library, may I humbly suggest you "suggest" DEATHBIRD STORIES...or, if you're feeling _really_ contrary, THE ESSENTIAL ELLISON (but at 1200-plus pages, I'm guessing it might be a little too big for them -- I could be wrong). In any case, get yourselves over to that site and vote now! (And then tell a friend to do the same). With enough votes, we might just have them planning a brand new edition of DEATHBIRD STORIES by May 2004. Just in time for Harlan's 70th.
HARLAN: Obviously, I answered some of my own questions. But the unanswered portions (How did you come to be picked for the editing job? Is there another, inside track, to getting a favorite author shortlisted for selection in the Modern Libary reprint program?)still stand.
RICK: Apologies for breaking the rules this once.
--DTS


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