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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Ben
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Postby Ben » Tue Apr 29, 2003 12:27 pm

Name: Ben Winfield
Source: unca20030523.htm
ERIC,

Never fear. The original board is like a New York cockroach (I mean that in a GOOD way). It'll be back soon enough, and so will the edge...

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FrankChurch
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Postby FrankChurch » Tue Apr 29, 2003 2:36 pm

Name: Frank Church
Source: unca20030523.htm
Eric, just because Harlan hates you does not mean that you should be so reflexively bitter. I was kidding about Harlan hating you, but you must admit, you are sort of the squeegie guy at the window at times. Flame wars are just no fun--but also remember, why the original board was shut down in the first place. Strong opinions are fine, Eric, just throwing shit to throw shit aint cool.

Damn, did I just say that?? Therapy must be working.

Eric, ok, here, I will help you feel more at home: Eric, you big, big...Poopieface!!!

And you have to admit, this place beats the awful and grammarless world of most BBS's.



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PeterPO
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Weekend Update

Postby PeterPO » Tue Apr 29, 2003 3:57 pm

Name: Peter
Source: unca20030523.htm
Even though it's tuesday.

Frank: Dennis Miller has been pissing me off since Bush got into office, and I've finally figured out why. On a recent episode of Bill Maher, Miller was asked why he made that shift from left-of-center to his flirtations with extremist right. He said he was tired of being fed bullshit by the left.

I took it to imply that Miller can't come up with his own conclusions or opinions, got tired of one line of bullshit, and so opted for another.

News about me:

I "celebrated" (note: term used really loosely) my twenty fifth birthday on Sunday. Am taking early admission to the MFA program at San Jose State, so I can take a Shakespeare class over the summer. My dad is back in the hospital with a tissue infection in the remainder of his right leg (thus the non-celebration). And I'm not certain, but I think I'll get to do a workshop with Neil Gaiman in the fall through my MFA program (SJSU's new director for their Center of Literary Arts is a writer from New York, and "knows people")

---Peter

John K

Postby John K » Tue Apr 29, 2003 6:19 pm

Name: John K
Source: unca20030523.htm
I like the idea of Harlan Ellison as an entertainer/commentator. Of course, in some ways, he's already one. And one with more insight and balls than anybody else playing the game, I think.

Dennis Miller's been pissing me off too. His shift in attitude almost seems to be playing to the crowds. It's probably arrogant and foolish of me to presume knowledge of his motives, but nevertheless, I gots my hunches.

Mr. Ellison--

I'm unfamiliar with Prof. S.F.X. van Dusen. But it sounds like something I should know about. What's the deal? And are you going to be writing an introduction to the collection?




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Chuck Messer
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Postby Chuck Messer » Tue Apr 29, 2003 8:27 pm

Name: Chuck Messer
Source: unca20030523.htm
Brian,

I have followed you accounts of the battle with the HD dragon with great interest. It's really too bad the blowhard ended up taking over, but sometimes about the only thing that will stop someone like that is a taser. You can imagine how messy that would get. It sounds like you had the best ideas on the issue, and I hope they get more circulation. Now that the HD issue is dormant, maybe those ideas can have time to catch on. Like Alex Jay said, you fought the good fight.

Harlan,

I remember reading the Thinking Machine stories when I was a kid. The memories are a little fuzzy now, but there is one I do remember, one where van Dusen took up the challenge of escaping from a prison. I remember how he got out, but the part that got to me most was when the prisoner in the cell above his started screaming bloody murder one night and finally admitted he murdered his wife. An alert reader (and one older than I was) would have seen how it tied into van Dusen's escape attempt. I'd love to read those stories again and refresh my memory. I think I was eleven at the time.

Chuck

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Melissa Reeston
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Odds and Sods, Bits and Bites; More of the Same Old Shit...

Postby Melissa Reeston » Wed Apr 30, 2003 12:53 am

Name: Scott Reeston
Source: unca20030523.htm
Eric: Well, the one post rule works fine for the most part, so I just try to pay attention. No hope of success however; too much rattling around the old brainpan, and the cranium has been needing a cleaning out for years.

Miller: I've noticed that the one expectation we have of our celebrities, or those who entertain or inform us seems to be consistancy. Not the consistancy of repeating the same thing over and over (Although there are that bunch of cretins hidden amongst the lot. You know, those ones who say that the Beatles became less talented because they began to experiment with musical styles and lyrical subject matter, rather than produce the same innoculous song over and over again, or demand a writer continue to foist a certain character upon the reader ad infinitum), but the consistancy of opinion and voice that makes us recognize them, and return to hear what they have to say on any given subject, knowing there will be something substantive for us in the listening or reading. Robin Williams has that consistancy, George Carlin, M. Ellison does.

Miller has seen two burning towers, ran screaming in terror, then surrendered his voice. In the belief he gains security by his act he has sold that consistancy that made his voice recognizable, separate from the lot (Of course, one could recall the adage that trading freedom for security leaves one with neither.). For some, that makes him irksome, or a traitor to his former self. To me, it makes him sound very old, tired and very unfunny. I can find his perspective in the OP-Ed section of the Wall Street Journal, and probably get more laughs. A damn shame, when you surrender a rare gift so cheaply.

Worse for Dennis is how he'll be eaten alive by the next generation of humour, torn asunder by those who need a easy Establishment target to slash. I hope the comic who rips into Miller just does a good job showing the fear in his present stance, in juxtapostion to the swagger in his SNL-era pompadour and jerky spasmic delivery. If done right, it would be priceless.

I'm Scott Reeston, and you're not...

Sorry, couldn't resist.

BrianSiano
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Postby BrianSiano » Wed Apr 30, 2003 5:06 am

Name: Brian Siano
Source: unca20030523.htm
Re Dennis Miller. I remember, a few years ago, I came across a comic strip titled "Mallard Fillmore." The first strip fairly screamed either right-winger or Libertarian: it had the duck reading a newspaper about some notable liberal changing his mind, and the punch line was "slow learner" or something smug like that. It wasn't so much a joke as it was a creepy back-pat. The few strips I've seen since have been at about the same level.

Dennis Miller, however, doesn't seem to have even _that_ for a conviction. From what I've seen of his career, even his decent stuff on _Saturday Night Live_ was sort of an accident; he had a staff of writers to support him, for one thing, and I always got the impression that Miller stuck with the persona because it was lucrative. Unlike people like Carlin or Lenny Bruce, I never got the impression that this was what _Dennis Miller_ wanted to be like; I got the impression of Bob Hope, walking out on stage and slipping into comfortably-tailored sure-fire gags.

Turning to the news, we see that the crop of Democratic hopefuls are trying to attract some notice for their campaigns. I like the fact that Gephardt's come out for national health care, tho I doubt there will be any follow-through. Howard Dean makes some good points, but he reminds me far too much of Colorado's Richard Lamm for me to find him trustworthy. As for Kerrey, well, I don't think he has much of a chance anyway. Not exactly inspiring, this bunch.

Have the Democrats fielded anyone who might make me want to switch my vote from Nader? It's a serious question: I'm open to the argument that Bush has been such a horrific President that we ought to rally around even the anemic Democrats to stem the damage a little. All I'd like is a serious pledge to _fight_ the Republicans-- a pledge for national health care, a fairer tax burden, restoration of our schools and social programs, and a rollback of every regressive, Christians-uber-Alles lunacy that the right wing has given us over the years. They've done far too much damage to this country already, and if the Democrats can't recognize them for what they are, then they're not worth supporting, either.



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JosephFinn
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Postby JosephFinn » Wed Apr 30, 2003 8:41 am

Name: Joseph J. Finn
Source: unca20030523.htm
I'm probably a little late on this, but I couldn't help but laugh when I saw this:

http://www.nbc4.tv/entertainment/2151821/detail.html

Yes, the inventor of the laugh track is dead. Insert your own comment about a certain ghostly aunt here...

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FrankChurch
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Postby FrankChurch » Wed Apr 30, 2003 10:53 am

Name: Frank Church
Source: unca20030523.htm
Dennis Miller changed because he wanted everybody to like him and to make a lot of money doing it the safe way, which is the opposite of what a comedian is supposed to represent. Comedians are supposed to piss off the elite, not become a card carrying member.

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

Rob, good you saw the light about One Hour Photo. Easily the saddest ending in movie history. You feel so pathetically sorry for the Sy charactor, but know that it is too late for him. He will probably try suicide, or eventually become a worse monster.

Don't you all love my cheery banter. Lol.


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robochrist
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Postby robochrist » Wed Apr 30, 2003 11:05 am

Name: Rob
Source: unca20030523.htm
While I would love to kick ERIC'S ass for his grousing over "film commentary" (expect it PROFUSELY from now on! Hell, I'll follow you to the pissoir and rattle on about EVERY fucking movie in Cineaste, ya bastard!), he has a point about the sluggish, rather disjointed tempo on this side of the forum; it has the cautious docility of a church social and the pacing of late afternoon freeway traffic. That's the kind of monotonous landscape that tends to make me grab a can of gasoline and strike the match. I was truly born a twitchy rebel without a cause, I guess.

I understand the relief this Pavilion offers Harlan. I sympathize with his pov, considering how pointlessly over-the-top and imbicilic rants get now and then on the other side (as demonstrated in our last exciting episode). And, clearly, it's less garbage to scroll through when you haven't a helluva lot of time to waste. But for a babbler like myself this pacing is just TOO slow and thinning of the piquant aspic that makes the other side unique on the Internet. Fervor, biting rebelliousness, intellect, and individualistic passion are what characterize the wonderful site Rick built here. To take that away in lieu of "10 best" lists and "what I dun did today" exposes, in effect, reducing this fertile ground to a monotonous wasteland (mirroring all the other sites out there), would really be a shame.

...and Re: Dennis Miller. Though he's cracked me up a number of times I believe he pools his conceit in universal indifference and that adds up to being little more than an asshole. Yeah, weigh him against the likes of Carlin or Pryor and you begin to sense you're listening to the bullshit of a clueless, apathetic guy. It may not be fair to compare him to the rare geniuses; but it does send home how utterly empty his monologues and dialogues really are. Put him in football and he'll do alright; put him in social issues and he's a dipshit.

BrianSiano
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Postby BrianSiano » Wed Apr 30, 2003 11:05 am

Name: Brian Siano
Source: unca20030523.htm
Frank Church wrote:

"Comedians are supposed to piss off the elite, not become a card carrying member."

Actually, comedians are supposed to create humor. Pissing off the elites is a bonus we sometimes get.

On the other hand--

"Making people laugh is the lowest form of humor." - Michael O'Donoghue

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robochrist
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Postby robochrist » Wed Apr 30, 2003 11:30 am

Name: Rob
Source: unca20030523.htm
Frank,

Whattya mean, "I saw the light"?

Not to, like, indulge my ego - ok, so that's bullshit, and hoping for too much - but I will TELL you when a film is remarkable and when it's a piece of shit. And I will make you understand - technically - why that film works or why it doesn't. You see, in my travels shore-to-shore upon the vast continent of film history I've amassed great troves of wisdom and knowledge. In this regard I am the Will and the Way. All life is a chain, the nature of which is known whenever we are shown a single link of it. Like all other arts, the Science of Film Analysis is one which can be acquired by long and patient study. Having made such an excursion I am the Dalai Lama of film critique. Whereas you, my friend, are but a Munchkin; My Bush to my Powell; my Costello to my Abbot; my Silver Surfer to my Galactus.

In short, yes, for once you got it right: OHP was a very good film.

Chris L

Postby Chris L » Wed Apr 30, 2003 1:20 pm

Name: Chris L
Source: unca20030523.htm
INSOMNIA and INSOMNIA: I think the American remake is adequate, probably better than the typical American film but I think it pales in comparison to the original. Regardless of your preference, a comparison of the two films provides a fine case study of the differences between European and American films or, rather, non-Hollywood and Hollywood films. Not that you can reach any conclusions from one case study but I find the differences interesting.

In the Norwegian version, we are given virtually no back story. We don't know why the cop has transferred to Northern Norway - only that he has done so. We get no back story about his life before this case. We are also granted very little access to his motivations during the cover-up of the shooting. We simply watch what he does - we seldom know why. Also, he shoots a dog so he can have a bullet to plant. The hotel clerk is not played as a romantic interest - in fact, he mistakes an innocent attempt at conversation as a pass and tries to grope her.

The American version, on the other hand, obsesses over back story and explaining motivations. We are told reams and reams of information about Pacino's pre-film life and get a sense of precisely what is at stake (all his collared perps could be set free if he's shown to be a rotten cop.) In addition, he does not shoot a dog. Rather, the dog is already dead and shoots a bullet into it. The hotel clerk, of course, is his love interest.

In Eyes Wide Open, Frederic Rapahel writes "Only fools and executives worry about motivation." I think Hollywood films obsess over motivation and backstory, even if in a superficial and implausible manner. They generally want audiences to know exactly why their characters are doing what they are doing. European films are less concerned about this, focusing on the actions themselves rather than the reasons for them.

I like the Norwegian version better simply because it engages the imagination more. You aren't given all the backstory. You can only guess at it. The American version does a nice job of providing ambiguity regarding the shooting itself which I like but goes to great lengths to lay out the character's backstory in what I consider to be needless detail.

Whatever your taste may be, a comparison of the two is quite illuminating, IMHO.



So far this year, I think the best movies I have seen are Gerry, A Mighty Wind, Lost in La Mancha and Stevie. The last two are documentaries (or mockumentaries) and the first one... well, I guess technically it's a narrative film but I'm not sure how you categorize it. And this weekend sees the release of Winged Migration, another documentary I eagerly await.

2002 was almost bereft of any interesting narrative films (after a robust 2001) so I'm hoping 2003 can make up for it. Not sure I see anything on the horizon that looks particularly excited though.

Oh yeah, forgot about Man Without A Past. That was nice but I count that as a 2002 release.



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robochrist
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Postby robochrist » Wed Apr 30, 2003 2:27 pm

Name: Rob
Source: unca20030523.htm
Chris,

I intend to look at the Norwegian version of ISOMNIA soon. So, I skipped your paragraph about it to avoid bias. As for the American version, while I don't completely disagree with your general point, in THIS case, at least for my recent initial viewing (second rounds frequently DO change or modify my original reactions, pro or con) backstory wasn't a problem for me. As I pointed out earlier it was in many ways comparable to TOUCH OF EVIL...which ALSO used backstory. In the case of the latter, backstory (mostly through Quinlan's long-time police partner and buddy) was a tool essential for drawing what sympathy was possible for the corrupt cop (which we don't experience until the end). To an extent backstory was important in INSOMNA in the same ways. The difference is that we watch Pacino grapple with a number of internalized questiions throughout most of the movie. Welles didn't have to deal with his demons until the very end; he was too self-aggrandizing, whereas Pacino, while TRYING to remain so, was already showing cracks in his armor. Yes, there was a bit of literalism in Pacino's INSOMNIA. There was LOTS of literalism and in-your-face exposition in TOUCH OF EVIL. Regardless, I like both films very much and the feeling they evoke through environment. How literalism serves a story or destroys it becomes the issue: What follows the "explanation" given to us? Does it turn into a cheap device in obvious ways or does it lead to nuances in the character we don't expect? This first time round it served to draw me in (particularly given the parallels between Pacino and Williams in the way they justified their actions handling an "accident"; their respective backstories were given to us so these parallels could be set up). We'll see how it strikes me next time. I may like it more, as much, or less. We'll see.

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Ben
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Totally and Utterly Random Thought For This Week.

Postby Ben » Wed Apr 30, 2003 2:49 pm

Name: Ben Winfield
Source: unca20030523.htm
Ever notice how high-class restaurants are always playing Yanni in the background?

Well, they do.

Weird.


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