The Birds (Alfred Hitchcock, 1963).
It’s not. It never is.
“To John Dillinger and hope he is still alive.
Thanksgiving Day. November 28, 1986.”
Thanks for the wild turkey and
the passenger pigeons, destined
to be shat out through wholesome
Thanks for a continent to despoil
Thanks for Indians to provide a
modicum of challenge and
Thanks for vast herds of bison to
kill and skin leaving the
carcasses to rot.
Thanks for bounties on wolves
Thanks for the American dream,
To vulgarize and to falsify until
the bare lies shine through.
Thanks for the KKK.
For nigger-killin’ lawmen,
feelin’ their notches.
For decent church-goin’ women,
with their mean, pinched, bitter,
Thanks for “Kill a Queer for
Thanks for laboratory AIDS.
Thanks for Prohibition and the
war against drugs.
Thanks for a country where
nobody’s allowed to mind their
Thanks for a nation of finks.
Yes, thanks for all the
memories — all right let’s see
You always were a headache and
you always were a bore.
Thanks for the last and greatest
betrayal of the last and greatest
of human dreams.
I do not believe it is as hopeless as all that. This year, I am incredibly thankful to be alive at all, let alone to live where I do with the people I love. I understand Mr. Burroughs’ criticisms, I just think that we must keep caring and trying to win out against the sense of defeat and cynicism, and maybe then the dream can still be saved. I don’t believe people are inherently bad; I believe the opposite, and I won’t get discouraged and filled with bitterness toward all of humanity just because of the publicized exploits and outrages of the bad apples in our barrel. I believe that for each one of the headlines that sends people in to despair over the state of the world, there are a thousand unreported little kindnesses and gestures of love and connection.
And world peace. I know. I get cheesey. I’m just feeling very happy and free and alive.
Almost all photos via Square America.
This post originally appeared on November 26, 2010.
Photographed by bagnino on the da.
This great society is going smash;
They cannot fool us with how fast they go,
How much they cost each other and the gods.
A culture is no better than its woods.
(W.H. Auden, Bucolics II: “Woods.” 1952. 51-54)
Photograph by mandysparky on the d.a.
“Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.”
(Robert A. Heinlein.)
Grok it, dudes.
A whopping happy FIFTIETH FUCKING BIRTHDAY to Stranger In A Strange Land. Can’t believe Valentine Michael Smith has been rolling through the cultural landscape for half a century. R.I.P. to wonderful Robert Heinlein, who died on a May 8th, by the by, in case you’re keeping track of my apocalyptic ramblings.
You are only an egg. Now get out there and make some water brothers in Heinlein’s memory.
You know what? This was going to be Bradbury Month but let’s bump that to September: that’s nice synchronicity anyway because that’s my birthday month and he’s my fave-ohs. July is now officially Robert Heinlein Month! Balloons and confetti just fell on us all!
“Don’t” by crayonboxx on the d.a.
Incens’d with indignation Satan stood
Unterrify’d, and like a comet burn’d
That fires the length of Ophiuchus huge
In th’ arctic sky, and from his horrid hair
Shakes pestilence and war.
(John Milton. Paradise Lost. Book 2, 707-11.)
Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989).
Do the Right Thing culminates in terrific racial violence in the Bedford-Stuyvesant Park part of Brooklyn, New York.
After the film ends, two quotes, one from Dr. King, and one from Malcolm X, are presented along with a still iconic image of them shaking hands.
The quotes advance two different philosophies for accomplishing an agenda of social change. The two philosophies presented in the quotes underscore the clashing sides of the issues boiling over in the time of the film’s setting.
Dr. King’s quote is, “Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. It is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. The old law of an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding: it seeks to annihilate rather than convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends up defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.”
(This quote mainly comes from his 1964 Nobel Peace Prize lecture, except for the “everybody blind” part. “An Eye for an Eye leaves everyone blind” is an attributed quote that was not included in the Nobel speech. I’ve actually been unable to find it at all in his legitimate writings, but it is a good axiom nonetheless.)
Malcolm X’s quote is, “I think there are plenty of good people in America, but there are also plenty of bad people in America and the bad ones are the ones who seem to have all the power and be in these positions to block things that you and I need. Because this is the situation, you and I have to preserve the right to do what is necessary to bring an end to that situation, and it doesn’t mean that I advocate violence, but at the same time I am not against using violence in self-defense. I don’t even call it violence when it’s self-defense, I call it intelligence.”
During his presidential campaign, I remember hearing that the Obamas saw this movie on their first date and stayed up all night debating the events in the movie, using the Civil Rights leaders’ quotes as a launchpad.
Screencaps originally by the awesome-possum buses on the lj, then edited by me. Huge thanks!)
(Family Guy. “Fast Times at Buddy Cianci Jr. High.” Season 4, Episode 2. Original airdate May 8, 2005.)
For the longest time through the late 1980’s and early ’90’s I thought the world would end on May 8, 1995 at 7:05 PM. The source of this highly specific information was, I was sure, Nostradamus, but a solid line on finding it again eludes me. Maybe after his prophecies fail to come true they erase themselves.
Anyway, I used to mope around about it and try to imagine exactly what I would be doing when whatever cataclysm the Fates had in store struck on that date, but the evening itself found me in a van on the way to a play in a nearby small town. At the appointed hour, my friends and I clasped hands in the backseat and squinched our eyes shut and … nothing happened. Shocker.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: The end of the world and the end of ourselves in the world are two very different, and ultimately non-corollary, things.
But may I add that the Newman community theater put on one hell of a production of Hello, Dolly! that night?
The Freedom For Animals association on Second Avenue is the secret headquarters of the Army of the 12 Monkeys. They’re the ones who are going to do it. I can’t do anymore, I have to go now. Have a Merry Christmas!
12 Monkeys (Terry Gilliam, 1995). All-time favorite film, all-time favorite director.
In a future world devastated by disease, a convict is sent back in time to gather information about the man-made virus that wiped out most of the human population on the planet.
So as I said, this is my favorite movie of all time, in any genre — all other comers are just vying for second — and I screencapped the everloving Gilliamic crap out of it last week.
Filled with glee that this qualified as a holiday picture, I innocently thought, “Surely everyone who ever planned to see this film has seen it by now, so it’s okay for me to put up all my pictures.”
But if the internet has taught me anything in the past year on this here thought experiment, it is above all else that it is possible for people to get mad at you for anything, so, at a certain point, this post will have a jump/cut. You will be able to click and be taken to a standalone page with only this entry, so that those sensitive surfers who I think must actually go searching pop culture blogs specifically for spoilers will not be able to yell at me for said spoilers. I’ll also be able to prove why this is a holiday movie.
That point is now. Click below to go to the full-page entry, with trivia, analysis, lines, and tons more pictures.
“I am mentally divergent, in that I am escaping certain unnamed realities that plague my life here. When I stop going [to Ogo], I will be well. Are you also divergent, friend?” Click here if you qualify for bunny slippers at the monkeyhouse. (Be honest.)
edit: I took the jump out. Screw the small minority of spoiler-haters. Sorry, guys. Rail away if you must.
Still with me? Great!
Telephone call? Telephone call? That’s — that’s communication with the outside world. Doctor’s discretion. Uh-uh. Look, if all of these nuts could just … make phone calls, they could spread insanity! Oozing through telephone cables, oozing into the ears of all those poor, sane people — infecting them! Wackos everywhere: plague of madness.
Hence the agony of foreknowledge combined with the impotence to do anything about it. …
Surely there is very real and very convincing data that the planet cannot survive the excesses of the human race: proliferation of atomic devices, uncontrolled breeding habits, the rape of the environment. In this context, wouldn’t you agree that “Chicken Little” represents the sane vision and that homo sapiens‘ motto, “Let’s go shopping!” is the cry of the true lunatic?
(That last was Dr. “Actual Bad Guy” Peters. He says it to Kathryn after her lecture when he’s getting his book signed.)
The lion James sees at the beginning is echoed by the camel perched on the top of the hotel in 1996. The image also shows up in a frame of a statue of a lion atop a stone as they search for Goines, and by the giraffes running across the overpass in Philadelphia many frames down.
No detail is too small to be necessary to the mise en scene of this film. Kathryn watches this Woody Woodpecker cartoon as she waits for James to get back in 1996 to the Oasis hotel. In the asylum in 1990, the movie on the television in the background as Goines rants is the Marx Brothers’ Monkey Business.
I get it! This is your old plan, right?
Plan? What are you talking about?
Remember? We were in the dayroom, watching television, and you were all upset about the–the — desecration of the planet, and you said to me, “Wouldn’t it be great if there was a germ, or a virus, that could wipe out mankind and leave the plants and animals just as they are?” You do remember that, don’t you?
Bulishit! You’re fucking with my head!
And that’s when I told you my father was this famous virologist and you said, “Hey, he could make a germ and we could steal it!”
Listen, you dumb fuck! The thing mutates — We live underground! The world belongs to the — the fucking dogs and cats. We’re like moles or worms. All we want to do is study the original!
Chris Meloni of Law & Order: SVU in a lovely little dickish part, a totally Terry Gilliam character: an individual given all the facts who refuses to acknowledge the possibility that the truth suggested by those facts could possibly be. Gilliam thrives on the absurd, and I think throws these Doubting Thomases in to the works to demonstrate how ugly a reception his credulous character constructions would receive in the world we all agree to be “real.”
For me this is the creepiest Scientist line in the film. Even in the future, when the plague has driven everyone underground, a guy who considers himself “hep” will try to use the allure of poontang to bring a poor guy down. So unfair and underselling for the Cole character, like that is a carrot that can be held out before him in the face of what he’s endured.
Until I was screencapping, I never really noticed how much screen time the so-called “Apocalypse Nut” and true villain, David Morse playing Dr. Peters, Jeffrey’s father Dr. Goines’ lab tech, is given.
When I was institutionalized, my brain was studied exhaustively in the guise of “mental health.” I was interrogated, I was x-rayed, I was examined thoroughly.
Then they took everything about me and put it into a computer where they created this model of my mind. Yes! Using that model they managed to generate every thought I could possibly have in the next, say, ten years, which they then filtered through a probability matrix of some kind to — to determine everything I was going to do in that period.
So you see, she knew I was going to lead the Army of the Twelve Monkeys into the pages of history, before it ever even occurred to me. She knows everything I’m ever going to do before I know it myself. How’s that?
I say this when a Thing matters and we are trying to diminish it.
I love how deranged Kathryn is in this scene, screaming at James to get Wallace’s wallet before they skedaddle. “We need cash!” But moments before, so tender when she touches his scalp with her curiously ugly hands. Madeline Stowe is the bomb.
Oh, hey, what’s a holiday movie? This is! Besides taking place during the Christmas season, we got some straight-up Santa action goin’ right here. Hope you can handle how very “holiday” this movie is.
James! James! It’s okay. We’re insane! We’re crazy! It’s a carpet cleaning company —
A carpet cleaning company?
No scientists — no people from the future! It’s just a carpet cleaning company. They have voice mail; you leave a message telling them when you want your carpet cleaned.
You … you left them a message?
Yeah, I couldn’t resist. I said, “The Freedom For Animals Association on 2nd Avenue is the —”
“— ‘is the secret headquarters of the Army of the 12 Monkeys. They’re the ones who are going to do it. I can’t do anymore, I have to go now. Have a Merry Christmas.'”
The Vertigo moment. This movie’s plot was inspired by Chris Marker’s La jetée, which also, in its turn, refers to the film Vertigo. While in the past, the protagonist of La jetée visits a Museum of Natural History with the blonde object of his affections, who points to the trunk of a cross-sectioned tree, the same way Kim Novak does in Muir Woods in Hitchock’s Vertigo, as shown in this scene from Twelve Monkeys. “Here I was born, and here I died. But it was only a moment for you — you took no notice.” Kathryn wears a blonde wig in this scene.
The lion I referred to further back, part of the recurring theme of wilderness which has been kept in captivity, let loose. Like the camel, like the giraffes, like the lethal virus, like James Cole released from his future underground incarceration to try and make time turn back and stand still.
The exterior shots for the crucial airport scenes were done at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport, while the interiors are from the Reading Terminal at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
This cabbie’s name is Annie Golden. You can also catch her in the soon-to-be-justly-famous I Love You, Phillip Morris.
Only assholes write on walls.
The curious, diffuse wash that bathes these final scenes was acheived with Fresnel lensed lights. Fresnels, a favorite tool of Gilliam’s, are a beveled lighthouse-and-old-car-headlamp-style lens.
The entire instrument consists of a metal housing, a reflector, a lamp assembly, and a Fresnel lens. Fresnel instruments usually have a convenient way of changing the focal distance between the lamp and the lens. The Fresnel lens produces a very soft-edged beam, so it is often used as a wash light. A holder in front of the lens can hold a colored plastic film (gel) to tint the light or wire screens or frosted plastic to diffuse it. … The Fresnel lens is useful in the making of motion pictures not only because of its ability to focus the beam brighter than a typical lens, but also because the light is a relatively consistent intensity across the entire width of the beam of light.
I remember reading a review when this film came out which criticized the inconsistency between Cole’s memory of this moment from dream to dream and what happened in actuality. The reviewer said it took away from the original inspirational idea in La jetée, where Marker’s narrator saw himself die as a child but, they felt, moved more definitely toward that moment as events unfolded in the short film. The supplanting of an unseen “Watch it” man in a yellow jacket with first Goines and then Dr. Peters was, the reviewer claimed, too foggy.
Well, excuse me, Mr. Super-brilliant reviewer, but the fogginess is kind of the entire point. The weirdly symmetrical plot of Twelve Monkeys is a cyclical rumination on the subjectivity of memory and identity. Put that in your cool-guy pipe and smoke it. Asshat.
I went to this film probably a few months after its release, when it hit the $2 second-run theater we had in town at that time, and I ended up going back almost every night that week, taking different friends. I remember very clearly that one of my friends said when it was over, “That’s so weird that in the future the insurance lady that sits by the bad guy on the plane is a scientist.”
“Um — I’m pretty sure she’s from the future in that scene.” Like, maybe it’s too late for Philly, but she’s going to stop Peters from going to San Francisco, Rio de Janeiro, et al. She says she is in insurance. Right? I mean, we’ve seen her in 2035, looking exactly the same, a highly placed physicist. I sincerely doubt that in 1996 she was an insurance agent who planned to survive the plague and not age.
Is this even up for debate? I’m serious, does someone have an alternate interpretation of that scene?
via nsfworld on the tumblr.
There are dark shadows on the earth, but its lights are stronger in the contrast.
I believe with the highest respect in the good intentions and heroism of the Greatest Generation, but I do not think they are the only great ones. They exemplify what has always been true of the best part of human nature, what the cynics would have us believe does not exist any more and maybe never did at all.
I disagree with those cynics. I don’t think I could disagree more, in fact.
Every generation experiences cataclysm, and we always think we are living in the endtimes, but the world keeps on going.
via igor+andre on the blogger.
The generation that is not shocked by the cataclysm, that is not galvanized, the generation that stops helping one another, that ceases to attempt to steer humanity through the flotsam of all the garbage with which our lesser numbers have choked up the ocean of human experience — that is the generation who will see the end of the world. Or at least the end of a world with people in it.
So far, to my knowledge, no full population of any generation stricken by apocalyptic terror in the face of life-changing (or -ending) events has looked at the rising waters and jumped into the whirlpool instead of banding together and heading further up and further inland.
As long as we have hope, as long as we keep looking for that higher ground, we will be the strong light against the darkness.
Photographed by JonWilksBeyond on the d.a.
To impose one’s A.B.C. is only natural — and therefore regrettable. Everyone does it in the form of a crystalbluff-madonna, or a monetary system, or pharmaceutical preparations, a naked leg being the invitation to an ardent and sterile Spring.
Photographed by brutalb4rbie on the d.a.
The love of novelty is a pleasant sort of cross, it’s evidence of a naive don’t-give-a-damn attitude, a passing, positive, sign without rhyme or reason. But this need is out of date, too. By giving art the impetus of supreme simplicity — novelty — we are being human and true in relation to innocent pleasures; impulsive and vibrant in order to crucify boredom.
(Tzara, Tristan. “Second Dadaist Manifesto”. Cabaret Voltaire. Zurich, Switzerland. March 23, 1918. Speech.)
Is a drawing from a comic printed on underwear anti-art enough to be Dadaist? Oh, but how angry the capitalist product tie-ins might make them. Best not to ask.
This post originally appeared on Dec 2, 2009, at 9:57 PM.
Grand news. The parent-teacher conference went wonderfully!, beyond my wildest dreams!, and I think I may even have snowed kidlet’s teacher in to buying that I am an adult, an elaborate new con on which I’ve been working, whose growing success at the grocery, church, and among new acquaintances is beginning to perturb me and make me check for crow’s feet.
On the way back from picking up the kidlet and Special K from the park where they played while I was at the conference because I was busy conferencing on top secret conferencey shit, Katohs and I were discussing all things fantastic, adorable, unique, and vintage-ish, as we are wont to do, and she said, “I came to a point in my life where I realized I was never going to get to be Zooey Deschanel, and I was like, ‘What’s the point in going on?'”
via zooeydeschanel.us (again)
I replied, “But that’s okay. All we can do is try to inject a little Zooey into each day, like be inspired by her energy!” advancing one of my typical over-optimistic, all-god’s-chillun-got-hands, hippie-crazy-go-nuts solutions that often barely even mean anything in the final analysis. When I am up against a tough point in conversation with a friendoh who is downohs, I sometimes morph into Dharma from Dharma and Greg — cryptic comments about the universe and energy and destiny just fall out of my mouth. But I think, actually, this time I managed to string together some pretty good advice!
via zooeydeschanel.us (again)
I think we women often admire a quality in another woman and somehow, whether it is something ugly and atavistic, or something society has trained us to do that we can more easily shake off, we want that quality for ourselves instead of simply accepting with grace and admiration what a lucky thing it is that that other woman has the quality we like and how fortunate we have been to experience it. We are a covetous bunch, we ladies. “If I could sing like her; if I had hair like hers; if only I had her body; her style; her car or career or cake serving set…”
via zooeydeschanel.us (again)
“…then?” What? Your life would be perfect? Never! There has never been a perfect, easy, or charmed life in the history of EVER! We are wasting such chances with our jealousy and poisonous reaction to a standout quality in another gal, blinded by our instant avarice: when something sticks out in your mind about another woman, ignore the negative instinct and instead seize a vital opportunity to connect with a woman, as two people. We need all to work on this.
We have to love each other first, because then loving ourselves will come next, and then when you have so much going on already, it’s only natural that the love of whatever man or woman strikes your fancy will follow! (See, if the whole admire-other-women-and-love-them-for-the-reflection-of-the-creator-in-them-that-is-also-in-you bit didn’t work, then hopefully the it-will-make-your-crush-crush-back bit will. I’m new-agey but also very sneaky!)
None of this is to say Katohs was jealous. She was expressing admiration for Zooey Deschanel. But I think it’s interesting that our culture has conditioned a young woman, especially even one as bright and categorically outstanding as Special K, to, when she sees a woman she admires and idolizes, even joke about wanting to be her, rather than just be able to be like her. Weird people we all are or have been made to be. I’m trying to change, personally. I’m hoping it’s something that can be a choice.
Other highlights: over lunch at Thai House, I introduced Katohs to the concept and history of “spoonerisms;” kidlet told me flatly that she was going to marry Jude Law, and, when she did, I would need to build her a house for them to live in (knowing Jude Law and the rumors I have heard of his skeeviness this is entirely possible and I guess I had better start saving); and Special K and I determined that it is mainly okay to slap a baby if the baby is really, really annoying.
No babies were slapped in the writing of this self-audit.
edit: So this is the promised Flashback Friday post that picks up the thread of thought in the 69 Days of Wonder Woman: Day 5 post. It’s all about rejecting the modern standard of cattiness and pointless avarice and trading them for cooperation and admiration. I mean, Jesus Christ, we are playing right in to the hands of the machine with this bullshit behavior, ladies. If you’re all bound up in bitching each other out, then you’re not paying attention to what’s going on around you, which means you’re not trying to change anything, which means everything can stay its shitty same self, which means the machine wins. Do you see? Revolution! — won’t you please help me do it up right?