2010: Week 28 Blots

BLOT: (18 Jul 2010 - 02:44:48 AM)

The three 3:10 to Yumas (story story, 1957 movie, 2007 movie)

In the original short story, you have a very pared down confrontation between the souls of two men: Deputy Marshal Paul Scallen and Jimmy Kidd. It is short, even for the medium, and most of the action is dialogue between the two characters: Scallen, paid a supposed pittance of $150 a month, versus the young, cocky out-law that comes to have respect for him despite not wanting him to succeed. The story builds up to a gun-fight in the street after a desparate lurch towards the train station. I'll leave the ending a surprise, but Elmore Leonard's prototypical story is upheld: schlocky but determined, good-guys jaw with not-unfriendly bad-guys and contests of wills, often demonstrated by gunfire, are taken more as a game amongst equals. It is classic Western through and through, part-hokey and part-heroic, with no room to bat around anything like angst or regret.

Now we come to the 1957 version of the movie. Deputy Marshal Scallen is turned into Dan Evans, played by Van Heflin, a down-on-his-luck farmer who out of sheer desperation takes up a crazy plot: escort a dangerous prisoner, Ben Wade (Glenn Ford, playing Wade off just as faux friendly as Jimmy Kidd but older and more established in his outlaw ways), to Contention to get him on the train to Yuma. The overall scenario remains the same: prisoner must be escorted by man acting on behalf of the law, with too many baddies on the outside. Except now we have a back-story and some build up. We also have the added tension of seeing Evans's life and desperation. If Scallen gets gunned down, it's a lawman going down in the line of duty. If Evans gets gunned down, it's a man dying for a lost cause. True to the original short, this version of the movie largely rotates around the hotel room and the baring of souls between the two men. Also, like the prototypical Leonard story, we have two people who are odds but you would not call adversaries. If you were to score this one on the action-index, your number would likely be very low. You could almost adapt it to stage as is. It's not about that, though, but more about honor and the gambles we take and such.

Now we come to the 2007 remake. Evans and Wade are retained, except now Wade is no longer the mostly-gentleman-outlaw but a complete pyschopath who regularly enjoys killing and Evans is no longer down-on-his-luck so much as luckless and unable to stand up to fate except for this last desperate plee for a couple of hundred dollars that, presumably, won't even fix the extra-large serving of bad-plight the screen-writers have piled upon him. This sums up everything that is wrong in the overall fair to middlin' post-Unforgiven Western: excess. The runtime is longer by over half an hour, and none of that extra time is put to good use. We have a pointless confrontation with Indians and a mining camp thrown in for no purpose. Stage coach robberies are now a matter of hundreds of bullets, including a mini-gun shoot-out that does nothing. The Evans boys, originally played out as youthfully critical and defensive of their father, have been turned into a tuberculosis suffering younger son and an angsty, cock-sure teen. Charles Prince, a menace in both of the original versions, has become an unhinged bringer of death. And the danger of the final walk to the train station has been upped by a bunch of mercenary killers who will kill anyone for a few hundred dollars. In short, this is a not a movie about the mythical West but is a modern action that just happens to be set in the West, almost on accident. Sure, Wade still bares his soul some (including a few "let's explain him away" moments), and we get to see Evans make somewhat stupid morality calls in the face of the oncoming storm; but the end result rests solely on our ability to care for Wade as a so-bad-he's-kind-of-cool villain. If you can't get into the Wade boat, there is little else to give a fig for. I was also disappointed to see that the all-important hotel dialogue has been boiled down to brass-tacks. Everything is dialed up and the core of the story has been melted down to filler material in the fourth act.

The end tally goes something like this. The story is great for its leanness, the diametric opposite to the overstuffed 2007 edition. The 1957 movie is the most complete package, and the final shoot-out feels a little less convenient than the story version. The 2007 movie has some strong acting by its leads, and some additional backstory, but gets mired down into too many branches and resolves too many things by turning it up a few notches. If you had an edited version that got rid of most of the side-trips, probably excised William (the agnsty son) for the most part, and toned down the violence to something near a realistic level: it might be the best of the three. As it is, though, the overly treacle bits in the 1957 ending feel more together than the bullet strewn 2007 one. Since the 1957 adds to the characters of the original story without detracting from the friendly but deadly masculinity that Leonard is great at, I'm going to to go with it as my favorite. Then the story. Then the remake.

Movies, Short Stories

BLOT: (17 Jul 2010 - 07:51:23 PM)

A couple of days of people watching, playing Munchkin with "new" peeps, new tea mug, and corned-beef brisket

By about the middle of the past week, I was so exhausted that I had honest to goodness "shut-down" moments during the day. I would find it harder to breath, nearly impossible to keep my eyes open, and in general I would be ready to go to sleep *right then*. It had actually carried over from the week previous, where, on Friday night after getting home from work, I had had an attack so hard that I was completely convinced that I was going to fall asleep in my study chair and nothing was to be done for it. This week, the worst attack was probably Wednesday and on Thursday I had a similar one except I was able to keep it under control. I did so because, on Thursday, I met up with a couple of people that I have known online for a bit but never met in person and I didn't want to cancel on them just because I felt tired. After that, though, I promised myself sleep on Friday (which I got, after about a 8-hour day on campus) and that seems to be doing my body some good. I'll continue the "getting too much sleep" game the rest of this weekend, and hope that kicks whatever is wrong with my body.

The playing of Cthulhu Munchkin with some "new" friends was a lot of fun. It's been about a year since I have gamed with anyone new. It's always an initial worry because some people just approach games, all games, differently than I do. I play for sitting back and relaxing with the rules being there just to assure that everyone gets a fair whack. Some people play very, very competitively and will shut down if they aren't dominating (and if they are dominating, they can't stop mentioning how awesome they are). Todd and [not the brother] Danny were both really cool to hang with, played with just about the same sort of speed/humor that I do, and I always like meeting the next generation of geeks (this time in the shape of Todd's son, Connor).

After work on Friday, I had the option of shutting down immediately, or trying to salvage something of the night. I went for a bit of the latter. Sarah and I swung by Jamo's and got a pair of cheese-burgers and sat out on the patio. Then we tripped over to Bridge Street and parked and walked around. Last Friday, when Jimmy and I went, the place was so busy you could barely breathe. It was still busy this week but it was ok in comparison. Lots of kids and tired looking parents, not quite so much of a crunch. Strange, too, since it was actually drizzling while warm last week and this week it was kind of cool and clearing up. At any rate, went by the Vintage Wine & Cigar place and picked up a Honduras leaf Sancho Panza and headed back up and around the walkway that used to circle the "lake" and now mostly circles the drained, half-filled thing that is where the lake used to be. After a few minutes, migrated to the bench about as far from Bridge Street as you can get (which is the only bench along that path once you get past the first few meters) and just watched people come in and out of the Station and the Melting Pot and listened to distant chatter and such. It was kind of nice being "near people" while also far apart. Cue Camus' The Stranger I guess.

Today ended up involving more people watching even though I slept until 12:30 (like I said, I was tired). Sarah needed a refill on her coffee and so we went down to the Kaffeeklatsch and picked up half a pound for her. Also got me this nice, neat ceramic coffee/tea mug from there. It is by Diana Walls (her card only links to her graphic design site). I dig it. It's a light, what I would call "cactus" green on the outside with a slight marmite (as in the jar) shape with a deep purple interior. Holds right at a pint, slightly more. Here's about the best picture I could get of it without going so far as to set up my camera (which needs new batteries) and trying to get technical.

After leaving the Klatsch, we headed down to Sam & Greg's and I got a large Nutella gelato while Sarah got a chocolate/coconut mix. Both were excellent. Mine moreso. After gelato, I sat back with a Red Hook ESB and we watched the various families and people go by. Left S&G's to head down to Big Spring Park, which we haven't been much at all since the construction started, and first went around the cooler, smaller, less busy side (what is the mini-park called? Does it have a name). Watched the fish and such for a bit, and was surprised to see a round-tailed muskrat swimming around. I dug around until I found this page that included pictures of lots of North American wildlife. This is almost exactly what he looked like, by the way. Awesome swimmer. He would both swim as fast as the fish and then would get to the wall and would use it to push himself along to go even faster. He was just going up and down the little waterway section. At one point, he came up to me and then stared until Sarah came up behind me and then he bolted back underwater and swam off.

The rest of the trip around the park was nothing special. We we crossed Church street and then went over to the place near The Embassy where it used to loop around and found that part shut down and also under construction. The main park-lake is covered in various pollens and debris and isn't super attractive right now, and there were tons of people out. It was cool and not too sunny. I understand. We meandered back around to where our car was on Clinton and came on back home.

Now, we have a brisket (the first one I've ever cooked) just about done in the oven, and some bread on the way, along with a few other dishes. Not sure what we'll watch tonight, but something relaxing. My goal is to be in bed before 2am and then sleep another ten hours before I start back with the next week.

Si Vales, Valeo

Me in 2010, Huntsville

BLOT: (17 Jul 2010 - 02:22:05 AM)

Cyclopean...something something....Eldritch

You know the analyze your writing to see who you write like site, right? Well, if not, it does exactly what I said, except kind of poorly. I've heard lots of jokes of people putting in a writer's works just to see if s/he shows up and it rarely works out like that. Tonight, I decided to screw around and entered this (totally 100% original Doug) sample: I was in New England, south of Boston, walking down cyclopean streets when a batrachrian chorus erupted from behind the gable house. What mad mystery was this, what unknown horrors lurked in the dark, unseeming corners of the mind? Cyclopean mad Arab told of the unspeakable horrors birthed in some eldritch corner of the forgotten aeons of history. Fear the mad piping mad insanity center of the universe Dunwich deep ones and the Necronomicon, too. Cyclopean..

Whom did it return as a result?

BLOT: (15 Jul 2010 - 03:24:38 PM)

How to tell if a news story is fake, part...um...wait...

This has a heavy dose of "it sounds fake!" splattered all over it, but I think it is real, including an awesome "so that's how it happened!" pic: Woman allegedly poses as boy, solicits sex from Springboro teen. The gist? A 31-year-old woman posed as a 14-year-old boy to get sex from a 16-year-old girl. This was apparently only found out after time was spent together in a hotel room. Time. You know. Like...special time. Then it gets weird, victim runs away and is found three days later? Sores on the feet? Older woman brought her to a hotel room shared with older woman's parents? I don't know, but there you go.

Is it fake? You got me.

BLOT: (15 Jul 2010 - 12:16:40 AM)

The Curse [1987 Horror Movie]

When I was 15 or so, my brother and father watched The Curse (rented, as all movies were back then, from the local Movie Gallery on VHS) and told me about how utterly gross it was. How it was plants filled with dead flesh and people filled with pus and ashes. All the horror movies I have seen and that dire warning from my brother Danny has stuck with me: I have revered The Cuse as the grossest movie ever for all these years. Never saw it. Was kind of put off by the idea of it (even though I adore "The Colour Out of Space", its mostly followed source material). Then, recently, that self-same brother of mine started talking about a movie with a meteorite and a glowing dude and an axe and I looked into it and it was Die, Monster, Die! with Boris Karloff. Which was based on "The Colour Out of Space", just like The Cursed. I took this as kismet and ordered a used double feature of it and its SINO. Bring on the gore.

The story in 19 words or less: meteorite hits sexually frustrated fundamentalist farm and turns crops, animals, and humans into monsters; farmer's plight; maggots; Wil Wheaton. Ok, now that you are caught up, let's firmly place this movie into that heady nostalgaic era of horror history where movies to a man involved prosthetic masks and things made in blenders that go "gloop". As I've said in previous posts, this was the generation of horror makers inspired by the increasingly boundary pushing horror of the late 60s and 70s while simultaneously were cast in the light of a shallow, style before substance vibe filling up the cinemas. Very few horror movies at this time were actually scary, most were about gore and gags (meaning the funny kind) and likable teen characters cast against adults that were thinly disguises representations of Reagan-era mentalities. The Curse is clearly in this genre. One of the prominent characters, a sleazy little realtor who yucks it up in a bad 1950s Willie Starks gone awry parody, spends three-fourths of the movie in full laugh-seeking gonzo while also committing ethics violations all for a dollars more. Despite few other characters every cracking a single joke, this dude is on screen enough to make up for it. On top of that, we have a father who thumps a Bible but not his marriage bed, a hairy-backed chunk of man meat, a horny farm-wife, a older son who likes poop jokes, and a doctor (aka scientist) who wants to do the right thing despite being somewhat involved in the wrong. All of these people are chopped up and spit out in a movie dropping allegories about the death of small farms, the dangers of pesticides, the march of progress, and the many forms of abuse.

If you don't pull punches, then you end up with my initial assessment: "It's like Ozark Noir had carnal relations with a bad horror movie and this is the accursed child sprung full grown from their sinful loins." If you pull a few punches, you find some delight in the quirkiness. Still, when the meteor comes crashing down the black bar holding it up is clearly visible in a scene, the first half's plot feels like the scrapings for a South-based soap opera, the TVA inspector Willis steps in for Dr. Forbes just as soon as that character is out of the picture, and so forth. It's a sloppy movie ripe for picking when around friends, telling a story that has potential. Oh, and the meal worms they use for maggots...half of them seem to be mostly dead. At least the exploding cow scene (as well as the melting woman scene) are worthy of the era.

A rather Meh movie with Good potential to be that sort of surrounded-by-friends bad horror you can kick back with on a Saturday night. Not the grossest movie by any shot, but it has its moments of grody. Drop this one on a 15-year old horror fan, though, and you might impress them just fine.


BLOT: (14 Jul 2010 - 11:48:53 AM)

How to tell when a news article is fake: the McDonald's happy-meal condom incident

Opposing Views, which claims to be a site for experts to go head to head but in reality seems to be more a site where backyard (read: blog) reporters can yank content from other sites and rewrite for postings, has an article up about how McDonald's Accidentally Puts Condoms In Happy Meals. To quote a fair chunk of the article:

The BOLDING is mine.

5,000 Happy Meals were distributed with colored condoms instead of a plastic toy from the movie The Last Airbender...The condoms were intended for the Provincetown, Mass. school system, which recently established a policy making them available for students of all ages...The packages were so bright and colorful that they were mistaken for small toys for Happy Meals, but unfortunately most of the workers do not read English, and thought 'Ribbed Latex' was a character in the movie," said Robin Anderson...The mistake led to an incident in a Brewster, Mass., McDonald's, where more than a dozen 8-year-olds attending a birthday party all opened their condoms at once, and immediately blew them into balloons and started batting them around the restaurant...The McDonald's incident also caused problems in Provincetown, where the schools accidentally received the restaurant's shipments of Last Airbender toys, and several were released to students who went into their school's nurse's office seeking condoms.

While the phrase "You know how I know it's fake? Because it's fake..." is a good response, keep in mind that people are actually responding to the story as though it could be possibly true. These people are ignoring things like:

When you read the more obvious fake, original version of the story, it see it is meant to be more of a parody of the fact that some of the same people are for banning of McDonald's toys and for the handing out of condoms to school kids. The joke about mistaking "Ribbed Latex" for a character was meant to be as much as a jab at no one actually seeing The Last Airbender as any reading skills. The joke article goes on to talk about all of the pregnancies that resulted from the mix up, a fact edited out of the the article that the Opposing View article whole-hog copied.

So we have an obvious joke, and kind of a bad one, a dumb-man's The Onion, being cited not just once but twice as a legitimate news article. Or maybe not, maybe cited as a joke but at any rate there have been several commenters who have picked it up and passed it along. I ask, here: what is to be done? Seriously. If you are so anti-hispanic that you think they would make such a mistake, then you pretty much assume that any Mexican could do any number of evils. If you assume schools are so stupid as not to notice such a thing, why are you even sending your child there? And yet, the comments and some of the passing along of this story suggest that people do have those biases and are viewing the article through them, instead of actually going "Um, that's a pretty dumb joke, especially the blew them up and played with them all at once line."

BLOT: (14 Jul 2010 - 12:56:36 AM)

Poem: "Holding Hands"

The spilled words marble across the floor
Green rolling and blue bouncing
Leaping unknowing
Dancing retreating the grey carpet seeing

Chagrin embarrasses the best of us and
The smile your face asks quietly to forget
But what once said, is said and that's

Just yesterday's way of staying forward
And then we're moving toward some were, telling
Of its afterword, afterward,
To the river's bank, flowing into the mist

Falling into the sky and the stars shimmering
Simmering the sounds of tiny thoughtful
And we might as well sit here, holding hands

Note: This poem is in the same rough category/series as "And, Singing And the Hint Wells White": a mostly impressionistic take on the fragility of relationships over time. Unlike the first one, though, which is written from a couple at the end of a relationship, this one takes place at the moment a couple decides to move past some mistake. Certain "series" cues include a smile used as distraction, the concept of water flowing up into space, and the use of colors to catch the couple's emotional states. There are at least two more in the series. The next will deal with a couple sticking together as the rest of the world tumbles on around them, and the last is post-breakup and deals with hopes and dreams drifting away. I'll probably right a fifth, that concludes their story, but not sure what it'll be just yet.


BLOT: (13 Jul 2010 - 10:13:06 PM)

An Original Doug Doodle: Angry Man in a World Filled with Balloon Babies

While this isn't precisely a remark about my job, it was drawn on a night where I had to convince the two students that they had to do their own research and no, there wasn't some magic tool to do it for them.

BLOT: (13 Jul 2010 - 05:07:49 PM)

Idea blatantly stolen from Failblog, but Amazon's best "Click inside" ever?

BLOT: (13 Jul 2010 - 03:31:32 PM)

My top 10 favorite quotes from Washington Times' idiotic "Women are becoming addicted to porn" article

The article: More women lured to pornography addiction.

My favorite dumb quotes from it...

  1. "Researchers have long known that the Internet has contributed to pornography addiction by making it so easily accessible—no need to go out in a raincoat, pull a hat down over the face, and sneak furtively into the red-light district."
  2. This one is a multi-parter. "Psychologists and researchers have seen an increasing number of women becoming addicted to pornography on the Internet over the past 10 years." The increase? "In 2003, Today's Christian Woman found in a survey that one out of every six women, including Christians [emphasis mine], acknowledged struggling with the same addiction." "A 2006 survey released by Internet Filter Review showed that 17 percent of women said they struggled with pornography addiction and that one in three visitors to pornography sites were women. About 30 percent of Internet pornography consumers are women, according to the 2008 Internet Pornography Statistics." That's right, from 2003 to 2006, we went from...oh, about 16.6% women to about...oh...16.6% of women. And from 2006 to 2008, we went from about...oh...1/3 of visitors being women to...oh...1/3 of visitors being women. Jesus Christ. I think the real scandal here is that Washing Time's reporters have no concept of math. Was this article written by a woman or something?*
  3. "Psychologists and researchers attribute the increase to the Internet's anonymity and safety. Now a woman needn't sneak into the places good girls avoid."
  4. "I..think that the partial reason for this is women becoming more intelligent about usage of the Internet..." Read: Girls are learning compooters! Not that women, you know, might actually like looking at porn...there is a suggestion here that intelligence is causing the morals to defenestrate themselves. Also, keep in mind that there are several more quotes in which the writer acts utterly confused that women have any sexual desire whatsoever. Apparently said writer still has a well-thumbed "Victorian Guide to Women Being Proper" that is cited daily.
  5. "Studies have shown that women find it easier to click a few buttons on the Internet to search for sexually alluring material. In the absence of a social context, pornography is more appealing to women because there are no social repercussions for using it." When I read this quote, I started counting down the paragraphs until rape was going to get mentioned.
  6. It took two (well, one, and then the next was): "The more pornography women use, the more likely they are to be victims of non-consensual sex," said Mary Anne Layden, professor of sociology and women's studies at Wheelock College in Boston. "The earlier the male starts using pornography, the more likely they are to be the perpetrators of non-consensual sex." How much more likely? And does that sound a little like a BS statistic to you? You have to ask, are porn-viewers more likely to rape, or are rapist more likely to look at porn? That is two different matters.**
  7. "Pornography is the drug of the millennium and more addictive than crack cocaine..." Hence all the thefts and gun violence and property foreclosures caused by porn.
  8. "Ninety percent of pornography addiction begins at home..." This is two in a row from Donna Rice Hughes, and two in a row that make no sense. I'm confused where the other 10% starts. Are people looking at lots of porn in seedy bars or something?
  9. "Science has shown that the brain reacts and takes in images in a certain way and can be detrimental in the developing mind of a child. When a man or woman becomes sexually aroused, the levels of endorphins and enkephalin in the prefrontal cortex are at their highest. Whatever a person visualizes at that point—real or imaginary—his or her body glues to, hungers for and craves, and the adrenal glands imprint that image on the mind." Notice the one-two punch here. One - Science shows that brain reacts and takes in images (SHOCK! WE HAVE EYESIGHT!). Two - therefore, porn stops you from being able to love... Someone needs to be slapped for that "the adrenal glands imprint that image on the mind," quote.
  10. "Pornographic material, under the Constitution, can be put into two categories: soft-core and hard-core." At least its not just science they are screwing up.

At no point in time does this article address (a) what constitutes addiction, (b) anything more than pop-psychology as to why this hypothetical addiction is bad, or (c) reasons/ways this addiction might actually exist in relation to the rest of their life, or (d) reasons/ways to fight the addiction. Instead, it spends the whole time rehashing, over and over, how getting horny causes us to lust after objects and not relationships, and why this is not what sex is about, and how it is surprising that women might like porn...you know...since it leads to rape. What's most frustrating, it seems to suggest that ANY viewing of porn constitutes an addiction, which is probably the root of that dumb "more addicting that crack" quote.


*: Guess what, ladies? Yes. Yes it was.

**: Thanks, The Drunkard's Walk.

BLOT: (13 Jul 2010 - 11:38:13 AM)

Percy Bysshe Shelly's "The Cloud"

I didn't really like the Wolfman remake, but one part in it did catch my ear: a quote from Percy Bysshe Shelly's "The Cloud". You can read the whole thing via UPenn's website, if you want; or just enjoy this little snippet:

And when Sunset may breathe, from the lit Sea beneath,
Its ardours of rest and of love,
And the crimson pall of eve may fall
From the depth of Heaven above,
With wings folded I rest, on mine aery nest,
As still as a brooding dove.

That orbed maiden with white fire laden
Whom mortals call the Moon,
Glides glimmering o'er my fleece-like floor
By the midnight breezes strewn;
And wherever the beat of her unseen feet,
Which only the angels hear,
May have broken the woof, of my tent's thin roof,
The stars peep behind her, and peer...

BLOT: (13 Jul 2010 - 01:17:13 AM)

And this is why you can't have nice [free] things...

By the way, having seen a couple of places that tried free printing as long as they could...this is 100% true.

Written by Doug Bolden

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