Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Marlon Brando meets the press and other links

---Marlon Brando meets the press

---studying the elusive "fag hag"

---Taxi Driver's backstory

---an interview with Terry Southern:

INTERVIEWER: Over the years I heard talk of a “missing scene” or a sequence that was deleted from Strangelove. What’s the story on that?

SOUTHERN: Well that would be the fabulous so-called pie-fight episode. You may recall the scene near the end of the film, in the War Room, after the bomb has been dropped, when Strangelove suddenly stands up from his wheelchair, and says, “Mein Fuehrer, I can valk!” And he takes a step? Recall that?

INTERVIEWER: I do indeed.

SOUTHERN: Well, in the missing sequence, after taking one step he falls flat on his face and starts trying to get back in his wheelchair, but each time it scoots out of his grasp. Meanwhile, parallel to this action, in another part of the War Room, the Russian Ambassador is caught again trying to take pictures of the “Big Board.” George C. Scott nails him, and again they’re fighting in the War Room. So Scott exposes about eighteen micro-mini spy cameras on the ambassador—in his wristwatch, cuff links, tiepin, on his ring finger, everywhere. But Scott says, “I think these are dummy cameras. I think he’s got the real McCoy concealed on his person.” And he turns to the detail of MPs who have come in. “I want you to search him very carefully, boys,” he says, “and don’t overlook any of the six bodily orifices.” And the Russian ambassador goes through this quick calculation, “vun…two…” and then when he reaches the last one, he freaks. “Vhy you Capitalist swine,” he says, and he reaches out of the frame, gets something and throws it at George C. Scott. I should mention that we have previously established a huge catering table that was wheeled in, laden with food, so they don’t have to leave the War Room during this crisis. The ambassador reaches out of the frame, grabs something from the table and throws it at Scott. We don’t see what it is immediately but Scott ducks, and this big custard pie hits the president in the face. The mere indignity of this is so monstrous that the president just faints dead away. Scott grabs him and keeps him from falling, and he’s holding him in his arms like a martyred hero. “Gentlemen,” he says to the others, “our President has been struck down in the prime of his life…by a custard pie. I say Massive Retaliation!”

---how technology undermines our ability to focus:

"Technology use is growing for Mrs. Campbell as well. She divides her time between keeping the books of her husband’s company, homemaking and working at the school library. She checks e-mail 25 times a day, sends texts and uses Facebook.

Recently, she was baking peanut butter cookies for Teacher Appreciation Day when her phone chimed in the living room. She answered a text, then became lost in Facebook, forgot about the cookies and burned them. She started a new batch, but heard the phone again, got lost in messaging, and burned those too. Out of ingredients and shamed, she bought cookies at the store.

She feels less focused and has trouble completing projects. Some days, she promises herself she will ignore her device. “It’s like a diet — you have good intentions in the morning and then you’re like, ‘There went that,’ ” she said.

Mr. Nass at Stanford thinks the ultimate risk of heavy technology use is that it diminishes empathy by limiting how much people engage with one another, even in the same room.

“The way we become more human is by paying attention to each other,” he said. “It shows how much you care.”

That empathy, Mr. Nass said, is essential to the human condition. “We are at an inflection point,” he said. “A significant fraction of people’s experiences are now fragmented.”

---also, Carr's thoughts about the superficial webby mind. In the same vein, the problems with our polluted mediated mental environment:

"If the mental environment we live in has a single distinctive feature, the way that oxygen defines our atmosphere, it is self-absorption. That’s what a mental environment gone awry has produced; that is the toxic outcome of our era’s unique pollution. Some years ago, working on a book, I watched every word and image that came across the largest cable system in the world in a 24-hour period — more than 2,000 hours of ads and infomercials, music videos and sitcoms. If you boiled this stew down to its basic ingredient, this is what you found, repeated ad infinitum: You are the most important thing on Earth, the heaviest object in the universe. From the fawning flattery of the programming to the mind-messing nastiness of the commercials, it continually posited a world of extreme individualism. Even more than, say, violence, that’s the message that flows out the coaxial cable. Characters on television may turn violent to get what they want now, but it’s the what-they-want-now that lies nearer the heart of the problem."

---Marilyn Ferdinand discusses Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

---remembering Thelma Ritter

---a video interview with Mr. Hitchcock

---tattered movie palaces

---a time lapse journey through Japan

---what's your time perspective?

---do the young already live in a dystopian future? Laura Miller looks at recent teen-oriented science fiction:

"The experience of growing up under nearly continuous adult supervision—the circumstances that made writing about autonomous contemporary sixth-graders so difficult for Rebecca Stead—has tinged these novels as well. The protagonists in the technological dystopias of earlier generations frequently contended with surveilling cameras, hoping to either elude or defy them. Face-offs between the human eye and a soulless lens still occur; the teen hacker who narrates Cory Doctorow’s “Little Brother,” a privacy-rights anthem set in near-future San Francisco, provides helpful instructions on how to make a concealed-camera detector out of a toilet-paper tube and a handful of spare L.E.D. lights. Often, however, the attitude is sullen resignation; in “Incarceron,” the hero, Finn, can do no more than note the small red lights of the prison’s ubiquitous “Eyes” staring down at him from the rafters. When Katniss is finally delivered into the Hunger Games arena, a tract of forest, she never even bothers to look around for the cameras; she knows they’re embedded everywhere. “It has probably been difficult for the cameras to get a good shot of me,” she thinks as she climbs down from a tree. “I know they must be tracking me now though. The minute I hit the ground, I’m guaranteed a close-up.”

---a montage of action movie cliches

---the battle of the biopics

---Catherine Grant's compilation of Citizen Kane video essays

---lastly, the ethics(?) of torture porn

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