Quote of the Day postsSaturday August 15, 2015
Quote of the Day
From “The 'Fantastic Four' Fallout: The Future of Comic-Book Franchises” by Mark Harris, on Grantland:
There is, I think, an increasing sense that every mark the comic-book genre is forced to hit — origin stories, Easter eggs, big-picture continuity, action beats, fan service, world-stakes battles, potential sequels, post-credit sequences — is obstructing them from being movies. It certainly seems to be keeping their makers (“architects” feels like a more accurate term than “creators”) from any sense of joy — directorial joy, cinematic joy, authorial joy, or even the obsessional joy that allowed Peter Jackson to commit himself to living in Middle-earth for 15 years or that has sent James Cameron off to whatever solar system in which he is currently purporting to make Avatar sequels. These comic-book movies are, first and foremost, assignments. Directors and writers try to get through them with their souls and spirits intact. They pat themselves down afterward, the way you do when you get off a roller coaster, to see if they’re still all there.
'Less Pro-Left than Anti-Bullshit'
Nice graf from David Remnick's too-short farewell to Jon Stewart, who is relinquishing his seat after 16 years on “The Daily Show”:
There was always something a little disingenuous about Stewart's insistence that he is a centrist, free of ideological commitment to anything except truth and sanity. In fact, his politics tend to lean left of center. He's been aggressive toward, and ruthlessly funny about, unsurprising targets from Donald Rumsfeld to Wall Street. His support for L.G.B.T. rights, civil rights, voting rights, and women's rights has always been unambiguous. His critique of Obama is generally that of the somewhat disappointed liberal, particularly on issues like Guantánamo and drones. But Stewart is a centrist only in this sense: he is not so much pro-left as he is anti-bullshit.
A-fucking-men. And could we get some bullshit detectors on some people on the right for a change? We're tired of doing all the work.
The Best Defense of Atticus Finch Comes from a Lawyer Who Became a Lawyer Because of Atticus Finch
Call it the circle of law.
As soon as I heard the news about “Go Set a Watchman,” I wondered about all of those lawyers who became lawyers because of the example of Atticus Finch. So in my day job, we set about interviewing some of them about the revelations of Atticus' paternalistic racism in Harper Lee's new (and suspect) novel, “Go Set a Watchman.”
The best response so far comes form antitrust attorney Allan Van Fleet of Texas, who told us:
Just taking it at absolute face value that Atticus, at the time of To Kill a Mockingbird, was a racist underneath it all, I'm going to put it out there that in some ways that makes him more heroic.
If he was just innately a good person and he stood up and did what he knew was right, there it was; there are great people in the world who do things like that. But if there was ... prejudice in his heart, then in some ways he's more heroic to overcome that.
This might be the most beautiful part:
The other thing I think is especially important: he taught a very different message to his children. ... One can teach one's children to think and act differently from one's own generation.
Best Paragraph I've Read This Week
From Jelani Cobb's innovative takedown, “Donald Trump is a Rapper,” on The New Yorker site:
Measured against the probability of, say, the Chicago Cubs winning the Super Bowl, the Presidential campaign of Donald John Trump, real-estate baron, clothier, and firer of faux employees, has a degree of plausibility. Considered by more conventional measures—and recent polling data notwithstanding—Trump stands almost no chance of gaining the Republican nomination, or ascending to the Presidency if he did. His is a campaign of vanity, of the sort that suggests an inversion of Sherman's dictum: if he campaigns he shall not be nominated, if nominated he shall not win. This does not mean that his campaign is without significance. Trump has attacked a number of targets in his embryonic candidacy—China, Mexican immigrants, Hillary Clinton—but his most personal grudge appears to be against euphemism. He does not bother to sheath his protectionist urges in pablum about competitiveness, preferring prosecutorial accusation of trade infringement. His gaseous bigotry toward Mexicans who cross the border illegally traffics in unrefined stereotypes, not the language of “fairness” to those immigrants who wait their turn. In launching his campaign he openly stated the underlying rationale of his candidacy: “I'm rich.”
The rest of the piece is good, too.
Welcome to Obsolescence, Everyone
Amen, Joe Posnanski. From his piece, “The Asheville Pinball Museum Turns Everyone into an Arcade Wizard,” in Our State magazine:
One of the daunting things about getting old is how quietly stuff — your stuff — becomes outdated and obsolete and, most of all, forgotten.
Take phone booths. They don't really exist anymore except as photo props in London. This hit me hard recently when, as a family, we watched the old Christopher Reeve Superman movie. There's a little joke in the movie — a killer joke when I was young — where Clark Kent is looking for a phone booth to change in, and he comes upon one of those newfangled 1970s half phone booths without a door. He grimaces and searches for another place to become Superman. I remember the theater when I first saw it: screams of laughter.
To my daughters, 10 and 13, this joke might as well have been a Sanskrit retelling of the fable “Of Crows and Owls.” They got absolutely none of it. They didn't get that Superman used to change in phone booths. They didn't get why there were new phone booths. They didn't even get the basic concept of phone booths. To them, the time before cell phones is a time before understanding.
There is too much stuff like that, stuff that was such a big part of my life, stuff that I expected would last forever — Saturday morning cartoons, taping songs off the radio, video stores, electric football, actual paper letters that came in mailboxes. That stuff, to my daughters, isn't just gone, but ancient and silly and lost in the dumpster of pointless history.“
Here are some thoughts I had about those actual paper letters that came in actual mailboxes, after I saw the 2009 film ”Bright Star," a biopic of John Keats:
Keats travels to the Isle of Wight to write, to try to make a living, and Fanny is left behind. Ah, but the letters. He writes, says he wishes they could be butterflies, living three perfect summer days and expiring, and she and her siblings collect butterflies and fill her room. “When I don’t hear from him,” she confesses to her mother, “it’s as if I’d die.” I remember those feelings. I remember those letters. My own doomed first love took place in the late 1980s, and though 170 years had passed between me and Keats the means of communication, give or take a telephone, were more or less the same. Twenty years later it’s not. Do today’s young lovers still send letters? How does one clutch an e-mail to one’s chest? There is no more daily waiting for the postman. Now the wait is 24/7. Has she written? Has she written? I think I’d go mad.