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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I'll Show You the Life of the Mind! 

My Creative Writing students just got done watching Barton Fink and tomorrow they'll be going into the computer lab to write about it. So I figured I should have some thoughts down for them to peruse. Warning: Major spoilers below. Do NOT read this if you haven't seen the movie.

After we got done discussing some items from the film, I gave them these three questions to think about:
  1. How does Barton change from the beginning of the story to the end?

  2. What's in the box, and why does Barton have it?

  3. As a writer, are you more like Barton Fink or WP Mayhew?
I shan't discuss the first in detail, except to say that Charlie's speech at the end answers it pretty nicely for me; Barton is willing to listen once he's surrounded by the flames. (This is as good a time as any to insert the following quote from Italo Calvino.)
There are two ways not to suffer from the inferno we are all living in every day. The first suits most people: accept the inferno and become part of it to the point where you don't even see it any more. The second is riskier and requires constant attention and willingness to learn: seek out and know how to recognize whoever and whatever, in the midst of the inferno, is not inferno, and help them last, give them space.
Me, The Writer

I certainly began as a WP Mayhew (souse!) -- I just liked making stuff up. But the more I wrote (in high school and, most of all, in college), the more I realized that it wasn't enough. I wanted to say something significant about the human condition. Some people see Barton's character as quintessentially anti-intellectual, but I must disagree. His heart is in the right place ("We need more heart in motion pictures.."), but he's not willing to listen. I certainly agree with Barton that the best writing comes from some kind of inner pain (whether or not that has anything to do with wanting to help others).

There are plenty of good writers (King, Pratchett, Rowling, even Grisham at times) who seem motivated purely by the desire to tell an interesting story, if not necessarily an important one. But the writers I look up to most (Roy, Algren, Danticat, Shakespeare, Lem, Jorge) all work to bring a confluence of the significant and the entertaining. Pretension can get in the way, but I've long preferred obtuse diatribes to its un-meaninged counterpart.

What's In the Box!?

I told my class they sounded like Brad Pitt at the end of SE7EN. "What's in the box?" We all know what's in the box -- the real question for me is why Barton has it. Charlie said "It isn't mine." Whose then is it? Well, if she wrote WP's books ("Well .. this"), then who gets credit for the movie script? What's in her mind? ("Isn't it yours?")

I'm trying not to come right out and say it. The play (and now movie) Rent was basically stolen from Sarah Schulman, but no one even knows her name. Who owns the idea we rip off from someone else? ("Isn't it yours?") What does it mean to write -- especially when we're writing about the lives of the people around us? (Let's assume I can own the rights to write about my own life.) Never mind how long I've been in pictures .. Wait, I mean: Never mind what Hollywood wants; Barton is finally catatonic because he doesn't know (may have never known) how to own the material.

I Never Noticed That

As with Primer, I see something new every time I watch Fink ("You're a sick [man], Fink.") This time...
  1. When he gets in the elevator, he says to Pete (the operator): "6, please." Pete replies: "Next stop: 6. .. This stop: 6."

  2. The woman on the beach is shading her eyes from the sun; she's also saluting. ("Now if you'll excuse me, there's a war on.")
There's more I could say, but I'll end it here. What do you think?

Don't forget to look at the trivia bits on the IMDB.


MarioQ is strange and wonderful. Via ABS.

Today I'm listening to: Little Brother! (No, not Lil' Brudder!)

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Vote Cheesehead Feingold! 

Today US Senator (D-WI) Russ Feingold told ABC's This Week: "...this country is overdue for a cheesehead president. We've never had one." The AP article notes:
A cheesehead is a native or resident of Wisconsin, a leading dairy state. The term also refers to the yellow "cheese" wedges worn on the heads of Green Bay Packers football fans.
So I whipped up this Photoshop job. I'll either get an appreciative note from the good Senator, or a legal notice that I must take it down forthwith. I'll let you know. (And why would he make a good president?)


This week's SynCast is a hastily-slapped-together mishmash made right before I ran off to grab Diane from the airport. We've got stuff from:
  1. Run-DMC
  2. Harry Caray
  3. Victor Borge
  4. and more!
Enjoy. Also, while I was searching for a cheesehead to put on Sen. Feingold, I found this. Funny.


The Blue Button Game is fun for about three minutes.

Today I'm listening to: The New Style! (4 and 3 and 2 and 1)

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Mixing Media 

A while back Christie and Garrett sent me some funky pictures of their son Max gettin' down to Daft Punk. And guess who's the star of this week's Deviant VidCast? We've also got choice bits from:
  • Sports legend Harry Caray
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force
  • Kenny Rogers
  • The Beastie Boys
  • and more!
So check it out and then go download the complete Daft Punk remix at Ribonucleic Records.

I also put up a Deviant SynCast archive. Collect 'em all!

More Media

I also finally got around to posting my pictures from East Timor. There's a few, but I've optimized them as much as possible for fast viewing. Be sure especially to see the panorama shot of the Santa Cruz Cemetery. (That one wasn't on the VidCast slideshow.)

Other Peoples' Work

Check out this Ted Rall cartoon. He really nailed it with this one.

For some Flash fun, check out Volte-Face. Via ABS.

And the Blue Ball Machine is fun too. Maybe I should save these for future TimeWasters™, but -- nahh.


You'll waste plenty of time watching these Interesting High-Speed Video Clips. WMV format -- my favorite is the water balloons popping.

Monday, November 14, 2005

SynCast #22: Special Edition 

This week's SynCast is a special Collector's Edition release of Deviant SynCast #22 (first released on 28 August 2005). This limited-release bonus package includes:
  • Exclusive commentary track

  • Dolby 9.4™ Surround Sound remastered audio

  • Enhanced special effects

  • Scene selection

  • and more
So act now to download this rare deluxe release of Deviant SynCast #22. Brought to you by Deviant Synapse: Advanced Technology in Motion for Today's Consumer.


Have you seen the HomeStarRunner 2005 Halloween Toon yet? If not, get crackin!

Today I'm listening to: Gift of Gab!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Fabio Got the Bird 

So we're standing in line today for the John Lennon art exhibit at the Red Gym today, and somehow Fabio's bird incident got mentioned. So I went and found the picture online; and -- get this -- the video!


Speaking of good things for you to download: Check out this week's SynCast. Today's edition features:
  • Public Enemy! (word .. rapraprapraprap)
  • Milton Fludgecow
  • Robert Klein
  • and more!


Tom Cruise Kills Oprah. I found it at the same site as the Fabio video. I also found this, this and this.

Today I'm listening to: Public Enemy!