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The Hotsy Totsy Club

2000-02-06. . . Cholly Kokonino reporting

Our motto: Blurring the line between fatuous and facetious.

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Everyone has bumped into a news story that touches on one of their own areas of expertise only to discover that it's absurdly wrong. What I've never understood is how so few of us draw the logical conclusion about the trustworthiness of news stories that aren't in our areas of expertise.

Anyway, these kids are starting early. And what an area of expertise to start with: the mental stability of the leading American presidential candidate.

"They fixed how they misquoted him, but they didn't tell the whole story," commented Lindsey Roy, another Concord High junior.

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In more "I would've gotten away with it too, if it wasn't for those meddling kids" news (via Berkeley High School alum Juliet Clark):

. . . 2000-02-08

Rastafarian stocks skyrocketed this morning after announced its switch to lowercase "i"s.

. . . 2000-02-09

Not Going to See the Movie Comment: I was too young to deal with Mansfield Park the first time I read it, and I can't picture a living commercial movie director who isn't. Maybe if Kubrick had been interested in women, he could've managed it instead of Barry Lyndon. Maybe the Hitchcock of Vertigo and The Wrong Man could've, if he didn't mind having another flop.

But probably it's best left to an uncommercial experimenter like Valeria Sarmiento, 'cause it's never going to be a popular story: it's too unpleasant to seem charming and too pleasant to seem important. And unless you maintain that sour-and-sweet balance between the character of poor fostered-cousin Fanny Price and the voice of Jane Austen, you might as well throw the book back onto the Unfilmable shelf.

And that's OK by me, since I like Fanny almost as much as the villains and the narrator do. But then I wouldn't be all that popular in movie theaters either....

2015-06-09 : Regarding the "narrowing of horizons," Josh Lukin adds a contender:

You'd be surprised at how many people think We Have Always Lived in the Castle ends happily (Although I guess Constance's horizons aren't broad at the start, however much she wants to imagine that they are).
And, following up:
I had in mind the feminist readings that say, Yay, productive community among women, for which one has to pretend that Constance likes where she ends up as much as does her sister, rather than having to relinquish all her hopes and become a '60s homemaker, as it were. Reflecting on it, I guess it's no surprise that some readers trust Merricat so much that they miss that part.

. . . 2000-02-10

Overheard in the Pacific East shopping mall: "Most people in Russia like Skittles the best."

. . . 2000-02-12

Weekly Engineering Group Status Meeting Notes:

. . . 2000-02-13

Lyrics server
Eating overripe figs and listening to "Ring of Fire":
Now don't tell me
I've nothin' to do.
(Actually, that was a couple of years ago. Last night I instead drank a bottle of Shiraz, looked at Lynda Barry stuff, and listened to Johnny Thunders, but big diff....)

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The life of a weblogger isn't always so idyllic, however:

"today just all around sucks. my sister woke me up this morning to bitch about my lazy, lying housekeeper, who i now want to fire. but, none of the maids in the yellow pages answered the phone. i got stuck behind drivers going 65 in the fast lane, and obsessed about it all the way to work. i got to look at the new clip2 site and see the hundreds of little ways they destroyed stuff i'd spent the last six months getting right. i discover, from an email that just arrived but is 5 days old, that my resume has been harvested by *another* unscrupulous posting site. and to top it all off ...."

. . . 2000-02-14

Valentine and Thomas: The lubricious is always ludicrous, and usually a little scary. Derangement is the idea.

The most erotic of all sights: that focused out-of-focus impersonal craving in the eyes of the desired: beyond hope of communication, if not necessarily of synchronization.

Inexpressibility is an embarrassing problem for art, whether it's the inexpressibility of extreme lust or of extreme fear. One of the formal factors pushing the genres of porn and horror together is the need to depict the inexpressible, a requirement inherited from the obsession of their common ancestor, the Gothic, with the sublime.

Their tendency to depict through close-ups could be said, in another way, to be inherited from another common ancestor: playing doctor....

Caravaggio's St. Thomas
"All Sublimity is founded
on Minute Discrimination"

- William Blake

. . . 2000-02-15

San Francisco présent (via Juliet Clark):
"The great goal so long sought had finally been achieved: that of making Paris an object of luxury and curiosity, rather than of use -- a ville d'exposition, a display city placed under glass... an object of admiration and envy to foreigners, unbearable for its inhabitants."
from Victor Fournel, "Paris futur," quoted by Walter Benjamin in the Arcades Project

. . . 2000-02-16

Lyrics server
"... to illustrate an editor's difficulty in reconstructing even the simplest text from the madrigal part-books, Fellowes transcribed that song's first two lines,

What ails my darling thus sitting all alone so weary?
  Say why is my dear now not merry?

from the following:
Cantus. What ails my darling, say what ails my darling, what ails my sweet pretty darling, what ails my sweet, what ails mine own sweet darling? What ails my darling dear thus sitting all alone, sitting all alone, all alone so weary? Say, why is my dear now not merry? Altus. What ails my darling, say what ails my darling, what ails my darling dear, what ails mine only sweet, mine only sweet darling? What ails my darling, what ails my darling dear, sitting all alone, sitting all alone so weary? Say what grieves my dear that she is not merry? Bassus. What ails my darling, say what ails my darling, what ails my darling, say what ails my dainty dainty darling, what ails my own sweet darling? What ails my dainty darling, my dainty darling so to sit alone so weary, and is not merry?"

-- as quoted in Stephen Ratcliffe's Campion: On Song

. . . 2000-02-18

Movie Comment:
All I have to say about Saving Private Ryan is:

Man, with that helmet on him, don't Tom Hanks look just like Tony Curtis?
If Eric Schlosser hadn't got there first, I'd also have to say that Spielberg remains 4-ever Spielberg: Indiana Jones with blood, Jaws with a tank, it's all one consistently characterless outpouring of finnicky sludge. As Lester Bangs said about Lou Reed (look-down-a-ways link via Metascene), he can't help it; it's like B.O.

... wait, just a sec, come back, uh, OK, one more thing, then that's all. If as a thought experiment (and you'll need one to stay awake through this mess) you try to separate Steven Spielberg's schmaltz and John Williams's schmaltz from what's purportedly happening on screen, you'll note that the screenplay begs to be played as black-to-the-bone satire, a kind of follow-on to Catch-22 or The Americanization of Emily: 25 minutes of first-act slaughter, then cut to some pompous general reciting Lincoln to justify a grotesquely inappropriate publicity stunt that eventually results in the third-act slaughter of pert near everyone except the guy publicly cursed by his survival....

OK, it might not have been a great movie -- none of the other war satires have managed, and Spielberg's right to be humor-shy after 1941 -- but at least it would be a movie that kind of made sense.

From that point of view, Saving Private Ryan expensively muddles the path blazed by Don Siegel's more genuinely harrowing Hell Is for Heroes, whose screenwriter began with a light-hearted romp ("He had, you know, a duck as one of the leading characters") and whose director ended with a zoom into unseeable death "so that there was nothing they could do about it. There wasn't anything else to cut to." (Don Siegel quotes via Peter Bogdanovich)

Bottom line: Great sound design. And the bullets look neat!

. . . 2000-02-19

John Williams did good with the background music for The Long Goodbye, though, supplying a dozen or so genre workouts of a single dopey song: cool blues to grocery store muzak to bad piano bar to doorbell chimes to Mexican funeral band.... It wasn't so much the song's ubiquity as the way the ubiquity went uncommented on that skewed the movie's reality in the appropriate direction: only a (more) thoroughly notice-nothing version of 1970s Los Angeles could have Philip Marlowe living in it.

Ironic hardboiled updates must be therapeutic for bombastic composers. The only thing I've ever enjoyed by Andrew Lloyd Webber was his blast-on-and-off-like-a-motel-shower over-the-top melodramatic foreground music for Gumshoe....

. . . 2000-02-20

If Lassie was a cat:
"What is it, Lassie? What is it, girl? Little Timmy has fallen into the bottom of your food dish? And he needs more food?" (dedicated to Carol Jameson)

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"Pimp president" ==> "Tipper impends" (election prediction via AnagramFun and Boondooks)

... an' anotha thing ...... then again ...

Copyright to contributed work and quoted correspondence remains with the original authors.
All other material: Copyright 2000 Ray Davis.