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an endless succession of beans and nuts.

Forced into acting by a steady diet of chicken patties and canned peas.

I'm reading this obituary of a character actor:


That's from 1946. I was interested in Charles Butterworth because I just watched the 1932 movie "Love Me Tonight." I was going on about that movie in the comments to yesterday's post about 3 movies from the 1930s. The other 2 were "The Smiling Lieutenant" and "One Hour With You." 

All 3 starred Maurice Chevalier, and all 3 featured the character actor Charles Ruggles, but this morning I was clicking around and reading about Charles Butterworth, reading his Wikipedia page, wondering if he killed himself and fascinated by the information that "His distinctive voice was the inspiration for the Cap'n Crunch commercials created by the Jay Ward studio."


In the comments to yesterday's post, I linked to video of the entire movie "Love Me Tonight" (which was directed by Rouben Mamoulian). I specified that I loved the first 18 minutes, which features some brilliant use of what I think is called musique concrète. Sound effects like hammering and street noise converge into music. I'll just embed the video below.

We're introduced to Paris in general and then Maurice Chevalier specifically and to his highly sexualized relationship to Paris. Eventually, the montage of sound and the music carries us to the Princess who's longing for love but cloistered in her chateau (and singing her lungs out).

The 18 minutes I love are completed as a ladder comes into view. Scroll to that point and you'll experience the entrance of Charles Butterworth (as the Comte de Savignac, the extreme opposite of a desirable lover):

Here's something interesting about Butterworth: He was friends with Robert Benchley and other literary wits of the time and "became so famous for his dry quips and cynical asides that Hollywood screenwriters began writing only fragmentary scripts for him, hoping that the actor would 'fill in the blanks' with his own bon mots." We're told he once "complained," exclaiming, "I need material as much as anyone else!" 

Was that a complaint or an example of the wit?

"The Full Audio Recording Of Judge Kyle Duncan At Stanford Law."

Presented by David Lat at Substack.

I've listened to the first 22 minutes (and intend to finish later). That is, I've relistened to the Tirien Steinbach intervention, and I've heard, for the first time, everything that went before, that is, what students did that required the intervention.

As I heard it — and much of it was difficult to hear — there was one student who did most of the speaking, and she seemed to be trying to control the event by addressing the judge, inviting him into a dialogue instead of delivering his prepared remarks. The rest of the crowd seems to be supporting her effort, adding to the pressure on the judge, as if he might decide that the best path through the evening was to throw the written speech aside and take on all comers.

I can imagine a character in a movie doing something like that, really looking the questioning student in the eye and saying words that truly connected.

The movie in my head looks something like this:

Immediately, I think of the words of the poet:
The man says, “Get out of here

I’ll tear you limb from limb”

I said, “You know they refused Jesus, too”

He said, “You’re not Him

Get out of here before I break your bones

I ain’t your pop”

I decided to have him arrested

And I went looking for a cop

The judge took a different route. That's the second half of the recording. I'll listen to it soon enough and get back to you. 

"Michelle Pfeiffer and Jonathan Majors look like crap. Usually, they’re two of the most radiant, dermatologically exceptional people in the world."

"But right now, they’re decrepit husks of themselves, their faces so drained of color that they could pass for cadavers. I’m watching Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania — in which she plays Ant-Man’s girlfriend’s mom, Janet van Dyne, and he plays time-traveling villain Kang the Conqueror — at the AMC Empire 25 near Times Square.... [T]he image onscreen is so dim that it’s hard to make out much of the movie’s action and all of its glamorous stars have been turned dark gray."

“Next to me is Jack Theakston, a projection specialist... who immediately diagnoses the problem: This is a 2-D showing of Ant-Man, but some neglectful employee has forgotten to remove the 3-D filter from the projector. 'It’s a polarized lens that cuts a picture’s brightness by a third,' he says. 'They just have to push it to the side when they switch to 2-D, but theaters forget to do it all the time. You can tell when it’s happening because if you look at the port-window glass, instead of a single image, you’ll see two, with one stacked on top of the other.'..."

Terrible about the projection. Also terrible that a great movie star is given the role of Ant-Man’s girlfriend’s mom. Such decline!

"What makes the clock stunt even more impressive, Ms. Lloyd said, is that her grandfather was hanging on with only eight fingers."

"In 1919 he had lost part of his right index finger, his entire right thumb and part of his palm when he attempted to light a cigarette from the fuse of what he thought was a prop bomb for a publicity photo. But the bomb exploded, temporarily blinding him and putting him in the hospital for about two weeks. For years he wore a prosthetic glove to mask the injury in movies, but not in his personal life."

You can watch the entire movie on YouTube. I'll start you in the middle of things (and keep going, because it's not just the clock, it's the rat, the gun, the anemometer, etc.):

They made a movie out of that New Yorker story "Cat Person" — you know, the story everyone was talking about...

... the last time everyone was talking about a short story.

Remember? It was December 2017, and my first post on the subject was: "I was drawn in by the creepy close-up and started reading before 'Cat Person' became an internet phenomenon." Ha ha. I didn't want you to think I'd just follow a trend. I said:

I'm not going to read any more of the internet chatter, at least not right now. But I'll just say, based on my own reading of the story, that it makes a good jumping off point for discussing the problem of bad sex. Bad sex is something you need to distinguish from a criminal assault and take responsibility for avoiding. And reading the story is a good vicarious experience that might help women (and men) get better at ending an evening at an appropriately early point. The sex in that story is very graphic — graphic in a completely nontitillating way. In fact, the sex in that story is such that it would make excellent reading for an abstinence-only class.
The next day, I had: "When has this happened in the last 50 years? Everyone's talking about the same short story!" 

It's one thing to read an artful presentation of the inside of the head of a woman going along with bad sex, but watching it from the outside is another matter. 

From the Variety review of the movie: "The script invents a fascinating device, giving Margot an out-of-body double. 'Do we want to do this?' her conscience/subconscious asks." It was a fresh device 50 years ago in "Annie Hall." 

From IndieWire: We're told the film is padded: "Some of it is more funny than necessary (like that Taylor runs a feminist subreddit called 'The Vagenda'), while some is oddly undercooked (Margot’s work alongside a beloved professor, played by Isabella Rossellini, feels like a limp attempt at adding an anthropological element to the whole thing)." 

"We are rapidly becoming prototypes of a people that totalitarian monsters could only drool about in their dreams."

"All the dictators up to now have had to work hard at suppressing the truth. We, by our actions, are saying that this is no longer necessary, that we have acquired a spiritual mechanism that can denude truth of any significance. In a very fundamental way we, as a free people, have freely decided that we want to live in some post-truth world...."

 Wrote Steve Tesich in "A government of lies," published in The Nation in 1992.

The current levels of misery and decomposition of our cities and the economic gulags of our ghettos are acceptable. Since there is only so much hope to go around, there is a freeze on hope. The have-nots have now been reclassified as never-will-haves. The dismantling of our Republic goes on, and if the spiritual and intellectual vigor of our children is the true indication of our future, then our future is even more troubling than our present....

We keep asking why the level of our children's intelligence and competence, as measured by all our tests, keeps dropping. The reason is very simple: We don't want them to be well educated. The last thing we want now is for an intellectually and spiritually vigorous generation to confront us with the question of what we have done to this country....

We have lost both faith and contact with our national myth.... When lost, the most dangerous thing one can do is to blunder blindly ahead. The comparison may be too extreme, but when Europe was lost in the Dark Ages it went back to its heritage for enlightenment and proceeded into the Renaissance. We have that option as well, and with it the hope and promise of our own renewal....

Tesich — who won an Oscar for writing the 1979 movie "Breaking Away" — was credited with coining the term "post-truth." 

Here's a Nation article about the coinage — "Post-Truth and Its Consequences: What a 25-Year-Old Essay Tells Us About the Current Moment." That's from November 2016, when Oxford Dictionaries made "post-truth" the "Word of the Year."

You still have something of a grasp on truth if you can use the term "post-truth." You're probably observing that other people are living in the realm beyond truth, but you're still in touch with the truth, you must be thinking, perhaps dishonestly.

Obviously, November 2016 was the time for finally getting around to making "post-truth" the "Word of the Year." We know what happened in November 2016. 

Tesich had died by then. He had a heart attack in 1996. Wikipedia says: 

Steve Tesich was born as Stojan Tešić (pronounced TESH-ich) in Užice, in Axis-occupied Yugoslavia (now Serbia) on September 29, 1942. He immigrated to the United States with his mother and sister when he was 14 years old. His family settled in East Chicago, Indiana. His father died in 1962.

I was reading about Tesich not because I was researching "post-truth," but because I was reading about "Breaking Away." 

That happened because after watching 2 seasons of "The White Lotus," I started watching another HBO series created by Mike White, "Enlightened." And I loved the scene in Season 1, Episode 9 where the Diane Ladd character has a conversation with another old woman in the grocery store. Who was that other actress? She seemed so familiar. It was Barbara Barrie, who, 3 decades earlier, had played the mother in "Breaking Away."

So I merely stumbled into the Steve Tesich essay and "post-truth."

"On Christmas Day in 2010, a short, bespectacled 27-year-old Chinese programmer named Zhang Yiming logged onto Douban, a Chinese hybrid of Rotten Tomatoes and Goodreads..."

"... to share his thoughts on a movie he had just watched. Zhang used his Douban account as a chronicle of his personal development, recording the books he wanted to read ('What Would Google Do?' 'Catch-22' and 'The Road to Serfdom') and the movies he’d seen ('The Departed,' 'Good Will Hunting,' 'Inception'). The movie Zhang watched that Christmas was 'The Social Network.' The movie was of particular interest to Zhang.... Born in 1983 as the only son of a librarian and a nurse, Zhang came of age in a China flush with reform and newfound connections to the West.... Zhang loved the freedom that technology offered and displayed a fondness for the West, politically as well as culturally. In 2009, when Chinese authorities blocked access to several websites, he took to his personal blog to voice his disapproval, according to a Wall Street Journal profile. 'Go out and wear a T-shirt supporting Google,' he wrote. 'If you block the internet, I’ll write what I want to say on my clothes.'..."

Much more about Zhang and the app he created in "How TikTok Became a Diplomatic Crisis/A Chinese app conquered the planet — and now the U.S. is threatening to shut it down. Can the world’s biggest virality machine survive?" (NYT). 

Just one more snippet: "Gliding across cultures as a kind of internet-era anthropologist was part of what made working at TikTok interesting and novel. When the app was first introduced, every country and every market had a slightly different proclivity. Thai users liked videos of people dancing at school; Japanese users preferred funny videos about otaku, young people obsessed with anime, manga and video games; Vietnamese users especially enjoyed deft camera work. The United States proved harder to crack, until TikTok’s product managers let the users drive the creation of a new category — Americans, it turned out, had an unusual attachment to memes."

They made a Broadway musical out of the movie "Some Like It Hot," and some say they made it too "woke."

Spoiler alert for the movie and the musical. In the movie, when Jack Lemmon takes his wig off and announces he's a guy, the man who fell in love with him says "Well, nobody's perfect." Famous ending for a famous movie. In the new musical, in the same situation, the last line is "You're perfect."

But that's not all, as the Guardian critic, Alexis Soloski writes

In previews, complaints emerged, in the grimmer corners of the Broadway message boards, that the show was too woke for its own good. Wokeness merely refers to an awareness of systemic bias and injustice, past and present, which any revival or new adaptation should have. ...

[I]n wanting to treat the comedy of men in dresses with greater care and sensitivity – a terrific goal in and of itself – changes the meaning of Some Like It Hot itself. The original, in its sophistication and ambivalence, is a celebration of disguise, of the quick wits, silver tongues and wild cheek that let Joe and Jerry juggle their multiple fictions. Yet in this version... drag becomes a means to self-acceptance, a beribboned road to truth....

In putting on a dress, Jerry uncovers a nonbinary identity.... “I don’t have the word for what I feel I just feel more like my self than I have in all my life,” Jerry tells Joe.

Because it's the 1920s: He didn't have access to the word "nonbinary" (or "trans").

"I spent the afternoon yesterday at Twitter HQ at the invitation of @elonmusk to find out more about the trend 'blacklist' that twitter placed on me & more."

Tweets Dr. Jay Bhattacharya.

Twitter 1.0 placed me on the blacklist on the first day I joined in August 2021. I think it was my pinned tweet linking to the @gbdeclaration that triggered the blacklist based on unspecified complaints Twitter received.

Twitter 1.0 rejected requests for verification by me and @MartinKulldorff . Each time the reasoning (never conveyed to us) was that we were not notable enough. They should have asked Francis Collins -- he would have vouched for our standing as "fringe epidemiologists."

It will take some time to find out more about what led Twitter 1.0 to act so imperiously, but I am grateful to @elonmusk, who has promised access to help find out. I will report the results on Twitter 2.0, where transparency and free speech rule.

It's a little melodramatic but I'll admit that the first thing that flashed into my head was the scene in "The Lives of Others" — spoiler alert — when the main character enters the Stasi Records Agency and is able to read his file. How exciting to enter the domain of the entity that has persecuted you, to be treated with respect and deference, and to be handed the written record of what they had been doing to you in secret!

Here's a news report on the Stasi Files (not from the movie): 

A monument to transparency.
Forced into acting by a steady diet of chicken patties and canned peas."The Full Audio Recording Of Judge Kyle Duncan At Stanford Law.""What makes the clock stunt even more impressive, Ms. Lloyd said, is that her grandfather was hanging on with only eight fingers.""I spent the afternoon yesterday at Twitter HQ at the invitation of  @elonmusk  to find out more about the trend 'blacklist' that twitter placed on me & more."

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