Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Pale FIre

Sunday Afternoon Links

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A Symposium on the Gender Gap in Academia.

* How the University Gets Laid Off: The University of Texas at Austin plans to drastically downsize its workforce, according to a draft of a plan obtained by the Texas State Employees Union that was confirmed by the university Friday afternoon.

The House GOP’s Little Rule Change That Guaranteed A Shutdown. Why did Obama force Boehner to change the rules to guarantee a shutdown? The man’s a monster.

National Cancer Institute director warns staff of increasingly dire effects of shutdown on science. Cancer research, classic big government bloat; I don’t even have cancer.

* Sobering reminder: What Democrats call victory.

* When Ditka shrugged.

Those who urge us to “think different,” in other words, almost never do so themselves. 

* Breaking Bad: The Text Adventure.

* Stay safe Durham: What Is This Photo Of The Duke Basketball Team Handling Assault Rifles?

Family Gets Driven Out of Missouri Town After Daughter Gets Raped.

What Happens When a 13-Year-Old 4Chan Cam Girl Grows Up?

* The Soaring Cost of a Simple Breath.

The arsenal of medicines in the Hayeses’ kitchen helps explain why. Pulmicort, a steroid inhaler, generally retails for over $175 in the United States, while pharmacists in Britain buy the identical product for about $20 and dispense it free of charge to asthma patients. Albuterol, one of the oldest asthma medicines, typically costs $50 to $100 per inhaler in the United States, but it was less than $15 a decade ago, before it was repatented.“The one that really blew my mind was the nasal spray,” said Robin Levi, Hannah and Abby’s mother, referring to her $80 co-payment for Rhinocort Aqua, a prescription drug that was selling for more than $250 a month in Oakland pharmacies last year but costs under $7 in Europe, where it is available over the counter.

Wait. Repatented? That’s a thing?

* It begins: Tennessee, North Carolina Football Players Sue NCAA Over Concussions.

* Yet another take at getting to the bottom of Pale Fire: this one’s all about the gulags.

* Scenes from the abandoned Mark Twain Branch of the Detroit Public Library.

* And Alfonso Cuarón talks Gravity. Still haven’t seen it, alas…

Saturday Night Tab Closin’

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* If it’s possible to miss the point of Pale Fire any worse than this, I don’t want to know about it. Via PCEgan.

* I second both Steven Chu’s call to paint our roofs white and Atrios’s call for “Green Recovery” government stimulus to pay people to do this work.

* Learned helplessness watch: Congressional Democrats, obviously feeling the heat from my persistent calls to use reconciliation to get around Republican filibusters, have now taken reconciliation off the table altogether. Idiots.

* At least Elaine Marshall is ahead in Carolina.

* Speaking my language: Dreamlands, one of the temporary exhibits currently at the Pompidou Center in Paris, highlights Kandor-Con from artist Mike Kelley, with these observations:

The comics present a different image of the Kryptonian city on each occasion, and Kelley sees in this a complex allegory, the diversity of representations signifying the instability of memory. The installation Kandor-Con includes architecture students who continuously design new Kandors, feeding them to a Superman fan site. For the artist, the inability of the original draughtsmen, the new designers or the hero’s internet fans to fix the form of Kandor once and for all illustrates “the stupidity and ridiculousness of technological utopianism.” The capital of the planet Krypton, says Kelley, is “the utopian city of the future that never came to be.”

You had me at “Bonjour.”

* I was kidnapped by lesbian pirates from outer space! A comic, via MetaFilter.

* Added to my Netflix queue: Brick City, a documentary about Newark said to be “a real-life version of The Wire.” Also via MeFi.

* And added to my torrent queue: The Yes Men Fix the World (legal!). Via Boing Boing.

"Synecdoche, New York"

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Lately I’ve shied away from reviewblogging, partly because I don’t think I’m especially good at it but mostly because I haven’t been moved to write about anything I’ve seen. Synecdoche, New York moves me, but only to say “Go see it.”

Almost certainly the best film of 2008—only Dark Knight really comes close—and Kaufman’s best film since Being John Malkovich, Synecdoche can’t really be described without being reduced to a series of gimmicks. I wouldn’t even read reviews of it. Just go.

For those who have seen it, or who plan to flaunt my sage advice, the best writing I’ve seen about Synecdoche has been from Adam Kotsko, who writes, insightfully:

While watching Synecdoche, New York this week, a thought occurred to me: the reviews that presented the movie as an elaborate puzzle requiring multiple viewings to unravel are wrong….

[T]here is, within the frame of the movie, no “underlying reality” that can be uncovered through the work of decoding, not even that of Caden Cotard’s dream. All the action is taking place directly at the surface. That’s what the proposed title “Simulacrum” is telling us (a name he suggests to Claire, not Hazel, pace Dargis).

“What really happened” is only what you can see: Kaufman is being brutally direct. No amount of plot summary can get at what it feels like to be watching this movie, and to get to caught up in trying to decipher “what’s going” on is to run the risk of failing to feel what it feels like to be watching this movie.

I’d even go so far as to suggest that Synecdoche should really only be viewed once. The novels to which one might be tempted to compare it—Ulysses? Pale Fire? If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler?—are surely not “elaborate puzzles” to be solved but do possess rich textual subtleties that reward an nth reading. Synecdoche, I fear, may not only lack these subtleties, but may in fact be significantly worse when re-viewed in the context of a known whole.

In particular I’m afraid any rewatch would just direct us more and more towards the notion that [SPOILER—HIGHLIGHT TO READ] Cotard is in the process of dying, likely from suicide committed either very early in the movie or perhaps slightly before it began, and Synecdoche is his dream. To the extent that the suggestion of any “underlying reality” can be deciphered in Synecdoche, it seems to me it can only be this one—and just the slightest taste of that is more than enough.

But wherever they point us, I feel fairly certain the uncovering of any “clues” upon rewatching would only throw the movie’s vital ambiguity off-balance. It’d ruin it. Synecdoche‘s a truly great film, that is to say, but probably just the once.

UPDATE: Copied from Facebook wall scribblings:

my fave reader review from the nyt:

This movie was really boring! Just like life! This movie thought it was original and cutting edge but wasn’t! Just like life! This movie has been made before about seven trillion billion times! Just like life! This movie was way too long! Just like life! The first half was okay but the second half made up for it! Just like life! I almost walked out of this movie! Just like life! Some people don’t realize how awful this movie is and actually think it is good! Just like life!

Written by gerrycanavan

November 24, 2008 at 4:40 am