My Dinner With Groucho

groucho_marx_by_sixelaotama-d4ndhbnI find the research into written correspondence a fascinating field. Whether it’s letters by the founding fathers, famous writers or even, in this case, the greatest comedic character of all time. The New Yorker has a great writeup about the study of letters written between poet T.S. Eliot and comic legend Groucho Marx. You have to delve deep until you tap into their respective fears and desires to truly understand what is being said between the two.

A taste:

Though Eliot was considered the reigning poet of the English-speaking world, and Groucho his counterpart in the world of comedy—celebrated by the likes of Antonin Artaud—each man seemed to provoke in the other a desire to conceal an essential liability. Eliot seems to have wanted Groucho to consider him a warm, ordinary guy and not the type of stiff, repressed person who disdained from a great height “free-thinking Jews.” He can’t quite bring it off—his acquired British self-deprecation stumbles into an American boorishness. On the eve of Groucho’s visit to London, Eliot wrote, “The picture of you in the newspapers saying that … you have come to London to see me has greatly enhanced my credit in the neighbourhood, and particularly with the greengrocer across the street. Obviously I am now someone of importance.”

Gerald Scarfe Doesn’t Need No Education

British cartoonist Gerard Scarfe wouldn’t be known if not for the fact he did the animation for Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Like Roger Waters, Scarfe is one of those leftist who believes what he believes without any intellectual honesty whatsoever. It’s really an anti-Western type of ideology. Despite the fact Scarfe lives in the all the luxuries that western civilization offers, his ideology dictates that he must hate all things western, i.e. democratic and support all things despotic and anti-humanist. He’s in the news because of a political cartoon featuring Benyamin Netanyahu building a wall using the blood of Palestinians for mortar. And not coincidentally, the cartoon was published on Holocaust Memorial Day. This will provoke some outrage and get Scarfe some media attention he can lap up and use to score points with despots and act morally superior. I’m sure Anonymous has already nominated him for sainthood.

But as readers of this blog know, I’m a free speech absolutist, so I have no objection to him doing this cartoon. What I object to is the hypocrisy. Shed yourself of the comforts of the West, Gerard, and then we’ll talk.

Of Bigfoot DNA and Blueberry Bagels

I confess…I watch a lot of Bigfoot shows on cable TV. The question of why has haunted me for a while. They’re like Gilligan’s Island. No matter what happens on that show, you knew they were not going to get rescued; either Gilligan is going to screw it up or their potential rescuer is going to flake out on them. Same with Bigfoot…they find hair, they have fuzzy video or photos, an obscure howl in the distance, but nothing definite.

Yet, we watch. Finding Bigfoot on Animal Planet pulls great basic cable numbers, and yet, every episode ends with, “While we didn’t find Bigfoot…” Why we watch even if we don’t believe in such a creature could be easily explained by the fact we just like a good ghost/monster story. Or perhaps it has to do with our curiosity about where we came from in evolutionary history. A scientist (who seems to “quack” like a duck) says she has sequenced Bigfoot’s DNA:

“The genome sequencing shows that Sasquatch mtDNA is identical to modern Homo sapiens, but Sasquatch nuDNA is a novel, unknown hominin related to Homo sapiens and other primate species.”

Ketchum writes that her team’s research indicates the “North American Sasquatch” is a hybrid of a female Homo sapien and a male of “unknown hominin species,” whose DNA matched approximately 15,000 years ago.

In other words, her theory is some kind of ape-man had a baby with a female human and birthed a reason for watching TV on Sunday.

However…

As it turns out, Ketchum says her DNA sample was obtained from a blueberry bagel left in the backyard of a Michigan home that, according to the owner, sees regular visits from Sasquatch creatures.

I wonder what kind of cream cheese smear Bigfoot likes?

Pop Culture "Ran Into A Door"

I love the website Big Hollywood, but sometimes reading it makes me weep for all of mankind. No, that’s hacky. It’s more like it makes me want to smack mankind around while shouting “you made me do this!”

Anyway, some fun headlines:

1) Actor Beau Bridges speaks out for stricter gun control laws. What a novel idea! Has anyone else thought of this? I mean, the genius of it. Think of what crime would be like if we had only thought of this 50 years ago after the Kennedy assassinations. Whaaaat? You mean we already have enacted countless gun control laws? Criminals are still getting weapons while law-abiding citizens have to wait 3 to 10 days to get their guns? What the hell happened?

2) Lady Gaga toasts Tebow on Twitter. Just how big is Tim Tebow right now? He’s so big that Lady Gaga, the queen of corporate-generated pop culture feels the need to step into his spotlight. Kind of the Twitter equivalent of Ariana Huffington knocking over Schwarzenegger’s mic stands. John Lennon said the Beatles were bigger than Jesus and he may have been right at the time. Tebow could make a similar claim but he isn’t that type of guy.

3) Report: Beyonce, Jay-Z Baby Security Prevents Man From Seeing Newborns in Hospital. Not much to say here really. The rich and powerful get what they want and the rest of us can suck it. Of course, the Hollywood elites will always speak out against corporate greed and for the little guy, as long as they don’t have to consort with the little guy or think about the fact that some big smelly truck driver who voted for Bush twice is a vital part of making sure their foie gras is on their dinner table. I have a fantasy where I get to sit in a fancy restaurant with someone like Barbra Streisand and tell her all about the unclean steps that lead to her meal and how “going green” will make it that much harder for her duck a l’orange to keep that level of succulence. What else do we have if not dreams?

4) Snoop Dogg busted for marijuana possession. Also from the news desk, Tim Tebow loves Jesus.

5) Paging Steve Guttenberg: ‘Police Academy’ reboot in the works. I repeat: “You made me do this!”

Film Student Doing God’s Work

The popular answer to the worst film ever made is Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space, and it is indeed worthy of that title. But within this dumpster fire of a film one can still glean some knowledge of the art of filmmaking.

Undoubtedly, the worst film ever made is Manos: The Hands of Fate. A film made on a bet in El Paso, Texas, it was rescued from oblivion by the gang at MST3K and has developed a cult following ever since. Now, a Florida State film student, Ben Solovey, is trying to do what needs to be done: a full restoration of the film.

“There’s a certain nostalgia factor to it,” Solovey says. “If you’ve ever picked up a video camera and tried to make something, you recognize Manos: The Hands of Fate.”

The filmmaking mistakes in Manos are legion. Moths flock toward the camera’s lights during night scenes, slates creep into the edge of frames, and actors look gape-jawed for direction when they’re not busy forgetting botched dialogue. It’s a movie to be appreciated for its sheer general disregard for anything that constitutes filmdom. You’ve heard of a movie that seems made for its own sake — if there’s such a thing as a movie made against its own sake, this is it. For filmmakers, Solovey suggests that Manos is a chance to remember their early passions by seeing someone relive all their own dumb blunders. And isn’t that, more than anything else, the definition of a guilty pleasure?

History’s greatest mistakes must not be forgotten, they must be enjoyed for their lack of splendor, lack of intelligence, lack of any and all benefit to society. We must never forget the lowest points of mankind and Manos is truly anti-Art. Kudos to Solovey for making sure history never forgets.

For some more background on Manos, here’s a short film on YouTube called Hotel Torgo. Enjoy! (but probably not, though)