Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day -- Open Thread!

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms of the universe!


Tennessee Jed said...

I salute all moms everywhere, today. With all the spiking going on about Obama and Bin Laden by the media this week, I thought I would mention a nice article in National Review by Stanley Kurtz titled "The Acronym That Ate Health Care." He is talking about the Independant Payment Advisory Board which will kick-in after the elections.

This is familiar territory for those who regularly read this site, but bears repeating. 2012 is critical for the survival of the country, because even though the health care law states specifically that IPAB is prohibited from rationing health care, by having power over the amount of payments, they simply drive private practitioners from providing those services. In other words, we have to have this law struck down, either legislatively or judicially. These little time bombs help Obama get to where he wants to get fairly quickly; e.g. 100% government run health care.

Whether you are a geezer already like Hawk or myself, or whether you have MOTHERS who are, it is all on the line here folks.

Tennessee Jed said...

With our recent discussion of top western films, there is an interesting review of a book titled "The Philosophy of the Western" over at BH.

Anonymous said...

Happy Mother's Day! I'll say the same thing I say every Father's Day: how do you do it? (No, I'm not talking about conception; I mean everything that comes after that!)

I guess I'm at that age (28) when many of my friends have started to settle down and some are even on their second or third kid. And I'm officially passed the age when my mother had me (she was 27) and today, the only thing she can say is, "That seems so young!"

On a completely unrelated note, who's our resident Gone with the Wind fan? Is it Bev? I only ask because, in the 70s, there was a series of film score re-recordings by a conductor named Charles Gerhardt. He covered all the Golden Age composers: Rózsa, Tiomkin, Herrmann, Waxman, Korngold, Newman, and Steiner, and yes, one of the albums was highlights from Gone with the Wind.

Well, the albums have been remastered and re-released, both on CD and streaming. You can find them here.

And on another nerd note, this past Wednesday was Star Wars Day ("May the 4th be with you" - and they say Trek fans are nerdier!). Lucasfilm promised "all will be revealed" re: the Blu-Ray collection and, well, it was possibly the worst marketing plan I've ever seen. Imagine you're selling a product with awareness already built in. Would you do any of this?...

-Promise "all will be revealed" and then publish a press release that provides mostly vague descriptions like "...and more!" and completely omits tech specs (in this case, audio tracks, subtitle tracks, any additional changes made to the films, etc.)

-Make it all dependent on social networking... there was a promo video but you could only see bits and pieces of it. The whole thing would be shown only after enough people linked to the page on Facebook and Twitter.

-The video itself was a low-rez slideshow of photos and artwork... it looked like something a high school kid would put together on PowerPoint circa 1998!

That's all. Yes, I'll be buying the set (the Best Buy in Union Square is open 24/5 and I'll be there at midnight!) and I'm no Lucas basher but he really has turned into the very thing he despised when he was just starting out. It's all very Shakespearean.

Joel Farnham said...


I just read that article. I also checked out the book. Not too bad for a collection of articles. And it is under $30 dollars. I might get the whole version and read it all. :)

Twenty twelve is going to be an interesting year. I don't mean it in a good way.

T-Rav said...

My mom doesn't and won't do the whole blogging thing (probably a good decision, all things considered), so she'll never see this, but Happy Mother's Day anyway, Mom! And of course, to all the other moms out there.

AndrewPrice said...

Good morning everyone! According to the Elves, who are traveling in China, we are blocked in mainland China. We can be read in Hong Kong, but no longer across the border. I guess the Chinese are afraid of us! LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I agree, 2012 will be critical because the parts of ObamaCare that start to give it teeth are starting to kick in. This is not an election to be wasted on long shot candidates and hail Mary plays.

P.S. On the rationing thing, that's so typical of government. "Gee, we said they can't ration, so they can't." Uh huh, except that rationing is implicit in everything they do.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I'll check that out this morning. I'll be curious to see what they've come up with because Westerns really echo American political trends more than anything.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Yep, Bev is the resident GWTW fan(atic). :-)

On the Star Wars marketing plan, that does sound pretty stupid. That sounds like the kind of plan people come up with when they aren't well known and are trying to get people to bring their friends?

I'm dubious frankly. Why? Because I hate Lucas. He has sh*t on Star Wars for years.

1. First, he has spent years badmouthing any aspect he didn't do, even though they were better.

2. He exploited those films to the degree that you could even buy action figures of film gaffers and the guy who brought pizza to the set that one day.

3. He remade the films in ways that shows he KNOW NOTHING about what made the first two films so great (Jedi was just ok).

4. Then the arrogant bastard decided that his new vision would be the only one allowed. He all but banned the original material from ever being shown again.

5. He said fans could do things like re-edit the films or write fan fiction, etc. etc. Then he turned on the ones that "changed his vision" (like "The Phantom Edit" and he sent in the legal teams.

6. He made the next three films.
7. He made the next three films.
8. He made the next three films.

9. He turned Star Wars into a lame cartoon.

10. Grrrrr.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, That's the year that either we all die or the Mayans just start being late to everything.... ;-)

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, My parents don't do read the blog either. So I had to go old school and procure a card... which I hate -- I can't stand greeting cards. They're like fakeness in print:

"Gee, here's what some jerk at Hallmark thought you might want to hear."


Unknown said...

Andrew: Maybe Lucas could do "The True Story of the Killing of bin Laden." It would be more realistic, and have better special effects than what's coming out of the White House. Of course, just like the White House tales, it would be bulls--t.

Anonymous said...

^I'd rather have Mel Brooks do "Springtime for bin Laden" instead!

Andrew -

Re: cards, that's when you have to get the self-serving kind like the one I got my grandmother. On the front, it says, "Grandma, you have something special that no other grandma has" and on the inside, it says, "Pictures of me in your house!"

As for Star Wars, I'll give them credit for the Clone Wars series which I've heard is actually not bad (i.e.: it started off okay but has gotten better). I don't watch it but I can see myself Netflixing it one day.

Re: action figures, I actually can't believe he hasn't come out with a series of ILM employee action figures. "Get FX supervisor John Dykstra with motion control camera accessory and miniature Oscar statuette!" :-)

But yes, every single person in these films has an action figure and I don't envy the mom and dad who have to hear this on Christmas morning: "No, I wanted Ki-Adi-Mundi, not Plo Koon! Idiots!" (I just pulled up an Episode I cast list for those names.)

And, yes, the special editions. It doesn't bother me that he's made changes (the only one I really don't like is Greedo shooting first) but what DOES bother me is that the originals will most likely never be seen again in any good format. He released them on DVD as bonus features a few years ago but he recycled 10 year old laserdisc transfers. And when those didn't sell, I'm sure the idea was, "Well, what do they want? We put these out and they didn't make any money!"

And we always get different reasons, from the fact that Lucas wants to pretend the originals don't exist... to Lucas would release them but the elements need work and it'd cost millions of dollars to restore the originals (like the money wouldn't be made back anyway).

They can manage to include 5 versions of Blade Runner in one set but that's because Ridley Scott has no problem presenting inferior versions of his films.

AndrewPrice said...

Hmmm. Jed, I just read the essay and I have a couple thoughts.

First, Yogerst is hard to read. I've noticed this before. He over-reaches for "intellectual hyperbole" and overly-large words to make minor points seem like major thoughts. This tends to be evidence of someone without a real point. And in this case, I'm not seeing much of a point. For example, he takes two large paragraphs and a ton of large, dramatic words to tell us that the lone gunfighter hero of the film was usually fights bad guys. Well, duh.

His mention of Greek philosophy fits this as well. It sounds deep, but he's only repeating a truly basic point of Greek philosophy (intro level) and the point he's using doesn't really lead you anywhere nor does it have any application to Westerns unless you think the point of being a gunfighter was to find happiness (I also think he misunderstands the Greek use of the word "virtue" which is much broader than the way he seems to want to interpret it).

Secondly, he's bought into a leftist worldview of seeing things through an identity-politics prism. What is going on with Westerns is they are defining the mythology of America, i.e. what values we see our culture as having. That's why you have the wild swings, why you get backlashes, and why each generation of Westerns seems to "feel" like the culture at large. . . New Dealism, anti-communism, hippism, 80's capitalism, 90's cynicism, and now 2000's globalism.

He doesn't seem to get this and instead goes the route of trying to explain Westerns as dealing with issues of race and gender. He does mention "identity" but he seems to be talking about how we define ourselves personally rather than how society defines itself.

The problem with this, is that he's bought into a false premise that will inevitably either lead him to reach conclusions that Westerns are all about oppression or he will have to twist this theory in a way that lead to a lot of "sure, we were oppressing them, but we meant well."

Those are my thoughts.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, Unless it can be done in front of a green screen, then he won't do it.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I can't tell you how much I hate cards. If you want to express yourself, then do it. You don't need an assist from a generic-sentiment machine at Hallmark. Grrr. Plus, I hate the way they've turned days into greeting card days. This is marketing gone wild. Grrr.

The remakes of the originals do bother me. He took classic films and completely wiped out their essence by turning them into ADD films. It's like he instructed his team -- "anywhere you see an open space, fill it with something shiny that flashes and beeps."

I'll tell you honestly, I'm waiting for Lucas to die so that someone else gets their hands on his estate and decides: "you know what, we could make a fortune releasing the original versions of these films now that Lucas is dead and won't bitch about his 'vision' 24/7."

And speaking about his 'vision,' the difference between what he did with the original Star Wars and what he ultimately turned out as the ADD versions and then the crap he turned out in the first three films teaches us two lessons: (1) he has no idea what he's doing and he got lucky with Star Wars (this also explains why all of his other films failed so miserably), and (2) this really shows why studios need to have final input over film projects. With no one there to tell Lucas "no," he turned out the most pathetic, self-indulgent, mess you could possibly imagine.

BevfromNYC said...

A. Yes I am the GWTW fan(atic). I will check out the music.

B. Just for the record, I just want to say that y'all may think you have the best Mom, but you don't. ;-P Sorry to break it to you, but I do. Happy Mother's Day, Mom!!!

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I wouldn't be too sure! I'm pretty sure my mom is the best! ;-)

Anonymous said...

We might have to have this discussion on the film site, otherwise we'll be here all day. :-) Then again, the RLM guy pretty much covered everything.

Something happened during Empire that changed in Lucas. I don't know what it was - I obviously wasn't there. I think there was a sense of paranoia and the idea that, if Empire failed, then he'd lose everything. The film went way over-budget and I think Lucas had to ask Fox for more money (read: less control). He got rid of Gary Kurtz, a producer who had the balls to tell Lucas "no" now and then. (Prequel/SE producer Rick McCallum comes off as the ultimate yes-man.)

A very dedicated fan wrote an unauthorized book that you can actually get on Amazon: The Secret History of Star Wars which covers a lot of this ground, both in terms of the development of the stories but also the contradictions over the years (first it was one film, then three, then six, then nine, then six, etc.).

As for Lucas dying, I don't take quite that pessimistic a view. :-) On the other hand, once John Williams passes, then maybe we'll get a deluxe boxset of all the SW scores. The originals are well-represented on CD but the prequels are not. The specialty labels that I've talked about on here don't have the clout to approach Lucasfilm with their plans since Lucas simply ransoms the music rights to the highest bidder and Williams and his people don't always have collector's wishes in mind.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, It's not pessimism, it's optimism. I've given up that Lucas will ever return to normality, so I'm hoping whoever replaces him will.

The RLM guys do such a great job that I don't think I'll ever do a review of the three prequels because there just isn't much to add that they haven't covered. I've actually watched the reviews about a half dozen times by now and I honestly think I enjoy them more than the films themselves. LOL!

I know about the struggles on Empire and how he got rid of Kurtz (huge mistake) and replaced him with the smarmy ass-kisser McCallum, and I agree that was the first significant change in his relationship with the world. BUT I have a slightly different theory of when things really went wrong with him. I think things went wrong after Howard the Duck failed so miserably. It was after that, that I first noticed a real nasty streak in his interviews. That's the point where he seemed to decide that his relationship with the audience was adversarial, and he suddenly seemed to delight in giving these cryptic hints that he intended to crap on the audience.

That's just a theory, but it struck me at the time.

Then, when he decided to go back to the Star Wars franchise, I think he decided that he was the closest thing to God on earth and he set about satisfying every little whim and I think a lot of those involved poking at fans. I love how the RLM guys show the clips too of him spitting out insane ideas and how his workers just stand there looking afraid to say anything... and then McCallum says whatever he's been told to say even though it's 100% disprovable. That is obviously not a healthy work environment.

In terms of "The Secret History of Star Wars," I've never heard of that, but I think I'll check it out. Thanks!

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. I never knew Williams wasn't good with fans.

Anonymous said...

It's not that he isn't good with fans but most film composers simply arrange their albums according to their own personal preferences: what makes for a good listening experience vs. hearing every note in chronological order, which is what many of these niche labels specialize in.

Even the late Jerry Goldsmith once said that not every film needs a soundtrack release and he'd probably be disappointed to hear that many of his scores are being re-released left and right with every last scrap of music included.

Some of the labels include both versions (for instance, Intrada released the complete score for Alien with the original LP arrangement on the second disc). Intrada also released James Horner's score for Honey, I Shrunk the Kids a few years ago. Horner produced the album himself and left off certain cues, not because of space, but simply because he felt they interrupted the flow of the music.

By the way, you asked me in an e-mail about possibly writing a film score article. I'd love to but I don't know the first thing about how music is actually composed or produced! And given my (relatively) young age, I don't feel qualified doing a Top 10/25 list either.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I'm amazed there is enough music made for each film to be released. It would seem that you could probably do most films with snippets rather than whole pieces -- especially where they are scoring to fit the visuals.

No problem on the soundtrack piece. I just figured you had some soundtrack stuff you wanted to discuss, especially as this seems to be a hobby of yours. If you think of something like that, let me know.

Tennessee Jed said...

Andrew - read your comments on theYogerst article. I hadn't really thought that much about his specific comments, but you are undoubtedly correct. Perhaps what I really meant to say was that I had read "a review of a potentially interesting book" over at BH. (lol)

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, It's just my opinion -- I just get the feeling Yogerst isn't presenting a particularly well thought-out analysis. But who knows, I could be wrong?

Thanks for mentioning it though, I'm always interested in these sorts of things that provide a deeper analysis of books/film than just "it was a fun movie."

Unknown said...

Andrew: I refused to take my Volkswagen to the local repair shop which had a huge sign outside that said "Volkswagon Specialists." For the same reason, I distrust a reviewer of Westerns who mentions the fact vs. the legend line in Liberty Valence.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, Good point about the Volkswagen sign! LOL! Seriously, weren't those designed to be cars that never needed any sort of specialist to look after them? (At least until today, when you need NASA to help you tune your car.)

I get your point on the Liberty Valance line, it really is kind of teed up for obvious analysis isn't it? Too obvious. Especially since Westerns weren't really about historical accuracy, they've always been about myth making.

Anonymous said...

Re: the RLM review... passionate Star Wars fan actually wrote a 108-page rebuttal to the RLM review of Episode I. I've read a few pages and at the end of the day, who's right and who's wrong? I'll admit that when the fan is talking about how the plot isn't convoluted and the RLM guy is just making s--- up, all the talk about taxation and trade routes is still quite boring. I won't post a file-sharing link here but you can probably find it if you Google "A Study in Fanboy Stupidity."

Okay, I'm Star Warsed out for now. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, The fanboy is wrong. The RLM guy absolutely dissects every aspect of the films with devastating accuracy -- everything from bad direction, bad acting, bad editing, poor writing, bad philosophy, to contradictions, impossibilities, and other plot nonsense. Everything he says is a valid criticism, and almost none of it is subjective in nature, i.e. "I didn't like this part."

The prequels are indefensible except as poorly done schlock. And if Lucas didn't already have a massive fanbase from Star Wars to draw upon, these films would have been poorly received, little watched, and vanished back into the realm of failed films. The only thing giving them any cache is their pedigree.

What I think would be a helpful bit of proof would be if someone tried to do the same kind of criticism of Star Wars itself. I think they would find little to complain about.

Joel Farnham said...

Andrew and Scott,

I feel that when George Lucas showed the actual Ice Monster in the second version of "The Empire Strikes Back" he substantially lessened the tension. Plus there should have been a stub of an arm on the Ice Monster. The arm that was sitting on the ground didn't have a shoulder on it and the full reveal of the monster showed clearly that his left arm including the shoulder was missing.

This lessened the movie. It jarred me out of the willing suspension of disbelief I had induced and now I can't get passed it.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, He definitely did a better job with the monster in the garbage crusher in Star Wars. Showing it would have been a no win situation, so he was smart to avoid that. But with the snow monster, yeah, he went all in. And he promptly made a toy out of it! Plus, I agree, the arm looks fake.

Joel Farnham said...


The same shot of the arm was in the first version. It was the Ice Monster that was fake to me.

And Scott, I am also Starwarsed out.

On, Hall Mark cards, blame it on your mother. She expects the card with the fake sentiment. All her friends expect the card with the fake sentiment. Give her the card with the fake sentiment. Anything less will just demonstrate to your mother that you don't love her anymore. ;-)

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, It's thinking like that, that keeps the Greeting Card Industrial Complex functioning! Grrrr.

I got your meaning on the arm, I just think the whole scene would have been better off with less monster in it. Less is often more, especially when the effects really can't live up to any sort of good expectation.

T-Rav said...

Okay, so this is how Lucas' depiction of the raid on Bin Laden would go:

1. The screen would be unnecessarily cluttered with goats and camels.

2. Our heroic SEALs would be assisted (sort of) by local Afghan and Pakistani tribesmen, who look a bit cartoony but have hearts of gold (uncivilized people always do).

3. There would be a CGI depiction of the stealth chopper crashing and exploding with much fanfare, plus a camera shot of machine parts flying everywhere.

4. Bin Laden and the SEALs would face off in a ten- or fifteen-minute battle that also has a cool CGI setting and yet, somehow, is drained of all emotional investment.

5. The movie will immediately be followed up by several metric tons of SEAL, terrorist, ISI, local tribesman, and goat action figures. And then, a decade or so later, a special Blu-Ray "expanded edition" re-release that is really pointless, but you're afraid to say so.

Actually, that sounds pretty good for a Lucas film. George, if you're watching this, I demand a cut of your profits from this movie.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, That sounds about right, though I would add one thing. During the 10 minute fight scene, they need to spout a constant stream of mindless cliches at each other that are only slightly related to the story itself.

"You'll never take me alive soldier."
"You're going down."
"You and whose army?"
"You just don't know when to quit!"
"Your burqa is writing checks your gunskills can't cash!"
"Stick around, I'll be back!"
"You don't have the courage to fight me."

and so on... just an all-out ten minute assault of pointless dialog that you've already heard in other movies! :-)

P.S. I hear Lucas visits here regularly. In fact, I'm pretty sure he endorses Commentarama for its brilliant and inspiring vision! :-)

BevfromNYC said...

"You and what Army?"
"Not the Army [bleep]! We're the Navy! {{bang, bang}}"

Emperor Palpatine said...

And now, Lucas, you will pay the ultimate price for your lack of vision!

George Lucas (Probably Not Andrew) said...

I do not visit this site, and I do have vision. Do your worst Emperor! But first, let me tell you about an insignificant trade dispute on the outer rim, on a planet where illegal Mexicandorians make Droids to be shipped to the richest parts of the Unidos Empiros. . .

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, While I suspect it will be hard to get the navy into a dusty village in Pakistan-ooine, I don't doubt that Lucas would be willing to include those lines nevertheless! LOL!

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I have it on good authority (don't ask how) that the Emperor went and threw himself down the Death Star's ventilation shaft. Better to suffer a bone-crushing fall than to listen to that drek from "George Lucas" about trade relations and pointless conflicts. At least, that's what I assume he was thinking. Not that I know for certain or anything.

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, I'm not surprised. Some thing are just so horrifically boring that suicide becomes a viable alternative, e.g. a Lucas talk on intergalactic trade disputes. . . a class on tax law. . . an Obama speech. . . ;-)

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