A Bit About Me

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Along with my daily duties as founder and head writer of HumorMeOnline.com, in 2003, I took the Grand Prize in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (also known as the "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" competition). I've also been a contributor to "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" and the web's "The Late Show with David Letterman". I also occupy my time writing three blogs, "Blogged Down at the Moment", "Brit Word of the Day" and "Production Numbers"...and my off-time is spent contemplating in an "on again/off again" fashion...my feable attempts at writing any one of a dozen books. I would love to write professionally one day...and by that I mean "actually get a paycheck".

21 March 2008

Reading isn't always fundamental...

"Read the book!" "But did you read the book?" "I've read the book and..."

These are just a few of the comments I'll find when perusing the comments on the Internet Movie Database's (IMDb) forum whenever I go there...which happens a lot. My routine is pretty straightforward and simple: 1) Start to play movie; 2) Open up the IMDb to read who is playing which role; 3) Rejoice because I knew who the guy who says three words of dialogue was indeed in that episode of "Frasier" (or any other minute bit part) - gotta love IMDb; 4) As credits roll...look up trivia, goofs and comments for the film. I don't deviate from the routine...that's what a routine is there for...and in this case, deviating would be...well, devastating.

There is a thing out there in filmland known as "the spoiler"...and if you are no stranger to film-talk, you know exactly what I'm talking about...if you don't have a clue, read on...and if you do, read on as well. Sure, you will see many variations: "Spoiler alert" "Here be spoilers" "Warning: Spoilers"...but they essentially all mean the same: "Don't read any further if you haven't seen the film because we are about to give away an integral part of the film. Don't say we didn't warn you."

Most people are cautionary when you delve into the forays of filmdom...some aren't, for whatever reason they prattle off some little detail, oh, say...like the ending of the film and before you know it...you know the end of the film. I don't know about you, but I like to have my ending at the end where it belongs and not told to me by some guy who doesn't realize the courtesy of the spoiler...or who just wants to ruin it for everyone on purpose. Consequently, that's why I don't read any of the comments made by people until AFTER the film has ended...which brings me to my initial thought...

WHY do so many people insist on telling people that they should have "read the book"? "Oh, you'd understand why he did that if you woulda read the book"..."They made it clear why he did that IN THE BOOK"..."Well, did you read the book...because I read the book and they did it differently in the movie...I think it was better in the book because..."

If I wanted to read the book...I wouldn't have WATCHED THE DARN FILM! (This blog is for the Montgomery Advertiser's newspaper, so I am keeping content "clean"...otherwise I would have said "damn".)

And it seems to me that the people who even read the book aren't even 'on the same page', so to speak.

Let me elucidate a little...

I recently watched "No Country For Old Men"...and true to my own "rules"...I didn't read anything on the forum/trivia/goofs part of the IMDb...because of my reasons mentioned above. But after the film, (which, I won't give anything away here if you haven't seen it) I wanted to see if anyone had similar thoughts...like mine...so I went over to the comments portion.

Now, granted, there are intelligent, middle-of-the-road, and stupid people out there on the film forum as there are anywhere in society. Being in any one of these groups doesn't necessarily curtail anyone from speaking their mind...even when they fall into the third category and there is very little of it doing the talking. Be that here nor there...I welcome reading opinions across the board...I am not certain where I fit in - in my "tri-angle" of types I mentioned...I'd like to think I would fit in the upper-middle part, but I'm not very sure when I start reading comments. Sometimes I think I'm in the fourth realm I didn't mention..."total genius". Other times I am in the fifth: "total bumpkin".

For this film I felt kinda like a moth who had been spat back out of a cat's mouth, lost its wing dust, and was just spiralling blindly toward any light...but smacking into everything else in its path instead. I think I wasn't so much "going toward THE light" on this movie, because I clearly was NOT being illuminated by anything anyone said there.

People analyzed and sub-analyzed and even tho they all professed to reading the same exact book and hearing the same comments out of the Coen brothers' mouths...they all saw things differently. I couldn't help but think of that story of the blind men and the elephant...one feels the tail and thinks it is a rope, another feels the trunk and thinks it's a tree branch, etc. Each one "sees' the movie and interprets it differently...but no one is more right that the other. Only here...no one wants to admit they possibly could be wrong...or didn't see the "whole part".

What I did get was a whole lot of conjecture about a film that no one could see eye-to-eye on, altho the majority of the ones disagreeing with the others all claimed to have read the book. No one was on that "same page". "The nuances were lost"..."no they were there"..."no, they weren't there"..."they were in the book!" "I read the book"..."I read the book, too"..."I read the book better than you"..."I saw the film more clearly." "I talked to a guy who knew Joel Coen's barber's sister's friend...whose brother's cousin dated in him in high school...so I know better than you!" "Well, yeah...and uh...I read the book...TWICE...so there!"

It was pointless.

All I could deduce from the whole thing is that I didn't think Javier Bardem's character was creepy...but then again I never thought Anthony Hopkins in "Silence of the Lambs" was "all that" either. For all out demented creepazoid I still think Dennis Hopper in "Blue Velvet" had them all beat...but then again, come to think of it, I never did read any comments about THAT film. Nor did I read the book...was there even a book? But...I have heard the song from Bobby Vinton...so let me tell you what I think David Lynch REALLY meant by that whole "ear" thing...



  1. Ok, I finally saw the movie, and it wasn't bad...I just felt it was inconclusive at the end. It's kinda like the elusive threesome that men seek. Nice idea to try to do, but once you're there...it's a lot of hard work for the same result you get with two people. Well, it's nothing like that really now, is it? Oh well, at least I got to talk about a threesome.

  2. Well, let me tell you of at least one case where literally "reading the book" would have made a big difference: "2001 A Space Odyssey". I loved this film, but if I'm acting as an honest, fair minded critic, I'd have to say it was just an interesting, albeit technically groundbreaking and mesmerizing, collection of images with very sketchy connections between image chapters. Anyone, who had never seen the film before or who had never read the book and could still piece together the message of the story from the movie alone deserves a Nobel Prize for physics. What was intended by the screenplay and the book, however, was a carefully thought out, clearly outlined, and clearly written tale, that any ten-year-old could understand and appreciate, about the coming of age of humankind in a cosmos teeming with highly advanced intelligences. It's also a tale with very definite and logical chapter separations. But if you've seen "2001 A Space Odyssey" and can't explain how you can go from an ear-piercing squeal from a mysterious obelisk buried on the moon to the middle of an interplanetary journey to the planet Jupiter aboard a giant spaceship, you are definitely not alone. However, if you read the book, there is an unambiguous explanation for the squeal and its connection to a journey to Jupiter. And this is just one example of many ambiguities in the film that the book reduces to mere triviality. There really is no good reason, other than pretense, I can think of for having them. When artistic license can find no real merit, it just becomes pretense and should be abolished in favor of simple clarity. If all else fails, just go for clarity.

    I don't think Stanley Kubrick was as good a filmmaker as he thought he was. "Spartacus": yes. "Paths of Glory": yes. "Dr. Strangelove": yes. "2001 A Space Odyssey": a reluctant, no. But there is no reluctance in my affection for a film that fired the imagination of an impressionable kid who was far to young to understand it.

    I haven't seen "No Country For Old Men" yet, so I can't talk about its merits or lack of them. But if, as you describe, there is such a wide variety of explanation for nuances and motivations for characters and themes, etc., it makes you wonder if the filmmakers are trying too hard to manufacture artistic merit in favor of simple clarity. I'll have to see for myself. Or should I just save myself the trouble and read the book? Tough call.