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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

OK, You’re Great

OK, you’re great.

BFD. Lots of people are great. But that man, along with many others who worked along with him to achieve that little confection, is also the raw material for further greatness.That’s a whole different ballgame.

You see, that’s different than just greatness.

Bernard of Chartres said we are like dwarfs standing upon the shoulders of giants, and so able to see more and see farther than the ancients. Truer words were never spoken.

I copy things all the times. I parse out tid-bits from the pattern books of the frock coat set, cobbling them together to make something good from something great. It’s instructive that Gene Kelly doesn’t smear himself with chocolate and scream Vagina! every ten seconds to achieve originality. He, like the people that followed him, distilled from what was worthwhile a recipe for what was sublime. He is inventive, not deliberately obtuse and strange.

I put the wood together to make furniture. I put the words together to make sentences. I try, every day, to find the thing that someone else can use for their own raw material. People tell me occasionally that they use the furniture as the raw material in their domestic lives. That’s a start.

But I may never know if I’ve succeeded. Since it is rare and unlikely, I will probably die without even an inkling of it. But I’m living every day with the trying. It’s enough, for us mortals.

8 Responses

  1. Just a personal preference, I am even more impressed by Mr. Astaire…who, his entire career, worked very hard to not steal from himself; he strove to make every routine fresh and new. Not an easy thing with a career as long as his.

  2. Ron- Astaire’s fantastic of course. They did a cgi thing with astaire dancing with a vacuum cleaner that is vaguely similar in concept to the VW commercial, though more mundane in execution.

    I never thought of them as competitors. They seemed to be from different worlds. One’s New York and one’s Hollywood to me, I guess.

  3. Yes, they were not competitors; (they make fun of each other in “Ziegfield Follies”) they used to hang out together at parties pretending to talk business, just to keep women from asking either of them to dance! “They thought we’d fly them around the room,” said Gene, “when most of them couldn’t dance!”

    That vacuum commercial has been nothing but grief; people reacted so negatively to it, Astaire’s widow has locked up his visual rights in a rather Draconian fashion. For example, when the AFI had a Ginger Rogers tribute show, for her in ’92, she refused to allow the AFI to show any images of Fred Astaire dancing with Ginger Rogers! Warners just released a 10 disk box of their movies last year, complete with an 1 1/2 hour documentary of the history of A&R, but without any interviews with Astaire! It’s very sad…

    I love your kitchen posts; I would let you build my kitchen anyday!

  4. Has there ever been a description of the technical aspects of the rain generation on an indoor soundstage?

    Just curious.

  5. Hi John- Amazon has a bunch of textbook type books about it. Hollywood is full of people who make such things go that you never hear about.

    Here’s a pretty good overview for mimicking weather effects that touches on the soundstage variety as well: Videomaker

    I think I read that Singin’ In The Rain techs mixed milk with the “rainwater” to make it appear on film better.

  6. Thanks, Sippican
    I’ll take a look at what Amazon has.

    There seem to be a lot of technical wizards in Hollywood, and they don’t get much gratitude beyond the paycheck.

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