Sippican Cottage

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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

I Like David Mamet

David Mamet makes good movies.

I watch a lot of movies as old, or older than I am. Ever watch David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia? It’s the greatest film ever made, you should. There’s a scene where Lawrence’s bedouin army comes across the scene of a great massacre of a whole village by the Turkish army. One striking son of the desert, whose village this once was, charges out alone across the barren intervening landscape at the receding Turkish column, waving a sword over his head and ululating, until the sound of shots signals his inevitable demise. Then the bedouins slaughter the Turks to a man.

David Mamet has announced he isn’t a conventional liberal anymore, and chosen the Village Voice as the place to do it. He’s in the entertainment business. He’s charged straight at the Turkish army, alone. Forget about how you might feel, one way or the other, about the politics of the thing. It’s a marvelous scene, ain’t it? There are certain kinds of people I always harbor a soft spot for. The ax glints in the sun, poised for a moment at the top of its arc, ready to be brought down for the single, final blow; the crowd is hushed and nervous; and the man with his head on the block looks up at the hooded brute and says, clear as day:

Yer Mother!

We’re into recycling here at the Cottage. The flinty locals just used to call it reduce, reuse, recycle — long before the first Earth Day. Their neighbors just called them cheapskates. Here’s some recycled text about David Mamet:

I Watched An Adult Movie Last Night — With My Mother

What are you thinking? What’s wrong with you people? Are you the few –or the many; how would I know? –that actually respond to viagra spam? Are you the folks that pay to watch a scrawny hotel heiress have desultory congress on a cameraphone? I’d better explain, I guess.

I am the parent of two small children. An “adult” movie has at least one adult in it. That’s it. No sponges. No rabbits. No Sneetches. Adult persons talk to one another and do things that adults would do with a camera pointed at them and David Mamet telling them what to say. That’s an adult movie.

That’s a rare thing at my house. I do not understand persons that watch adult things in front of their children. Self-abnegation for the sake of others is the hallmark of adults. You really must look into it. My ten year old can recite every thing he’s ever heard or seen verbatim, with accents, so I know they’re paying attention. He’s going to hear enough dopey things at school. I’m not going to make it worse by watching Reservoir Dogs while he does his spelling homework.

My relatives are visiting from California, and we’ve done everything relatives do, but after all the frosting and bug juice and basketball and playgrounds and croquet and Playstation and Spongbob and bubbles and ice cream and hot dogs and Monopoly, I decided that all the adults could sit in my living room and watch a movie with a few expletives in it. And a big honkin’ bear.

The Edge is David Mamet making an action picture. For those of you who don’t know, David Mamet is a playwright, and a screenwriter, and a regular old writer too. Off the top of my head Mamet is:

The Verdict
Glengarry Glenross
The Edge
The Winslow Boy
The Spanish Prisoner
Happy Texas
State and Main

Anyway, he’s got that knack of putting words in people’s mouths that sound like people would say them, but seem to encapsulate world views and themes and conflict and, and, and… compare and contrast Mamet’s prose style with the style of Cheryl Printup’s short story…

I’m sorry, I lapsed into a college writing class. I didn’t like those. For me, college writing class, for as long as it lasted, consisted of me and twenty-nine girls sitting there reading Emily Bronte or some other girl that could use a stiff drink and a boyfriend with a tattoo, with my classmates nattering among themselves about tripe until they got to the part where the heroine is walking through the dewy garden barefoot with Heathcliff, or whatever the closet fruit du jour’s name was, and there was a lot of scattershot adjectives about burgeoning stamens and dripping pistils and men in a boat and ripe fruit; and then the female teacher would invariably turn to me in the back row and ask: “What do you feel this imagery is driving at, Mr. Sullivan?” while the twenty nine ingenues turned and glared at me.

Lady, she should have shoes on and run off with a gardener and be done with it. The Chatterley broad did. Leave me alone.

Give me something… adult. Give me Mamet.

[Editor’s Note: Heres some more if you want it: Mamet Management 101]
{Author’s Note: I’m having another cup of coffee while you read this. Coffee is for closers.}

10 Responses

  1. You might like to rent the HBO series “Rome” and also “Deadwood.” They are FAO [for adults only] and make for many a good date night with Mrs. Cottage after the kinder are in bed. Also, both series are finished so you can watch them and not be disrupted by the waiting for the next season. A-I-D-A. Attention, Interest, Decision, Action.

  2. While reading your posts, I often think how much you and my husband have in common. Rare individuals who march to their own drummer, to not coin a phrase. Intelligent and very thoughtful–brains constantly in action, thinking all the time about one thing or another. Perfect recall of arcane knowledge about almost everything, both of you. He even does woodworking sometimes–doesn’t earn his living that way, but is good enough that when he built the deck on our stone house, each diagonally laid board was shaped to fit perfectly against the particular stone it met. An eye for detail, too, like you.

    Today was no different, but more so. His very favorite movie–the one that ranks at the very top of his list–is none other than ‘Lawrence of Arabia’.

  3. Hi gyoung- Sorry about that, I hope I didn’t kill it while you were enjoying it. I was experimenting with embedding a new widget on the page. It from a movie and TV streaming service called Hulu. It’s similar to embedding a YouTube video, but its default display is too big for the page, and it’s glitchy. It restarted on my machine when the screensaver came on, for instance. It plays free films and TV with several short commercial interruptions throughout. Their selection of movies is currently negligible.


    Knitter- You are very kind to compare me to one you love so, and I’m grateful for it. He has good taste in movies and knitters, I guess.

  4. I see that Ruth Anne has referred to “Mrs. Cottage.”

    I freely admit I have, in the past, made jokes about “Mrs. Bissage.”

    (There really is a Mrs. Bissage, surprisingly.)

    (A long suffering Mrs. Bissage . . . but that’s her problem — life ain’t fair!)

    Anyway, I now fear I may have stolen that nickname/gag from the master.

    Please accept this expression of my sincere apology and deepest gratitude.

    (BTW, any chance of any of you guys ever coming back? Things have gotten better, for the most part. Just saying.)

  5. Sissy- That is a wonderful vignette from that movie. BTW, I made your table. Finishing it now, along with Ruth Anne’s table and chairs.

    Hi Bissage- I always love the picture of Yob you bring.

    Mrs. Cottage and I started calling the kids “The Sheds.”

    I don’t get the urge to be anywhere I am not.

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