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Why Does Hollywood Hate the American Revolution?

That’s a bit of a rhetorical question, but it’s not an exaggeration. Hollywood obviously doesn’t like the American Revolution, and has signaled its disdain for the whole affair by studiously avoiding the topic for 110 years or so.

Let’s examine the statistics. In the 1910s, there were six movies made about the American Revolution. They had to interrupt the revolution to hold up cards explaining what everyone was saying, of course. But those six movies are the most for any decade since then, with the exception of the 1950s, who tied the score.

After the teens:

1920s: 4

1930s: 4, including Daniel Boone, which is about Indian fighting, not killing Britishers

1940s: 1. No, really; one. With Cary Grant, of all people, in a sort of Peyton Revolutionary Place

1950s: 6 again, none notable really. Daniel Boone is back, with Lon Chaney of all people busting Daniel’s balls with feathers in his hair. Leon Trotsky’s Bessarabian nephew (I’m not making this up, I swear) Samuel Bronston filmed John Paul Jones in Spain of all places, starring Robert Stack of all people, and lost his shirt. Andrew Loog Oldham liked the movie poster, though, and told the bass player in Led Zeppelin, John Baldwin, he’d be hipper if he changed his name to John Paul Jones for some reason.

1960s: Basically none. For a decade where about twenty-zillion movies were made. There was one French-Italian production called La Fayette. I don’t think George Washington was that fond of spaghetti and meatballs, however, or snails for that matter, so I don’t get the connection

1970s: 3, I guess, but only technically. The first, Paths of War, is an Italian comedy of all things. The plot summary shows just how confused Italians can be about any topic you could name:

In 1858 in Italy, in Sicily, Franco and Ciccio defend the Bourbon army to prevent the unification of Italy built by Giuseppe Garibaldi. However, when the troops of Garibaldi defeated the Bourbons, Franco and Ciccio escape, taking refuge in a box, which is delivered in America. In the Far West, Franco and Ciccio find themselves involved in the American War of Independence against the Apache Indians. They, camouflage, disguise themselves first by warlike Americans, and then by Indian holy men, being able to save their skin.

Franco and Ciccio sound like they went to American public schools, with a timeline like that. Anyway, the decade wasn’t done with messin’ with us. There was 1776, a musical comedy about the Revolution, if you can wrap your head around that. In his review, Vincent Canby of the New York Times, said that “the lyrics sound as if they’d been written by someone high on root beer…” I don’t quite know how to approach that observation, so we’ll move on. The only other Revolution movies listed is a videotaped adaptation of a Broadway play shown as a Hallmark Hall of Fame special, so not really a movie. But Christopher Walken is listed as a Hessian in it, which must have been a trip.

1980s: 2. Revolution, starring Al Pacino, is chockablock full of unintentional comedy. Not since Tony Curtis was saying things like Yonder is duh cassel ov my faddah had we been treated to Bronx accents in such unBronxy settings. The only other movie about the Revolution was made by the Brigham Young University School of Fine Arts. Not exactly a David O. Selznick production, there.

1990s: Zero, unless you call The Little Patriot one. I’m not sure if I do, because I can’t find anything about it online, except notes about the director in Danish, which I’m allergic to.

2000s: 3. Mel Gibson starred in a slasher film about the Revolution, The Patriot, and proved there was at least a quarter of a billion dollars in the topic, as long as you brained enough Britishers with a hatchet during the festivities.  The other two are so obscure that they might well be slides of someone’s vacation in Maryland.

2010s: 4, I guess. The only one with a link on the Wikiup is listed as an “American Christian historical action-adventure film.” I don’t know how to break it to the Wikiup editors, but everything to do with the United States up until a few years ago was American Christian history.  Maybe that’s why Hollywood isn’t interested. The other three movies don’t merit links on the Wiki, but I found a screen cap from one. Enjoy:

These stalwart ’76ers appear to be trying to figure out which end the shooty bits come out of, and what time lunch is served. We’ll leave it at that.

2020s: 1. I think. There’s one listed, called The Battle of Camden, but I can’t find it much about it. Its IMDB file says the Top Cast includes Jezibell Anat, who seems to be a belly dancer. I’m not sure how that would tie in with the Battle of Camden, but it’s no stranger than casting Tony Curtis in The Vikings, is it?

OK, maybe it is.

So let’s compare that with movies about the Civil War. Back to the Wikiup. Hmm. I count 355.  That’s a lot. Hell, they list 16 currently being produced.

Let’s try World War I movies to cleanse our palates. Believe me, I’m not going to try to count World War II movies. I don’t have that kind of stamina and an abacus with that many beads. But The Great War? Nobody born after Nixon got de-selected can even tell you what that one was about. I doubt most of the combatants could. But still, I count 202 entries on the Wikiup for WWI.

So Hollywood is very, very interested in wars. It’s interested in every sort of war involving Americans, and plenty that didn’t. But ipso facto they don’t care about the revolutionary war. My opinion might not be science, but it sure is at least some sort of arithmetic.

Perhaps I know why. I was in a used bookstore last year. We buy old hardcover versions of classics, mostly. Not much after the 1930s. Anyway, we were standing at the checkout and the heavy-set woman behind the counter with the owlish glasses and the tats was looking askance at our selections, and picked up one of our Graham Greene books about the Caribbean.

“My daughter just came back from vacation down near there. She said to me, ‘Mom, the money is so much more colorful down there, and has more interesting people on it’.” Then the clerk said to us, “Our money just has boring old dead white guys on it, amirite?”

I looked in my wallet. There was Alexander Hamilton. Ah yes. A bastard orphan born on the island of Nevis, taken in by a merchant who paid his way to New York for an education. He served as an artillery officer in the Revolutionary War, was the aide to General Washington, and was a delegate to the Continental Congress. On his days off from practicing law and writing 51 of the 85 installments of The Federalist Papers, he founded the Bank of New York, which currently has $45.7 trillion in assets somewhere around the place, I imagine it’s hard to remember where you put all that stuff. He was the first Secretary of the Treasury, which is only fair as it was his idea to have one. He helped abolish the international slave trade, and President Adams made him a major general in the army to keep him busy. Then he was shot to death in a duel with the third vice-president of the United States.

Yep. Boring.

And Maybe an Executive Producer Credit

So we touched on postmodernism in architecture yesterday. We kinda wandered pretty far afield from the original topic: What the hell happened to movies? This is not “old man yells at cloud” territory, no matter how much the people who are systematically destroying the movie business would like to make it. I don’t think your movies suck because I’m cranky. I’m cranky because your movies suck. In the words of Beavis and Butthead, “I hate movies that suck.”

We mentioned Lawrence of Arabia the other day. I gave it a glowing review, others gave it a meh. Different strokes. But I’d like to point out something in the movie that stuck way too hard in Hollywood’s extremely low foreheads. The story is deliberately told out of order:

Three minutes into a three-and-a-half-hour movie, and the main character is deader than disco. I wasn’t around in 1962 to see it, but that little bit blew a lot of people’s minds. I’m not sure the movie business ever got over it. Because it was the first big example I can think of a movie that didn’t close the same week at the arthouse theater that exalted a postmodernist idea about how to make movies. They didn’t really know what they were looking at, and it morphed into this (from the Wikiup):

Postmodernist film is often separated from modernist cinema and traditional narrative film by three key characteristics. One of them is an extensive use of homage or pastiche. The second element is meta-reference or self-reflexivity, highlighting the construction and relation of the image to other images in media and not to any kind of external reality. A self-referential film calls the viewer’s attention – either through characters’ knowledge of their own fictional nature, or through visuals – that the film itself is only a film. This is sometimes achieved by emphasizing the unnatural look of an image which seems contrived. Another technique used to achieve meta-reference is the use of intertextuality, in which the film’s characters reference or discuss other works of fiction. Additionally, many postmodern films tell stories that unfold out of chronological order, deconstructing or fragmenting time so as to highlight the fact that what is appearing on screen is constructed. A third common element is a bridging of the gap between highbrow and lowbrow activities and artistic styles – e.g., a parody of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling in which Adam is reaching for a McDonald’s burger rather than the hand of God. The use of homage and pastiche can, in and of itself, result in a fusion of high and low art.

But David Lean, the director, wasn’t deconstructing anything for shiggles. He was solving a problem. The movie was made in 1962. T.E. Lawrence died in 1932. The movie portrays his exploits in WW I. Lawrence might seem like someone from a very obscure and far away time to people now, but there were plenty of moviegoers in 1962 for whom Lawrence was a real person. They knew all about him. The public knew he was dead, dead, dead, and many knew how mundane the circumstances of his death were.

Lean didn’t want the climax of his movie to be an anticlimax, because leading the revolt in the desert certainly trumps a motorbike accident for stirring the blood. Life gave Lean lemons, so he made lemonade. He killed the hero while the opening credits rolled to instruct the audience to take it as read: we all know how he died. This wasn’t about that. It wasn’t a cheesy biopic. It was about great themes. Identity. Heroism. Populism. Yellow journalism. It jumped all over the place, but it had an underlying theme, and the story had a trajectory.

Postmodern movies are just messes. Look at that description of it again. They can try to tart it up with ten-cent words like intertextuality, but what they’re dancing around is a more cogent description: they’re a mess.

Stories generally require a trajectory. Kurt Vonnegut might be the ultimate poster boy for postmodern writing, and even he knew how to operate a story:

So James Joyce can write 762 pages about a guy that walks around Dublin and nothing happens. Vonnegut can write about the bombing of Dresden and Tralfamadorians in the same book. But Ulysses is weightlifting. Vonnegut is assigned reading. They are burdens placed on the audience. Movies have a different job. And postmodern movies show up late, leave early, and hide in the break room all day at their job.

Postmodern movies are mostly just disconnected scenes chucked in a cutting room Cuisinart. Some of the scenes might be pretty good, but they don’t really knit themselves into a coherent narrative. If you question them about what they’re doing, they simply say, “I meant to do that.” Postmodernism is the artistic version of a Get Out of Jail Free card.

I’ll  give you one example. In one of the great “Thanks Dad” moments in Hollywood history, they gave Coppola’s kid an Oscar because Bill Murray is plain funny. Here’s the ending of Lost in Translation:

The whole movie is a mishmash of what I did on my summer vacation on my dad’s gold card. Like most of its oeuvre, it is, as Homer Simpson so aptly put it, “Just a bunch of stuff that happened.” It was immensely successful, of course, because mind-numbing solipsism is a way of life for entire generations at this point. A Rambo movie for girls. But as a story, outside of Bill being amusing, it’s just slides of someone else’s trip to the Luray Caverns.

So Bill wanders around maybe three-quarters of a script she wrote and they get to the end and the payoff is Bill Murray whispering something in her ear. Sofia Coppola can clutch the same statue they gave Herman J. Mankiewicz, and say I meant to do that all she wants, but I know how it works. She didn’t know where she was going in the first place, so how could she possibly know what to do when she got there? We’re supposed to fill in the blank for her with the most romantic thing evar…. Duh, you just know it was. Totally.

If I have to supply the dialog in your movie, honey, I’m going to need to see a check first.

Are Movies Art?

In order to talk about movies as an art form, I’m going to have to talk like Oswald Spengler for a minute. I ain’t shaving my head or anything, but I have read the books. Anyway, if The Decline of the West had a Cliff Notes version (yikes, there’s a thought), it would probably boil down to: a definable people produce a culture which produces a civilization which eventually destroys the culture that made it and you go back to trying to assemble people into a group that can produce a culture. Rinse and repeat.

Further along his loopy exposition of this worldview, he points out lots of examples of things that got very popular indeed, and then went past popular to very important indeed, but eventually took the same trajectory to destruction as everything else. And by destruction, he didn’t mean they disappeared.  He meant that The Action moved elsewhere. I tend to agree with him. For example, harness racing still exists. It was pretty popular with a generation or two before mine. Football was third-tier sport back then. They built Foxboro Stadium on a demolished harness racing track. Quod erat demonstrandum, people.

So movies still exist. They’re still making ’em, after a fashion. But The Action has moved elsewhere. Some commenters yesterday pointed out television serials that are more popular than movies are at this point. Being popular doesn’t make them art, however. Television pretty much killed the studio system that made movies back in the day, and when movies rose from the ashes and became a big deal again, cable TV killed that, too.

I suppose we should define what is art, and what isn’t, before we go shooting our mouths off more than we already have.

The Merriam Webster, which is no longer reliable, because linguistic exactitude isn’t where The Action is, politics is, says,

the conscious use of skill and creative imagination in the production of aesthetic objects, or the works so produced

That’s not bad. Now, what’s entertainment?

amusement or diversion provided especially by performers

I think that’s bad grammar, and needs a comma after “diversion” at the very least to fix it, but we’ve already pointed out how unserious grammar has become. Let’s play it as it lies.

I figure art can be entertaining. Likewise, entertainment can be art. The people who make movies all think they are artists, of course, and take themselves very seriously, but nearly all their output is trivial. Even the best of them are craftsmen, not artists. In their hearts they know it, so they’re testy on this point. There’s a reason why actors are famous for acting like raging buttholes to everyone they encounter who isn’t a producer with a checkbook. They’re afraid they’ll be found out. They’re seriousness porcupines, with a very soft underbelly.

So in my opinion, which is the only one that matters, naturally, because that’s what makes it an opinion, when did movies become an art form, and when did it run out of gas? I’ll spare you titles like Birth of a Nation and the Battleship Potemkin, and stick to things you might have seen, or could at least get your hands on. Beside, just because they were trying to make art, doesn’t mean they made it. The medium would have to catch up first.

Let’s skip through the calendars and see how the movies tried to get into the pantheon with the other artistic genres:

Chaplin worked for the producers of the lowest form of slapstick entertainment. He needed to get on. But he always had the idea that cinema (yikes! that word has finally appeared here) could be so much more. He always believed in himself, and plowed all his money and efforts into making movies that melded gags and pathos and grace and sentiment and social commentary. Unfortunately for him, talking movies killed his milieu dead as soon as he had perfected it. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t art.

None of the first talkies were art. Silent movies started out barbaric, and so did talkies. They were still trying to figure out what to do. You can watch The Jazz Singer or Rudolf Valentino movies if you want to, but they’re artifacts, not art.

That was the twenties. The thirties produced lots of good movies. Too many to list. But art? I’m going to stick my neck out, and ignore all the imported German auteurs and American stage imports and pick out the only real art produced in the cinema in the thirties:

Historian Paul Johnson remarked that Walt Disney is the only genius to ever work in Hollywood. Brilliant people did, sure, and a lot of them, but only one dude transformed an industry to make art. Disney’s modern iteration, not-so-lovingly called Mauschwich by a lot of people who work there, has long since lost its way, but there was nothing like this before, and little that could compete with it after, unless Walt did it himself.

People forget that the material, and the themes they explored, were challenging and offbeat for the time. The music was very, very sophisticated, and the artwork was stunning. It would be hard to imagine what it would be like to sit in a giant theater in ’37 and watch this on the screen. Mindblowing. It cost 1.5 million bucks to make, an enormous risk for Disney, and it eventually did $418 million at the box office to pay him back. Picasso was a piker compared to Disney.

Then the forties rolled around and people were getting used to lurid color and big pageants like Cecil B. DeMille movies. There was a lot going on, and a lot of it was very good. But it was a black and white job that stuck a flag in a hill and called itself art right from the get-go. It even included a breakdown of the fourth wall of the entertainment business with a frenetic look at what goes on to make something into art:

Most everything about Kane was either sublime or entertaining, usually both. It’s routinely voted as the best movie ever made for reasons the voters don’t really understand themselves: The theme of lost childhood innocence is the core of artistic desire.

Whoo boy, and then the fifties rolled around. Movie studios were taking themselves very seriously by then, and there was so much dough in the business that you could afford to try to make art out of anything as a sort of side order. Everything was over the top. Technicolor, huge casts, huge sets, gigantic orchestras sawing away at scores written just for the movies with an eye towards the same sort of importance as Broadway and opera and even Romantic symphony music. Hell, the opening credits got sophisticated. There were overtures and entr’actes and run times over three hours, which really got going, and metastasized into the 60s big budget spectacles.

We’ll have to look at a modestly failed attempt to make true art out of melodrama and spectacle to get us on the scent:

William Wyler had big ideas about The Big Country. In some ways, it’s a triumph of movie making. It looks amazing, an important aspect of making art. The story about rectitude vs. brashness in a man is worthwhile, if a bit hamfisted in the telling. But Wyler was an important commodity in Hollywood, and they sent him off to make Ben Hur before he was finished with The Big Country, and it shows. Robert Swink, a second unit director and editor finished the movie, but only technically. It completely runs out of gas at the end. Directors matter.

But the road in The Big Country didn’t lead to Rome, although Ben Hur is a stone cold blast. It led to the desert. David Lean must have seen the landscapes included almost as characters in The Big Country, and used what he saw to make the high water mark of movies as an art form:

It takes nerve to point a movie camera at a sunrise, and get away with it. But Lean had all sorts of nerve. He thought of the movies as art, and put together the right people to make it so.

My father took me to see this movie when it was re-released, and told me it was the greatest movie ever made, or ever would be made. I never argued with my father. I’m not going to start now.

[Everyone can mention a movie they think meets the artistic threshold in the comments]

Modern Times

I think movies became an art form. They passed through a foundational and developmental period of trial and error  to make something serious out of what started as twenty cops soundlessly falling off the running boards of a police car while chasing a tramp.

There were people that saw the possibility of art in it right away, of course. Charlie Chaplin thought film could be art, and tried to make it so before it could even speak. Others made simple entertainments, a canned version of vaudeville, and were content. It’s not ignoble. People need simple entertainment, too. But it ain’t art.

Mixed in to this desire to make serious art through a camera, came a desire to add social commentary. It came pretty early on, as well. Metropolis and Modern Times are two examples, although the former is only amusing in a camp way, where Chaplin got the mix of humor and social observation just right.

Stage plays were the playground of social commentary. Writers had been writing social commentary into everything from fiction to pamphlet screeds forever and a day, but people reacted completely differently to the spoken word, acted out in front of them. Hollywood tried to import all sorts of stage writers from New York, and London, to tart up their entertainments with something resembling seriousness, or at least wit. Most attempts as screenwriting by “serious” writers failed miserably. Most of their work never even made it to the screen Everyone from F.Scott Fitzgerald to P.G. Wodehouse gave it a go and went home empty handed.

For the most part, good movies are made from bad books. Have you ever read The Godfather? It’s an intellectual dumpster fire. The reverse isn’t always the case, but profound books have a tendency to rely on the prose for mental imagery too heavily to be filmed effectively. And introducing lots of action into stage plays that are written to be yelled by a few people in a little cockpit usually looks forced.

Everyone in Hollywood takes themselves very, very seriously at this point, but I think the movies as a true art form is in the rear-view mirror. Exactly how many comic book movies can you watch? But for a while, with everyone pulling in the same direction, Hollywood produced some astonishing stuff. And there’s really no way to listen to Ned Beatty’s speech in Paddy Chayefsky’s Network and come away with anything less than astonishment.

Some people nail it. And nail it to the church door, too.

George Andy Taylor-Bailey

Sheriff Andy Taylor and George Bailey are the same person. Hear me out.

Both of these characters were an important archetype in the past. I’m too indolent to think up some more examples, and then defend the idea from all comers from all points of the internet compass, so let’s stick with those two. They’re the same sort of guy, and that same sort of guy is dead and buried now.

I’m too young to have experienced either George Bailey or Andy Taylor in real time. They’re re-runeriffic touchstones for most people who remember them at all. It’s a Wonderful Life is semi-ubiquitous nowadays, mostly because for a long time, its murky copyright made it a cheap filler for second-rate teevee stations that desperately needed holiday fodder. The movie was a dud when it was released. Lost a half a million bucks in the 1940s, when that kind of scratch was worth more than five F-150s. It’s got a 94% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Either people used to be wrong, or they are now, take your pick. Or maybe it’s only a halfway-decent movie, and everyone is wrong. I dunno. Seems like a masterpiece of storytelling to me.

The Andy Griffith show ran for about ninety years and encompassed ninety-thousand episodes, if I recall correctly. It’s possible I don’t, but you get the idea. It was never a dud and entered a pantheon of teevee notoriety and perenially high ratings that included heavy hitters like I Am Fond of Lucille and Four Jews Yelling at Each Other in a New York Apartment. I don’t watch a lot of teevee, so I may be slightly off with those titles.

Now George Bailey was an upstate New York yankee, more or less, and sheriff Andy was an unapologetic southerner. On first glance, maybe the only link between the two might be Nick, the bartender at Martini’s, who served George Bailey and Clarence Oddbody a drink, and then went home and produced the Andy Griffith Show. But I swear they’re identical.

George Bailey is feted at the end of his long dark night of the soul as maybe the most well-liked, and more importantly, well-respected man in town. Andy Taylor doesn’t need a Bobby Gentry moment on a bridge to know the same thing. He’s the top dog in his town, although he prefers to slumber on the porch rather than chasing cars. Everyone knows it and defers to him. And both of these men get to their exalted perches by trying as best they can to ennoble and support the people around them, instead of trying to accumulate riches and favor and notoriety for themselves. They used to call it leading from behind, but I don’t know what they call it now.  I suppose it doesn’t matter what they call it, because it never happens anymore. Lately anyone claiming they’ve been leading from behind is just trying to claim credit for things they had little to do with. When a wallet full of credit is just lying there on the modern sidewalk, you pick it up and use it. You don’t go looking for the man who dropped it.

Picture if you will the average Ted Talk startup company a-hole delivering his slide-deck reason why they’re God’s older brother. TV preachers live in palaces that would make a pope blush, and put their name on top of the marquee, and in tiny little letters at the bottom write: also starring: Jesus. The founders of the largest corporations in the world say I, I, I more times in an hour than the Frito Bandito did in his whole career. The patron saint of these repellent people is Steve Jobs. He made Ebeneezer Scrooge look like Kris Kringle, screaming about removing inconsequential screws from his pocket Pandora’s Box to his minions. They only put up with it because they hope they might be able to be that big a jerk to somebody else someday. Maybe move up a slot on the totem pole of bile that is modern American corporate commerce.

Andy’s best friend is Barney Fife. Barney is an ugly, cowardly doofus with delusions of grandeur. Andy understands that at bottom, however, Barney is a good guy, and he gently reins him in when he gets out of hand. There’s an episode where Barney accidentally apprehends a dangerous criminal by simply being clumsy and tripping him up. Barney is instantly respected for the feat, such as it was, and bragging about his exploit, because that’s his nature. Hell, that’s human nature. Andy lets him drone on about his triumph, and is genuinely happy for Barney. He avoids questioning him too closely, because while he has his doubts, he knows Barney feels better about himself and he doesn’t want to spoil it for him.

The criminal vows revenge on Barney, and then escapes. Andy does what he always does. He’s all aw-shucks and folksy, but when real danger appears, he pulls a shotgun off the wall and hangs a holster over his shoulder and gets after it. He’s soft on the outside, avuncular, patient, and reasonable, but there’s a hint of iron in the backbone. Barney is visibly terrified. Andy tells him that it’s OK if he doesn’t want to go. Barney chokes back his fear, and agrees to go out and look for the miscreant, but that’s mostly because he knows Andy will take care of him. Eventually Andy figures out where the crook is, says nothing, and posts Barney there. He waits outside, hidden but ready to save Barney if he botches the job. Barney basically repeats his performance and through clumsiness gets the better of the bad guy. He’s a hero again, and never knows why.

George Bailey doesn’t participate in a charming ceremony to put the Martini family in their new home for an Instagram moment that will improve his search engine rankings. He didn’t fund the loan for the house thinking he could foreclose on it if there was postage due on a single payment when the cost of a stamp went up. He did what he did, because that’s what he does. He’s constantly bailing out his forgetful uncle Billy in the same way Andy does for Barney.

It’s telling that both men pull in the finest women in their respective towns. They’re not rich or notable in conventional ways, but Miss Crump isn’t going to settle for a tryst with Howard Sprague. You can tell Donna Reed is suitable only for the best man in town, because in a world without George, she becomes a spinster. Without George, there can’t be a best man in town. A rising tide lifts all boats, and he’s the tide. Woe betide us all when the tide goes out.

But go out it did. We live in Pottersville now, lock stock and barrel. The Bailey Savings and Loan went under after George put the Keating Five on the board of directors. We stopped reading Tom Sawyer, and Clarence Oddbody lost interest. Ellie Walker moved to Pottersville from Mayberry and became a stripper with ZuZu the petal dancer in one of Potter’s dive bars after Andy married Miss Crump.

But I assure you those silent men working behind the curtain of normal, decent, American life used to exist. I know it, because even though George Bailey and Andy Taylor were just characters on a screen, my father and my wife’s father weren’t.

I’ve Already Seen The Oppenheimer Movie. It Was About Leslie Groves

I’m not sure you can visit a gas pump or pay a water bill or dig a ditch or stop at a tollbooth or go to a cookout and avoid three topics at any of them. Everyone’s singing to the tune of John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt, only the words have morphed into Taylor Barbie Oppenheimer Swift! I’m giving all three a hard pass, no matter how hard a pass their press flacks make at me.

But the Oppenheimer movie intrigues me in one way. They already made an Oppenheimer movie, in 1989, and while it didn’t set the world on fire (sorry, too soon?), it was pretty good as entertainment, and not bad at explaining the power politics behind the making of the atom bomb. I’ve not seen one reference to that movie anywhere, including the gas pumps I mentioned, and I kinda wonder why. The movie had its problems, I’ll grant you that. They tried to drag romance kicking and screaming into the thing. The casting gorgon threw in John Cusack in an entirely fictional, borderline absurd role. But I suppose they can be forgiven for trying to gin up some female interest in a story that mostly revolved around arithmetic with a lot of letters mixed in on blackboards in the desert. Oppenheimer has some sexy time with a comely commie, which isn’t as thrilling as any of the assorted Helgas in low-cut Nazi outfits vamping around in any number of bad WWII movies, but it’s not nothing.

Everyone agrees that Paul Newman was miscast as Leslie Groves. Everyone but me, I mean. He’s an unusual choice, I’ll grant you, but he acts like a general. The screenwriter was smart enough to make it a weird kind of buddy picture between Groves and Oppenheimer.  And the fellow they hired to play Oppenheimer, Dwight Shultz, portrayed a robodweeb just fine. But the movie cost $30 million in 1989 bucks, and made $3.5 mil, so I guess my affection for it is particular, not general amongst the hoi polloi.

I gather Cillian Murphy plays Oppenheimer this time around, and he’s more popular than free samples at a bank, so that’s bound to help the war effort, so to speak. It’ll put more butts in the seats than Paul Newman with an AARP card could. Maybe someone can make a better movie, but can you tell the story better? I doubt it. Because the story of the atom bomb is as much about Leslie Groves as Oppenheimer, or Szilard, or Einstein, or any of the other eggheads Groves hired, like particularly effete plumbers, to unclog his Tokyo toilet in a big way.

The word genius gets thrown around a lot these days, generally by people who wouldn’t recognize one if they saw one, or would burn him at the stake if they did. Being able to do enough math to torture python scripts for a FAANG company doesn’t make you a genius, or a good judge of one, either. Everyone who worked on the Manhattan Project was about as bright as people get, but there was only one, bona fide genius there, if you ask me, and it wasn’t Oppenheimer. The smartest man at Los Alamos didn’t even live there. When they couldn’t make the thing work, Oppenheimer called in John Von Neumann, the smartest man to walk the earth since Imhotep.

“We are in what can only be described as a desperate need of your help. We have a good many theoretical people working here, but I think that if your usual shrewdness is a guide to you about the probable nature of our problems you will see why even this staff is in some respects critically inadequate…I would like you to come as a permanent, and let me assure you, honored member of our staff. A visit will give you a better idea of this somewhat Buck Rogers project than any amount of correspondence.”

All the other scientists lived in a boy scout camp in the desert for years, getting nearly nowhere, and then Von Neumann dropped by in his three-piece suit and figured out that implosion would work, and how it would work. The rest was plumbing. Simple as that. Hell, even Leslie Groves was an organizational superman compared to Oppenheimer. After all, Groves did something remarkable twice.

It’s telling that Fat Man and Little Boy never mentions Von Neumann. They show an un-named deus ex machina character drop in and straighten out Seth Neddermeyer, who was a real person who gets a credit in the movie, so it’s not like everyone else is anonymous or fictitious or anything. For some reason, probably because Von Neumann was a patriotic square, and not the least ambivalent about what they were doing, the glitterati don’t like him much. They like people who paste a veneer of indecision over their ambition, to seem more moral than they really are. But Like Paul Newman says, “…the death march of Bataan, was that moral?”

I don’t need movies to help me make up my mind over whether dropping bombs of any sort on Japan was moral. My father hung in a little glass ball underneath a B-24J Liberator in WWII and dropped plenty of bombs on Japanese soldiers, or their oil dumps, anyway. He was a profoundly moral man. One of the planes that sometimes flew in formation with my dad’s squadron got shot down by ground fire, but one crewman miraculously made it out alive, and parachuted down to the island of Koror. He was immediately beheaded with a sword, along with a few other fliers and a hearty handful of missionaries, right there on the beach. And all you backseat driving logicians on Twitter who think the Japanese didn’t need an atomic reason to quit fighting, maybe you should try understanding arithmetic before you take a crack at physics. They didn’t surrender after the first one, did they? They asked Yoshio Nishina, the head of their atomic bomb program, if the blast in Hiroshima was indeed atomic, and whether he could duplicate it within six months. It was a totalitarian government. It only understood total war.

Maybe that’s why I re-watch Fat Man and Little Boy from time to time. The Manhattan Project was durn interesting. The movie didn’t pussyfoot around the politics of it, and they showed both sides of the argument about using the gadget they’d made. The military wanted to make it, and use it. Lots of ex-European scientists were very enthusiastic about a fission mission over Berlin, but felt instantly ambivalent about doing the same to Japan after VE Day.

I’m sure the recent movie will make the scientists sound very ethical and righteous and sympathetic when they change their minds overnight about building and dropping a big bomb when the target shifts, but it reminds me of the old joke about a man offering a beautiful woman a million dollars to have sex with him. When she says, “Sure,” he says, “OK, will you do it for ten dollars?” She replies, “Hell no, what do you think I am?” The man answers, “We’ve established what you are, we’re just haggling over the price.”

The Varykino Gambit

Ever watch Dr. Zhivago? It’s a David Lean movie. Made all sorts of money. It’s a tale from Russia, with love. The love part was a minor problem back in the day. Lots of critics, who are almost people, but not quite, objected to what they saw as mundane romantic subject matter ladled over titanic upheavals. They didn’t get it. They wanted the movie to be about the Soviet Union, portrayed as either very bad or very good, to taste. Some would have preferred the usual war is bad theme. Yes, deep thoughts there: war is bad. Thanks, I had no idea.

David Lean liked stories about (more or less) regular people caught up in great events, just trying to get by.  For a backdrop, Zhivago had the end of WWI for Russia, the founding of the Soviet Union, and a civil war. It’s an excellent example of the old saying,”May you live in interesting times.” That sentiment sounds attractive to some ears. I see a lot of people nowadays wishing for great upheavals, morning, noon and night, because things aren’t going their way, or they are, but not fast enough to suit them. It’s actually a curse, not well-wishes. The Strelnikovs of the world, portrayed here by Tom Courtenay, want to live in interesting times, because big upheavals are the only opportunity they’re going to get to get ahead. They’re just cranks with pamphlets in uninteresting times.

 

Robert Bolt, about the greatest screenwriter I know of, tried to cut the critics off at the pass with that scene, but they’re up a stump and can’t ever come down. They can’t get it through their heads that trying to live a normal life in abnormal times can not only be commendable, it can be heroic. Movie critics have always had more in common with Strelnikov than Zhivago. They can’t relate to a normal person, even if they happened to meet one, which is highly unlikely.

When the nutters finally get the upper hand, their one, true wish is to extinguish the private life. Everything is political. This makes perfect sense to them, because they’ve suffered from scoliosis of the soul for so long, they don’t even recognize someone standing upright anymore. Or more to the point, they recognize any attempt at normality as a frontal assault on their worldview. On the bus, or under it. And by the way, the bus is full.

There’s a more nuanced explanation of the problem earlier in the film. Zhivago’s half-brother, Yevgraf, is an important secret policeman. Strelnikov is a famous terrorist, and he is admired or feared depending on whose ox you’re currently minding in Minsk. Yevgraf doesn’t do anything spectacular like burning villages for collaboration or just for shiggles or whatever. As Strelnikov says, “The village betrays us, the village is burned. The point is made.” It takes a village is a double-edged sword, apparently.

No, Yevgraf is the real deal. He’s not a would-be commissar on the make like Strelnikov. He’s already part of the big club, and wields a big club in everyone’s affairs. He shows up unexpectedly just as the locals in Moscow are hounding his estranged half-brother, rioting in his living room, and Yevgraf simply has to walk into the room to make his point.

Strelnikov uses his little army to scorch the earth to make a point, which may or may not be pointless, by his own admission. Yevgraf simply snaps his fingers, like a conjurer, and his will is obeyed without even being uttered.

Yevgraf visits with his brother, and listens to his views on the events in Russia. By any regular standards, Yuri Zhivago is a harmless person. Commendable, even. He even professes a bit of admiration for the revolution. Yevgraf comments, in his head by voiceover, that his brother’s enthusiasm for The Party, the only game in town, is subtle, and that is the equivalent of walking around with a noose around your neck in revolutionary Russia. So, to paraphrase The Dude here, Strelnikov isn’t wrong, he’s just an asshole.

Yevgraf advises Yuri to leave the city and live obscurely in the country, in Varykino in the far-flung Urals, and he fixes them up with a pass to do so. He understands that his brother will never be able to stay alive in a milieu where every act and utterance, no matter how mundane, is a political football. His brother is a poet. Ambiguity is his business. Hell, in that atmosphere, even doing or saying nothing is a political act. Any of this sound familiar yet?

The author of the novel that the  Zhivago movie is based on, Boris Pasternak, knew what he was talking about. He was Russian intellectual who refused to leave the country, no matter how bad it got. He was 27 years old in 1917, so he had a front-row seat for all the fun. He was a poet with a convoluted love life, just like Zhivago, despite a fairly close resemblance to Lurch the butler. And he tried, somewhat successfully, to just live in a world where that was made pretty hard indeed. Pasternak’s real-life version of a finger-snapping savior might have been Joe Stalin himself, who reportedly crossed his name off a list of people to be executed with the remark, “Do not touch this cloud dweller.”

It’s funny, but the critics got the world exactly backwards, like they mostly do. How you order your private life is a profoundly political act. Hell, in a world where everything is political, just living life on your own terms is a revolutionary act. You can say, “The private life is dead, for a man, with any manhood,” and make me listen to you at gunpoint. But you can’t make me cooperate.

My family has long since moved to our own Varykino. And what have I been doing there? Just living, and the living’s not easy. But I’ve got one thing going for me that Boris Pasternak, and his creation, Dr. Zhivago would have been wise to emulate. I’ve completely avoided the library in Yuriatin.

Chef, Or The Greater Creep Theory of Internet Success

My wife and I watched Chef last night. We enjoyed it. Movies, TV shows, and websites about cooking as serious bidness are thick on the ground these days. We are studiously unaware of them. The milieu was brought to its perfect form by Big Night, and hasn’t required any care and feeding from me since then.

I have seen the TV show with the screaming Scot, however, and enjoyed it. Not the execrable American thing. Before he was Intertunnel famous, there was a British version where that wasn’t a total fake. There were failing food businesses, he went in and told them how they had screwed the pooch, and showed them how to fix themselves. They rarely did. The reason they all failed, no matter what the hectoring pict did to help them, was that it’s easy to know what to do, but hard to do it. The not very lovable losers all secretly liked their lack of success, because it put no pressure on them. Customers are a pain in the arse, after all. They all wanted to have a restaurant to lord over, with no pesky customers or creditors to bother them while they did it.

The American version of the show was more like looking for the restaurant version of a homeless person who was begging on a street corner for a crust of bread, but instead of giving them a tenner for a square meal, you bought them a brothel with a food court in the lobby. No thanks.

Chef isn’t about cooking porn, although there’s plenty of that in there. Favreau knows he has to put Iron Man in Iron Man movies, and Iron Chef in Iron Chef movies, and he does his duty. The movie is about honest work, which I appreciated, and the movie properly portrayed the mystification of a boy, not yet grown, presented with parents living in separate places.

The movie is trite in the right ways to suit us. Its stereotypes are gentle, and the people in it long for the right sorts of things, and get them in the end by exertions that seem mildly daring but mostly rely on a shoulder to the wheel approach to your circumstances. It’s more Aesop than Shakespeare, but a lack of swordplay and mutual suicides never hurt anyone.

For all its cartoonish qualities, there are many accurate details in the movie. The movie gets one thing absolutely right. The tweenish son understands social media, but the father does not. The father participates in it in an off-hand way, but is quickly made to understand what a sewer it is. The child is wary of social media accounts like Jitter and Friendface. He knows about them, but doesn’t care about them. He likes Vines.

If you’re not familiar with Vines, they were the next big thing in social media for about ten minutes, and then disappeared without a trace. The service archived five-second videos. I suspect they weren’t able to prove their value to an insane investor class by hemorrhaging billions every quarter fast enough to look important. They probably didn’t have a ball crawl in the boardroom, or a ten-ton chrome panda in the lobby or anything. I bet their CEO didn’t even want to go into space.

I can testify that my little son has no interest whatsoever in Jitter and Friendface, but he loved Vines. He watched very wholesome people making quick little jokes that suggested flash fiction written by the Three Stooges. It was all very amusing and harmless. When Vine disappeared, my son was so distraught that he made his own on his desktop. He wrote and recorded hundreds of them on his own. In the Chef movie, Favreau got one detail wrong. When his character watches the Vine compilation his son made from their Crosby/Hope/Leguizamo road trip, he doesn’t cry. No man is that strong. Believe me, I know.

The accuracy of that detail highlights a rule about the internet. If you want to know how successful something will be on the internet, judge it solely on how creepy it is. The creepier and more degenerate it is, the more likely it is to prosper.

Twitter is really, really creepy. Uber was creepy long before you found out exactly how it was creepy. The only human thing about anyone who worked there was their hamhanded attempts to grope the help, now that I think of it. When that’s the top of your interpersonal heap, Dante Alighieri should write your yearly reports. Facebook, and the avaricious little twerp that runs it, is the creepiest thing I’ve ever encountered on this world, and I’ve renovated apartments that had a dead body in them. Google is creepy turtles, all the way down.

Snapchat prospers, if you define success as the ability to use up borrowed money for a longer period of time than your creep competitors before the laws of supply, demand, and plain old addition and subtraction start to apply. Snapchat gives their users the impression they can get away with being a creep on their service. Being creepy is the appeal. Google Glass failed because they lied, and said it wasn’t supposed to be creepy. Snapchat makes the same thing, and touts creepiness as a feature, not a bug. That’s how you do it fellows. You’ll be able to borrow another half-a-tril with that approach.

Virtual Reality goggles can’t work. Because of the way your brain and eyes work, they will invariably make you physically ill, or deranged, or both. So what? They are immensely creepy, so they will be a success. People will drug themselves, or vomit and go back to them, for another suckle on the creep tit.

You can tart it up any way you like, all you Singularitarians with a dream of a WestWorld honey, but you’re just humping a knothole in a dress dummy, and always will be. It’s a supremely creepy concept, so you can’t go wrong dumping your 401K into it. Your broker will just dump it into another Creep Unicorn if you don’t.

Paris, Texas, The Movie. Sorta (2011)



[Editor’s Note: We live in the butt end of nowhere, so we have to buy everything “mail order” as they used to call it. We have an Amazon Prime account. Prime gives you free two-day shipping, and allows you to watch a crummy selection of movies and TV for nada. We almost never use the TV function. Out of curiosity, I turned it on yesterday after a long interregnum, and under “Most Watched Movies,” there was Flyboys. I guess I can safely ignore Amazon Prime movies for another three years.]

My son and I watched a movie last night. I hardly ever watch movies, so I thought I’d multi-task and review this one: Flyboys.

It features a guy that looks vaguely like that other guy that was The Joker in the Batman movie –no, not that Batman movie, the other one. No, not that the other one. The other, other one. Anyway, he died –no, not this guy, he didn’t die, the other, other Joker guy died.  At any rate, our hero was a jolly rancher for a while in Texas, but for some reason the Depression showed up early, like twenty years early, and he lost the farm and took to hanging around in a movie theater like Lee Harvey Oswald, until the sheriff comes in and tells him he better join the French air force or go to jail for punching Mr. Potter at the bank for foreclosing on his ranch.

So he goes to France to smoke Newports and fly Nieuports, and I suppose World War One isn’t interesting enough, so the scriptwriter gives him a new best pilot friend, who he doesn’t like much but is still his best friend, and the guy has a pet lion instead of a dog, and they are, like, pilots and guys and depressed together about stuff, because eighth-grade girls and movie producers think being self-absorbed makes you interesting.

Then someone decided the movie needed Jack Johnson, the boxer, in it, only his name is different, I think — I don’t know; I was too busy wondering if guys like the guy that looks vaguely like the actor that played the Joker would have highlights dyed into his hair in 1917 in the Lafayette Escadrille, so I didn’t have time to get up to speed and wonder why this movie needed a poor man’s Jack Johnson in the Lafayette Escadrille. I guess French people and guys that keep lions aren’t exotic enough.

Anyway, the Jack Johnson-ish dude shoots a German dude right straight down in the top of his head using only an airplane and CGI, and that’s hard, and thereby saves a rich, overweight dude with Daddy Warbucks issues who previously didn’t care for the black dude because he’s black and all, but now he does you betcha. So the fat guy buys the black guy a drink, only he doesn’t buy it, he offers him some ritzy booze he stole from his father like Ferris Bueller would, and the fat guy says to Jack Johnson, my rich father is rich, how about yours?  And even though the black guy is noble enough for five movies already if you ask me, the movie doubles down and makes his father a slave, even though it’s 1917 and slavery was outlawed in 1865, and that seems like a long time between jobs if you ask me, but who’s counting in this movie.

Then the Hindenburg was bombing the Eiffel Tower for some reason, and the guy with the lion gets all shot up and whatnot while defending the spire, and decides he’s turning Japanese (I really think so) and becomes a kamikaze pilot and crashes into and blows up the Hindenburg. So instead of dropping bombs on Paris, the flaming Hindenburg falls on top of Paris full of flaming bombs, which doesn’t really sound like an improvement if you’re a Parisian, but that happens out of the frame so he’s still a hero if you ask me.

Then yet another guy who is a brave guy acts like a coward a lot, because we all know brave guys are all cowardly in real life, and that guy hangs out a bit with still another guy, a guy that reads the Bible all the time, so you know he’s a weirdo and not a regular person in 1917 in America. We all know everyone normal was reading Chomsky not the Bible back then no matter what Ted Nugent says.

Still another guy, who is wanted in Wisconsin for armed robbery with a toy pistol (to pay the bookie in The Sting, I think) lands his plane in the No-Mans Land between the trenches, which is hard to do indeed, but his hand is caught and he can’t run away, which normally would seem easier than landing a plane in No-Man’s Land. Just his hand is caught, mind you, nothing else, and he looks like OJ trying on a glove when he’s trying to pull his hand out, not like a normal person would look under shelling and machine gun fire. So the brave guy — not the guy with the lion, he’s dead; and not the brave guy that’s a coward all over the place — so the brave guy with the highlights and the ranch near Dealey Plaza who doesn’t have it anymore, manages to land his plane in No-Man’s Land like it was a Home Depot parking lot and not No Man’s Land, and he parks it next to the guy trying on OJ’s glove, and immediately chops the guy’s hand off with a shovel he borrows from a dead French dude who was lying around handy equipped with a shovel, even though the airplane wing is just made of canvas and a little pine. I guess it’s just easier to chop the guy’s hand off, don’t ask me. So now this guy can only be a one-armed armed robber, not a regular armed robber, and he gets a hook instead of a hand, like in Peter Pan, and the hook improves his flying I guess, because he sucked before but thereafter he’s swell at it.

Later the guy with the hook and the cowardly brave guy get together and save the regular brave guy, for a while, anyway — at least until the regular brave guy can meet up with the villain, who is contractually required to be a German guy who sneers a lot and waves like a crossing guard while he kills all sorts of guys and leaves orphan lions all over the landscape willy-nilly like a really bad guy would. The brave guy would no doubt have triumphed over Snidely von Richtofen, but at the moment of truth his machine guns don’t work because a bullet hits them and they bust open like a pinata and spill the wrong kind of bullets for that kind of gun all over the place like Jolly Ranchers, and then the brave guy…

No, not the brave guy with the lion; he’s dead, I told you! I was referring to the guy with the highlights in his hair, who’s now stepdad to a fatherless lion. Anyhoo, he’s been stealing planes to go see a French woman from time to time, even though at first he thinks the French woman is a prostitute — which I gather is normal for any American sizing up French women for the first time — but she’s just the cleaning lady at the cathouse (which strikes me as a much less desirable job than being a prostitute, but maybe that’s just me) where the first guy that originally owned the lion liked to hang around and act like Vince Vaughn would at a French cathouse, but Vince isn’t even in this movie, which is a shame because he couldn’t have done any worse, really.

Anyway, the brave guy that steals airplanes goes to save this one French girl that isn’t a prostitute, because she’s hiding from the Germans in her attic quietly like Helen Keller…

… now they’ve got me doing it. Like Anne Frank, not Helen Keller. Anyway, at first he flies the stolen plane at night for a while, then he flies it at night with the motor turned off for another good long while, and then he lands it like a ninja next door to Anne Frank’s house. The Germans don’t notice, even though they’re in her living room drinkin’ wine spo-dee-o-dee; but after a while they decide to notice, and the dastards shoot Anne Frank in the shoulder. But just so you know, I’m swapping back to calling her Helen Keller right now because she gets a Mauser bullet through the chest and doesn’t utter a peep, I shit you not.

Anyway, our hero with the frosted hair saves her and gets a medal for stealing the plane, which seems a bit odd, and later he steals a motorcycle instead of the plane for a change of pace, and he goes to another place all bombed out and full of Germans, which is a habitual thing with him at this point, and he finds her again and they decide to meet in Paris, but later — or at least the part of Paris that survived having a flaming Hindenburg dropped on it —  because she’s going to England with some kids that aren’t his, or even hers, now that I think about it, and he can’t go right away because he’s got a lion to take care of.

Where was I? Oh, yes. The brave guy with the highlights and the second-hand lion is saved for a while by the cowardly lion and Captain Hook…

(Dammit, I mean the cowardly brave guy, not the cowardly lion; the lion seems legit, if strung out on barbiturates a little bit; and I don’t think Captain Hook is a captain, really, prolly just a corporal or a lieutenant or something, or whatever the French word for lieutenant is, I don’t know)

.. but the brave guy gets all shot up by the Red Baron, who inexplicably seems to be the only German not flying a red Fokker triplane in this movie, but that’s got to be him, as he’s so evil. But anywho, this German guy shoots more bullets into our hero than a carnival attraction with ducks for some reason, and then stops shooting him for some other reason, shits and giggles I expect, and then Rolf or Heinz or Manfred or whatever his name is just pulls up next to our beauty parlor hero like a guy at a red light in American Graffiti, just to wave and smirk. Then the shot-up brave guy — the guy with the used lion and the only French girl that’s more interested in housecleaning than prostitution —  why, he pulls out a revolver of all things and shoots that German Snidely Whiplash right through the eye, which is pretty good shooting indeed, considering he’s all shot to pieces and flying a biplane that’s all shot to pieces that was made by French people in the first place.

Then the producers evidently ran out of money or unexposed film or something, and they hastily explained over the closing credits that the Jack Johnson guy gets a job at the Post Office, and the rancher with the highlights never meets the girl in Paris, but he gets his ranch in Texas back, only it’s another ranch, not the one I told you about already, but the new one is way better so never fear.

I guess it’s not his fault the stupid French chick, the one that’s not a prostitute, didn’t know he meant Paris, Texas.

The End.

That Selfie Really Tied The Internet Together, DID IT NOT?

I like The Big Lebowski a great deal.

It’s passed through many phases of public interest. Like Spinal Tap, no one paid much attention to it when it came out. Since it was ignored, those who seek thrills in liking unliked things picked up on it. Vanguard becomes cult, cult becomes church. People now pray regularly in the church of The Dude.

Intellectuals have sought to understand both the movie and the resiliency of the interest in it. Only Groundhog Day has garnered more attempts at amateur and professional analysis of mundane subjects that seem to be important. They aren’t, in and of themselves, so you can look pretty silly testifying that you know why it’s popular, and popular in that very specific way: grown from seed, not top-down popularity. No one humped The Big Lebowski into widespread popularity, at least not that I can see. Lady Gaga, and Katy Perry, and Bieber, and Madonna, and lots of other people you could name are completely contrived assaults on your attention and your wallets. Lebowski is the other way ’round. The audience demanded that the makers of the entertainment pay attention to it with as much vigor as they bring, well after the fact. I think Star Wars is kinda like it in a way; I’m fairly certain George Lucas thought he was making a trifle. It is a trifle, but it made a trillion or so. It’s not like Lebowski, though, because Lebowski is a good movie. But the subtexts and touchstones that resonate with the audience were likely hidden from the view of the makers in both cases. They discovered gold while scattershot mining for tin.

I am not going to dissect The Big Lebowski here. When you take apart the frog to see how it works, the frog can’t jump for you anymore, and I need this frog to jump. I want to enjoy it like a normal person. I want to enjoy it like an Al Green song. I don’t want to know what key it’s in.

Jeff Bridges.com

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