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Saturday, February 27, 2016

We all go mad after fifty.

I. 
We all go mad after fifty.

Minnesotans, that is, on the first day in the spring with temps over 50ºF. 

It's certainly not spring yet here, but the sap is rising (it's maple-tapping season), and we're having a fluke of a warm day––
a whopping and sunny 57ºF (14ºC)–– and, truly, people are going nuts:
I just came home from walking around the lake, where I saw a guy in sandals (though the walking path is slushy with melting ice), lots of people in T-shirts, and--weirdest of all---everyone smiling at everyone else.
{Not normal.}

I stopped on my way home and bought my favorite beer, black ale from the Bent Paddle brewery in Duluth.
It tastes, in the best possible way, like the smell of roasting coffee beans.

I sat on my back porch for little longer than it took to snap this photo--it's not quite sitting-outside weather.

II.
I've been watching Inspector Lewis (British mysteries)--
set in Oxford. Here's Lewis (right) with his young partner Hathaway (detective partner, that is), reading, poetry? 


I haven't seen this episode, maybe he's just looking at his crime notes, but Hathaway, a rather troubled intellectual, does quote poetry---cheerful stuff, as you might imagine, like William Cowper's "The Castaway":  
    We perished, each alone:
But I beneath a rougher sea,
And whelmed in deeper gulfs than he.
I'm more in the mood for "The Flower" by George Herbert:
   Grief melts away   
   Like snow in May,
  As if there were no such cold thing.
For romantic bliss, reading with someone at an outdoor café is right up there with reading together in bed, in my book.
It speaks of being the same trust and ease as when you go visit a friend to socialize, but, tired, fall asleep on their couch instead.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Kirk: All the -irks

 Some "-irk" words, plus some "-ir-"s,
because there are so many disturbingly pretty Kirks




 ___________________
Etymology of the irks:
irk (v.) Look up irk at Dictionary.com : early 15c., irken, "to trouble (someone), disturb, hinder, annoy;"
kirk (n.) Look up kirk at Dictionary.com: c. 1200, northern England and Scottish dialectal form of church, from a Scandinavian source such as Old Norse kirkja "church,"
quirk (n.) Look up quirk at Dictionary.com: 1560s, "quibble, evasion," of unknown origin, perhaps connected to German quer (see queer (adj.)) via notion of twisting and slanting; Perhaps originally a technical term for a twist or flourish in weaving.  
  
shirk (v.) Look up shirk at Dictionary.com: 1630s, "to practice fraud or trickery,"perhaps from German schurke "scoundrel, rogue, knave, villain" (see shark (n.)). 

smirk (v.) Look up smirk at Dictionary.com: Old English smearcian "to smile." ... probably related to smerian "to laugh at, scorn,"

Spirk: Spock/Kirk, Space Husbands, for more images, see Let's Boldy Spirk tumblr

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Rewarded

Sometimes it feels as if one is rewarded for good deeds. 

It's an illusion, but  a nice one, eh?
 

I did indeed lug myself to the downtown YWCA, 
where I exercised the body;
then I rewarded myself by continuing on to the library 
(I rarely go to the big downtown branch), 
where I saw a sign for the 
 Third Annual Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon > > > 
to be held on my 55th birthday!

What a mashup of my life + real time.
You know I've been excited about learning to edit Wikipedia, just recently.
What a nice birthday present.

P.P.S. A little comic relief

Enough with the apocalypse. Here's a little Columbo that made me laugh out loud:


P.S. Re the Zombie Apocalypse

P.S. Having searched for images from the TV show the Walking Dead less than one hour ago, I was shocked to walk into Starbuck's just now and see the New York Times––
the front page photo (aid delivery in Syria) looks like a scene from that post-apocalyptic show:



This is a scene from the Walking Dead:

It's not too hard to see why some fans would say they would rather be in a fictional world (though maybe not the Walking Dead world...). 

Try, try again

A Grumble About Exercising at Midlife

I don't know why I've felt unwilling to the point of feeling almost unable to get back to exercising…
I've been a little low this winter, so that's part of it. Also, at midlife, I feel like I should get to stop now.

(I've also thought, How many more times must I brush my teeth before I am rid of this troublesome task?)

But, of course, at midlife, now movement matters more.

I never liked exercise for its own sake, but if I don't do it, I don't do it for any other sake either, and I've more than amply proved to myself that continually not exercising gets results. 
Those unfortunate results help motivate me to try, try again to get back to the gym.
At any rate, I'm going this morning, whether I want to or not. 

I don't want to. I'd rather stay home with my pile of fandom books:


But, another movitation:
I'm going up to Duluth next week, and I was horrified to realize that I feel a little uncertain about hiking the 5 miles trail near the place I'll be staying.

Will my old knees hurt? 
Will I run out of steam?
Five measly miles! 

(Five miles hiking in the woods isn't exactly measly; 
but I never would have worried like this before.)

Also, I turn fifty-five in a couple weeks.

Last week, I went to see Lady in the Van (it's overdone in the way you'd expect of a slight, subtle play turned into a movie, but it's OK), and there's a great and true line in it:
neighbors are hoping the crazy old lady (Maggie Smith) who is living, seemingly permanently, in their street in her filthy hovel of a van will die off quickly.

And someone says, "That's not how it works; going downhill is an uphill battle."

Grumble, grumble.
Too true. If I could descend downhill gracefully, in a genteel manner, that might be OK... 


But no. 
Aging... it's more like... more like Columbo falling down a hill---here at 1:05--"It's the quickest way down":

Marz has been watching Columbo, to my relief, because I couldn't watch one more episode of Starsky & Hutch, it is so disgustingly sexist. And yet watching and discussing old TV shows together is a pleasure. 
So I'm glad she's moved on to one I enjoy. 

I do love Starsky and Hutch and their "partnership"--its unusual closeness noted even at the time:

but the show was giving me near–PTSD flashbacks of being a teenage girl in the 1970s---it was awful!
The women in the show are so stupid, they seem brain damaged (really), and they're so physically feeble and helpless, murderers (men) just walk up to them and snap their necks. 
Maybe they only have the strength to scream and flop over because they're all so matchstick thin, they obviously don't eat. 
I'd forgotten how culturally normal this all was, feminism notwithstanding.

I told bink about it, and she recommended Walking Dead for strong, fearless women. I watched several episodes---(it's research into fandom, too). 

The show's too much of a soap opera for me, with not enough post-apocalyptic social/political discourse---but, hm---maybe it did help inspire me too. 

The best story arc belongs to the character Carol:
she starts out at a depressed, passive, battered wife and morphs into a real bad-ass.

 
Carol (Melissa McBride), right, with another great character, Daryl (Norman Reedus).

Look! Gray hair!

Gotta keep those muscles strong to ride out our "extinction event", 
as a scientist in the show calls the zombie apocalypse.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

I don't want to be fictional...

I'm definitely and happily nonfictional. 

Even in my fandoms, I'm interested in nonfictional elements, such as the 1960s design elements in Star Trek, or what Duluth was like when Hutch was growing up.

But I am sympathetic to the impulse to be fictional.

This macro, below, gets at something---some people don't want to be in this world. 
(The images happen to be from Supernatural, but fans have applied the text widely. 
I can't find its original source. Here's an early one anyway: Harry Potter: "I want to join them.")

Here's the text :

"My problem isn't that my favorite characters aren't real; it's that I'm not fictional.
I don't want them to be real.
What I desperately wish is that I could be fictional with them.
It's not that I want them here with me in this mundane and ordinary world. It's that I want to join them in their extraordinary one."






















 ____________________________________

Every generation has its traumas; would every generation create some version of this meme, if it had the Internet?

Sixteen hundred years ago, Augustine said we're all just pilgrims in this world; our real home is with God. 
Is that a version?

 Lately I've been pondering the effects on children who are now young adults of having witnessed (on their TVs) the World Trade Center collapse on 9/11.
Unlike Pearl Harbor, 9/11 wasn't followed by a righteous war. 
Unlike Vietnam, there is no moralistic protest movement in response. 
There was just this huge rip in the fabric of the "ordinary world", and it keeps on fraying...

I have no conclusions--I'm just waiting and watching.

Every generation is shaped by its traumas.
Growing up during the Vietnam War and Watergate, I saw (on nonfiction TV) how violent and greedy and stupid people can be.

All around me, I also saw people engaged in active resistance or creation:  
my parents took me on anti-war marches; our neighbors were among the founders of the first food co-op; feminism came in when I was in high school...

I was escapist too: 
I read all the time (all the time: bed, bath, and beyond), and I watched Star Trek every chance I got (only one episode after school, Mondays through Thursdays).

If I'd had the Internet, would I have stayed in that extraordinary world?
I'd have loved it, but temperament is a factor too, and I've always been attracted by nonfiction.


How did that transporter work, anyway?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Liszt + Bieber



Beiber Fever had nothing on Lisztomania. 
Cmuse article: "Lisztomania: How Franz Listz became music's first panty-dropper" (bad title, good article)]

Well, except e-technology. 
I e-mailed to my 90-year-old auntie this 1842 illustration, (below) of adoring fans of Franz Liszt in concert.
My aunt, who e-mails me every morning from her iPhone, responded, 
"Just replace the opera glasses with smartphones." 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Guns, optional. Bears, essential.

Columbo and Starsky.
What do these two detectives have in common?

Both are from the East Coast, working in LA in the 1970s, and Jewish. 
[That's last one's never said, but their actors (Peter Falk and Paul Michael Glaser) are Jewish. Columbo is of Italian heritage, but of course there are Italian Jews.]

Otherwise they're almost opposites:
Columbo drives a beater, for instance, and he doesn't even carry a gun.


But fan detective Marz has uncovered a similarity:
a fondness for bears. 
(Columbo is holding someone else's bear here, but Starsky keeps a bear of his own––not this one––in his desk drawer.)



Don't these guys look like uncle and nephew? 
If I wrote fanfiction…

Heart Like a Paisley

Remember I was painting paisleys for a while, some based on human organs? 
I never did a heart though, which is odd because the heart looks most like a paisley of all the body parts. 
In fact, I painted this one (in gouache) yesterday, Valentine's Day, inspired by a drawing of a heart Michael posted on OCA. 


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Collage Cards

Here are the collage cards I made yesterday. The source material was a couple magazines from the late 1950s and the foil wrappers of bink's Valentine chocolates that I was eating. (Their shiny red didn't scan well.)


For my musical auntie: 


 

My favorite. I would like for this to exist:



For my sister:

This last one is hardly Valentine-y… I was just enchanted by the "asbestos tile!" ad:  

Baymax Loves Starsky


And Starsky loves candy.

I made this for Marz.  Don't look too closely---I don't have photoshop. I cut-and-pasted it on Pages.

A Bouquet of Possibilities

Quitting the Thrift Store turned out well, after all.

I'd wondered if I'd sink into a slough of despond without it, since I'd volunteered at least once a week and since the store management and I had parted under a cloud.

But no--instead I quickly felt lighter and brighter.
I must've been more depleted there than I'd realized.

I was done with my freelance editing work project (the three presidents), so I decided to sit at my laptop and see what showed up to write about.

What showed up was editing Wikipedia, so that's what I've been working on happily, off and on, for the last couple weeks.
I take it as a sign that I'm onto a good thing when that thing leads to other possibilities, and Wikipedia has.

I've been editing the entry for fandom's Organization for Transformative Works (OTW)--specifically cleaning up one pesky paragraph of non-neutral, non-cited information.

It's laborious! 
If I could write it from what I already know, it'd be easier, but everything in the encyclopedia is supposed to be anchored in verifiable, reputable, secondary sources. 
(No primary sources, no original research.) 
That wipes out info on blogs and other social media, since they're self-published. And that makes writing about OTW especially hard, because a lot of info about fandom is on such platforms.

Still, it's a fun challenge, and I'm willing to do the work to make the entry good.

I wrote to OTW, asking if I could put their logo on the Wikipedia page.

They wrote back and said yes, it's free to use. 

And btw, since I'm writing about them, would I like to write a guest post for them?
I said yes, I'd be happy to.

I've been so energized by writing about something I care about personally, I wrote to my managing editor proposing a book for teens about fandom.
They wrote back saying it's a possibility, and would I write up a short proposal so they can consider it more carefully?
I said yes, I'd be happy to.


So... who knows? It'd be great to get paid to write about something I care a lot about.

I'm a huge fan of fandom. It's all about making up stuff, which is this neat, elemental thing humans do that I love.
Lots (most?) of it is of godawful quality, but so what? Making up anything is entirely different from consuming stuff. 
I feel slicing pangs of jealousy that I didn't have Internet fandom when I was a girl.

Of course quality and content matter, but I say, 
Write it all, and let love sort it out. 

Which reminds me:  
Happy Valentine's Day!

bink and I spent yesterday afternoon making collage cards---she's going to scan them sometime today so I can share them online.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

"Ignore All Rules"

Ignore All Rules
If a rule prevents you from improving or maintaining your life, ignore it.
I am really liking editing Wikipedia so far. I adapted this (above) from Wikipedia: Ignore All Rules
"If a rule prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, ignore it."
But also, "treat others with respect and civility".
And also, "Knowing the rules is more important than following them."

One of the Five Pillars of Wikipedia is that it has no firm rules; it has evolving guidelines and procedures.

Create a Working Government

What an fascinating political experiment Wikipedia is.
Having just spent four months with Jefferson and Lincoln, I'm amazed to see people---to be one of the people---working on such a democratic project.

Wikipedia is fifteen years old, and over that time, people have obviously put a lot of thought into making it work, including being aware of people's differences. 
I appreciate this article, for instance: "Wikipedia:High-functioning autism and Asperger's editors".
I fail at autism, being the sort of neurotypical who, I expect, appears "to high-functioning Aspie/auties..., to have almost-moronic levels of data processing." 
But the point is, it behooves any group to expect differences between members,and to factor them in.

The process reminds me of the ongoing political experiment that is United States.
 Will it work? Will it fall apart? It's a work in process.
(We survived Andrew Johnson. Would we survive Donald Trump?)

Don't Bite
 
Will I get bitten by Wikivampires? was one of my personal concerns. ("Wiki user who loves to bite the life out of newcomers. They are extremely hostile in regard to Wikipedia’s policies and guidelines.")
 So far, I've had good luck on Wikipedia.
On my second day, I got a super friendlyFace-smile.svg message from a copy editor who'd fixed a formatting error I'd made, explaining how to do it correctly. 

I wrote back: "Thanks for being so funny and welcoming. I'd heard horror stories about how I get jumped in a dark alley if I dared to edit Wikipedia, especially being a woman. "

She replied: "I've heard those horror stories, but they're not coming true on my watch. (Personally, all of my interactions have been positive, though I certainly don't deny harassment on Wikipedia is a real problem.)"


Here's a picture of what I hope to avoid forever: editing wars, modelled by statistical physicists. (It looks scary, but actually it's also a picture of how "opposing views converge over time.")
Dots represent editors, and lines show the disagreement between pairs of editors leading the to "reversion" each others' contribution. The few most active editors (large dots) are the most active warriors with heavy interactions (thick lines).
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-02-conflicts-wikipedia-statistical-physicists.html#jCp

 My Fannish Edit

Since a lack of women volunteers is one of my motivators for editing Wikipedia, I thought I'd look for topics and people I like who might have been overlooked by the guys.

Fan fiction, for instance. Since the "practice of transformative fanwork [is] historically rooted in a primarily female culture", I guessed it might be overlooked on Wikipedia. 

And so it is.
I spent a couple days editing this entry for the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW), the organization for fans, by fans, that sponsors Archive of Our Own (AO3), the huge online archive of fan fiction and other fan works. 
(Huge = 2 million works, so far.)

I love and admire the phenomenon that is fan fiction (though I don't read fanfic much).

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Boldy Go! [Edit Wikipedia]

"Be Bold" is the Star Trek–tinged invitation from the Wikipedia community to us to help write the encyclopedia.

Communications officer Uhura ^ takes the helm after the navigator is knocked out.


design by Oile 11
This week I started to edit Wikipedia because:

1.  I use Wikipedia all the time.

2. Stone Soup is my religion, and Wikipedia illustrates my credo:
With checks and balances, humans can work together for the common good. 
Even with no money in the pot.

3. Editing Wikipedia provides a fix for my "put things in order" jones, 
now I'm not thrift herding (or working in a library,  or, for the moment, editing anything else).

4. And because I just learned that only about 10% of Wikipedia editors are women. [see Gender Bias] [A-ha! That explains why its Starsky and Hutch subheading Cars is longer than the entire entry on author Sarah Vowell. ]

I can represent.
Everyone on the bridge is able to operate the vessel, even the young yeoman [Janice Rand, in the episode "The Naked Time"]:

A New York Times article "Define Gender Gap? Look Up Wikipedia's Contributor List" (2011) "cited as possibly discouraging women from editing included the "obsessive fact-loving realm", associations with the "hard-driving hacker crowd," and the necessity to be "open to very difficult, high-conflict people, even misogynists"." 

Unfortunately I have met the type before...

But what are you going to do? It reminds me of something Benjamin Franklin said:
"When you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their passions, their error of opinions, their local interests, and their selfish views."
I read that last night in Sarah Vowell's latest book, Lafayette in the Somewhat United States.

This morning I edited Sarah Vowell's page because it still said the book was "due out in October 2015."
I updated it:

Wanna give it a go?
It's easy to edit a page: click "edit" tab along the top. (You don't even have to log in, though I did create an account.)
The tab leads you to a composition box familiar to any blogger.

I prefer to just jump in and figure stuff out by feel, but the Help:Editing page takes you through the steps, if you like that better.

Friday, February 5, 2016

"I never like to admit that I was wrong"

 I'm happy, in these cases, to admit that I was wrong:

1. I never though Bernie Sanders would never make it to Iowa.

2. And  I thought Justin Bieber would never make it––as a singer––across the bridge to adulthood.
So, I'm happy that I love his latest, "Love Yourself,"
written by someone else, and danced/choreographed by someone else (Keone and Mari Madrid) = great idea!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

What I'm Reading

Rice Pudding Bear looks over my pile of [mostly] library books
1. Love Imagined: A Mixed Race Memoir, Sherry Quan Lee, 2014
A memoir about growing up in Scandinavian Minneapolis, the daughter of a Chinese American man and an African American/white mother who passes for white. 
Some interesting possibilities, but Lee's writing is so cumbersome, I kept editing it in my head.  
The book would be stronger if Lee'd followed Verlyn Klinkenborg's advice to write short sentences.

How 'bout if instead of, "How disassociated do we become from the beauty of who we are, based on myth?"
she'd written, "How does myth separate us from our beauty?"

VERDICT: Needs work. .

2. New Ways to Kill Your Mother: Writers and Their Families, Colm Toibin, 2012
Deceptively cute title.
This reads as if it is [but nowhere says it is] a collection of previously published academic articles.
 Sample:
"If the heroine and the narrative itself are seeking completion in her marriage, then the journey there involves either the searching for figures outside the immediate family for support, of the breaking free from member of the family who seek to confine or dictate." 


VERDICT: Would shorter sentences help?

3. The Sympathizer, Viet Thanh Nguyen, 2015
I got the Large Print ed. from the library because there was a waiting list for the regular print, and my old eyes like it.

The fictional confession of a Communist Vietnamese mole who escapes the fall of Saigan and becomes a refugee in the USA,
it starts well:
  • "I am a spy, a sleeper, a spook, a man of two faces. Perhaps not surprisingy, I am also a man of two minds."
 Nice short sentences, Nguyen!
But the view from inside a man who is "able to see any issue from both sides" starts to feel featureless. 

I felt as if my head was inside a box, like this Japanese head furniture for private time with your electronics [links to article in the Economist]:

VERDICT: Not bad, but I skimmed the second half. Movie material?

4. Romance Is My Day Job: A Memoir of Finding Love at Last, Patience Bloom, 2014
Hated it.
Bloom edits romance novels for Harlequin, and I thought this might be an insider's view of the business, but no; she compares romance plots with her own love life. 
(Omg. Though I give it to her, she does have command of her sentences.) 

Finally, at forty-one, she finds true love.
Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing would approve of how she describes her happy married life,
"I love folding laundry when he brings it upstairs." 
 VERDICT: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

5. Several Short Sentences About Writing, Verlyn Klinkenborg, 2012
I already blogged about how VK is kind of pompous, but reading so much bad writing lately myself, I start to sympathize.
He teaches writing...imagine the manuscripts he's subjected to.

He could collaborate with Marie Kondo:
Please people! Fold your sentences and arrange them horizontally, by color.

Also, nostalgia is not your friend. 

6. I Remember Nothing, and Other Reflections, Nora Ephron, 2010 
This book wouldn't have been published in this era if Nora Ephron hadn't written the screenplays for When Harry Met Sally and Julie and Julia.
Not because it's bad––it's not––but because now you can read this pithy neurotic-but-knows-it self-reflection on a million blogs, for free.


I like Ephron's movies (except for You've Got Mail, which is the stupidest movie ever), and I liked these quick-reads. 
Of no importance, but a funny coincidence: I'd forgotten she had been married to Carl Bernstein, who I'd seen in person last year and portrayed in film two nights ago.
I was sad to see she this was her last book; she died in 2012, at seventy-one. 

VERDICT: Ideal for reading in the bathroom, where you don't want to take your electronics.

7. The Dead Ladies Project: Exiles, Expats & Ex-Countries, Jessa Crispin, 2015

I actually bought this book, new, the library line for it was so long, and I don't resent spending the money, which is saying something.
But I was a little disappointed that none of the essays were as good as the one that made me buy the book in the first place (thanks, Julia!):
Crispin's "St. Teresa and the Single Ladies" (NYT, 1-9-16):

I am not Catholic, and yet I find myself drawn to the women saints. There is something about them that I admire. Maybe it is simply the lengths to which they went to avoid marrying. When St. Catherine’s mother said her hair would surely attract a good suitor, she cut all of it off. When St. Lucia’s pursuer said she had lovely eyes, she cut them out and presented them to him.
What I really like about Crispin is that she writes about herself, like modern memoirists do, but uses her life and location as a take-off point to talk about other writers and other places, not as an end in themselves, like so many memoirists. 
What's missing: humor.
But I'll keep checking in sometimes at Crispin's blog Bookslut.

VERDICT: Worth reading. I'll lend you my copy.

8. All the Wrong Places: A Life Lost and Found, Philip Connors, 2015
Excellent. 
Connors wrote Fire Season about being a fire lookout in New Mexico. This is about what happened before: 
his brother committed suicide.  Also, 9/11.

As someone whose mother committed suicide, I'm wary about this sort of memoir––not sure why I even checked it out–– but he gets it right in sentences like this:
"I lurked in AA meetings in order to hear people talk honestly about terrible things."
Mr. Connors, you have got your socks in order.

 VERDICT: Yes. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

I edited Wikipedia!

I am the hero [-of-the-moment] of my own life!
I just edited a Wikipedia article for the first time.


I am now a Wikipedian.

A couple hours ago, I'd started blogging here about the Jackson book I've been editing forever, and how it now has a cool photo

of Catharine Beecher >
(sister of Harriet Beecher Stowe).

Then I wrote:
I've mentioned before that CB started a women's letter-writing campaign to protest Jackson's Indian Removal policy.

Hm---that's not mentioned in her Wikipedia article
If I were a better person, I'd figure out how to add it...

And then I thought, 
Wait… I am a better person than to leave it at that; I can do this.

So I did.

Have you edited Wikipedia?
It was pretty easy:
I went to Beecher's page, selected the "edit" tab along the top, and it prompted me to "create an account".

Editing is pretty straightforward, though it took me a couple tries to add links to external sources. Also, I should have composed my entry beforehand, using more short sentences à la Verlyn Klinkenborg. Oh well, I was too excited.

Beecher's page now has a subheading "Opposition to Indian Removal Bill":
There's a lot more that could be said, of course, but this at least points readers to a more complete source (footnote 2), the article "Mobilizing Women, Anticipating Abolition: The Struggle against Indian Removal in the 1830s". 
For editing work, I often use Wikipedia for exactly that-- to find citeable sources. I sometimes follow up links for my own interest too.

Will my addition just… stay there? Do you know?
Oh, never mind--I looked it up--according to Wikipeida's editing Tutorial, other editors can "revert" your edit if they want. I guess I'll see if anyone does.

Wikipedia, you could get to be a habit with me.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Deep Focus

I've been thinking––mostly idly––about the 70s ever since Marz started watching Starsky & Hutch (1975–1979) last year. 
The show is in shades of brown, sometimes orange, including its mood: funky, depressed, anxious, energetic.
 
Last night I rewatched All the President's Men (1976) to remind myself of the era.
When I was a teenager in 1975, I happened to see the movie being filmed across the street from the White House. I watched Dustin Hoffman (Bernstein) sit on a park bench for about an hour, waiting for his take, before I got bored and went away.
I learned something about film making:
being on set is like standing around while a plumber works.

All the President's Men is the political backdrop to Starsky & Hutch, and there are some similarities.
The Guardian's review from 2006 said, 
"Redford and Hoffman, [as] Woodward and Bernstein, blond and brown-haired, [WASP] and Jew: 
it was almost as if Nixon and his minions had been brought low by Starsky and Hutch."

The relationships between the pairs are different: 
Woodward and Bernstein worked together, but they didn't love (or even particularly like) each other, unlike Starsky and Hutch.
The reporters wear a lot of browns, but the Washington Post newsroom looks more like Star Trek: brightly lit with primary colored office furniture.
  
The furniture is too low to see in this shot, but you can see the movie's deep focus, which makes an asset of the room's open flatness, like a prairie, to show layers of complexity:
to either side of the pillar to the right of Nixon on TV, Woodward and Bernstein are typing at their desks–– 

––on manual typewriters. 
Politics, color schemes, and personalities aside, what's fascinating in both shows is seeing people work without computers or cellphones--or even answering machines. 

At one point, as Bernstein leaves his desk, he turns to the reporter at the next desk and says, "Pick up my phone."
Cops and reporters are always writing in little notebooks.
W & B go to the library to check records and this is what the librarian gives them to sort:
And they do. We see them going through them all. 
They find nothing, which is, of course, the story––two reporters doing the work to find out what's been removed, erased, covered up, and who did it. 

It feels less shocking now that the president did it than that the reporters did their work without computers.