1 day ago
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Usually I love what I do. I love reading, I like discussion, and I even enjoy essay writing. But man (or woman), there are days.
Today started with a test on Clockwork Orange, which I stayed up till four to finish. One of the questions Paul Budra put on the test was, 'What pop band took its name from one of the bands the young girls in the record store in Clockwork Orange mention?' Seriously.
So I called him on his shit. And to give Paul credit, he took the question off the test.
Afterwards I had a talk with his TA Steve, who gave me a B- on the midterm. The midterm asked for one or two sentence answers (like, name what book this is from and explain the significance, that kind of thing) and Steve informed me that he expected 'about half a page per answer.' So we're going round on that one. It sucks to be at odds with the head of the SFU English department, but I think he misrepresented what he wanted for the midterm. Also, I feel he should pay for springing Baba Brinkmann on the word (that turd that raps the Canterbury Tales--did I write raps? I meant rapes).
Also, SFU's internet provider just switched to a ten-gig-a-month limit. And the limit is retroactive, so I'm already over the limit for October. So if you thought, Hey, this blog feels like it's typed at a really slow bandwidth...yeah.
Anyway, I have another paper due tomorrow, and while it's getting done, for whatever reason writing it is fucking agony. It's like tearing shards of glass from the scalp of a car crash victim. Part of it is Torsten's broad meandering questions, and part of it is that I had another paper due Monday and spent more time on that, and part of it is that I don't really care about either of the books too much--Darkness at Noon was good, but Bend Sinister seems like the wrong Nabokov to start with-- the Kid A of Nabokov books, the one that only diehard fans and weirdos like best.
So, in summation, the whole thing can suck a ball. I really just want to get high and eat bridge mix and watch Zach Galifinakis's DVD. But I must soldier on. In the words of Margaret Atwood, "Once more into the breach, my pretties."
Monday, October 27, 2008
I volunteered to direct my Shakespeare class's production of a scene from either Henry IV, Henry V or Julius Caesar. I am one of three directors in a seminar of about twenty, and mostly I volunteered so I wouldn't have to act, but don't for a minute think that I won't make a huge deal out of this. A huuuge deal.
As a director, it is really my vision the class will be following, and Shakespeare's text will become incidental. The director is, after all, the AUTEUR, and the first role of an auteur is to make sure no one forgets who the fucking auteur is.
Therefore, I will start treating people much worse than I usually do and make friends fetch me coffee. I will grow an imposing beard. I will sit on a cloth folding chair with my name stencilled on the back. I will abuse my actors and belittle them with constant shouting and cries of 'No, no, all wrong!' I will wear a beret and wraparound sunglasses when inappropriate, which is always. I will mix metaphors and add sexual innuendo to topics which don't demand it. And let's just say, the casting couch will add a few hundred k to its odometer.
Though there is no camera, I will buy a viewfinder and haul it out whenever someone is watching. I will take an inordinate amount of interest in how bright it is and consult with my light-meter.
When asked, I will downplay the contributions of the actors and Shakespeare himself and preface every conversation with, 'Well, this is what Marty Scorsese told me one time' or 'Here's a little advice I picked up from Frankie Coppola.'
Speaking of Coppola, I will insist that you haven't seen Apocalypse Now until you've seen the Five-Hour Redux Edition, and that the Director's Cut of Gladiator: A Ridley Scott Film really opens up new dimensions. When backed into a corner, I will refer to Jean-Luc Godard films which don't exist, using these fictional films to prove I know more about the art form than anyone else.
I will develop preconceived notions about the characters and rewrite the script on-set, and demand that the actors relearn their lines minutes before performance. I will also demand to shoot only in seventy millimeter, as only peach-fuzzed film students shoot in thirty five mil.
I will work a nude scene into Julius Caesar and tell the actress it's essential to the plot.
I will also set Shakespeare in a different time period, because Shakespeare is SO period, and a director's vision must take precedence over some dead Brit who wrote some gibberish on a fucking scroll five thousand years ago. Julius Caesar will be set in rural Georgia, with Caesar a black lesbian and Brutus a Southern belle. Falstaff will be a Yukon prospector, and Henry V will be a cyborg capable of underwater combat.
Of course, the real test of a director--sorry, AUTEUR--'s vision, is to add in unecessary technical flourishes that detract from the story. So, first of all, the script will be chopped up and taken out of chronological order, with Brutus standing over a dead Caesar and then a series of random flashbacks culminating in Brutus almost shooting Tim Roth. One character will have a reverb effect on her voice so she sounds like Zuul. Anyone who dies, instead of falling dead, will walk up a 'Stairway to Heaven' at the back of the stage with an EXIT sign over top so everyone knows he or she is dead. Instead of act breaks, to indicate a change of scene I will have a character slam back a shot of rum, flash-cut-to a plane taking off, and flash-cut again to a briefcase snapping shut.
After the performance we will show the entire thing again only I and the main actors will talk over the action and relate amusing anecdotes. Another 'Making Of' play will be put on enacting just how we put on the first play, and will include interviews with behind-the-scenes personnel. Other bonus features will include: stereo sound, scene selections, interactive menus and original theatrical trailers.
Finally, I really want my direction to make the audience aware of the direction. I want to call attention to the fact that we are watching a play, which is a bourgeoise notion to begin with. Therefore I will hire someone to play myself and then I'll direct his direction, so that onstage you will see a play being directed in front of other actors playing crew members. Post-modernism is all about self-awareness. If Shakespeare were alive he'd totally go for that deconstruction stuff.
But the importantest thing is the beard. An AUTEUR cannot afford to have smooth cheeks: they are a sign of weakness and possibly creative impotence. Smooth cheeks are the reason why Leni Riefenstahl's films aren't relevant today and George Lucas's are. If you disagree, I suggest you consult Godard's magnum opus Le Grande Merde.
Oh, and of course, the play will be renamed Caesar: A Sam Wiebe Joint.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
"There's no such thing as a stupid question."
I know teachers say this to make kids feel better, but goddamn it, it's a fucking lie. Want me to prove it? Here.
"How many dogs do I have to eat before I turn into a dog, and who makes the most fashionable collars?"
Check and mate.
Patton Oswalt recently wrote a post that makes me suspicious he's been hanging around gutbucket.tumblr.com too long. His topics: grudging respect for John McCain, the awesomeness and fucked-upedness of the novels of James Ellroy, the deserved rise of Barack Obama, and an imaginary political novel that would tie them all together. Check it out here.
Sometimes you pray for something--say, that Clint Eastwood would star in another action flick. And sometimes you regret those prayers. And I'm not saying Gran Torino looks bad, because, shit, it's Eastwood. I would watch him direct anything. And nobody can kick the shit out of an ethnic street gang like he can. But...
Friday, October 24, 2008
Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang
Hooded Fang sounds a lot like 'uncircumsized penis,' doesn't it?
Jacob Two-Two or en Francaise Jacob Deux-Deux. Two-Two into Deux-Deux which sounds like doo-doo. And where does doo-doo come from?
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
It seems like no one else has figured this out, so, time for a little quiz: To what purpose does a magazine or website put out a top ten list?
--Well, Sam, they put together top ten lists to accurately gauge the 'best' or 'most ___' of a particular thing under a particular set of constraints (usually time). Hence we have 'the top ten movies of 2008,' 'the top hundred songs of the 90s,' 'least fashionable women,' etc. They're a way of categorizing and quantizing the greatness or ____ness of something.
Wrong. Anyone else want to try? Okay, you in the hoodie: go.
--Top ten lists exist to engage readers, to make them think critically about the relative greatness or ___ness of a certain thing under a certain set of subjective constraints. While no definitive list can ever be made, top ten lists promote intelligent discussion on the subject and attempt to arrive at consensus, or at least highlight valid differences of opinion on the subject.
Well...not quite. Half marks--actually, one-third marks for being vague and merely amending what the last guy said. Anyone else? No? All right, here's the answer.
Top ten lists exist to sell magazines. Magazines are sold by piquing curiosity and instilling outrage. Top ten lists are especially good at instilling outrage because they quantify things which A) can not be quantified, such as art; and B) things created under unique circumstances which lose all meaning when objectively compared, such as sports teams from decades apart (the 1927 Yankess would beat the 89 Athletics, or some such nonsense), and C), rely on submission to the authority of the poller to accurately gauge something when this accuracy is i) impossible and ii) not the real point of a top ten list.
Top ten lists are deliberately skewed.
In fact, the more skewed a list is, the more magazines sold, or website hits received. It behooves companies to put bad lists together, because bad lists create more controversy.
Remember that next time an undeserving movie sweeps the Academy Awards, or some obscure indie band beats out the Beatles in a Spin magazine poll of Greatest Band Ever. And don't give them what they want. Don't harp when Hemingway is left off the Hundred Great Novelists list of some stupid literary periodical, or when Nirvana tops some hipster's 'overrated' list. Just turn a blind eye.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
The best part is when she starts yammering at him about how great Palin is, and he says 'Please, you've got to invite me on more often to tell me what you think.'
The Arden Shakespeare Complete Works is 18.99 from Amazon or 15.99 from Chapters. Arden puts out the best scholarly edtions of the plays hands down. Their Harold Jenkins version of Hamlet is legendary, and their version of Titus inspired that play's critical reconsideration. The Complete Works is terrific in that there are no scholarly notes throughout the book, so you get just the plays plus a short introduction. Why is that a good thing, Sam? Because after slogging through a couple of plays without notes, you develop a relationship with the text unmediated by critics and scholars. And why is that important, Sam? Well I'm glad you asked: Because there are a lot of crap Shakespeare scholars out there harbouring weird grudges and secret stupid agendas. Read the plays and see for yourself. Seriously. What are you going to read this year that will impact you more than Shakespeare could? How many grail mysteries and teen vampire books does it take before one grows weary and trades up to the big leagues? This is your chance to turn your life around.