Monday, June 17, 2013

Read Stuff, You Should

Happy Birthday to Stu Tate, 51. His cup of coffee was in 1989, age 27. He had 18 remaining professional innings (in AAA in 1991). Pitching is brutal.

Good stuff:

1. Dan Hopkins on the Latino vote.

2. David Roberts is incredibly sensible about the nuclear (power) debate.

3. Nicole Flatow talks to a retired federal judge about the limitations of the judicial check on intelligence gathering.

4. And, off topic, but: Peter Biskind has tapes of (an aging) Orson Welles in conversation. Good fun.


  1. Awesome Orson Welles link. Loved it. Answers one of the biggest Hollywood questions: how the hell does one make such a profoundly awesome movie - at age 25! - and then all but disappear?

    When Ebert passed recently, NPR played a clip that asked about his favorite movie scene, and Ebert chose Mr. Bernstein's classic reflection on memory and nostalgia from Citizen Kane. A great pick, one of about 20 or so unforgettable moments from Kane, a movie almost passe because so many people, from yesterday, loved it so much.

    But that lunch interview! Like a My Dinner With Andre from hell. A perfect illustration of that research out of Harvard/U of M that it doesn't really matter how capable you are, what works in the world is how you get along with others.

    Old Orson was the best at his craft, but just about the worst at getting along with others.

    1. OK, his career was obviously a mess, but "all but disappear" is far too strong -- Lady From Shanghai and Touch of Evil are classics, and I'm a big fan of his Othello and Macbeth. (For some reason I've never seen "Ambersons" -- really should get around to it).

      Plus it's worth mentioning that you definitely can't take "disappear" literally; he was extremely visible as an actor and fairly visible as a celebrity, for most of several decades.

    2. "The Stranger" is a lot of fun too, and of course there's "The Third Man," of which Welles is rumored to have directed his own scenes.

    3. Heh, you're right of course, Jonathan, I chalk my loose verbiage up to the perils of stream of consciousness writing, especially for those like me whose fingers move faster than their brain. (I also caught that misrepresentation; when I reread the post I considered that Welles' post-Kane career would have been a tremendous accomplishment for 99%+ of the folks who go to Hollywood seeking their dream).

      Still find that lunch conversation fascinating. Thought a bit about this today, and considered a general model of the following: precocious film genius (which is itself off-putting), layering on top an off-putting personality; as a result it seems as though something like Welles' career is what you'd come up with.

    4. TN -- I've never seen "The Stranger." My list gets longer...

      CSH -- Eh, I'm sort of nitpicking. Of course there's stuff to be explained by personality here. I mean, I like Othello, but it's not hard to see that it would have been better had he had real financing and all.

  2. The Welles tapes: Biskind edited a book of them to be officially published next month. They were lunch conversations between younger filmmaker Henry Jaglom and Welles, which Jaglom taped secretly--something that the book glosses over. I'd hesitate to make judgments based on this one that Biskind posts--it starts the book and was obviously chosen because it's controversial. I'm reading the advance copy now. But as others who knew him say, Welles took contrarian and contradictory positions in conversation just for their entertainment value. There's an unrecorded conversation quoted in the preface that provides a far different view of Welles. He was large in all senses; a man of contradictions and/or fine distinctions and turbulent complexities.

    1. I suspect I'll take even longer to get to the book than I'll take to get to the movie mentioned above, but it sounds worth it.

      "F for Fake," BTW, is also excellent fun.

    2. Seconded, yes, "F for Fake" is a great jaunty, essayistic contraption!

  3. David Roberts is in error on several points and he should read the NYT once in a while. His article has so much bad or missing information, but his belief that nuclear reactors are all about the big is surprising.


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