Unspooled – New Favorite podcast

with Paul Scheer and Amy Nicholson

Paul Scheer is a lifelong movie buff, but he’s never seen many of the all time greats. On Unspooled, his team-up with film critic Amy Nicholson, he’s remedying that by watching the AFI’s top 100 movies of all time, to find out what makes classics like Citizen Kane and Taxi Driver so special. Paul & Amy will dissect iconic scenes, talk to artists and industry experts, and discover just how these films got made.

This weeks episode covers The French Connection

Fabula and Syuzhet

Fabula  and Syuzhet are terms originating in  Russian Formalism and employed in narratology that describe narrative construction. Syuzhet is an employment of narrative and Fabula is the chronological order of the events contained in the story. They were first used in this sense by Vladimir Propp and Viktor Shklovsky.

The fabula is “the raw material of a story”, and syuzhet is “the way a story is organized”. Since Aristotle’s Poetics, narrative plots are supposed to have a beginning, middle and end. This is often achieved in film and novels via flashbacks or flashforwards. For example, the film Citizen Kane starts with the death of the main character, and then tells his life through flashbacks interspersed with a journalist’s present-time investigation of Kane’s life. The FABULA of the film is the actual story of Kane’s life the way it happened in chronological order, while the SYUZHET is the way the story is told throughout the movie, including flashbacks.Memento_Timeline

via Wikipedia

Bad Movie Summary Puzzle.

Man killed a dog then died because a woman brought him home.

Genius with superiority complex abandoned job offers to chase some girl he met in a bar.

Middle age man with unorthodox diet help chasing someone obsessed with skincare products.

A son understood his immigrant father more after he went to Europe and fell in love with a girl.

via Stackexchange

Green ideas, though colorless, sleep with fury.

Chomsky writes in his 1957 book Syntactic Structures:

Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.
*Furiously sleep ideas green colorless.

It is fair to assume that neither sentence (1) nor (2) (nor indeed any part of these sentences) has ever occurred in an English discourse. Hence, in any statistical model for grammaticalness, these sentences will be ruled out on identical grounds as equally “remote” from English. Yet (1), though nonsensical, is grammatical, while (2) is not grammatical.[2]

While the meaninglessness of the sentence is often considered fundamental to Chomsky’s point, Chomsky was only relying on the sentences having never been spoken before. Thus, even if one were to ascribe a likely and reasonable meaning to the sentence, the grammaticality of the sentence is concrete despite being the first time a person had ever uttered the statement, or any part thereof in such a combination. This was used then as a counter-example to the idea that the human speech engine was based upon statistical models, such as a Markov chain, or simple statistics of words following others.

via Wikipedia

A small Chinese village called Xiaogang

So, in the winter of 1978, after another terrible harvest, they came up with an idea: Rather than farm as a collective, each family would get to farm its own plot of land. If a family grew a lot of food, that family could keep some of the harvest.

This is an old idea, of course. But in communist China of 1978, it was so dangerous that the farmers had to gather in secret to discuss it.
One evening, they snuck in one by one to a farmer’s home. Like all of the houses in the village, it had dirt floors, mud walls and a straw roof. No plumbing, no electricity.

“Most people said ‘Yes, we want do it,'” says Yen Hongchang, another farmer who was there. “But there were others who said ‘I dont think this will work — this is like high voltage wire.’ Back then, farmers had never seen electricity, but they’d heard about it. They knew if you touched it, you would die.”

Despite the risks, they decided they had to try this experiment — and to write it down as a formal contract, so everyone would be bound to it. By the light of an oil lamp, Yen Hongchang wrote out the contract.

Today, the Chinese government is clearly proud of what happened in Xiaogang. That contract is now in a museum. And the village has become this origin story that kids in China learn about in school.

The Secret Document That Transformed China (via NPR)

Under Their Thumb.

… “He’s vit me!” And it worked. Before I knew it, I was onstage with the Rolling Stones.

Freddy led me to a cubbyhole, right next to the backup singers. It held a dozen or so people and was sort of like a baseball dugout. Jerry Hall was in there, and so was Keith’s dad. We were getting a slightly skewed view

For better or worse, I was seeing what the Stones see. And it helped me understand why rock stars get fucked up. Being in front of 60,000 screaming fans for two hours can be an overwhelming experience. There is no way to healthily match that intensity when the tour is over and you’re home in your slippers eating corn flakes.”
Under Their Thumb, Bill German

Poe – Desultory Notes on Cats

“Cats were first invented in the garden of Eden. According to the Rabbins, Eve had a pet cat, called Pusey, and from that circumstance arose a sect of cat-worshippers among the Eastern nations, called Puseyites, a sect which, it is said, is still in existence somewhere. When rats began to be troublesome, Adam gave the first pair of cats six lessons in the art of catching them; and since then the knowledge has been retained. The Greeks spelled cat with a k, and the French put an h into it; the pure English scholar will not heed such ignorance, but will keep to the right orthography. In the time of Chaucer, cataract was spelt caterect; but what analogy there is between a cat getting up in the world and water falling down in it, it is difficult to say. The introduction of the cat into cat-aplasm, cat-egory, &c., is unauthorized; it is without the knowledge or consent of the parties, and has no meaning. Cat-nip, on the contrary, has a signification; it bears the same relation to the animal economy of the cat that Pease’s hoarhound candy does to that of the animal economy of man. It is mentioned that a gentleman in the pursuit of knowledge under difficulties, wishes to know what is the reason that cats which have that within them which contains such divine melody, should make such execrable music themselves? The answer to this, perhaps, is simple. Cats are modest. They make no show of accomplishments. You never hear of a learned cat. Learned pigs, bears and dogs, who can tell what time of day it is, and how many spectators are present (which last is easily told, to the sorrow of the showman,) are common. But who ever heard of a learned cat? A cat pretends to no knowledge, not even to that of the piano and singing. If you kill her you may prepare a physical essence, so to speak, which, if stretched and relined, may have a divine effect. It is probably the departed spirit refined down to a single string, and making simple melody, whereas, in the original, the strings were interlinked and confused, so that they produced necessarily discordant sounds; to say nothing of their being vulgarly alive, and in a raw state of nature.

This explanation seems clear. A young cat or kitten is graceful; her chief occupation is chasing her tail, but her tail will not stay chased. Very little children adore very little cats. But when the children, if boys, grow bigger, and learn the humanities at school, all about Draco, Alexander and Cæsar, they change towards cats, and kill them whenever sport prompts them to do so. Among the saws, is one that persecution makes that thrive which it seeks to subdue. This is a slight mistake. In the case of rats, which cats persecute, persecution ever thins their numbers. It is only when persecution is half way, or has a spice of charity, that it does what the saw says. Not only in the case of rats, but of Indians, is this shown to be a false saw. The Indians have been persecuted with fire, whiskey and sword, and they are nearly exterminated. It is only when the cat is in love that she makes a fool of herself. It is then, that, forgetting all other considerations in the fullness of her heart, the cat plays, unconsciously, the troubadour. (We apply the feminine gender and pronoun to cats, because all cats are she; in the same way that all sluts and mares are called he, a peculiar beauty of the English language.) The serenading cat makes a noise like an infant with the cholic, for which it is often mistaken. Both sexes of cats sport whiskers and moustaches; whether the actual she cats will ever change the fashion, as it applies to them, after it has so long prevailed, is doubtful. One of the brightest pages in English Annals, is the History of Whittington and his Cat. We know a boy, who has a cat, and says he intends hereafter to be Mayor of Philadelphia. Not the slightest objection to it. ”

Edgar Allan Poe.

Flagstaff over Hollywood? Things could have been different.

“In 1913 Cecil B. DeMille was looking for a place to shoot a western, The Squaw Man. He was living in New York City, so he boarded a train heading west and got off at Flagstaff, Arizona. Surprisingly, the weather was bad there. He sent a telegram to his partners back east, Jessy Lasky and Sam Goldfish (later Goldwyn): “Flagstaff no good. Want authority to rent barn for $75 a month in place called Hollywood.” The yellow barn was at Selma and Vine streets and was still being used for horses. The Squaw Man was released a year later, and is one of the first full-length films made in Hollywood. It was certainly the most successful. In 1926 the barn was moved to the United Studios on Marathon and Van Ness Streets, which soon became the home of Paramount Pictures.

If the weather in Flagstaff hadn’t been bad, if the barn in Hollywood hadn’t been for rent, if The Squaw Man had not been a hit, there wouldn’t have been a Hollywood. In later years the old weather-beaten barn in which The Squaw Man was photographed was converted into a gymnasium on the Paramount lot, equipped with weights, mats, rings, chin-up bars, and, most important: the best steam room in Los Angeles. From the time of its reincarnation as the Paramount gym, the man who ran it was a short, bald, good-natured fellow named Orlando Perry, or Perry Orlando – not even he was sure of which was correct. I got to know Perry and his gym when I was directing Good Times on the Paramount lot. I remained a regular for sixteen years, until the old barn was designated a landmark, moved off the lot, and relocated opposite the Hollywood Bowl, where it is now the Hollywood Heritage Museum.”

Friedkin, William. The Friedkin Connection: A Memoir.

OCR App demo

Q – What’s a good Document Scanning app for my phone?
A – Office Lens
See test run below.

Phone Camera image:
BookImageOCRDemo

Resulting text:
The shift-to-contrast reflex is designed so that it is suppressed when neurons in the central processing part of the model are firing at a high rate. When the firing rate drops off, say through fatigue, the reflex is released. We can, somewhat fancifully, think that the reflex is released when central processing is tired of (bored with) the current observation. For simple geometric figures, the net effect of the reflex is to cause the eye to shift to a new vertex of the observed figure.

Testing with this. Check it out.

Technology Bigot

TECHNOLOGY BIGOT –
noun
tech·nol·o·gy big·ot \ tek-ˈnä-lə-jē bi-gət \

Definition of TECHNOLOGY BIGOT
An individual who believes that their particular approach to a technical problem is the only one.

Example of TECHNOLOGY BIGOT in a sentence
“I get it, you like Oracle databases. But do you ever ask yourself if you’re just another TECHNOLOGY BIGOT?”

Memorial Day

The Civil War, which ended in the spring of 1865, claimed more lives than any conflict in U.S. history and required the establishment of the country’s first national cemeteries.
By the late 1860s, Americans in various towns and cities had begun holding springtime tributes to these countless fallen soldiers, decorating their graves with flowers and reciting prayers.

Anamnesis

In philosophy, anamnesis (/ˌænæmˈniːsɪs/; Ancient Greek: ἀνάμνησις) is a concept in Plato’s epistemological and psychological theory that he develops in his dialogues Meno and Phaedo, and alludes to in his Phaedrus.

It is the idea that humans possess knowledge from past incarnations and that learning consists of rediscovering that knowledge within us.

via Wikipedia

Bad Sentences Contest

But enough about borderline cases—​let’s get to the winner of the 2018 Lyttle Lytton Contest:

As I felt the vampire sexily drinking the blood from my neck, the warmth between my legs grew both in wetness and in fear for my life.
Cole Borsch

My lamestream friends told me to start dating again, but I knew the jet fuel of love couldn’t melt the steel beams of my heart.
Klaus Virtanen

“It looks like this continent is out of water,” I said in Antarctica, as a rookery of penguins waddled thirstily by.
Ally Walker

Texas “Cheap Shot” Jack, the famous Newark poker player, sighed about his life. Matters of the heart—​unlike the hearts he held in his hand—​could not be folded so easily.
Sam Coppini

http://adamcadre.ac/18lyttle.html

Aristides the Just

Plutarch recounts how Aristides the Just would help the illiterate record their votes for the person to be ostracized from Athens each year. Someone once asked him to write down “Aristides.” Since the man was illiterate, Aristides could have written down anything, but performed the task honestly. When he asked why the man wanted to ostracize Aristides, he replied: “Simply because: I am sick and tired of hearing him called ‘the Just.’ ”

An aside from an article on Dostoevsky’s The Idiot, “The Idiot” savant by Gary Saul Morson