Tuesday, January 23, 2007

My Off-Topic is Less On Topic Than Your Off-Topic

Curse of the Golden Flowers:

Hey, Chow Yun-Fat didn't fly on a wire once, nor deliver a single Shadowless Kick! What kind of kung-fu movie is this? The answer, of course, is no kind of a kung-fu movie at all (but... but... Chow Yun-Fat! I feel so cheated). It's actually more a Kurosawa-does-Shakespeare cum Sophocles-on-steroids absurdly-over-the-top incest-fratricide-and-treason with crazy-silent-spider-ninjas dropping-randomly-from-the-sky with deadly-hooked-blades-on-ropes sort of movie, and a dead insanely gorgeous one to look at -- unquestionably the best and most beautiful Kurosawa-does-Shakespeare cum Sophocles-on-steroids absurdly-over-the-top incest-fratricide-and-treason with crazy-silent-spider-ninjas dropping-randomly-from-the-sky with deadly-hooked-blades-on-ropes movie I've ever seen -- but consider yourself warned. Not a Shadowless Kicker, Drunken Boxer or Ass-kicking Renegade from the Shao-lin temple in sight.

Roughly and incidentally, my list of five best kung-fu movies ever: Iron Monkey, Legend of the Drunken Master (aka Drunken Master II [sorry, can't resist the akas]), Fist of Legend, Hero, and the unquestioned greatest of them all, Once Upon a Time in China (aka Wong Fei Hung.) (The sequel is pretty kick-ass too, but later installments get slightly depressing. Law of diminishing yadda yadda.)

Note that three of the movies on the list feature the same character, portrayed by three different actors: Wong Fei Hung. I never made this connection until a few months back when I first watched Iron Monkey, and was wondering to myself why so many kung-fu masters in these movies are also doctors. "I wonder what that means?" I mulled to myself. "Must mean something."

Turns out that it means I'm a little slow and don't pay enough attention ("All those chinese names sound the same to me" -- oops!).

Speaking of retards, beeen mulling now and then over Gregor's eugenics post, and it occured to me that if I were to compile a list of types of human beings the world would be better off for not having been born -- which I wouldn't, but if I did -- not only would the mentally and/or physically handicapped not be on the list, it wouldn't even be a relevant category (if you see what I mean. What an awful inept sentence, btw).

21 comments:

JohnMcG said...

-- Missed Studio 60 last night. Anyone who watched it have any thoughts?

-- Mark Schmitt, J. Goodrich, and Matthew Yglesias say we shouldn't refer to Senator Clinton as "Hillary." I can see their point. I remember a similar dust-up in the Fray over referring to the first Fray Editor by her first name when responding to an article she had written.

There's probably some sexism under the covers there, as I think we might assume more familiarity with women than with men, and I think Senator Clinton and her campaign see this familiarity as part of her appeal. But it's also that women tend to have more distinctive names than men, and Senator Clinton has a more famous husband.

Anyway, thought I'd toss that out there..

twiffer said...

bacon: soup is good

john: does this mean we shouldn't be calling the prez "dubya"?

the Reverend Bacon said...

twiffer: unacceptable generalization. The shredded duck soup at Ha Noi Phoi on the corner is great. The hot and sour soup at the same place is even better. The french onion soup I frequently make is sometimes great, sometimes merely good, but many other soups are not so good at all -- no, sir, not so good at all (that's right, I'm looking at you, Campbell's Cream of Celery).

John: It's the style of the time. But I remember the good old days when you could get a quart of ice cream for a nickel and the press only photgraphed FDR from the waist up. In those days we used to get an onion in the toe of our Christmas stockings, and we were happy about it, too. "Oh, boy, a Christmas onion!" we'd say, "Thank you, sir, thank you, ma'am" -- because we called our Mother and Father "Ma'am" and "Sir" in those days, or no onions for us, I'll tell ya...

JohnMcG said...

Did you use the onion to make soup?

It's a double-edged sword -- politicians aim for a folksy charm that includes this phony familiarity -- hence nicknmaes like "Dubya." I think this is one of the things the last two Democratic nominees failed to do (not that we should be choosing our president based on that, but it's no use denying it, either).

But it can backfire too, which is what I think the "don't call her Hillary" crowd is afraid of. Bush I think was able to borrow gravitas from his father's name and Cheney.

symbnt said...

On Topic: Did some work on your post, but had to guess in places, so check it. Try working in “Edit Html” mode (upper right tab). Also redid/did your labels.

On eugenics and Gregor’s question, I couldn’t help but wonder what I’d do if I were in charge of deciding who gets on the last chance for humanity space ark and who doesn’t.

On Hillary, well, I only know of one, unless we're talking about movie stars, but unless they're in politics too...

the Reverend Bacon said...

symbnt: thanks for the editing assist. I'll get up to speed eventually, I'm sure. I've been meaning to ask, could you add a link to the SportsNut Fray over there?

On the eugenics questions, I think we all reflexively assume that of course we would select for fitness if... (adding "But that would be wrong.") It only recently occured to me (thanks, Gregor) that this is completely wrongheaded. Mere survival is an absurd and empty goal, a valueless endeavour doomed to eventual failure, whether you speak on an individual or a species basis -- so investing value on fitness-to-survive over/instead of other qualities is basically playing by house rules (according to which we always lose in the end).

That makes no sense, I suppose. But I knew what I meant when I started it.

switters said...

House of Flying Daggers. Still, best Kung Fu movie of all time? The Matrix, and then Shanghai Surprise as a very close second.

[steps out of the way]

Studio 60? John, it was part 1 of a 3-parter. A bit slow, but I sense they're really taking their time with the "love as non-love interest" bit. I don't care what any of you (pardon my French) yahoos say: It's the best show on network television. They're also paving the driveway for Tom Jeter and the token British writerette to do some (more French) "hooking up".

Dave Attell on retards (rerun):

You ever black out when you're drinking? Or, as I like to call it, "time travel"? You're at a bar, you're drinking, you black out… You wake up, you're at another bar, you're drinking, you black out. You wake up, you're at McDonald's… been workin' there 3 years, still haven't made assistant manager. You wanna quit, but you're bangin' that girl on the Fryolator…They say she's retarded, but those titties ain't retarded…

What?! Best of the Fray not working? Again? That can't be. I don't get it.

This evening I'll have to have the exact right amount of parts beer to pot flowing gracefully through my veings at exactly 8 PM CST so that American Idol morphs seamlessly into our president talking to the senate and congress, as if (if I'm lucky) he's actually auditioning. It won't be easy. But, at the very least, it's one of those things that if you never try, even just once, you'll regret it for the rest of your entire life.

symbnt said...

The edit is no problem. I only mention it because I’d hate for anyone to start believing in magic because of me. Back to eugenics, I’m tempted to point out that many of humanities greatest achievements were the products of less than perfect people. But another way of looking at the ark question is you could, technically, cure a millennia’s worth of maladies and disease in one fell swoop. Now who wouldn’t want to do that?

JohnMcG said...


This evening I'll have to have the exact right amount of parts beer to pot flowing gracefully through my veings at exactly 8 PM CST so that American Idol morphs seamlessly into our president talking to the senate and congress, as if (if I'm lucky) he's actually auditioning.


Sounds like a an SNL skit.

Bush -- "Hi, I'm George, and today I'm going to be perforuming, "SOTU 2007 -- Fighting terror and securing the future of America."

Randy -- "Ok, let's see what you got."

Bush -- "Today, our nation faces new challenges."

Simon -- "Hold it right there. What on God's green earth made you think you're ready to be president."

Paula -- "I really appreciate your spirit..."

Gregor Samsa said...

Bacon:

I suppose I wasn’t very clear. I’m not really too keen on ushering a new-and-improved eugenics. In part, I was criticizing you for redundancy. Perhaps it’s just me, but writing a scorching criticism of the politics of Ghengiz Khan strikes me as a bit of a waste of time. On the other hand, a more generous reading of your post would be that you were poking at more contemporary practices in the guise of attacking a boogey(wo)man. I was prodding you to reveal what these concealed targets are.

Viewed more broadly, eugenics is an attempt to socially control the distribution of (more or less innate?) traits in a society. Is it morally acceptable for the state to wield control over reproductive choices via incentives or propaganda rather than coercion? Some European countries (and Quebec too, if I recall) provide fertility incentives in response to slowing population growth, instead of opening their doors to willing outsiders. The US and Canada curtail immigration far below what would be socially disruptive, and apply very strict criteria in selection (education, wealth, health, age, etc., which are not uncorrelated with innate characteristics like intelligence). Will it be too much of a rhetorical overreach to call immigration policy the new eugenics?

In the context of the Third World, almost everyone seems to agree that population pressure is a problem, and that reproductive freedom is sacrosanct, but then turn their backs to the obvious conflict. Twiffer (and others) framed their objection in terms of the violation of reproductive rights. China’s skewed sex ratio is surely attributable to individual preferences responding (selective abortion) to the One Child policy, which at least officially, is based on financial incentives, not coercion. Many other poorer Asian nations with less aggressive population control policies have the same gender imbalance and for the same reason (parental sexism). What would you call a government that intervenes in these prejudiced (?) choices: a tyrant or an enlightened state?

Ender:

BOTF nowadays resembles an inner city after suburban flight. Are you sure you’re not killing the goose that lays the golden egg (well, brass eggs perhaps)? For now, I prefer to post with one hand tied behind my back, but I’ll let you know if I feel inclined to participate more actively.

topazz said...

Well John, this explains a lot. I didn't realize you imbibed in pot regularly.





(Kidding. just looking at the sidebar comments, it appears as though YOU said what you quoted in italics)

But while I'm here, I have another off-topic topic: If any of you have a dog, what did you name it? I'm asking because our neighbors just named their new dog "Gunga Din", and it sounds really stupid to hear them yelling it when the dog is outside in the yard. Our dog was already named when we got her ("Bailey" - kind of dull as names go)

Not much, but that's all I got today.

Keifus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gregor Samsa said...

Topazz:

If you ever get a new dog, I suggest the name: Maharaja of Gaipajama (Gap for short, but only in private).

topazz said...

Very funny, Gregor...and may I suggest if YOU ever get a dog, to name it Alvy Singer.

Anonymous said...

Gregor---Tintin reference? There's always "Snowy"....

the Reverend Bacon said...

Gregor: Oh. Umm... I think you should generally assume that my posts are/I am shallower than that, you'll be misled and disappointed less.

I mean, "On the other hand, a more generous reading of your post would be that you were poking at more contemporary practices in the guise of attacking a boogey(wo)man. I was prodding you to reveal what these concealed targets are..."

I really was just bored in class and delighted by the hilarious quotes, especially the wonderful phrase "menace of the feeble-minded" -- and then started free associating about how funny a poker-faced Insidious Dr Fu-Manchu style story would be, with retards for villains -- and then thought it would a funny anecdote for a post...

Umm... sorry?

[awkward silence]

"Will it be too much of a rhetorical overreach to call immigration policy the new eugenics?"

No, I think that's pretty apt. Generally I'm in favour of open immigration policies on the David Mamet principle (pseudo-quoting from memory) -- "uncontrolled immigration would no doubt bring us hardships, but it would also bring us something more valuable -- humility before God." (Essay in I think Some Freaks, if memory serves.)

Anyway, my argument today wasn't against imaginary-eugenics (a non-issue, as you point out) but against our assumptions of what constitutes "fitness" when the topic of imaginary-eugenics comes up. Assumptions which are, I think, essentially atavistic. (I mean, whether you're for or against eugenics, both sides are automatically assuming that disease and disabilities are what's at stake and that humans would be better off without them -- while I'm saying that's a) only doubtfully true the way society is currently constituted (eg consider how much gainful employment retards provide), and b)a self-limiting way of thinking anyway.

Blah blah blah

symbnt said...

topazz: My dog is named Milo (wasn’t me, kids and wife and something to do with Ace Ventura and a milo and otis [see my cat] movie). As for dog names, I heard the other day and am now quite fond of “Diogee”.

Gregor: Wasn’t me. As for thinking of stuff for other people to do, I at least recognize that that’s what I’m doing. If you suspect you might like to contribute at some point, I would suggest you get the signing up part of it out of the way since it’s not quite fully automated.

twiffer said...

bacon: campbell's t'aint soup. no sir. none of that stuff that comes in cans is really soup.

gregor: too many notes.

Schadenfreude said...

I hate fishing, too (although I suppose that non-sequiturs are less off-topic than just plain odd).

Eugenics is for the birds.

Hillary is Hillary like Teddy is Teddy (although Hillary has yet to drown an intern).

topazz said...

well, if you're only talking "drown an intern" in the traditional sense (i.e. a lake or pond in Cape Cod) then...no.

Geoff said...

Bacon: You need a word. Cacogenics.

Topazz: I never had a dog, but my brother used to bark and beg for food under the table. We called him "Copper."