I used to live there. Worst year I spent in Minneapolis. Took this shot as I was coming off 35W, testing the new camera. It gets all the lovely details, like the striations in the concrete. The Mixed Blood is a theatrer formerly a firehouse. Most of the area was destroyed by a freeway, urban renewal, and this dystopian complex - which is getting Strange New Respect these days, I guess. The optimism of the "new town in town" idea. The original plan to mix up various income groups. Some areas were nice when I was there, but my building had bugs. Zillions of them, Mr. Rico.
Good weekend, but cold. I cleaned out cupboards and wiped away grot and checked all the spices, because I don't want to be one of those old people who has cloves that expired 12 years ago. THEY'RE STILL GOOD! No, dad, they're not. Sit down and just let me do this. I think when we cleaned out my Dad's house he may have had both Schilling and McCormick spices, which might be the sign of someone who lives in the middle of the country. Why? Answer that one in the comments.
I was watching a movie about dinosaurs in 2023 ruining things in general and in specific, and I hit the Kweepa Point about five minutes in.
The Kweepa Point is the moment where you give up and cease to care. It’s a term I coined, thankyouverymuch, from the Infocom text adventure “Leather Goddesses of Phobos.” You were in some watery passage carrying something heavy, and you had to type a variant of “Clap hop kweepa” over and over to get through it. Difficult and frustrating, and I gave up. I had a similar moment in a text adventure about an island where I got dengue fever (it’s bad) and couldn’t get into the jungle to cut vines to tie something together. I ceased to care.
The Kweepa Point had our hero, Chris - no, the other Chris - lassoing a huge Dino, wrapping the steel cable around a tree stump, and stopping the twenty-ton beast. (Which he leads back to camp like a chastened dog because he has Dino Whispering powers.) There were other ways to do this scene that would give it the heft of reality. Some blunt solution, overlapping dialogue, tired guys who didn’t want to get the trailer to bring the dino back but did so anyway because that was their job. The things Howard Hawks got right in the original “Thing” and James Cameron tried to do in “Abyss.”
But that wasn’t the main Kweepa. Was it the revelation that the eeeevil corporation was sending clouds of genetically-modified super locusts to eat its competitor’s non-GMO crops? No, because evil tech guy who is going to kill everyone Because Technology is a given in these movies. Crop modification has been going on for millennia. The Green Revolutions saved millions from starvation. But say “genetically modified crops” and the audience is expected to nod along and think that’s bad, man, that’s L-7, that’s Herbert. Bastards want to control everything so we get cancer and then they sell us the drugs that don’t cure it. (Shakes another hard Dot out of the theater-sized box, strokes chinhair)
Well, if you want an example of technology killing something natural, take a look at modern action movies.
I remember the first Jurassic Park. It was literally awesome. Of course, we’d never seen such things. Of course, it helped that all the characters were new. Of course, it benefited from that oddly second-rate John Williams theme, which belonged in the adagio movement in the third symphony from a minor British composer, but added grandeur and beauty to the movie. The movie had focus, and while it may have cut back and forth between locations, it took place on the same island. It seemed to be whole. Night fell. People slept.
I did like the first in the reboot trilogy, and was bored by the second because everything was always happening and nothing mattered because nothing was at stake and everyone seemed superhuman. Just get some big guns and shoot their got-damned heads off for chrissakes. Can you do that? No? And now you’re on the roof in the rain and a raptor is hissing at you? Don’t come crying to me.
The movie has some good set-pieces, but that’s what you end up saying: not "compelling story and fascinating culture or sharp dialogue that reveals character," but "good set-pieces." Stuff happens. You know none of it's real, and none of it matters. Since we’ve been expecting good set-pieces for a long time, that means the ante is ever up-up-upped so they’re longer, and consequently less believable. They’re designed to jolt the jaded, or make the fandorks say “sweet” and vow to get the Blu-Ray and study the clip frame by frame to highlight how the CGI worked on the skin on the leg of the pursuing raptor. Really man props to the rigging crew here this is prime work.
I'll take a little of that, if they don't ask me to swallow any more. But they do. Again and again. Not just with the action, but the characters. Here's an old cargo plane owned and operated by a supermodel with salon hair and fresh makeup! We had previously met her in a scummy subterranean Dino-fighting den, where she was a mercenary and Dino-trader and all-around Han Solo type. She is a completely unbelievable character. A box-ticker.
It’s just junk. Noisy, rote, quippy junk, populated by archetypes so removed from their original reference points that we do not expect them to act like human beings.
When we first saw Indy, we bought it. We were instantly convinced. Because there was a rock rolling down. Because he was hanging in a real pit. Now it’s not necessary for us to want to believe. We’re just expected to sit back and ride the ride, and when it’s over, relief. We have duly consumed the latest iteration of the intellectual property. Anything else on?
And now, the second in our 2023 monthly feature about . . .
A newspaper syndicate in 1922 asked a variety of thinkers and notables what the world would be like in a hundred years. Let's see how that played out.
Marion Burton? Really. He was indeed the president of the U of Michigan, but he did a stint at the U of M, and Burton Hall, the great severe Greek temple, was named after him.
He says the one-size-fits-all model doesn’t work, and students should be allowed to zero in on one subject.
Somehow I think that was possible then, no? At least in college. Didn’t people graduate with degrees in chemistry or engineering or law? Or did they just pump ‘em out with the same set of knowledge, and the grads decided they wanted to be a doctor, or an art teacher? I don’t quite understand.
The most generic noir title ever? No, that might be the Big Corner.
Let’s see what sort of noir pleasures await us . . .
Oh for heaven’s sake, Street Scene again. How many times did they use it. Anyway, it begins with this shot . . .
Third and Grand, eh. No sign of the El today, of course.
But. William Bendix, of course. He looks up:
Son of a gun.
Well, let’s get to it. A police detective comes to the private detective’s office, and here’s the reason I wanted to watch this: I remember her in this role, for some reason.
The view out of the office is correct. Modern street view, overlaid:
He goes into the next room, turning to the right because he has a corner office . . .
None of this is necessary, but they did it.
I’ve never seen, or perhaps never noticed, such a match. This wasn’t necessary, was it? Who’d notice if they didn’t shoot it all on location?
Was this rear-projection, or on site? Seems unlikely they got the whole movie-making crew in the office.
There’s a scene at an art gallery. IMDB gives us the location. Here:
Thanks to the movie, we can see inside. A reminder of the vast number of interior spaces in New York we’ll never see.
Unless we call it up on Google, that is. It’s the James A Burden House.
In 1901, William D. Sloane, of the W. & J. Sloane furniture family, purchased this property from Andrew Carnegie. Soon after, he commissioned the architects Warren & Wetmore to design a house as a wedding present for his daughter Adele, who married James A. Burden Jr., heir to the Burden Iron Works.
His son would go on to found Marineworld in Florida.
Oh CRAP Times Square, now we have to do this.
Childs was on the NW corner of Broadway and 46th.
Anyway. It's a fine film. Bendix is great; he often plays brutes, but there’s a cruelty to his performance here.
I love this piece of dialogue. Audiences at the time would have got the reference. Do you? (Hint: Steve.)
The movie eventually returns to the office, and our hero looks out the window:
You can still find the New York of this movie, but perhaps it’s best that you don’t.
Oh, the movie itself? I said it was noir. Was it?
That'll do! Off on another week. See you around.