Buster Keaton’s Best, Funniest Movie

I love Buster Keaton–nearly 100 years on, his movies are still some of the most amazing, hilarious, creative, and wild ones out there.

Earlier this year, I showed my family his little masterpiece Sherlock Jr. At only 45 minutes, it didn’t strain anyone’s attention span, nor did the lack of dialogue confuse even the youngest kids.

The jokes, the stunts, and a very early bit of meta-commentary on film itself make this one of my favorite movies. The kids, too, have asked to see it again since then. Enjoy!

 

Here’s a great analysis of Keaton’s work and legacy:

White Joke

Today I read my American Lit kids an essay by a French man who visited the American colonies and famously described their multicultural diversity:

He is neither an European, nor the descendant of an European; hence that strange mixture of blood, which you will find in no other country. I could point out to you a family whose grandfather was an Englishman, whose wife was Dutch, whose son married a French woman, and whose present four sons have now four wives of different nations.

After which I commented, “That should have been their motto: Colonial America–where a white person is free to marry a slightly different kind of white person.”

This might end up being the best received joke I tell all year.

Stolen From The Library

I was just looking at my library district’s web page to see which branches have copies of some movies I’m looking to check out over the long weekend. One of them is The Expendables 3. Below is a screen shot of part of the results page for that one.

This is hilarious. Look how many copies were checked out and never returned! (Those are the ones marked “billed.”) Between this and the other branches shown on the rest of that page, there are dozens of copies borrowed and kept forever.

I’ve seen this note on other movies before, but never in quantities like this.

So, what is it about The Expendables 3 that makes so many people check it out and keep it?

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The Fake Flanders Bible

By1mwXIIMAAvSBeIt’s been more than 20 years since the episode of The Simpsons aired where Bart and Lisa have to play Bible Bombardment with the Flanders family, leading an exasperated Ned to demand of the Simpson children, “Don’t you know anything? The Serpent of Rehoboam? The Well of Zohassadar? The Bridal Feast of Beth Chadruharazzeb?”

I don’t recognize any of those references, so I finally decided to look them up, and…nothing. I can’t find them in the Bible anywhere. Clearly, Ned Flanders is such a serious scholar that he knows about secret parts of the text that the rest of us can’t find.

*sigh* This is even more disappointing than when I saw Pulp Fiction and went home to look up Ezekiel 25:17. Alas, it’s not even close to the real thing.

R.I.P. Trump

The word, of course, not the celebrity. It’s become appallingly clear that we can no longer use the verb “trump” literally, as in “My evidence trumps yours,” because of the taint associated with the name now. A sad loss. It was a great word.

I don’t expect it to be resurrected any time soon. Several years later, I still can’t refer to that darkening period at the end of the day–“twilight”–without students giggling. And don’t even try to address an issue by suggesting that it has “shades of gray.”

My Students Feel Hester Prynne’s Pain

My juniors just started reading The Scarlet Letter, that tale of the poor Puritan Hester Prynne, who has an affair, gets pregnant, and is subsequently shamed by society ever after. In chapter 2, she must mount a scaffold and spend part of the day being stared at and scorned by the entire town, in an act of public shaming meant to punish her sin.

After reading that part with them, I asked my class, “Can you imagine what that must have felt like for Hester? To be forced to stand on a stage while a thousand people stare and judge you for your human mistakes?”

They all looked a bit amused as the answer to my clumsy rhetorical question finally became clear to me.

You see, I teach at a school for the performing arts.

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Paperback Inflation?

Last week I was browsing in a thrift shop for used books. I spotted this old edition of Tess of the D’urbervilles, which is marked with a sticker for the low, low price of 75¢. Of course, that discount is actually a fifteen cent increase over the original cover price, which is clearly visible next to the sticker. Yes, folks, apparently this old book is worth more used than it was when it was new. That’s the economy for you.

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The Simpsons and the San Bernardino Shooting

Dracula

The media and government’s response to things like the San Bernardino shooting reminds me of this scene from the “Treehouse of Horror IV” episode of The Simpsons:

News anchor Kent Brockman: Another local peasant has been found dead, drained of his blood with two teeth marks on his throat. This black cape [clearly marked “Dracula”] was found on the scene. Police are baffled.
Police Chief Wiggum: We think we’re dealing with a supernatural being, most likely a mummy. As a precaution, I’ve ordered the Egyptian wing of the Springfield museum destroyed.

In our case, I suppose it plays out like this:

Mainstream media: Another mass shooting has occurred, in a well-planned and coordinated attack. Pro-ISIS propaganda was found posted online by the suspects, and their house was full of pipe bombs. The motive is unclear.
President Obama: We think we’re dealing with racist conservatives, most likely Christians. As a precaution, I’m going to demonize them and push for even more gun control.

I realize I just compared President Obama to police chief Wiggum. My apologies to police chief Wiggum.

Dear Reporters of the Future: Here’s the Scandalous Dirt on Huston!

So, you’re a reporter and at some point I’ve become a figure of public note. Anything’s possible.

For whatever reason, society has become aware of me, and it’s your job to provide the details that will disgrace me, because that’s how the media works.

But that requires endless hours of tedious online research, digging into every little thing I’ve ever done. And this blog alone has over 1500 entries! What’s the busy would-be muckraker with a calendar full of Internet porn to do?

Well, look no further! As a service to the journalists, pundits, and (who knows?) rival campaign staffers of the future, here, in one handy-dandy collection, is a treasure trove of quotes that you can use to embarrass me in front of the tabloid headline-addicted world.

Sure, you’ll have to take them out of context and selectively edit them, but you’re part of the press! That’s what you do.

 

 

“I hate all the      

problems society gives to

minorities.”

“I enjoy sleeping with

my family at home at night while all the other families and

children

sleep in their homes.”

“I support killing

any attempt to censor the views of

my political opponents.”

Star Wars Episode I was

not

a really good movie.”

 

 

That last one alone should get any target demographic to rally against me!