Print Story 2008.01.24: It's alpha and omega's kingdom come
By BlueOregon (Thu Jan 24, 2008 at 06:07:19 PM EST) (all tags)

Beer leads to more beer.

Math rocks. Always: The 85 Ways to Tie a Tie (courtesy of ni). Prolific author Edward D. Hoch is dead; I'd never heard of him, either.

And the whirlwind is in the thorn trees
The virgins are all trimming their wicks
The whirlwind is in the thorn trees
It's hard for thee to kick against the pricks
Till Armageddon no shalam no shalom

Inside: The day in review (movies, work, etc.), briefly.


The schedule goes as follows: four times a year we submit manuscript segments to the copy editor; the copy editor edits, checks details, in other words does her job; she passes the manuscript segments to our man at the press, who gives things to the compositors & Co.; the results are sent to the proper editors, including our office; corrections are made and resubmitted to the press for tweaking; a final copy is sent to our office for final tweaking before we print.

We can throw around some terms like "proofs," "galleys" and "blues" (or "bluelines"), but they're immaterial. The point is that things go from us to the copy editor to the press, back to us, back to the press, back to us, back to the press, and to the actual printing. Those final proofs are just to make sure everything is A-Okay ... we don't actually want to change anything at that point. So lets go back to the first set of proofs.

The press contacted $DEMIURGE a while back and asked, "Hey $DEMIURGE, so, how'd you like those proofs? Pretty nifty compositing and editing, eh? You like, you like?" And $DEMIURGE, always respectful, this one, replied, "Um, dude, I never got them. You gonna send me the proofs so I can look over the TOC (Table of Contents), and all that schi-schnazzle?" Weeks later, press dude gets back to us: "So, where are you corrections to the proofs? Also, why haven't I gotten corrections to the proofs from the various editors?" An editor emails me and asks, "Hey BlueOregon, you overworked editing stud, you, um, have you heard, am I getting proofs, because, you know, I'd kinda like to look over them? Isn't it a bit late?" Proofs aren't in my baileywick, but I bring up the topic with $DEMIURGE, who goes all Mt. St. Helens, but luckily pointed not at me or Idaho but at Canada, and she exclaims, "$EDITOR, too? Double-you-tee-ef-mate?!"

We inquire, we send probing emails, we get responses, and we put the pieces together.

We still use ftp, or rather, the press does. $DEMIURGE gets her corrected proofs (same as what the press gets from the editors) from said site. Press dude had gotten proofs back from most of the editors, but never put them on the ftp server for $DEMIURGE to download, but had the temerity to ask of $DEMIURGE why she hadn't returned the corrected proofs he'd failed to provide to her. But his disregard for danger, the danger of angering Mt. St. Helens, is explained in that his office is in midtown Manhattan or such and thus not close to said volcano. But oh they'll meet at a conference. So just this last week $DEMIURGE got the corrected proofs and had a chance to go over them. Fine tooth comb and all. Searching for lice. It's forensic science, but without a blood-splatter expert like Dexter, though I must say, he'd come in handy, and my brother's dog was named Dexter.

Today press dude's compositor colleague emails $DEMIURGE and says, "Hey, so, where are the corrected proofs? We've been waiting for you to return them for weeks; why are you late?" But the compositor also works in a different state and was thus spared death by glare.

Days Without:

  • Alcohol: 24
  • Ice Cream: 24
  • Finishing a book: 2
  • Finishing a comic: 0
  • ...?

Astonishing X-Men No. 24 is out; Warren Ellis will be the next writer when it resumes, so I hear. I meant to read today, but work, a movie, and other matter (damned fire alarm) conspired against me, but the day is not out. A burrito was my big food item for the day; it's amazing how many calories a burrito from Qdoba and similar places has ... of course, about 340 calories for the tortilla alone does not help.

Tomorrow's Friday, so perhaps then I can have dessert.


D and I were late.

I was late getting out of my office; D underestimated how long it would take to get the cinema given the renewed mid-afternoon traffic during the semester. We got to the parking lot just as the movie was supposed to start; this would not be a problem, generally, but this theater has a tendency to start the trailers well before the movie's start time so the movie itself can start on time. We didn't want to miss the beginning; we'd have rather seen another movie or come back later, post-lunch, for a later showing ... but it was close. The parking lot was not full, there was only one person ahead of us for tickets, and she wanted the same movie. And she asked whether it had started; the reply suggested "perhaps," but since that person chose to chance it, I became the Decider and threw caution to the wind—one ticket, I said, and handed cashier lady my debit card.

I wish I could say that we then ran to our theater, eager, and that we breathlessly entered the cinema just as the the film began, but that's not exactly how it happened. Instead, I had to rush to the restroom. Two-plus hours in the theater without a bathroom break? You know how it is. But I'm a guy and can make it quick. You know how it is. Then D and I hurried, got in the theater and heard some noise ... and noticed the cinema-specific-turn-off-this-sit-back-and-enjoy-yourself video was beginning to play. We got central seats rather close but not too close and realized that luck was with us.

No Country for Old Men it was ... and all I can say is, Damn!

I'm sure I can say more, actually, but I'll refrain ... for the most part. Clearly No Country ... and There Will Be Blood are not the same or even similar films, but since they're the two Oscar-leaders and they do share superficial similarities (big-name actors, big-name directors, an adapted and semi-adapted type of screenplay, western in setting and tone ...), the differences are noteworthy. There Will Be Blood is a lush, dense and intense story; it's all Daniel-Day Lewis with a notable contribution from Paul Dano as his foil, but the other characters and actors, while uniformly good, are not asked, for the most part, to carry whole segments of the movie. In contrast No Country ... is an ensemble piece of sorts in which the ensemble players never all share the stage at once; they interact in pairs at most, and whoever is "on stage" draws our attention and carries the film for however long is necessary.

The Coen Brothers have at times been compared to Kubrick for their cool formal perfection and slightly off-kilter humor. I simply love everything they do. This is one of their least "happy" films, but in some regards it's also, as other reviewers have noted, their most "perfect." Every damn shot. Every damn casting choice. Every bit of delivery. And the details: it does indeed look like 1980. Setups are not overly obvious but they're there, and they have pay-off. And damn it's funny. It's a very funny script.

And that's all I'll say on that matter.


Around one thirty the fire alarm went off.

We didn't hear it. In my office my iPod was cycling through a complete collection of Beethoven's piano sonatas; in $DEMIURGE's JC was singing in a gravely voice in the background. We chatted. You know the end of "The Wanderer" on U2's Zooropa? The Johnny Cash song? A deep rumbling fade to nothing followed by a soft chasm, and then a shrill beep beep beep ...? We just assumed there was something similar in whatever song was playing. Down the hall a door opened; it allowed access to the stairs to the 3rd floor and further down, and the sore-throat-half-Aflac quacking became louder. We became quiet, looked at one another, and thought aloud, "Hey, is that a fire alarm? In our building?"

Fire drills happen each semester, usually on a Wednesday, sometimes a Tuesday, and generally around midday (during the 11a.m. or noon class). This was Thursday, well after lunch, and the first week of the semester. Unlikely but possible. And it wasn't going to be that loud we might as well stay inside, no? Get work done. Or water-cooler-chit-chat at least.

It continued. I looked out a window and saw people gathering at the front of the building. A late January, ca. 0-degree fire drill is impolite. I wandered down the hall, saw H in her office and distracted her (she had headphones on and could hear nothing but her own music), and pondered whether it was a real alarm. H informed me that if we were caught in our offices during a real alarm (rather than drill) we would be fined. I returned to $DEMIURGE's office and looked out another window with a different view, just in time to see the fire truck pull up, so the three of us packed up, shut our doors, and departed.

I decided whatever the cause of the alarm that I was done for the day and going to my department, so I shut off my computer and yanked the iPod free. We hurried down the stairs to the basement ... just in time to see a rush of students, a January stampede of sheeple, one might say, returning to the building. Thus the likely cause of the alarm was a prank or similar act of idiocy, or an actual "test," since new alarm hardware has been under installation for the past month or more.

And if it was indeed a test, then those on my floor might have burned up, for there are no functioning alarms on our floor—it was the occasional penetration of the alarms from other floors that alerted us. So much for that hardware upgrade.

I moseyed to my department and got my mail. Mostly junk. I chatted with the graduate secretary; I'm sure he needed me distracting him from his work. Then I wandered down to my great-great-grandchild in the editing business, K, the guy who has my old job. We had come to town together in the morning (we live one hundred house numbers apart, though our lives aren't that similar: I'm fat and he's skinny, I have hair and he has none, I'm single and he has a rather hot SO, but we both do the literature thing) and chatted, so I figured I'd distract him (I keep using that word, distract)—I'm sure he needed it.

Four Star Video Heaven is holding a one-week sale on foreign film rentals, $0.99 for five nights. Last week was anime, the week before documentaries, and before that silent films. That's how I got Pandora's Box (Criterion, I believe) and Lang's Nibelungen (2 DVDs, Kino) earlier in the month. After getting off the bus earlier in the day I stopped by 4-Star and decided to split things, half French and half Italian.

My film viewing history is, like my reading of literature, eclectic. Often esoteric, but in any case more patchy than I would like. So despite my love for 70s American films, I'm woefully ignorant when it comes to the French New Wave and similar that influenced that generation of American films. So the weekend will be set aside (to an extent) for Godard's Breathless, Demy's Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Chris Marker's La Jetée & Sans Soleil (The A.V. Club provided a generous review last July; plus, I love 12 Monkeys ...), and Antonioni's "trilogy" (L'Avventura, La notte, and L'Eclisse). Many of these are things I've meant to watch for a while; six for $6.27 after tax makes it an easy impulse-rental decision.

When I was at 4-Star the behind-the-counter skeleton (well, perhaps she's naturally thin) was watching Odd Girl Out, which in its girl-on-girl cruelty and use of text-messaging reminds one of ripped-from-the-headlines suicides and such.

So K and I chatted about the movie rentals, about bourbon and whiskey in general, about the upcoming conference to which I need to submit an abstract, and so on and so forth.

Then I had to meet D for our movie outing, so I rushed from K's office to my own, where I ran into L, who was going to my adviser's seminar, which was starting in a few minutes. I was delayed, I packed up, stood in front of the elevator, and my adviser showed up, which is only bad for me because, well, he wants an update on my so-called "progress," and he emailed me the other day about it. I haven't yet replied. He wants a reply, and I'm not eager to give one. You see the problem. But we chatted and I promised a reply ... soon. He got off, I went down a few more floors, and out the door I flew to find D.

And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts
And I looked and behold, a pale horse
And it's name it said on him was Death
And Hell followed with him.
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2008.01.24: It's alpha and omega's kingdom come | 9 comments (9 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
$DEMIURGE is a chick? by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #1 Thu Jan 24, 2008 at 10:18:18 PM EST

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

Yep by BlueOregon (4.00 / 1) #7 Fri Jan 25, 2008 at 07:43:39 AM EST

I'm sure I've used 'she' and 'her' in previous posts, but it's not a major plot point.

Thinking about it now, it's only appropriate that if I'm referring to a gnostic demiurge, the evil creator of the material world, then said demiurge ought to be female. $ÜBERBOSS is male.

[ Parent ]
uh? by Merekat (2.00 / 0) #2 Thu Jan 24, 2008 at 10:49:46 PM EST
"H informed me that if we were caught in our offices during a real alarm (rather than drill) we would be fined."

As opposed to dying horribly of smoke inhalation or burns due to being trapped by the fire? Hell, I'd fine for not leaving the office in a drill.

But it's on a college campus, there are probably by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #3 Fri Jan 25, 2008 at 02:05:40 AM EST
false alarms every month (in our dorm there was).

[ Parent ]
I suppose so ... by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #6 Fri Jan 25, 2008 at 06:27:11 AM EST

... Re: dorms, that is. I've heard my students complain about false alarms at weird and annoying hours.

And I suspect that's part of why the rule is there. So Re: Merekat -- if it's a planned drill, I doubt there's a fine involved, for the fire department itself is never called, and the building is not searched. Fire or no, in an actual alarm the building will be searched, and the fine probably comes from the fire department, not the university.

[ Parent ]
The not so new New Wave. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #4 Fri Jan 25, 2008 at 06:03:28 AM EST
I found revisiting the '60s Euro film revolution from the vantage of somebody familiar with the whole "Easy Rider, Raging Bull" era is a curious experience. So many of the techniques they pioneered to keep viewers off kilter have been adopted and blown up by mainstream cinema that these once revolutionary flicks now look downright stately.

I'm thinking specifically of A Band of Outsiders, My Life to Live, and L'Avventura (only one of which is on your list, I know; but the other two are my favorite Goddard flicks, so I throw them is a shout out). These days they all seem strangely elegant, rather like continental sophisticates at a particularly witty gathering rather than brick-tossing anarchists at the barricades.

I'm curious to hear your opinion of them.

Oh. And . . . by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #5 Fri Jan 25, 2008 at 06:07:55 AM EST
You'd never heard of Ellery Queen? Hoch did a lot of work as part of the EQ collective - he was a fragment of Ellery Queen.

[ Parent ]
Alas ... by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #9 Fri Jan 25, 2008 at 08:21:32 AM EST

... despite my enjoyment of mysteries, great and small, short form and long, it's a genre I stopped reading to a great extent decades ago. I loved "Mystery" on PBS, but those shows were decidedly British. Half a decade ago or more I came across a few newer but not terribly mass-market mysteries and writers I liked, and some I didn't, but as usual my selection was eclectic and in no way canonical or systematic.

Which is just to say, no I didn't know of EQ; the first I'd heard of the name had to do with reading the Hoch notice and going from there. The same, off in the realm of SF & Fantasy, is my lack of connection with someone like Avram Davidson, about whom I first heard when I came across a book of his last fall -- and it was the Peter Beagle connection that made me think, "let me look further into this guy and his works."

[ Parent ]
I've occasionally had similar experiences ... by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #8 Fri Jan 25, 2008 at 08:15:08 AM EST

... with 'older' films. Often I'm able to let reflection remind me that the techniques used were new or newer at the time; I don't get a "*yawn* I've seen this before" feeling (even though the 'before' refers to a movie made after the one I'm watching, but which I viewed earlier ...).

I remember someone recently -- perhaps here -- saying something similar regarding Blade Runner. It's something I almost 'worry' about whenever I rewatch Citizen Kane, which isn't that often.

So I wonder whether with the New Wave & similar films I'll be able to move beyond "yawn, seen this before" at to "ah, elegant," and preferably to a level of "ah, *very nice* ..." -- alas, I fear I won't be able to have a "fresh" "damn, never seen that before" experience.

On a more 'meta' level, this is, as you're likely aware, one of the classical complaints and symptoms of modernity. Not the movies, per se, but the kind of reaction due to a certain familiarity, even when it's second or third generation. I mention it not because of the "familiarity" or "classical modernism" aspect, but because it reminds me of Friedrich Schiller's essay entitled "Über naive und sentimentalische Dichtung" (On naive and sentimental poetry), in which his fulcrum is the Greeks and he goes beyond Rousseau's "noble savage," to provide a diagnosis of the modern (vs the 'ancient/classical'). This does not relate directly to the situation above, though the way this text interacted with other texts of its time, the way it was received, etc., does to a great extent, for Schiller is, in the first part, making comments on the human spirit and on man as an ethical creature, and the poetic aspects comes only later. That having been said, the point of connection is that there are two primary ways in which Schiller opposes the naive and the sentimental: the sentimental is the reflected world of ideas, and on the one hand the naive is that of the sensuous/sensate/sensible, but other is that it is also the world in which we can be surprised by nature and instances.

It's notable that in his (Schiller's) 'modern' age Schiller was able to find (only) one shining example of the 'naive poet' still extant: Goethe.

Sorry for the rambling.

[ Parent ]
2008.01.24: It's alpha and omega's kingdom come | 9 comments (9 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback