Thursday, June 20, 2013

James Gandolfini 1961 - 2013

“I had a dream last night. My belly-button was a Phillips-head screw, and I’m workin’ unscrewin’ it, and when I get it unscrewed, my penis falls off. 

You know, I pick it up. And I’m holdin’ it and I’m runnin’ around lookin’ for the guy who used to work on my Lincoln, when I drove Lincolns, so he can put it back on. And, I’m holdin’ it up, and this bird swoops down and grabs it in its beak and flies off with it." Tony Soprano
"Now the first time you kill somebody, that's the hardest. I don't give a shit if you're fuckin' Wyatt Earp or Jack the Ripper. Remember that guy in Texas? The guy up in that fuckin' tower that killed all them people? I'll bet you green money that first little black dot he took a bead on, that was the bitch of the bunch. First one is tough, no fuckin' foolin'. The second one... the second one ain't no fuckin' Mardis Gras either, but it's better than the first one 'cause you still feel the same thing, y'know... except it's more diluted, y'know it's... it's better. I threw up on the first one, you believe that? Then the third one... the third one is easy, you level right off. It's no problem. Now... shit... now I do it just to watch their fuckin' expression change." - Virgil (True Romance)
Those goddamned ducks...

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Words of the Dragon

There’s a problem with Twitter and Tumblr. It’s a problem that has accelerated with the growth of both, and is amplified with every retweet and reblog. This is the problem: Attribution. Words and pictures are increasingly posted without adequate attribution, if any. And so, if you can’t be bothered to do a bit of rudimentary Googling, you don’t know where things come from. Who wrote things, who made things, who found things. Tumblr, in particular, should be renamed “The Land That Attribution Forgot”. The danger of this is two-fold: Creators of Stuff don’t get the credit they rightly deserve, and the Cut-and-Pasters come off as discerning content curators or “coolhunters”, without any kind of research or legwork and purely on the basis of scraping through their RSS feeds, as if they and they alone have excavated these Wonderful Things from the hidden nooks of the internet.

Here’s a perfect example. There’s a sliver of text that I trip over online every couple of months that troubles me. Not the excerpt itself, which is pretty great, but the fact that, the vast majority of the time, there is a distinct lack of attribution about the provenance of the excerpt. And so to right that wrong, I’m slapping it up here with full attribution. Also: I just get a kick out of it and it’s worth sharing.

The following excerpt originally appeared in The Art of Expressing the Human Body by Bruce Lee, originally published in 1998. The “by Bruce Lee” credit is a bit of a misdirect too. The book was compiled and edited by John Little, a writer, bodybuilder and martial artist who was given access to Lee’s personal notes, letters, diaries and training logs by the Bruce Lee estate. Large chunks of the book are visible using Google Books. The excerpt is particularly interesting to me as it is a quotation from prolific screenwriter Stirling Silliphant who was responsible for (amongst many, many other things) In the Heat of the Night, The Enforcer, The Killer Elite and Shaft in Africa. Here it is:
“Bruce had me up to three miles a day, really at a good pace. We’d run the three miles in twenty-one or twenty-two minutes. Just under eight minutes a mile. So this morning he said to me “We’re going to go five.” I said, “Bruce, I can’t go five. I’m a helluva lot older than you are, and I can’t do five.” He said, “When we get to three, we’ll shift gears and it’s only two more and you’ll do it.” I said “Okay, hell, I’ll go for it.” So we get to three, we go into the fourth mile and I’m okay for three or four minutes, and then I really begin to give out. I’m tired, my heart’s pounding, I can’t go any more and so I say to him, “Bruce if I run any more,”—and we’re still running—“if I run any more I’m liable to have a heart attack and die.” He said, “Then die.” It made me so mad that I went the full five miles. Afterward I went to the shower and then I wanted to talk to him about it. I said, you know, “Why did you say that?” He said, “Because you might as well be dead. Seriously, if you always put limits on what you can do, physical or anything else, it’ll spread over into the rest of your life. It’ll spread into your work, into your morality, into your entire being. There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you. A man must constantly exceed his level."