Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt

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Onion Dues

The following is a statement by the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers for release 1 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 20, 2011:

Washington, D.C. – Members of CWA and IBEW at Verizon Communications will return to work on Tuesday, Aug. 23, at which time the contract will be back in force for an indefinite period.

We have reached agreement with Verizon on how bargaining will proceed and how it will be restructured. The major issues remain to be discussed, but overall, issues now are focused and narrowed.

We appreciate the unity of our members and the support of so many in the greater community. Now we will focus on bargaining fairly and moving forward.

CWA and IBEW represent 45,000 workers at Verizon covered by this contract from Virginia to New England.

So… the strike is over. We will return to work on Tuesday under an extension of the 2008 contract whilst contract negotiations continue. I wanted to return to work (never, never, never believe that a strike an act of lazy people; picketing is much more strenuous than a regular day of work), but I wanted to have a decent contract first. We shall see how effective this move is in the resulting contract. On the other hand, according to the news passed on from my Chief Steward, the company took many its demands off of the table so they could concentrate on the core issues.

Nevertheless, this does take some immediate pressure off of me. How this is going to effect my long-term job security is another question.
I've always loved Sergio Leone's Westerns, but the traditional Western hadn't really resonated with me in the way that other genres might have. I loved the music, but the movies themselves didn't strike the same chord within me that they did to audiences of eras past. Maybe it's because I'm becoming what I consider to be an old fart, but I've been appreciating Westerns a lot more than I used to.

There is one name that is as associated with Westerns as Alfred Hitchcock is to suspense pictures, and that is John Ford. His name comes up as a major influence on Leone, Akira Kurosawa and even Orson Welles, who claims he screened Stagecoach forty times for the various members of the crew of Citizen Kane, saying that when it came to filmmaking, "John Ford was my teacher, Stagecoach my textbook." Orson #&%@ing Welles said that.

Somehow, in my entire life, I had managed to never see a John Ford film. Some of this is attributable to the presence of John Wayne, whom, like Sylvester Stallone, I often find to be an abrasive presence in a film. I don't know if I exactly have warmed to him — I attempted to watch Chisum recently and he got on my nerves as he did in The Green Berets — but I have to admit that when he was in a role that played to his strengths, he could command the screen like few other actors.

So I decided I would acquaint myself with John Ford. I started with two of his most prominent films, Stagecoach and The Searchers, both of which are out on Blu-ray. And the experience made it clear to me why this man is one of the most influential filmmakers in history. John Ford is a genius of cinema. The Searchers is indeed a great film, and Wayne is fantastic in it, playing a character who isn't "good" or "bad" so much as he is "driven."

But it was Stagecoach that truly blew me away. This film immediately became an all-time favorite, and I don't say that lightly. Even though I viewed it at home all alone, watching this movie for the first time was one of those cinema experiences I will treasure forever.

The film is credited as being that which raised the Western from B-grade programmer to adult entertainment. It is easy, even today, to see exactly how this was done. The movie is awash in what all of the Western tropes you can imagine, but Dudley Nichols and Ben Hecht's script enriches each one of them not by subverting them, as would be the case in later revisionist Westerns, but by deepening each one, giving each character their own set of motivations that are often in conflict with the other characters they are forced together with in the stagecoach.

Indeed, it is this focus on character that drew me immediately into the story. While this was definitely John Wayne's starmaking role, if there is an anchor to the movie, it is top-billed Claire Trevor's subdued performance as the forlorn Dallas. Thomas Mitchell won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Doc Boone, but the movie is first and foremost an ensemble piece, and George Bancroft, Louise Platt, John Carradine, Andy Devine, Donald Meek and Berton Churchill all bring something unique to the table. These are indeed standard Western character types, but the depth of the characterization and the interaction reveals that there is often more than meets the eye to most of them.

And then there is the famed chase sequence that is so exciting not because it is executed with such technical proficiency or because the legendary Yakima Canutt's stuntwork is breathtaking. Those only help, to be sure, but the reason why it works so well is because at that point in the film the viewer cares about almost everybody in that stagecoach. And that's the greatest filmmaking in the world.

The music, which also won an Academy Award in the "adaptation" category, consists primarily of reworkings of familiar American folk songs. I have to say that while there are moments that do seem somewhat dated, for the most part this is very effective not only dramatically, but in giving these characters and the events depicted in the film more of a folk-tale feel. The weirdness of Monument Valley is so perfect in combination that it gives the film an overarching mythic quality.

It is often dangerous to watch films labeled "classic," because there are often expectations built up by description that the movie itself can barely stand up to. While I could appreciate the craft — I could immediately spot how the styles of both Kurosawa and Welles was influenced by Ford's — this movie gripped me on an emotional level, exercising that magnetic appeal that great films have.

This is the Great American Western. Accept no substitutes.*
Stolen from marinshellstone is the Living Place Meme:

  1. What kind of soap is in your bathtub right now?

  2. Dove

  3. Do you have any watermelon in your refrigerator?

  4. No, but I wouldn't mind some.

  5. Is there anything moldy in your refrigerator?

  6. No, but I may have to rectify that fact with some stinky cheese.

  7. Are there any dirty dishes in your sink?

  8. No, I just ran the dishwasher this morning.

  9. What would you change about your living room?

  10. I want to mount all of my speakers (save the subwoofer) on the walls. And get a working computer into the stand over there.

  11. Are the dishes in your dishwasher clean or dirty?

  12. I just ran the dishwasher, so they're clean.

  13. Do you have a can of mushrooms in your pantry?

  14. No, I tend to get fresh mushrooms from the farm stand down the street.

  15. White or wheat/brown bread?

  16. I like wheat bread, whole grain bread. This super fantastic peanut butter I found at the aforementioned farm stand works fantastically on wheat.

  17. What is on top of your refrigerator?

  18. A coffee press, spare Brita filters, extra pots, emergency cat food.

  19. What color is your sofa?

  20. Maroon, to match the maroon-and-black carpet. There's a matching chair.

  21. What color or design is on your shower curtain?

  22. It's also maroon (I'm coordinated, see?).

  23. How many plants are in your home?

  24. None.

  25. How many candles are in your home?

  26. I have candles, but they're primarily for power outages.

  27. Is your bed made right now?

  28. No, but the cat prefers it this way.

  29. If you have a coffee pot, what color is it?

  30. I have a clear coffee press.

  31. Electric or standard can opener?

  32. I was just thinking about this the other day. When I moved into the old apartment, I inherited an electric can-opener. I used it because it was the can-opener I had, but when I moved, I bought a standard one. To be frank, unless a person is disabled, there is no reason for a can-opener to be electric. It's a labor-saving device where the labor isn't worth saving.

  33. Comet or Soft Scrub?

  34. Both.

  35. Is your closet organized?

  36. Kind of. There's a general sort of order to things in there. I can find stuff anyway.

  37. What color is the flashlight that you use the most?

  38. I go through flashlights like other people go through rolls of toilet paper.

  39. What kinds of things are in your junk drawer?

  40. My old MiniDisc player (don't ask why I'm keeping it around), movie ticket stubs, FSM composer cards, etc.

  41. Do you drink out of glass or plastic most of the time at home?

  42. I have a Brita pitcher and drink out of glasses. Unless I'm drinking wine, in which case I have sets for red and white.

  43. Do you have iced tea made in a pitcher right now?

  44. No. I used to live on iced tea, but now I mostly just drink water.

  45. If you have a garage, is it cluttered?

  46. No garage.

  47. Curtains or blinds?

  48. I employ blinds, but ideally would use both, as I feel they serve different purposes (curtains block more light).

  49. How many pillows do you sleep with?

  50. Two. Unless you count the cat, who sometimes props herself up on my feet. This is nicer in wintertime than it is in summer.

  51. Do you sleep with any lights on at night?

  52. No.

  53. How many ceiling fans are in your home?

  54. One.

  55. How often do you vacuum?

  56. Every two weeks, although I have to step that up a bit in the spring months owing as to a slight excess of fur.

  57. Standard toothbrush or electric?

  58. Standard. Flossing is more important.

  59. What color is your toothbrush?

  60. White and green.

  61. Do you have a welcome mat on your front porch?

  62. I don't have a front porch, but I have a mat in my entry foyer in the aspect of a movie ticket.

  63. What is in your oven right now?

  64. Nothing at present, although I plan to make a Japanese yam to go with dinner in a bit.

  65. Is your microwave clean or dirty?

  66. Clean.

  67. Is there anything under your bed?

  68. Only what the cat takes with her. Your weapons. You will not need them.

  69. Chore you hate doing the most?

  70. Cleaning the bathroom.

  71. What retro items are in your home?

  72. Aside from some classic movie posters, I have to admit not too much.

  73. Do you have a separate room that you use as an office?

  74. No, although I have a portable work space that I can move to various places in the apartment.

  75. If you have a yard, who mows it?

  76. I do not personally, but the complex grounds are kept up by the staff.

  77. Is there anything on your kitchen floor right now?

  78. No.

  79. How many mirrors are in your home?

  80. Only in the bathroom.

  81. Do you have any hidden emergency money around your home?

  82. No. I did, but… strike.

  83. What color are your walls?

  84. White.

  85. Which rooms in your house have wallpaper?

  86. None.

  87. Do you have a peephole in your front door?

  88. Yes, but I'm damned if I know how to get it to work.

  89. Do you keep any kind of protection weapons in your home?

  90. I keep a practice sword just in case. Actually, I just like having the practice sword, but it would qualify as a self-defense weapon should it be necessary.

  91. What does your home smell like right now?

  92. The windows are open right now, and so I'm getting a spring breeze.

  93. Favorite Candle Scent?

  94. I have nothing against scented candles but don't often use them, so I have no real opinion on the topic.

  95. What kind of pickles (if any) are in your refrigerator right now?

  96. Half-sour and sweet relish.

  97. Who are in the pictures you displayed?

  98. In the living room are pictures of myself with various members of my family. On the refrigerator I keep pictures of my friends' children.

  99. What color is your favorite bible?

  100. Is there color in nothingness?

  101. Do you have plenty of cabinet space in your kitchen?

  102. Yes, and I have found how easy it is to expand to fill such space.

  103. Ever been on your roof?

  104. No.

  105. Do you own a stereo?

  106. Do I own a stereo. Do I own a stereo? Do I own a stereo? Do I own a stereo?

    Aaaah, "stereo." How quaint. What I have qualifies as more than a home theater.

  107. How many TVs do you have?

  108. One big one, that goes with the sound system. No cable, though.

  109. How many house phones?

  110. None.

  111. Do you have a housekeeper?

  112. No. But I know somebody who knows somebody, so that may change.

  113. What style do you decorate in?

  114. I'm not sure what you'd call what I did. It was definitely intentional, with specific flavors to be given to each room, but there isn't a particular idiom that it falls into. I guess "21st century tasteful" would best cover it.

  115. Do you like solid colors in furniture or prints?

  116. Solids.

  117. Is there a smoke detector in your home?

  118. Absolutely. I have disagreements with it on Sunday mornings for some reason.

  119. In case of fire, what are the items you would grab if you only could make one quick trip?

  120. The cat and the iPod are the first things that I would grab.

  121. Do you know how to work your electrical box?

  122. If you mean the circuit breakers, than yes. If you mean the actual metal box that qualified electricians go into, then no.

  123. What temperature in your home is most comfortable to you?

  124. Spring and autumn give delicious breezes. It's sometimes a bit too hot in the summer, but it never gets overly uncomfortable.

* — Hookay… I'm going to address the racism issue with regards to Stagecoach.

While I do feel there is some inherent in The Searchers, part of the point of that film is to examine that racism and, perhaps, even force the audience to confront it within themselves. One of the reasons why the Duke is so good in this film — he considered it his finest role and named one of his sons after the character — is because there are moments when one can see the hatred in Ethan consume him, and with that the vengeful drive behind his and Martin's (Jeffrey Hunter, the original Captain Christopher Pike) ten-year odyssey is often questioned.

None of this self-consciousness exists in Stagecoach, where Geronimo's Indians are simply hordes of faceless "others" to be gleefully picked off. There is no question that this is blatantly racist, and it makes the viewer complicit by identifying entirely with white characters. The perspective has these "savages" as enemies, which was, of course, the prevailing mythology of 1939. The Apache uprisings did happen, and if you were a white person in a stagecoach at the time, you were a target. Ironically, John Ford was able to shoot in Monument Valley because of the great friendship he had struck with the Navajo tribe upon whose reservation in Utah those iconic rock formations existed.
Tags: akira kurosawa, alfred hitchcock, audio, cinema, family, food, high def, john ford, memes, orson welles, reviews, sergio leone, star trek, strike, work

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