The Fish
for 18 January 2000. Updated every WEEKDAY.
 
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Live and Let Die

Subject: "There is no acting
underwater."

Does this apply to Jackie
Chan in Supercop? maybe not.
Slapstick is more about
over-acting than acting, I
suppose.

<John_Osmon@ Dell.com>

When Jackie Chan or, say,
Jerry Lewis in The Errand
Boy,
do underwater scenes,
they're all about the
condition of being
underwater: what it can do to
the human body, how it looks,
what it feels like. They deal
with it, they have a reason
for doing it, it's about
something. They at least try
to come up with something
original. In the Bond films,
the underwater scenes are
just there because they're
supposed to be there. As I
mentioned, Apted doesn't even
deal with how his actors look
underwater. He doesn't even
go for the cheap
Denise-Richards-gets-wet-
in-tight-top shot that any
other director wouldn't have
been able to resist. (Do we
live in such chaste times? Or
would that have driven the
budget higher?) Instead,
Apted does nothing but cause
yawns, cut to bad jokes, and
wait for the sound of feet
shuffling out of the theater
to a theme song made out of
samples from glory-period
Bond music. The audience
leaves feeling heavier, but
in actuality, they're 9
bucks lighter.

So, yes, I guess slapstick is
a special case. Jackie Chan
knows that action-adventure
is practically the same thing
as slapstick; the makers of
the Bond movies think ...
what? That tensionless scenes
shot on obvious sets through
portholes are entertaining?
Beats me.

Thanks for writing,

Slotcar Hatebath
 
Fish With Letter Icon
 


Subject: quick ...

If the answer is 42, what was
the question?

ma

x

<JacobMrley@ aol.com>

If this is a joke about how
Russ Meyer made a movie
called Up!, skip it.

Slotcar Hatebath
 
Fish With Letter Icon
 


Subject: Please do something
about Magnolia

Agggghhhh! More of this
"James Bond is so
passé, he doesn't ride
a snowboard" stuff — I'm
sick of it! I admit that most
critics are too well-bred to
go after Apted, and Denise
Richards stank with a capital
S, but it was a James Bond
movie — a weak one, but
it had James Bond. If the
series could bounce back from
A View to a Kill, you know it
can bounce back from the many
weak moments in this new one.
The real question here is
when are one of you guys
going to go after Magnolia?
It's a complete bloated
sacred cow, and it's just
sitting out there being
surrounded by ever-growing
flocks of worshippers. And
it's just this pomo version
of Love, American Style, just
like American Beauty was a
pomo version of Married ...
with Children!
Aren't you
guys going to do something?
If you don't, who will?

Richard Von Busack
<regisgoat@earthlink.net>

I never said that Bond was
passé because he
doesn't ride a snowboard. In
fact, I don't give a rat's
patoot about snowboards, and
I resent that you assume I
do. My piece was about how
similar the new Bond flick is
to a seemingly dissimilar one
with which it shares its
director. But if I didn't get
that across to you, I didn't
get it across to you.

Critics would never go after
Apted, it's true, but Denise
Richards was without question
the best thing in that movie,
possibly because she was
immune to the Aptedian
boredom layer. You underrate
A View to a Kill. Do the
names Christopher Walken,
Tanya Roberts, and Grace
Jones not mean a thing to
you? They should all be in
Magnolia!

It's true that Magnolia
worship is annoying, but I
haven't seen it yet. Whether
it's good or bad, it's not
the fact that a movie like
American Beauty shares plot
points with a sitcom: It's
that it shares its attitude.
It's not the genre but what
you do with it that counts.
The guy who made American
Beauty
gave us Happiness
Lite with the shame a little
sunnier — or was that
just Kevin Spacey? The
accolades for that picture
still mystify. Maybe the
director of Boogie Nights
will get another genius
performance out of Cruise
like Kubrick did. If it's
anything like Short Cuts,
however ...

Slotcar Hatebath
 
Fish With Letter Icon
 


Subject: 42 squared is ...
oh, a hell of a lot

Dear SC:

Oh, come on now. Twelve
people saw 42 Up, and I was
in the theater with eight of
them. Where did you find your
copy? To compare it with the
Bondian stuff is ... well;
it's damn clever, and your
points are good ones. Still,
the Up movies are about
social class, and to comment
on them and to miss that
point is to rather miss the
whole idea.

But yes, the Brits are very
not-us. If we didn't happen
to speak the same (or
similar) language, we'd
appreciate how very not-us
they are.

It was a clever piece.
Thanks.

Alan S Kornheiser
<ASKornheiser@prodigy.net>

I don't know where you caught
42 Up, Dr. K, but in my town,
it played for two weeks in a
limited run to rave reviews.
I disagree with your idea
that the Up movies are about
class. Just because Apted
says they are does not make
it so. The group of subjects
strikes me as pretty
homogenous, frankly, even
though one is a wealthy
lawyer, one a forklift
operator, one a formerly
homeless councilman, etc. In
fact, Apted homogenizes them
and smooths over their
differences to portray them
as a cohesive group, which
the Up series has to some
extent made them.

The entire last half-hour of
42 Up was so tacked on, and
the discussion of class so
perfunctory, that it could've
been chopped off and not
missed at all. That was just
Apted patting himself on the
back in a maddeningly
reasonable way that cut off
real discussion. I don't buy
it. The reason the series can
never be about class is
because the concept was
flawed from the get-go. It's
just so uncinematic and
experimental in a bad way.
It's a gimmick, and like all
gimmicks, it's a form of
exploitation. If it were
honest about this (or if it
were a good gimmick), I could
deal, but it can't be. It is
blind; a problem in a
documentary as far as I'm
concerned.

It's always good to read your
views, and thank you for
writing.

Slotcar Heathbar
 
Fish With Letter Icon
 


Filler

Subject: Dead can dance but
deadheads ...

C'mon, do you really think
that "fans" of Dead Can Dance
music dance better than
whirling dervish hippies? I
appreciate the music of both
of these bands and kinda
picture the "... Can Dance"
crowd doing pretty much the
same moves as Jerry's kids.

Fare thee well.

Daniel Corvino
Trenton, New Jersey
<DANCORV@aol.com>

You just had to go and bring
the handicapped into this,
didn't you?

I stand behind my original
assertion. Sure, goths don't
dance so damn well. But no
one dances as badly as
deadheads. They always look
like they're trying to
wriggle themselves out of one
of those really skinny
sleeping bags. Man, I hate
those really skinny sleeping
bags. As if anyone would want
to keep their legs right next
to each other all night. What
a curse!

I also hate hacky-sack. What
an annoying game. I would
never play it, personally,
because I have no foot-eye
coordination. But most of all
I dislike watching people
play it. Especially when
they're trying to play it
"with style." You know what I
mean. I also dislike watching
people play "Tangled Up in
Blue." Particularly with one
of those plastic Yamaha
guitars, particularly with
one foot on the coffee table,
particularly with a
faux-scratchy voice in the
middle of an otherwise OK
party with a faux-sincere
look on their face,
particularly when they insist
on looking you right in the
eye
and singing right at you.

Greg Carter is to blame for
most of this stuff. Are you
happy now, Greg? Are you?

Anyway, rah rah to Trenton,
New Jersey. Trenton makes;
the world takes!

Polly
 
Fish With Letter Icon
 


Dear Polly,

I'm getting sick of having to
pretend I have a positive
attitude and forcing smiles
toward my fellow co-workers.
The only time they bug me is
when they have a problem. Why
is this so?

Disgruntled Employee

It's a bummer working with
other people, isn't it? I,
for one, hate it, as is well
documented in three years of
Filler. I particularly
disliked working with Owen
Thomas, who not only bugged
me when he had a problem but
also bugged me when he had
something totally unimportant
to say, something that had
no impact on his or my
immediate job duties but
that compromised my ability
to do my job and reduced my
overall job satisfaction
considerably.

Now Owen tries to interrupt
me in the same way via email,
but luckily I have a filter
on my email that sends all
emails from Owen straight
into a very special mailbox.
Let's call it the Owen
mailbox, just to be polite,
but it also serves a more
general purpose, so its
actual name, in accordance
with this more general
function, is Trash.

Anyway, I'm not sure why your
co-workers bug you so much.
Maybe your co-workers are
annoying people, or maybe
you're a real jerk just like
me. Either way, I'd suggest
you tell them to submit their
concerns and problems to you
via email, and then set up
your email filters
accordingly.

Gruntled,

Polly
 
Fish With Letter Icon
 


Polly,

I stretched, yawned, and read
filler. I crammed down three
glazed doughnuts — not
Krispy Kremes, but we have
one in Arlington — and
drank some water. Then I
wrote these words to YOU. For
crying out loud, "What size
are the guns?"

Nate
Dallas
No dumb Hotmail address

I don't know what that means.
Is that a lyric or some kind
of timely reference I should
know or some kind of a
reference to something I
wrote that I should really
know? I don't know.

I'm glad you're eating
doughnuts, at any rate.

Polly
 
Fish With Letter Icon
 


Subject: HELP!

Reading your column gives me
insight into the female soul.
It's a lot like vertigo.

Tim Hundsdorfer
<timh@ucar.edu>

Insight into the female soul?
Good god, man. You should
know I have no soul.

But, speaking of females and
vertigo, I was on a bus to
the airport in Newark, New
Jersey, about a week ago, and
there were some high school
girls sitting behind me on
the bus, which was kind of
interesting and slightly
horrifying. They were looking
at photos, and one of them
kept saying, "Every. Single.
One. of Josh's friends are
soooo cute. I mean, all his
friends are totally cute."

This reminded me of this
radio ad for a televised
version of Sweet Valley
High,
in which the kids go on
some kind of a vacation
cruise, and this girl says to
a boy in a very seductive
voice, "I think you're the
hottest guy on the boat."

It used to be so simple, you
know. You just picked the
most attractive person in the
room, and if he didn't like
you, you'd go for the second
most attractive, and so on.
Knowing a "Josh" is
justifiable cause for
celebration, given the
circumstances.

When we got to their
terminal, one of the girls
said, "Are we, like, there?"

Not, like, there,

Polly
 
Fish With Letter Icon
 


Polly, you're wonderful.

Tell your editor we want to
hear more about how you were
a cheerleader.

Kirsten Emmott
<kbemmott@ark.com>

Cool! People like you really
ruin the content around here
for the rest of our readers,
but oh well. Screw them.

The best part about being a
cheerleader was that it got
me a date with a senior when
I was just a sophomore. This
was important, because
everyone in my own grade
remembered how
disconcertingly unsexy I was
in junior high, when my nose
grew to its current size a
full two years before the
rest of my face caught up
with it. In junior high I
also had bad skin, the body
of a pear, and the
personality of a pet rock,
but let's let bygones be
bygones, shall we?

Anyway, cheerleaders
naturally get more booty. You
know, you're wearing a little
baby doll outfit,
essentially, and that really
appeals to teenage boys —
and men, for that matter. Men
love to see women looking
very infantile and sort of
silly and innocent.
Naturally, this is somewhat
disturbing to most
intelligent women. But once
all that feminist rage wears
off and we can barely
remember what Adrienne Rich
was trying to say way back
when, we use this situation
to our advantage by wearing
knee socks and go-go boots
and the occasional pair of
braids and by dressing up as
Catholic schoolgirls for
Halloween.

It's a blatant manipulation,
sure, and it's pretty
unsavory. But if you've never
dressed up as a Catholic
schoolgirl and you'd really
like to snag a man, if only
for a few hours ...

OK, so, I guess my point is:
I'm most definitely NOT
wonderful.

Setting the record straight,

Polly
 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

 The Shit
Fully Committed, Becky Mode, the Cherry Lane Theater, New York, New York
Paris in the Twentieth Century, Jules Verne, Del Rey, 1997
Chow Yun Fat's haircut in Anna and the King
A Comment on Mini-skirts, Thornton Dial
"Leonardo's Grave," Ian Jacks, Granta #67
The Long Swift Sword of Siegfried, directed by Adrian Hoven, 1971
The annual reappearance of cheap clementines in bodegas
The New Meaning of Treason, Rebecca West, Penguin Books, 1985
Five-Card Nancy (a card game played with individual panels of Ernie Bushmiller's comic strip)
The Birthday Party Live 1981-82, Four A.D., 1999
Black Sessions 10/22/98, Belle & Sebastian , (unreleased)
San Lorenzo's Blues, Nuzzle, Troubleman Unlimited, 1999
The Story of Time, exhibition in the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, England
Back of the Big House: The Architecture of Plantation Slavery, John Michael Vlach, University of North Carolina Press, 1993

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