Monday, 17 September 2012

I hate children. They have too many notes. SEK's apartment complex just installed a basketball court right next to his apartment. SEK thinks this is awesome because he finds shooting basketballs to be a zen-like activity. So at 8 a.m. SEK takes his basketball and shoots around for an hour. SEK: (shoots) SEK: (gathers rebound) SEK: (shoots) SEK: (gathers rebound) SEK: (shoots) SEK: (gathers rebound) SEK: (shoots) SEK: (gathers rebound) SEK: (shoots) SEK: (gathers rebound) SEK: (shoots) SEK: (gathers rebound) FOURTH GRADER #1 enters the court. SEK: (shoots) SEK: (gathers rebound) FOURTH GRADER #1: Pass me the ball, would you? SEK: (passes the ball) FOURTH GRADER #1: (airballs) SEK: (gathers rebound and shoots) FOURTH GRADER #1: Hey! It was still my shot! SEK: (passes the ball) Sorry about that. FOURTH GRADER #1: (airballs) FIFTH GRADER #1 appears on the court. FIFTH GRADER #1: (gathers rebound and shoots) SKRRRRRAAAAAAAAAA! SEK: Where did you come— FOURTH GRADER #2 joins him. FOURTH GRADER #2: (gathers rebound and looks around) PRRRRRAAAAAAAAAA! SEK: Where did you— As does THIRD GRADER #1. FOURTH GRADER #2: (passes to THIRD GRADER #1) FRRRRRAAAAAAAAAA! THIRD GRADER #1: (fumbles pass) KRRRRRAAAAAAAAA! SEK: (gathers ball and shoots) Some INTERDIMENSIONAL PORTAL must have been opened because... FIFTH GRADER #2: Quit hogging the ball! THIRD GRADER #2: (shoots) BRRRRRAAAAAAAAAA! FIFTH GRADER #3: (gathers rebound and airballs) NNNNNAAAAAAAAAA! FOURTH GRADER #3: (gathers rebound and airballs) MMMMMEEEEEEEEEE! SEVENTH GRADER #1: (gathers rebound) SLLLLLAAAAAMMMMM! (not even close) SIXTH GRADER #1: (gathers rebound and runs away with ball) TRRRRROOOOOOOOOO! SEK: Come back here! SIXTH GRADER #1: (throws ball into fence) TRRRRROOOOOOOOOO! (runs away) SEK: (gathers ball and makes to leave the court) ALL THE CHILDREN: HEY! COME BACK WITH OUR BALL! SEK: It's my ball! ALL THE CHILDREN: HE'S STEALING OUR BALL! SEK: IT'S MY BALL! I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHO YOU ARE OR WHERE YOU CAME FROM! ALL THE CHILDREN: THAT'S OUR BALL! IT HAS OUR NAME ON IT! SEK: YOUR NAME IS "SPALDING NBA"? ALL THE CHILDREN: IS YOURS? SEK declines to answer their question and walks away. He realizes that if he stayed out any longer he'd look like a creepy old man who shouldn't be playing basketball with children anyway. But since SEK lives right next to the basketball court, he walks the long way back to his apartment lest ALL THE CHILDREN realize which porch is his and decide to play Eschaton with the many plants on it.
Game of Thrones: "Winter Is Coming" for Poor Will (I think it goes without saying that this is another one of those visual rhetoric posts.) As this is to be the first of many posts breaking down the visual rhetoric of Game of Thrones, I want to tell you either "You're welcome!" or "I'm sorry!" I need to write them for my class this quarter so they will written. Regular blogging will continue as usual. (See?) Now on to "Winter Is Coming." For those of you who haven't read George R.R. Martin's Games of Thrones, it's important to note that there are twenty-four characters through whose perspective the narrative is occasionally focalized, meaning that the writers and directors of the television series needed to go full-Rashomon or find another way to imbue each episode with the feel of perspectival diversity. Which makes the decision to open "Winter Is Coming" with the Prologue odd but instructive. On the one hand, beginning where the novel begins is a simple decision: Martin placed the Prologue where he did because he wanted to set the mood for the scenes to come and director Tim Van Patten followed suit. On the other hand, in an episode that can only be 52 minutes long and in which numerous perspectives must be introduced, devoting 11 minutes to the quick end of the short life of Will, the Prologue's narrator, seems excessive. I'm going to argue otherwise: what the material contained in the Prologue provides the audience is a means of sympathizing with the different perspectives on Will's life and death, and in so doing begins to recreate the structure of the novel. But I'm getting ahead of myself here. First we need to be introduced to Will: He's one of those little black dots on horseback in this extreme long or establishing shot, the purpose of which is establish the scale of the wall by providing us with an identifiable reference and the state of the environment by showing us an unimaginably large wall made of ice and a cover of snow that follows the wall to the vanishing point. Before we even meet Will, then, Van Patten informs us that he is a small man beholden to powers great enough to build and maintain that wall, and that he is likely in peril, because no one who isn't builds and lives behind a wall like that. Moreover, the contrast between the blue-white snow and the black riders suggests that not only is Will in peril, he's conspicuously so, which means he's all the more likely to meet a sad end. And Van Patten's communicated all of this in a single shot. He cuts to another establishing shot that works much like the first: in what we'll call a very long shot, the world is still white and empty of all but some men and trees. This is the classic Russian technique of turning a forest into the cinematic equivalent of a barren desert: the only life visible is either human or snow-coated evergreen. These riders...

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