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Niggles

Like a bad tooth or an unhealed wound, my attention tends to poke and prod absentmindedly at matters of minimal importance, like:

I disagree with a central dispute that eventually figures prominently in Finding Forrester, that “further” and “farther” are two similar terms that are used incorrectly by the antagonists in that film.  In the past couple of days I’ve read blogs and articles in which people used the expression,  “a step further”.  The intended, contextual meaning of the sentence doesn’t change much, but relative measures of distance or degree don’t inspire confidence in the speaker when the metaphors used are more reliant on corrupted common usage than on common sense.

Split infinitives are as ungrammatical as incorrectly-identified compound predicate nominatives that result in goofy sentences, like; The cops were ordered to brutally arrest Martha and I, but they released her and never Mirandized I.

“In the interest of brevity, it will be sufficent to say that…” has been abbreviated to, “Suffice to say”, which is the illegitimate cousin of, “That said…”, which usually stands in for a longer phrase, like, on the other hand, or any familiar expression that lends contrast to the author’s shifting tracks of contextual perspective in paragraphs readers attempt to follow.  (I know I’m probably far guiltier of confusing the crap out of readers than most people, but not for want of constantly striving to be succinct, transparent, precise and specific, while constrained by the interests of brevity.)

Early in Fog City Mavericks, Peter Coyote says that San Francisco is a city of seven square miles.  It’s actually forty-nine square miles, in a squarish shape that’s about seven miles on each of four sides.  I very much enjoyed the film, but stupid errors (that escape editorial notice all the way to the final cut) early in a presentation cast persistent suspicion on all subsequent declarations.  So I wonder whether there’s much truth in his fascinating statement that twenty-four frames per second is the standard on which cinema operates because Eadweard Muybridge experimented with twenty-four still cameras to prove that a horse can run without touching the ground.  ¹  (Ed’s Wikipedia page is open in another tab [because I hadn’t a ghost of a chance of spelling his name correctly without help] and I might as well check for the validity of the 24fps declaration of institutional rut-ocracy.)

I’ve generally stopped commenting at the blog of The Ad Contrarian.  I think his responses are limited to advertising industry professionals, but that may be the incorrect impression of my bruised ego.  The nearest I’ve come to a direct response from him came a few days ago when, in celebrating the blog’s second anniversary, he (among several other things) mentioned the annoying tendency of squids and ferrets to crop up in his blog-comments.  Squids, he explained, are anonymous sociopaths who say rude and obscene, irrelevant things.  Ferrets just snarl the threads of his blog posts by trumpeting some goofy alternative agenda, sans evidence, sans sense.  I’m a ferret because I’m neither an advertising industry professional nor (intentionally) a psychotic malevolence, although I do tend to blither.

The comment I made pertained to his post about his having visited the DeYoung Museum for the disappointing, current Tut exhibition.  Having (tacitly) appreciated his disrespect for the marketing scheme that stalled and herded too many jam-packed visitors through the claustrophobia-inducing venue and also barraged them with merchandizing opportunities…I understood his contempt for the team that will guage the success of their marketing scheme on the basis of profit rather than the enhancement of the customer-perceived value of the exhibition to (repeat) visitors.  And, in the interest of brevity, my comment neglected to mention my gratitude for his insight (where there’s smoke, there’s either fire or an important person’s butt), pinpointing instead the utter absence of his suggestions for improvement of the visitor experience that might result in recurrent visits by high-yield clientele, like him.  (I’ve learned that the high-yield, heavy-user market segment is the neglected conceptual target of his blog and hovers at the heart of every blog post — at least, theoretically).  I also tried to squeeze into my comment my personal distaste for branding practices (that seem to flock customers into a deeply-wrongheaded barnyard metaphor) and alluded to striking similarities between King Tut’s afterlife-roadshow and the seemingly-unending Michael Jackson funerary hysteria that might be the prelude to the birth of a dead-celebrities-traveling-exhibition industry.  The estates of celebrated artists, politicians and assorted media luminaries already live after them.  An afterlife exhibition industry might profoundly influence the career decisions of our living cultural icons, whose actual legacies might just impact culture constructively. The Final Cut concerns itself with life-cosmetics.  I think the redemptive, transformative power of our mortality to alter life is assiduously undercontemplated, but infinitely potentiated.  Is today a good day to die?  No wonder Little Big Man is still one of my favorite movies.  The question it asks, repeatedly and pointedly, remains perfectly relevant.

The shameful, disgraceful and disgusting aspects of marketing schemes that exploit the popular impulse to pay respect to Tut or Jackson or Lincoln don’t begin to invalidate the sincerity, the mystery, the power of that impulse.  And ferrets who see farther than the contemptuous tone of a blog post to ask for more insight from advertising industry professionals enroute to proposing the creation of a new industry that synthesizes the best aspects (as defined by high-minded contrarians) of showbusiness, mortuary science and the study of contemporary culture are probably more valuable ferrets than The Ad Contrarian’s pejorative label (for hunters) suggests.  Pardon me while I congratulate myself excessively.

Explaining this junk at Bob Hoffman’s blog seems likely to result in his erasure all of my previous comments — something he did recently to someone who disagreed with his post of a couple of weeks ago.

Like a bad tooth or an unhealed wound, these niggles need mention for exorcism.

¹ (Something Wiki this way comes)

In 1872, former Governor of California, Leland Stanford, a businessman and racehorse owner, had taken a position on a popularly-debated question of the day: whether all four of a horse’s hooves left the ground at the same time during a gallop. Stanford sided with this assertion, called “unsupported transit”, and took it upon himself to prove it scientifically. (Though legend also includes a wager of up to $25,000, there is no evidence of this.) Stanford sought out Muybridge and hired him to settle the question.  

To prove Stanford’s claim, Muybridge developed a scheme for instantaneous motion picture capture. Muybridge’s technology involved chemical formulas for photographic processing and an electrical trigger created by the chief engineer for the Southern Pacific Railroad, John D. Isaacs.

In 1877, Muybridge settled Stanford’s question with a single photographic negative showing Stanford’s racehorse Occident airborne in the midst of a gallop. This negative was lost, but it survives through woodcuts made at the time.

By 1878, spurred on by Stanford to expand the experiment, Muybridge had successfully photographed a horse in fast motion using a series of twenty-four cameras. The first experience successfully took place on June 11 with the press present. Muybridge used a series of 12 stereoscopic cameras, 21 inches apart to cover the 20 feet taken by one horse stride, taking pictures at one thousandth of a second. The cameras were arranged parallel to the track, with trip-wires attached to each camera shutter triggered by the horse’s hooves.

This series of photos, taken at what is now Stanford University or in Sacramento (there is some dispute as to the actual location), is called The Horse in Motion, and shows that the hooves do all leave the ground — although not with the legs fully extended forward and back, as contemporary illustrators tended to imagine, but rather at the moment when all the hooves are tucked under the horse as it switches from “pulling” from the front legs to “pushing” from the back legs.

Wikipedia sheds a little light on several interesting Muybridge-related ideas, but the 24fps tradition (the frame rate for talkies, not silent films) isn’t one of them.  Wikipedia led me to a fascinating Kevin Brownlow web-article that casts plenty of doubt on the scripted statements made in Peter Coyote’s narration.  Ed died in 1904, and the standard frame rate for making (and projecting) motion pictures evidently varied from 16-46fps.  I think Peter Coyote was given  an unbalanced load of cool-sounding nonsense and inspiring information to read.  I bought his credible delivery, and greatly enjoyed the film…but I wonder how deep those pockets of nonsense run.

http://www.cinemaweb.com/silentfilm/bookshelf/18_kb_2.htm

25 Jul 09 - Posted by | Uncategorized |

3 Comments »

  1. Scott:

    As a blogger, I’m sure you’ve found that the potential for being misunderstood is very high. I was afraid when I wrote the post about squids and ferrets some of my readers would misunderstand. Apparently some have.

    There are actually people who will send me six or seven different comments on the same post. These are the ferrets. They will argue just for the sake of arguing. They are mostly there to promote their own blogs by being loud on mine.

    As for responding to comments, it is very hard for me to do so. I am pretty busy and there are days I don’t even have time to read the comments. Also, I don’t like to have the last word on everything.

    There are some people whose comments I have barred and even removed. In two years, there have been 3 such people. Two of them were abusive and they are gone forever as far as I’m concerned. One was just annoying and I’ve recently let him back in.

    It’s impossible to come up with a policy on comments that’s not going to annoy some people. Most bloggers “moderate” (censor) their comments. I don’t like to do this for 2 reasons: 1) I’m not inclined to be an arbiter of good taste. 2) I don’t have the time. But sometimes there are just squids and ferrets who can’t be allowed to turn a public forum into a platform for their abuse and self-promotion.

    Please don’t stop reading or commenting. Intelligent people are always welcome.

    Comment by bob hoffman | 25 Jul 09 | Reply

  2. Bob,

    UnFuckingBelievable! Thanks!
    Now, wild horses couldn’t keep me away from a dedicated, reverent and strenuously studious connection to your blog.

    Comment by Scott Ellington | 26 Jul 09 | Reply

  3. […] Niggles […]

    Pingback by My Oldest Posts « Scott Ellington's Blog | 10 Aug 14 | Reply


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