Anna Faris and Chris Pratt are a pretty great couple.
Thank you all for your kind words about Graveyard Quest's ending. We will see a physical release of it eventually, just not this year. Next year. Definitely by next TCAF at least.
In the late 19th century, shortly after the patent of the telephone, the race was on to connect everyone to the phone grid. However, due to technical limitations of the earliest phone lines, every telephone required its own physical line strung between a house or business to a phone exchange where the call was manually connected by a live operator. The somewhat quixotic result of so many individual lines was the construction of elaborate and unsightly towers that carried hundreds to thousands of phone lines through the air.
In Stockholm, Sweden, the central telephone exchange was the Telefontornet, a giant tower designed around 1890 that connected some 5,000 lines which sprawled in every direction across the city. Just by looking at historical photos it’s easy to recognize the absurdity and danger of the whole endeavor, especially during the winter months. Everything that could possibly go wrong did. From high winds to ice storms and fires, the network was extremely vulnerable to the elements. Luckily, phone networks evolved so rapidly that by 1913 the Telefontornet was completely decommissioned in favor of much simpler technology. The remaining shell stood as a landmark until it too caught fire in 1953 and was torn down.
If you want to see more, the Tekniska Museet (the Museum of Technology) in Stochkholm has hundreds of photos from this strange period over on Flickr organized into four main galleries: Linjeras och eldsvådor (accidents), Telefonstationer Stockholm, telephone stations in other parts of Sweden, and the Telefontornet.
metal windmill construction…
EXCLUSIVE: This Previously Unpublished Elaine Stritch Interview Reveals 10 Reasons We Loved The Irascible Legend
[Editor's note: In 2008, veteran entertainment journalist Brantley Bardin interviewed the brilliant Broadway baby Elaine Stritch, who died July 17 at age 89, for a women's magazine which ultimately decided not to publish it because the editors deemed it too "tough." Bardin, who has exchanged dialogue with an almost endless who's who of challenging show business legends and was a huge fan of Stritch's, calls his conversation with the no-nonsense entertainer perhaps his most harrowing ever. Bardin says Stritch, who decided she would only speak to him on Thanksgiving day while he had 10 guests at his home waiting for their dinner, "was in full, terrifying, high-curmudgeon mode when we spoke. By the end of the interview I was, literally, laid out flat on my bedroom floor. But so what? I got to interview Elaine fucking Stritch!"]
Blunt, brash and acerbic (and, okay, a little bit scary, too), 82-year-old stage, screen, and TV legend, Elaine Stritch, is certainly nobody’s cuddly, old grandma. Think more of an octogenarian Courtney Love. Take, for example, last year when she won her third Emmy, this time for her recurring role of Alec Baldwin’s ball-busting mom on 30 Rock. Accepting the award, Stritch showed her ‘sweet’ side when she accepted her statue with the response, “Un-fucking-believable! I’m a recovering alcoholic, a riddled diabetic, and I’ve got laryngitis…but I just won an Emmy!”
Born in Detroit in 1925, Stritch left home for NYC and the Broadway stage at 17 and, voila, at a mere 20, after having studied acting in the same class with a guy named Marlon Brando, found herself understudying Ethel Merman in the hit musical Call Me Madam. By 1970, after having been mentored by Noel Coward who wrote a musical, Sail Away, specifically for her, she became a bona-fide cult icon with her still unmatched rendition of the classic, booze-soaked anthem, “The Ladies Who Lunch,” from Stephen Sondheim’s Company. Her love life during those years included a romance with Ben Gazzara and an engagement with actor Gig Young to whom she broke it off to date…Rock Hudson (“And we all know what a bum decision that turned out to be,” she later quipped). While living and performing in London in the 1970s she wed British actor, John Bay, who died 10 years later of a brain tumor. She’s been stoically single ever since.
Making no bones about the fact that, be it in film or on the stage, she imbibed at least two cocktails during every performance, her drinking days ended when, after the final day of shooting Woody Allen’s September in 1987, she suffered a near-fatal diabetic attack — a life-transforming episode she related in her dazzling, Broadway, multi-award-winning, 2001 autobiographical one woman show, Elaine Stritch: At Liberty. Two years later an HBO documentary based around that show won her another Emmy and made her the undisputed star and running joke of the ceremony when she bounded up to the stage and announced, “Just look at the company I’m in here. And I’m so glad none of them won!”
Still dancing as fast as she can, Stritch recently shot another episode of 30 Rock and is in the midst of reviving At Liberty at New York’s Carlyle Hotel, a ritzy address the self-proclaimed “hotel baby” has called home for the last five years.
Though officially decreed a New York City Living Landmark in 2003 for her contributions to the Broadway theatre, when we first informed the diva that she was to be our inaugural icon in a new column devoted to the wit and wisdom that today’s with-it woman can learn from those who’ve run the race before them, she lit into us like a fireball. “Icon?! I’ve never known what that word even meant,” she harrumphed in her trademark gravel-meets-grindstone voice. “I think icon is a dumb word.”
Well, sorry, Ms. Stritch, but ya are. And so without further adieu, here are…
THE 10 REASONS WE LOVE ELAINE STRITCH
She can’t be buttered-up by a compliment.
They’re awfully superfluous — there’s a lot of compliments that you just can’t stand, because they’re just bullshit. But what kind of compliments do I like? I’ll know when it comes along.
She doesn’t overanalyze her life choices.
Why did I want to go into the theatre at 17? I have no idea. Who knows about those things? I don’t have a clue! I wasn’t born into a theatrical family, I was born into a very normal, upper middle-class family in Detroit and… well, I think a lot of it maybe had to do with just that and the fact that I wanted to get out of Detroit. Like, I once said — and I think it’s a pretty damn good line – “The ceilings aren’t high enough in this city.”
She’s prepared — and you damn well better be, too.
You have no business going out there unless you have it right and I know when I get it right and I know when I get it wrong — and I don’t get it wrong very often, not out there onstage. In life, I certainly do, though. Very often. But on the stage, I prepare so completely that…well, I mean people have jobs to do so they prepare for them and then they do them well or they don’t do them well. See, I find that an awful lot of people spend an awful lot of time going, “Oh, I hope I get this right,” but it’s all just emotion, instead of hard work. It’s a rough battle, but the stage is no different from anybody else’s job, no different at all.
She’s a perfectionist, but not proud of it.
I like to look back on my life and think that every time I’ve done a performance I’ve given it my all — I’m a perfectionist, unfortunately, I can’t do it any other way. But I don’t like being a perfectionist, it’s a very sad situation — it just wears you out.
She’s a workaholic…and has decidedly mixed feelings about that situation.
I keep performing, because it’s the only thing that gives me satisfaction. It doesn’t satisfy me to sit around and talk with friends and go to movies and plays, I’ve got to perform — it’s a necessity in me. That’s as simple as I can put it. But I don’t really want to do it. I really don’t! I’d rather just take it easy. Because, at my age, I should be relaxing, I shouldn’t have to do a performance every night and go through the nerves and anxiety that accompanies performing. So I don’t really want to do it, but it gives me what I need to live each day so I have to do it. I’m not happy about it. But it’s my reason for being here, for being alive. I don’t feel satisfied unless I’m putting forth some effort. I like to work, it’s as simple as that. Sometimes I work just so I can go to bed at night.
She’s got great gams.
I get a lot of exercise and I get enough rest, that’s how I keep in shape. I walk, at least, a couple of miles a day, sometimes, three or four. I wasn’t even conscious of the fact that I had great looking legs until somebody told me, but, yeah, I have good looking legs. I’ll admit that. Now, what’s the next question?
She’s funny, dammit.
I just did an episode of 30 Rock and being funny on a sitcom is a real trick of the week. Well, being funny any place is, because comedy is very, very hard to do right. What is it that Neil Simon once said? “Dying is easy, comedy is hard.” You can’t push comedy or work too hard at it. As Noel Coward once said, “Keep it light, keep it gay, keep it fragrant.” Tragedy is so much more fun to do, though — I like the easy way out and drama is the easiest thing in the world to do. It’s just a cinch. But they never give me a chance to do it, because I’m so damn good at comedy. But, listen, I am really, really glad I have a sense of humor, because it gets me through terribly, terribly difficult things in life. And I really mean exactly what that means: A ‘sense’ of humor.
She knows her own worth.
Awards are presents and I love presents of any kind and the Emmy for At Liberty was my greatest award of all time. I was thrilled to death. And I really earned it: My show was the best and it won and, rightfully, so. There’s nothing better than when all those things are present — when I really should have won and I did win.
She appreciates being appreciated, but…
I keep finding out all the time — and am thrilled to death — that my performances have affected people and that they’ve learned positive things. But what do I hope they get out of me? That’s up to them. What the audience thinks of me is none of my business.
She’s still here, but to that she says, “Yeah? So what?”
I guess it’s natural that people make a fuss that I’m still going, but it’s just what I want to do. It isn’t a big deal.
Watch Stritch’s glorious one-woman show At Liberty in its entirety below.
Shaun of the Dead. Hot Fuzz. The World’s End. These movies make up the Three Flavors Cornetto Trilogy, and they share more in common than the creative team of Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Edgar Wright.
They all tell the story of the Monomyth, otherwise known as the Hero’s Journey:
A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.
-Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces
Not familiar with this concept? Long story short, it’s a narrative structure that’s shared by many of our most memorable stories, from Gilgamesh to Star Wars. Some follow this structure on purpose; others by accident. Take a few moments to review the Wikipedia article and orient yourself to the seventeen stages. If you’re still a little fuzzy about what these stages look like in modern movies, check out this mapping of the Star Wars and Matrix trilogies to these stages as well.
Now, are you ready to Cross the Threshold and see how this maps to the Cornetto Trilogy? Probably not, because this is pretty insane. But here it is anyway (click for even larger version):
A few important things to keep in mind while reading this:
- The story elements don’t neatly follow the chronological order of the seventeen steps of the Hero’s Journey.
- This is no exact science. There may be better ways to map the story elements of the three movies to the seventeen steps.
- This is all probably not an accident. Director Edgar Wright filed a post on his blog about wanting to include a highly self-aware scene in Scott Pilgrim Versus the World in which Scott describes his own Hero’s Journey. He also name checks Joseph Campbell and The Hero with a Thousand Faces in this post.
So what this all mean? In a nutshell, the Hero’s Journey effectively functions as a satirical element of these movies. Part of the satire may be in calling out the frequent usage of the Hero’s Journey in genre movies, but to me, most of the satire lies in the movies’ implicit reminders that achieving self-actualization and escaping from the mundanity of daily life is actually harder than what we see in these genre movies. Lacking a call to adventure, a crossing of a threshold, or an ultimate boon, we have no structure to defeat the real forces of conformity and mundanity in our lives. They may not be zombies, psychotic villagers, or robots, but they’re real, and that makes them more fearsome enemies than anything a storyteller can throw against a hero.
Readers: what do you think? Do you have any suggestions for better ways to map the movies’ plot points to the Hero’s Journey? Do you think the Hero’s Journey acts as a satire in the Cornetto Trilogy, or is it just a convenient way to tell a good story? Let me know in the comments!
Special thanks to Fenzel and Stokes, who came up with this idea on the Overthinking It Podcast, and Stokes, who filled out most of the steps for Shaun of the Dead.
Shaun of the Fuzz’s End: The Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy and the Hero’s Journey originally appeared on Overthinking It, the site subjecting the popular culture to a level of scrutiny it probably doesn't deserve. [Latest Posts | Podcast (iTunes Link)]
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|A classic, I think you'd agree|
Turns out all sorts of things have been happening in the tabloid 'foreign worker scare story' petri dish while I've been away. I feel like a scientist who comes across a forgotten specimen at the back of a cupboard to find it's...mutated.
Surprisingly, there haven't been any shouty headlines about how foreigners have taken ALL the new jobs following the most recent figures. That's because the era of migrants taking all the jobs is over. Didn't you know?
Well it's over in the Mail anyway. In February there were fanfares for the government as the paper reported 'At last, most new jobs are filled by British workers thanks to stricter immigration policies'. At last! And all thanks to the policy covered the year before in 'Finally, British workers come first: Jobs for migrants slashed by half in visa clampdown'. Finally!
Of course, in the coverage of the most recent figures the paper is aghast at the number of jobs going to foreigners, but 'Number of people in work reaches record high of 29.7million but a third of new jobs go to foreign nationals' is at least clear that it's only a third of the jobs being filched these days.
Over at the Express though, things are different. The paper doesn't seem to have mentioned the number of migrants getting jobs in its coverage.
Three weeks ago though, long after the Mail declared that British workers were getting most new jobs,
It is ridiculous that when unemployment stands at almost 2.5 million more than half of all new jobs still go to foreigners.Wait a minute? Doesn't he know it's the dawn of a new age and most new jobs go to British born people now? Maybe not. In June, in 'Male migrants enjoy higher levels of employment than men born in Britain', the Express told us:
An estimated 225,000 people among the 423,000 who found work in the last year were not born in the UK, showed data released by the Office for National Statistics.Are migrants taking most new jobs or a third of them? Which paper is right? The answer is both. And neither.
In the Mail's triumphant piece from February, the paper used the same figures it always used to for its scare stories, but focusing on comparing stats from October to December 2012 with those from the same period in 2011. Most people added to the workforce in that period really were born in the UK.
So how is the Express right too? The piece from June looked at the same figures as the Mail did, but compared stats from January to March 2013 with the ones from the same period in 2012 - the next three month period on from the Mail's figures. The proportion of people from outside the UK in that period was much higher. Which means the figure has dropped again so the Mail can get its 'one third' number and the Express has just decided not to report it, right?
In it's most recent coverage, the Mail seems to have ditched its traditional method for talking about foreigners taking jobs. If the paper had used the usual methods comparing the latest quarter's figures with last year they'd have got the same proportion that allowed Steve Doughty to yell 'Foreigners take two out of three new jobs as statistics reveal nearly 200,000 vacancies were filled by those born overseas' back in January 2011. In fact even the total number is higher, at 204,000.
Instead of looking at the same stats, the paper has switched from measuring the rise in the number of people in the workforce born outside the UK to measuring foreign citizens. But this number has always been lower.
Back in the day, the Mail had a different narrative to push. We needed to be scared about the number of foreigners Labour had let in to ruin the country then. Now, it has to tell us that the tories are great and are saving us from the worst of the swarthy hordes. Switching the measure makes that possible.
The Express, however, hasn't changed so much. Since its Political Editor announced he'd be standing for election as a UKIP MEP, the paper has no reason to prop up the coalition where it can be outflanked on the right, so it'll carry on telling us mass migration is going to bring on the zombie apocalypse.
One thing that neither paper has done this time, which used to be a fun staple, is pick another arbitrary time period to measure. It's one way the papers could claim migrants had taken ALL the new jobs.
What if we compare the current quarter with the previous one? We'd see that the total number of people in had risen by 112,000 - while the number of those born overseas has risen by 136,000. Whoah! That's over 100%! Back in 2007 when the Express made a similar calculation that showed foreigners took more new jobs that were actually available, it led to a front page headline. Now, nothing.
(Of course, that might be because the PCC slapped them on the wrist and made them take the story down from their website, but they used the same method to calculate their scare stories ever since).
Measuring how many new jobs had been stolen by foreigners since Labour came to power was another favourite. So, what happens if we look at what has happened since the last election? Comparing July to September 2010 with the most recent figures shows that the number of people in work overall has risen by 426,000, while the number of people born outside the UK has risen by * pffft! * SHIT! 2,256,000! That's, that's over 500% of new jobs that have been snatched by foreigners!
Of course, no they haven't. These figures are just as crap as they always were. It's just interesting to see the tabloids not bothering with them any more.
This could be because they have a new target now. The Romanians and Bulgarians. Dun-dun-durrrn! Today the Express yelped 'Number of Romanian and Bulgarian workers in Britain soars 36 per cent', while the Mail squeals '100 Romanians and Bulgarians take a job in Britain every day, official figures show'.
If you put it another way, you could say that the percentage of Romanian and Bulgarian nationals in the workforce has risen from 0.31% to 0.42% but that doesn't make as scary a headline.
Nice to see the're still up to some tricks, I guess.
- Here's a link to the ONS employment statistics, where you can find tables for all the figures I looked at today. Knock yourself out. Go on. Knock yourself out. I dare you.
*This is just four days after he told us 'Mass immigration is destroying the fabric of society'. That's what I hate about McKinstry. Too timid to tell us what he really thinks about immigration.