Tuesday, April 4, 2017

you don't say

"The scientists, in spite of everything, have begun to look optimistically into the future of Man and of the Universe."
~~ James Thurber

"Don't look back.  Something might be gaining on you."
~~ Satchel Paige


Thinking about some things lately:



The power of babble


One of my thoughts about power was something I read in Hedrick Smith's book, The Power Game.  He said that power is like mercury -- it can "slip around" -- it can be here, then it can be squeezed over to
there. ...

I also thought
 about how sometimes people get mired in thinking "power" is either
Bestowed, by someone higher on the power-continuum
Grabbed, by a wild-eyed revolutionary at the window

while actually it appears to me that sometimes power is

given away

by someone who's not up to it, or is tired, and someone else just picks it up.  Like finding a dollar-bill on the ground as you're walking.  Or a better analogy might be, it's like when someone says they don't want to do a job anymore, and someone else sees an opportunity:  "I'll take that job!" ... "I'll do it!"

President Trump gave the impression that we're not going to care about pollution, the environment or climate change anymore, and pretty soon there's this headline,

"China Poised to Take Lead on Climate After Trump's Move to Undo Policies".

Apparently China is like, "OK, if America isn't going to take care of the environment, then we will take the lead on that job."

When we abdicate leadership, that's what happens.

Closer to my personal experience was when the Safety Manager at my work announced it doesn't matter if President Trump expunges OSHA, or even the whole Department of Labor; at our company, we will continue adhering to high standards of workplace safety.

Same kind of thing, I thought.
You drop the ball, someone will pick it up.


Hyperbole -- (Online Dictionary) -- exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally

This word must be related to the word "hype."  I was reminded of this word, and its more common use in the 1970s, by a Reader Comment that quoted Bob Woodward in All The President's Men:  "If you're gonna do it, do it right.  If you're gonna hype it, hype it with the facts."

People used to say stuff like, "that (movie / book / record album) wasn't so great; all the talk about it is just hype."

I even suspected "hype" was just slang and not an actual word, but it does appear in Online Dictionary:


1.  To stimulate, excite, or agitate (usually followed by up).  [to be "hyped up"]

2.  To create interest by flamboyant or dramatic methods; promoted or publicized showily

3.  To intensify (advertising, promotion, or publicity) by ingenious or questionable claims, methods, etc.

4.  To trick; gull.


5.  Exaggerated publicity; hoopla

6.  An ingenious or questionable claim, method, etc., used in advertising, promotion, or publicity to intensify the effect

7.  A swindle, deception, or trick

So -- it is a real word, but a relatively new one.

The Online Dictionary adds,

Orign of hype
1925 - 30, Americanism; in sense "to trick, swindle," of uncertain origin; subsequent senses perhaps by reanalysis as a shortening of hyperbole -- (ah-ha!).


And moving on to Item 3, "the power of babble" I have to -- laugh, or maybe just look askance at my portable DVD player sometimes

during Commentary on a film... this weekend I was playing a film -- sometimes without the Director's Commentary, and sometimes with.

Some of the things the director said were -- not hyperbole or hype, but deadpan humor, with inside jokes which he trusted his audience to "get."  (The first one or two jokes-or-exaggerations-for-fun, I was all, "WHAT??!"  Then I had to re-calibrate my perception -- "Ah, humor ... I get it..."

One thing he said -- and he made the claim several times throughout the Commentary which lasted through the entire film -- was that the starring actress had gained weight and lost weight to fit the story line.  Now, this I did not believe.  For several reasons.  One of which was -- "Dude, I'm LOOKING at the movie, and I can SEE the actress, and I can see that she is not heavier,
she's just dressed and made up differently....

Seriously, I could see that she was just as slim as before.  Her appearance for some sequences mid-film had been altered somewhat using other means --

saggy, baggy clothes

possibly some padding inside the clothes

scarf tied over her hair

hair dyed brown, from blond

face a little tanned, or sunburned

wearing glasses

make-up done differently

And most importantly, I thought, appearance changes were rendered by --

a) angle from which the actress was filmed

b) lighting in which the actress was filmed, and

c) a change in the acting -- projecting a different inner attitude; she replaced

confident and elegant


sad and scared with a hard-luck vibe.

The non-visual change -- the inner attitude deployed through her acting -- probably had the greatest impact on the visual change the filmmakers wanted the viewer to perceive.  (Which is of course why the job is called Acting, not just Dressing-up...)

Meanwhile this director is prattling along ("the power of babble") insisting that the actress had been "gaining twelve-to-fifteen pounds, losing twelve-to-fifteen pounds" -- now he really gets rolling, the words and phrases just building on themselves and each other -- Does he even know what he is saying? -- it's like Trump on the campaign trail... 
"gaining, losing, 12!  15! -- It's not easy!  It's not safe!  We had doctors working with us, we had trainers working with her...!"  ("Oh the drama!  Oh the humanity!")

Where he lost me the first time with the weight claims was when he said she gained weight for part of the film, then had to lose it and put it back on again and lose it again.

Please.  Even those of us who live in the fly-over states and don't get a jillion dollars to make movies, know that movies are not shot in sequence to the story, beginning to end.

They arrange the sequences which must be filmed according to the setting and other physical factors -- outside, inside, New Jersey, Timbuktu, whatever.  If someone's going to gain or lose weight to appear different in different parts of a movie, you would first film all the thin scenes, then later all the scenes where they're heavier -- or vice versa.

Asking an actor or actress to

gain weight

lose weight

gain weight again

lose it again --

To borrow a line from Groucho Marx, "Now that's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard...!"

(Was the "Weight Story" another Insider Joke that I would "get" if I worked in Hollywood?)

I don't know.  Maybe they like to tell stories like that because they think the largest number of viewers can "relate" to it because almost everyone worries about weight.  But on the other hand, I don't think that "the largest number of viewers" would even necessarily listen to the Director's Commentary...

Hollywood -- oy!


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