I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
January 15, 2016 - 1:05 p.m.
Big Fun Stupid Movies
It's amazing the little things that can trigger an anxiety attack. Just now it was a post on Facebook that led me through a string of thoughts to something I don't want to be thinking about. It doesn't help that I can't remember what I'm supposed to write about today. I had such a clear notion last night. Why the hell don't I write these things down? What the hell did I do yesterday? It pretty much fell into a pit of chronoklepts. Imagine the scene in Indiana Jones? Why did it have to be chronoklepts?
All I had to do yesterday was go to Trader Joe's and the bank. I couldn't make it out of the house till 9 PM, that's when Trader Joe's closes. I had nothing for dinner in the house so I went to Popeye's. That's failure all around.
Ok that's it for negativity. I'm still me and I know that, "it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness."
I'm almost done with my project of editing all my photos lost in the limbo of camera uploads on dropbox. That's where my pictures are automatically uploaded from my phone. I had something like 2000 pics in it now it's down to 135 taken over three days. I have also tagged all the pictures in Picasa. Posting all those pictures on Facebook has increased my readership here because I give a link to the blog entry about each show I took pictures of in the album. I'm getting spoiled and that's coming to an end.
Wow I have writer's block. I never have writer's block. I might forget what I wanted to write but then I think of something else. OK, I found something. I've been talking since I saw Die Hard about big fun stupid movies. That's a genre and you really should know what I mean. It's most blockbusters. I generally like them less than most people. Or do I? I don't know that without counting how many I like and don't like. There is no list of these films but there is of top box office hits, US only. I'm going to go through the top thirty and say how I feel about them. One important point. Most lists of top box office films are stupid; they are loaded with recent films because ticket prices have gone up. I'm using the inflation adjusted list. Do you know the all-time champ? You should. The first number is the adjusted gross, the second the nominal gross.
1 Gone with the Wind MGM $1,739,604,200 $198,676,459 1939 I actually saw this in a theater when I was in college. I thought I'd love it or hate it as it’s a four-hour movie. Instead I thought it was OK. Part of the problem is that it's told from the point of view of slave owners. Even if it wasn't I doubt I'd ever love it.
2 Star Wars Fox $1,533,609,700 $460,998,007 1977^ The classic big stupid fun film. I enjoyed it. I told people to see it. It was innovative, a new experience. It also had dreadful acting other than Alec Guinness and a stupid plot. Why can't Storm Troopers hit anyone? I enjoyed it a lot but clearly less than so many people.
3 The Sound of Music Fox $1,226,196,400 $158,671,368 1965 I saw this in the theater because I loved Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins. Anyone else notice that her two biggest roles were playing nannies? I loved it as a kid and cried in the theater. I saw it again in high school or college and thought it was oversentimental tripe. I saw it again as an adult and loved it. It has that Rogers and Hammerstein score, a great cast, great cinematography. In other words a great film that I love. In my top 25, nope, but I'm happy it's on the list.
4 E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial Uni. $1,221,365,800 $435,110,554 1982^ I saw this in the theater, I believe on the day it came out. I saw all the films the day they came out in those days. That this was a hit drove me nuts. I thought it was idiotic. Looking back now I think it's idiotic. This is the kind of film that makes me feel like an ET, I can't be from the same planet as people that think this is great. It's big and stupid but not fun.
5 Titanic Par. $1,166,435,200 $658,672,302 1997^ I so didn't want to like this film. I don't like Cameron. I love A Night to Remember and didn't think we needed another Titanic film. Then I saw it and loved it. It's not one of my all-time favorites. It's not the Sound of Music but I'm fine with people thinking this was great.
6 The Ten Commandments Par. $1,127,910,000 $65,500,000 1956 I grew up watching this on TV. I'd love to see it in a theater. Another type of classic Big Fun Stupid Movie. Nothing exceeds like excess. But it works. The all-star cast works even when it shouldn't. The effects work even on a small screen. This was made when movies were being killed by TV so it let out all the stops.
7 Jaws Uni. $1,102,758,600 $260,000,000 1975 This might be the first film I called A Big Fun Stupid Movie. It is so much fun. I always thought the key was not the effects but the acting, particularly Robert Shaw. The scene where he tells the story of the Indianapolis's crew being eaten by sharks was the best part.
8 Doctor Zhivago MGM $1,068,806,300 $111,721,910 1965 How did I never see this? I was a bit young for the theaters, why not on TV? I have to check it out.
9 The Exorcist WB $952,258,800 $232,906,145 1973^ I loved it. I still love it. I wanted it to win best picture. Yes it's big and dumb but it works. It's scary.
10 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Dis. $938,490,000 $184,925,486 1937^ I didn't see this till I was an adult. I did not like Disney animated shorts which I saw on TV so I thought I wouldn't like the films. I was wrong about the early one, I love them now. Yes it's treacly but there's such artistry.
11 101 Dalmatians Dis. $860,287,500 $144,880,014 1961^ I didn't see it.
12 The Empire Strikes Back Fox $845,335,300 $290,475,067 1980^ Don't hate me but I thought it was boring. The acting was much better than Star Wars but something about it dragged for me. I know it's everyone's favorite. Scott will never talk to me again. Oh and I have rewatched it more than once so clearly I enjoy it.
13 Ben-Hur MGM $843,780,000 $74,000,000 1959 You have to lump this with the Ten Commandments, the great biblical epics of the 50s staring Charlton Heston. It's fun it's exciting. The chariot race is one of the greatest action scenes ever. As a nice Jewish boy I thought him turning Christian made it an unhappy ending.
14 Avatar Fox $837,367,900 $760,507,625 2009^ Put the emphasis on stupid in big fun stupid movie. It was also about 40 minutes too long. I loved the effects, I wish they followed it up with good movies using them. This was not good.
15 Star Wars: The Force Awakens BV $822,802,900 $822,802,874 2015 I haven't seen it yet.
16 Return of the Jedi Fox $809,851,500 $309,306,177 1983^ I liked it better than Empire despite the Ewoks which I think of the way others think of Jar Jar. Now I'm not so sure, Empire might be better. The ending totally didn't work for me. But I can see it being a box office champ. I can live with that.
17 Jurassic Park Uni. $791,448,000 $402,453,882 1993^ Crichton stole the idea from me. Except my dinosaurs being clones movie was intelligent. Yes this lives up to Big Stupid Movie. The plot only works if smart people act stupidly. That being said I enjoyed it. Perhaps that's how most people feel about these films, they aren't great but many people enjoy them without thinking they are great.
18 Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace Fox $777,587,000 $474,544,677 1999^ I actually like this more than the big Star Wars fans. They at least attempted to make the force more than wishing will make it so and shows that not everyone can use it. Now we can see that Luke had something special inside him, not just training. But of course it still isn't as good as the original trilogy but it's not as bad as others think it.
19 The Lion King BV $767,550,700 $422,783,777 1994^ Didn't see it.
20 The Sting Uni. $767,520,000 $156,000,000 1973 I was disappointed when I saw it in the theater, it wasn't as good as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. I think I fell asleep at one point. I enjoyed it but was mortified it won best picture. Yep another bit fun stupid film. I'm OK with it.
21 Raiders of the Lost Ark Par. $762,215,600 $248,159,971 1981^ This one was just too stupid for me. The Nazis think that the Ark is real and has great power but somehow the god of the Jews they were committing genocide on was going to support them because a guy wore the right robes. Really? Oh and if it can win WWII how come it couldn't stop the Egyptians with swords and chariots from taking it from Israel?
22 The Graduate AVCO $736,815,800 $104,945,305 1967^ It's not big and it's not stupid. I would have not have guessed this would be the most successful personal film in history. I loved it of course. I have one word for you; Plastics.
23 Fantasia Dis. $715,004,300 $76,408,097 1941^ So you know how I don't like Disney animation? This totally blew me away. My favorite Disney film. It's a true milestone. In some ways it's like 2001, a total experience more than a linear story. You can't beat it.
24 Jurassic World Uni. $680,636,600 $652,270,625 2015 I barely remember it.
25 The Godfather Par. $679,523,300 $134,966,411 1972^ Not at all stupid but clearly big. One of the greatest films ever made. When I made my top ten it wasn't on it. That was stupid of me. It belongs. Take the gun leave the cannoli.
26 Forrest Gump Par. $676,854,200 $330,252,182 1994^ I missed it in the theater. I didn't want to see it. I saw it on TV in the hospital and fond that I loved it even though I didn't want to. Is it stupid? Stupid is as stupid does. Not one of the greatest films but I can see why some think it is.
27 Mary Poppins Dis. $673,145,500 $102,272,727 1964^ I hit this just write. I waited on line at Radio City four hours to see it. I was 7. It was worth it. I don't care how bad DVD's accent was, the film is the perfect children's movie. Julie and Dick own me till this day.
28 Grease Par. $662,704,800 $188,755,690 1978^ Big, Stupid, and not that good. Why this was more than a moderate hit is beyond me. Insipid story, not great acting, and mediocre songs.
29 Marvel's The Avengers BV $661,947,300 $623,357,910 2012 My kind of big fun stupid movie. I loved it. Sorry I'm a sucker for well-done comic book films. I had a great time. Not a classic film but who cares.
30 Thunderball UA $644,028,000 $63,595,658 1965 How is this above Goldfinger? That was the greatest Bond film. This was the worst one made till then. But the fourth best Bond film is still loads of fun. Sean Connery is Bond, the rest play him.
OK now I can eat. That's my reward for writing. Then I have to go to Trader Joe's. I have a concert tonight, one tomorrow, and three on Sunday. I'm going to be busy.