G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

Shel Silverstein : “Talked my head off Worked my tail off Cried my eyes out Walked my feet off Sang my heart out So you see, There’s really not much left of me.” ~

Martin Amis: “Gogol is funny, Tolstoy in his merciless clarity is funny, and Dostoyevsky, funnily enough, is very funny indeed; moreover, the final generation of Russian literature, before it was destroyed by Lenin and Stalin, remained emphatically comic — Bunin, Bely, Bulgakov, Zamyatin. The novel is comic because life is comic (until the inevitable tragedy of the fifth act);...”

Werner Herzog: “We are surrounded by worn-out, banal, useless and exhausted images, limping and dragging themselves behind the rest of our cultural evolution.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Justin E.H. Smith: “One should of course take seriously serious efforts to improve society. But when these efforts fail, in whole or in part, it is only humor that offers redemption. So far, human expectations have always been strained, and have always come, give or take a bit, to nothing. In this respect reality itself has the form of a joke, and humor the force of truth.”

विलास सारंग: "… . . 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Roger Ebert: Cartoon Caption Contest Will Miss You More than Films!

I have read a few film reviews of Mr. Ebert. In recent years, I have used them to decide whether to watch a film or not. (By the way- I was mildly surprised to see some Marathi newspapers reporting passing of Mr. Ebert. I wonder if any of them has ever printed a translation of his review.)

Mostly,  I have benefited from his advice.

I like what Maureen Dowd wrote about him  in The New York Times in September 2011:

"...Ebert likes movies about Good People who do the right thing, like “Casablanca”; Bad People who do the right thing, like “The Silence of the Lambs”; and Bad People who have a sense of humor, like “Goodfellas.”

He asserts that “modern actors are handicapped by the fact that their films are shot in color” rather than the more mysterious black and white. “Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet are, and will remain, more memorable than most of today’s superstars with their multimillion-dollar paychecks,” he writes.

He complains that his life “has been devoted in such large part to films of -worthlessness.”
Hollywood dialogue was once witty, intelligent, ironic, poetic, musical,” he says. “Today it is flat.” He mourns that “it sometimes seems as if the movies are more mediocre than ever, more craven and cowardly, more skillfully manufactured to pander to the lowest tastes instead of educating them.”..."

(From the list of movies above, I love Casablanca, I like Goodfellas and I don't like The Silence of the Lambs.)

..."it sometimes seems as if the movies are more mediocre than ever, more craven and cowardly, more skillfully manufactured to pander to the lowest tastes instead of educating them" is more true of Hindi films than Hollywood ones.

(Marathi films are slightly different. Ideas behind some of them are good but the final product that comes out on the screen- cinema-  is mediocre.  Marathi news TV, newspapers and people involved with the film try talking it up but it does not work for me. You don't laugh while promoting a comedy. No sermonising on your own love, happy marriage will help. It has to come from within of the watcher while watching your film.)

But I like another side of  the late Mr. Ebert more: a New Yorker  cartoon caption contestant. He won the contest after failing at 107 of them earlier.

Bob Mankoff has written about this on his blog in April 2011 and now after Mr. Ebert's death.

Following is one of Mr. Ebert's failed attempt and, it was a failure only because of the 'Caption Contest Board of Censors' at the New Yorker. 

(I wonder why it was not sent to Playboy. Playboy has published some great cartoons. Marathi Diwali magazine Awaaz would have probably published it.)

This picture lifted my spirit as much as the tray on that plane! I have not traveled on a plane since I saw this. If and when I do, I will remember this.


Drawing Artist: Leo Cullum (1942-2010), Caption Artist: Roger Ebert (1942-2013)

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