Monday, July 25, 2011

Missing the best part of a story

The obit for Elwy Yost in the Globe: OK OK the guy was much beloved in Ontario because he made a lot of old movies seem familiar must-sees (before VHS to say nothing of DVDs made movies so easy to find); he brought a true childlike joy to his work ...

But he was a bit of a vain fool--and that became part of the fun. Someone in Maclean's or some other Canadian magazine said his problem as a reviewer was that he had never seen a movie he didn't like. He actually wrote a letter to the editor defending himself--he thought it was his job to emphasize what was good in a movie--maybe the cinematography, maybe a particular actor's performance ....

But the best was the Frank Pranks. Frank magazine would get celebrities to comment on current events, or would pretend the individual was being considered for appointment to the Senate, or for the Order of Canada, or maybe even for Governor General. Many of them would fall for these suggestions completely, revealing the extent of their vanity--they had actually been wondering why appointments like this hadn't come along already. Elwy fell quicker, and harder, than anyone, and more than once. Supposedly on two different occasions he was caught either in the tub or on the john. "Can you just wait for one minute while I get some clothes on?" Again, somehow the joy he brought to everything made all this all the sweeter.

I once came across a fairly creepy interview with Graham Yost, Elwy's kid (writer of the movie Speed (bus making a jump), etc. Graham said his dad once kept him out of school for a day so they could watch King Kong together. The interviewer, a bit taken aback, said something like "that's quite a story," and Yost the younger said, now in tears, "that's a very cool story." Again, before VHS etc., but yeeks. King Kong? A profound exploration of man's relationship to nature, or science vs. nature, or how stereotypes of a black man raping a white woman can fit into these narratives? Give me a break.

Robbie Alomar: by all means, congrats on making it to the Hall of Fame, and thanks for some great years in Toronto. I actually dreamed during the ACLS that Alomar would get a big hit against Eckersley--and then it happened. But: wasn't there a point where Robbie was drafted lower than his brother Sandy, even though Robbie clearly had more talent, because of concern about his attitude? He'd show off making the difficult play, then blow the easy play? I can't find a source for this quickly ....

Peter Guber, Hollywood producer? One of the funnier famous stories about him is that he always looked for the happy ending, and he would use "research"--showing the movie to a local audience in LA--to support the idea that a happy ending would be popular. He tried this in the case of Rain Man, but Director Barry Levinson, who had retained creative control, would have none of it.

The Winnipeg Jets are using a picture of a CF-18 as part of their logo--partly because a squadron is based there. But: what about the famous maintenance contract that did not got to Winnipeg?

Then an opinion piece by Jeffrey Simpson: the federal Tories under Harper keep wanting to focus on crime, even though the crime rate is falling steadily. Are they not reality-based? But is has been pointed out (I believe by Carol Goar in the Star) that the poorest Canadians are often the ones who have to deal with crime--and crime makes it more difficult to do things like get jobs and decent housing.

If newspapers are dying, this is probably in part because they make everything a bit blander than it has to be--they miss the most interesting parts of a story, perhaps to avoid giving offence.

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