Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Drunk on Foolish Pleasures: The "Lost" Columns

by JB
Huddle up for a brief announcement: this is the last “Drunk of Foolish Pleasures” column. (No crying -- I promised myself [sob] that we can get through this together without [sniff] making a scene.)

Well, pardners, saddle up for the last rodeo. Here’s a bunch of nonsense that I just somehow never quite got around to writing about… but that I still wanted to share with all of you.
1) A review of Lisztomania—no, not the Phoenix album, the 1975 Ken Russell film starring Roger Daltry as Franz Liszt. Yes, the Hungarian composer Franz Liszt. Yes, this is a real film. Yes, that column would have been a follow-up to my piece on Tommy.

2) A column exploring the work of Wheeler & Woolsey, a comedy team from the 1930s, now long forgotten. I own ten or fifteen of their films courtesy of Warner Archive MOD, but I have never watched them. (Sample titles: Peach O’RenoCockeyed CavaliersHips, Hips, Hooray!...Silly BilliesThe Cowboy Quarterback.)
3) A column detailing Erich Asperschlager’s journey from his home planet and what he really thinks about living on Earth as “one of us.”

4) A rant decrying the lack in space movies of more scenes involving Spock and Han Solo in the Tardis. (Just joking, but as we speak, Mike Pomaro and Adam Thas are sitting down to write that screenplay.)

5) A review of Airport, the mother of all disaster films. This one was tragically overlooked when I spent a few weeks last spring writing about the disaster genre. I’m currently reading the Arthur Hailey novel on which it is based—it’s immensely readable popular trash.

6) An in-depth treatise comparing Adam Riske’s “night-time scent” to Heath Holland’s “day-time scent.” It’s all good.

7) A column about the fact that my school district has decided to no longer offer Film Study, a class that I taught for the last THIRTY YEARS. Every time I began the rough draft of that column it quickly dissolved into nothing but swearing and vitriol. So what’s the point? I have decided to swallow my anger—because I am an adult, and because anger is delicious.

8) A column about The Godfather; I am, after all, Italian. Joe Mantegna once suggested that The Godfather was the Italian Star Wars. He is correct. (Wait a minute; did I write a column about The Godfather just two months ago? WTF? What was I thinking?)
9) A comparison of different streaming devices (Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV.) I came really close on this one, but hit a snag. Because I subscribe to the Comcast/Xfinity “Let’s See What A Rube JB Really Is/Blood From A Stone/Triple Play if by ‘Triple’ you mean ‘Two Out Of Three Don’t Always Work’ Package,” my Roku and my Amazon Fire TV never stay connected to the network for more than a few minutes at a time. Because my cellphone, tablet, and laptop (don’t judge me) have no trouble at all with this simple technological task, I must assume that the streaming devices are faulty. I’m on my second Roku and my third Amazon Fire TV. Column rendered impossible. Fuck Comcast. Fuck Amazon. Buy Apple stock.

10) A column in which I beseech readers to contribute to my Kickstarter campaign to buy Mark Ahn some fucking shoes. Your feet are very pretty, Ahn. WE GET IT.

11) Nathan Rabin recently posted something instructive over at The Dissolve, which Devin Faraci immediately seconded, concerning the nature of blog comments. Rabin suggested that reading the same blogger week after week might lead to the reader assuming a relationship with said blogger that didn’t really exist, and that we should all be careful of our tone when leaving comments. I feel lucky in that almost all of our (non-robot) comments have been positive.
But then I had the unmitigated temerity to offer my considered opinions on The English Patient, which happen to be correct. I almost felt the need to create an entire column responding to the ensuing storm of outrage—to wit:

COMMENT from Anonymous: “I’m here to help you appreciate this movie. It doesn’t have to be your favorite movie, but to be a competent film aficionado, you must at least appreciate it.”

RESPONSE: I guess the three decades I’ve spent TEACHING FILM just doesn’t qualify me as a “competent” film lover. Oh well, I can always dream of being anonymous.

COMMENT from (a different) Anonymous: “Your review is ignorant and narrow-minded.”

RESPONSE: You’re right. Your pithy and dismissive 100-word response neatly and completely trumps my 1200-word review. My bad.

COMMENT from (a still different, I guess?) Anonymous: “The English Patient is too high-class [and] sophisticated for some viewers. Regular commoners cannot understand it.”

RESPONSE: Fuck you.

BONUS COMMENT ABOUT A DIFFERENT MOVIE—Boethius on Gladiator: ”If it seems schizophrenic, that is because the ancient view of violence was just as confused. Gladiator is a great example of the tension between violence and reason that existed in the ancient world. In many ways, it is a film in the vein of Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, where the Peloponnesians and Delians first bully the Melians, threatening annihilation, but in the end regret the necessity of their violence (and) are themselves destroyed… Your complaints seem to miss both the point and the intention of the movie.”

RESPONSE: I would like to remind more recent readers that this was the column with all the fart noises in it.

In the end, though, I would never devote even part of a column to snarky comments about other people’s snarky comments. That would be classless. You deserve better. However, I would like to mention that, a few weeks ago, still another Anonymous called the Godzilla podcast that Patrick, Adam and I did (one of the most popular podcasts we have ever recorded, mind you) “A ménage-a-trois of stupid.” As God as my witness, if I ever start my own website, I’m going to call it “A Ménage-a-Trois of Stupid.”

ONE LAST THING: It has been my pleasure to write about film on this website for the past three years. I love the movies, and clearly many who read, listen to, and visit this site do too. This is a very good thing, much better than shooting heroin into your arm or Cosplay.

Mega kudos go out to regular readers Sol, Myke, Greg Talbot, Luke Ciancio, Gabby Ferro, J.M., Kathy, Joseph Finn, JP, Grey Weirdo, Mac, Shannon Briggs, John Murphy, Cameron Cloutier, Brad L., Gil, Steve K, and Tom Smail—grudging thanks to Anonymous and to the Robots— and to my wife who lovingly copy-edits every goddamned word. Thank you to Patrick Bromley for giving me a platform for sharing these foolish pleasures in mein own peppy ways.

“I really enjoy forgetting. When I first come to a place, I notice all the little details. I notice the way the sky looks, the color of white paper, and the way people walk. Doorknobs. Everything. Then I get used to the place, and I don't notice those things anymore. Only by forgetting can I see the place again as it really is.”

--David Byrne

Now, I am going to get lost.


  1. I don't know, cosplay is pretty cool.

    Anyway, this is not how I was expecting to start my morning, but this is upsetting. All the best to you, J.B., and thanks for all the intelligent, entertaining, interesting insight that you have committed in writing thus far, and your devotion to doing so. Your hard work has not been in vain, and is greatly appreciated.

  2. Wait... was this a goodbye? I don't think I'm ready for a J.B-less internet. I love your work, man. I'll second John's comments about your intelligent, entertaining and interesting insight. You're such a big part of why this site and this community is so great. All the best, J.B.

    Oh well, back to that heroin (while dressed up as Legolas...because I'm a classy guy).

  3. What? You want to give up the glory of posting insightful articles about movies and then hear some mouth-breather call you "stupid?" Honestly!

    No, in all seriousness, this really bums me out. I've always looked forward to your articles because you're willing to write about movies made before 1970. You understand what it means to be a "monster kid." Like Elaine Benes, you aren't afraid to say that The English Patient is overrated. And I will always regret not being able to take your film course (all I can say is, I would have LOVED the freaking Wild Bunch). Heaven knows how many kids you introduced to the real joy of movies.

    Wherever it is you're going, whatever it is you'll be doing - good luck, cowboy.

  4. I sincerely hope this is an "I'll be back with a different column" goodbye and not an actual "I won't be writing any more regular columns" goodbye, but either way I'm grateful for every word you've written. Thank you for being awesome, for always speaking your mind, and for being everyone's favorite Quibbler. May whatever is next for you be fun, rewarding, and free of evil robots.

  5. Sincere thanks for sharing your insights and humor. You are one of my favorite writers, and your contributions will be missed greatly. Best wishes.

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  7. I was not fortunate enough to have a film class in high school with you, JB. But your columns and your appearances on the podcast gives me a great understanding of how great a teacher you are.

    Good luck.

  8. Hold on. Last LAST last? or Last of this titled column last? We've been down this goodbye route before JB, dont go playing with my heart again.
    Until further notice ill assume that in a while we'll get "JB 4.0" and life can go on as normal.

    And, sincerely sorry to hear about the Film Study course. That sucks major balls. Sounds like its time to open your own private Film Studies College.
    Budget Bureaucrats are the spawns of satan.

  9. It's a good thing my planet does not have an emotional equivalent for this thing called "sadness" or else I would be expressing what you humans call "tears." I hope this hiatus is from writing only and not from the podcast. That would break one of my seven hearts.

  10. JB you are the film teacher I never had and always wanted. I have always really enjoyed your contributions to the podcast and the site. #Quibbler4Life

  11. Aw man - selfishly I'm sad to be missing out on your always informative and amusing insights in this column (and can only hope your presence will be felt in some capacity?) but even worse is that the students of your district won't get the opportunity to study film under your guidance - I'm sure it would have been my favourite class and you my favourite teacher.

    You're a good man, JB - don't let it keep you down!

  12. Dammit whats going on here? Its like a teaser trailer to great column articles that will never appear in print

    Im still confused J Bones. I undersand there are some annoymous dicks out there. F them. Cant we just monitor the threads. Delete or just plain not allow annoymous comments? A few goobers dont make a community . I hope you are still going to appear on the podcasts? The quibbler must return.

    I'm very sorry to hear about the school cancelling film study. Thats sucks

  13. Well that's not how I wanted to start my Monday! We'll all miss your columns, JB, and I hope that's not the last we're going to see of you around these parts. (Also, go to hell, Anonymous School District.)

  14. In the words of Mark Twain, reports of my demise are greatly exaggerated. I will be back in six to twelve months with a new column. Thanks for all the kind words.

    1. And the Scary Movie Month Commentary? Yes? Please?

      Wouldn't be the same without you.

  15. Well, your would-be film students will be worse-off in their movie tastes and selections for not having you as a teacher. And life is short, so don't waste it doing something you don't get pleasure from doing. What little of yourself you give us (in podcasts, columns, etc.) from now on will be greatly appreciated, since what you've given us of yourself so far has been plenty insightful, educational, fun and unique. Thanks for the memories, J.B., the old as well as the new ones still to come. :-(

  16. JB - regarding your eventual return: phew! And be sure to drop by the podcast as often as PB will let you. And I also second the lamentation of your being denied your Film Studies course. A shame.

  17. Did you try for Rhetoric of Cinema? I still can't get over the fact that they stole film study from you... And your students. I can say, your film study class was the best class I took in highschool, hell probably the best class I ever took in general.

    Hope to see you back here soon, JB, because here, your teachings live on.

  18. I'm going to miss this article, JB, it really put a damper on my Tuesday. Also, it was a pleasure being a member of your last film studies class. I know not everybody in the class shared the same passion, but it was the highlight of the day for me (which sucked because it was my first class, the rest of my day went downhill quickly) Maybe you could incorporate the new column and film studies class into one? ;)

  19. I am so relived to hear you will be coming back! But I will miss this column so much. I have really enjoyed reading each week. I agree with all of the other comments here. You are one of my favourite writers. You are funny, intelligent, your love and knowledge of film comes across so beautifully and I feel I have learnt so much from you. I will be definitely be looking back at some of the older columns and taking recommendations that way in your absence. Thanks so much for the shout out, I have really enjoyed some of our interactions via this column! I really wish I could have taken your class. I am so glad to have found F This Movie, and a big part of that is your writing and contributions to the site and podcast. At school I had a horrible time with bad teachers so I really treasure ones that are great, and you are by far one of the best ones out there. Thank you J.B!

  20. *Puts shoes back on.*

    *Looks around.*

    *Takes shoes off again.*

    *Sad face because of JB's hiatus.*

    *Eats shoes.*

  21. I think Brad is on to something. The JB Institute of Film and Monsters would really be something. I too must join in sharing my relief that this isn't goodbye, but I will miss this column so much for its insights into old movies and passion for studying film. I am always envious reading your columns or listening to the podcast that I wasn't physically capable to take your class, and now it's a pain that generations upon generations will know all too well. But I'm very relieved you'll be staying on the website channelling all those lost opportunities into the continual movie education of all us F Heads. We love you JB!

  22. Very very glad to see you aren't gone for good, JB.

  23. Come back soon. I'm a hack film teacher who just repeats what you say...