Categories
movie

Barton Fink

After many years seeing it top lists of the Cohen Bros. best movies I finally saw Barton Fink streaming on Netflix and decided to watch it for the first time.

When it was done, I thought to myself — as many viewers of the movie apparently have, what was that all about? Luckily in 2018 I can do what viewers in 1991 (when the movie came out) could not do: Google it.

And to my delight, this Medium Article popped up, Writers Come and Go”: 10 Reasons Why Barton Fink Is the Best Movie Ever Made About Writing.

Every semester, I show my Creative Writing 1 students the 1991 Coen Brothers film Barton Fink. Those students who are foolish enough to enroll in Creative Writing 2 (and unlucky enough to have me again for a teacher) watch it a second time in that course. Students always ask: “Why are we watching this?” This is a good question — I encourage my students to seek answers, and questioning authority has been my modus operandi since I was a child. I’m happy to discuss all of this.
[…]
Barton’s ego is the villain of this story. So convinced is he of his genius that he becomes blind to the desperate needs of everyone around him — Charlie, WP Mayhew, and Audrey. He fails to see his art as a tool to improve the world, and instead sees it only as a means of attracting praise. Therefore he fails as a writer. I don’t want my students to follow in his footsteps.

The movie is excellent and made all the better after reading the above analysis.

I wish I were a decent writer. This web page is about the closest thing I have for an outlet and I’m lucky if I can just whip something up once a month to kid myself into thinking this blog isn’t completely dead. Maybe this movie will be the inspiration I need to get back into blogging. Or maybe this entry will sit on the front page for the next year, symbolizing my own Barton Fink like writing block.

Categories
education religion Science

Five must see open course video lectures

Since the introduction of open lectures by progressive thinking educational institutions like M.I.T., Stanford, Duke, Yale, and others, many exceptional presentations have bubbled to the top and should be watched.

Here are five must see open course video lectures as recommended by Virginia Heffernan of the NYTimes.

  1. Walter H. G. Lewin, Powers of 10, M.I.T. (At about 2:40 watch Power of Ten video that is cut from the lecture)
  2. Randy Pausch, Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams, Carnegie Mellon
  3. Dan Ariely, Predictably Irrational, Duke and M.I.T. (the rest of his short clips)
  4. Langdon Hammer, Modern Poetry, Yale
  5. Christine Hayes, Introduction to the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible), Yale

I also recommend Mark Schlissel, Introduction – The Cell Theory, Bacteria, Animal Cells, Evolution (Viruses and Midochondria). (The good stuff starts at about 13:00).

I listened to about a quarter of all the lectures from this course—most of which were over my head, but the first and second (mp3) classes are fascinating and make me wish I studied biology at school.

Categories
Art

Ira Glass on Storytelling

Ira Glass bequeaths the tricks of the trade in four YouTube videos that are extremely interesting, whether or not your are in the publishing/podcasting/video making business.

(via)