Scott Ellington's Blog

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In the past 5 weeks…

…I’ve lost the use of three hard disks, one internal, two external.  These losses in storage capability probably aren’t to dust, shock, abuse or my carelessness.  They’re probably the logical consequence of authorized, official updates to my operating system; MS Vista 64bit.

I have to say “probably” because dialogues and alerts provided by my operating system are remarkably misleading, and every potential remedy I’ve tried, instruction I’ve dutifully followed (where intelligibility and reason permit) since these problems began to arise has resulted only in a noteworty waste of time.

So, I’m soldiering on with work-around solutions, deprived of about half of my library, and contemplating ways to migrate my stuff to a new (and unaffordable) platform that might perform its fundamental functions up to and beyond the expiration of its goddamned warranty.

In brief, the cinematic highlight of the past five weeks has been Budd Boetticher, a name I learned a couple of years ago from Martin Scorsese’s The Century of Cinema.  Back then, I found The Tall T on VHS at Amazon, enjoyed it and planned to investigate the remainder of the Ranown cycle.  But life got in the way.  A random Henry Jenkins tweet reminded me last month of my Boetticher resolve, so I caught the remaining films via NetFlix, which also gave me access to a peek at Burt Kennedy’s films and some standard Randolph Scott, Peckinpah, Leone…for contrast. 

I like Boetticher’s themes, his attitude toward Hollywood (Fuck ’em) and I really like watching his influence spread far beyond the Western, the 60s, and Hollywood to exemplify clean, incredibly-efficient filmmaking rooted in character development in conjunction with a straight-forward plot.  I think most of the value I found in the Boetticher approach is reflected in Jeremiah Johnson, and the primary modern practioner of his filmmaking style appears in products made by Malpaso. 


Justified  didn’t intrigue me much, despite the praise Sam Ford (a reliable source of excellent information) sprinkled on it librally regarding its Eastern Kentucky setting.  (Sam’s a Western Kentuckian.)   The pilot episode turned me entirely around with sharp, intelligent dialogue, blistering pace, and a full-on creative environment that made Timothy Olyphant (who [I think] did not understand what Milch was getting at — at all) almost totally palatable.  It didn’t hurt to discover that Graham Yost (Speed [catch the commentary], Band of Brothers, Boomtown, From the Earth to the Moon, Raines) is the showrunner, with Keith Henderson (the son of a good friend who turned me on to Boomtown) working as editor on four (?) non-consecutive episodes, and Nick Searcy (From the Earth to the Moon, among other excellent things), Matt Craven (everything!), Earl Brown (great underplayed comedic/dramatic work on Deadwood).  But the major revelation for me in the first season of Justified is the complex and fascinating contribution of Walton Goggins.

John Christian Plummer (a name with which to reckon in future, mark my words) turned me on to the fact that David Milch’s pre-Deadwood series, Big Apple can be streamed (and downloaded) from YouTube.  And it’s far more than eminently worthy of that insignificant effort.

Like I said, brief.

None of the computer problems I’ve been having these past few weeks have prevented me from blithering in this blog, but “New&Improved technology” (that doesn’t fucking work anything like properly) provides powerful disincentives to use it as a means to a thought archive.

10 Jul 10 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts on Big Apple.

    Comment by Sam | 10 Jul 10 | Reply

  2. 1. Override the objections of the bosses and star Ed O’Neill, at will, in everything. No offense to Ian McShane, but for range and perfect plausibility…O’Neill.
    2. Big Apple’s remarkably complex plot left me more than a little bewildered, but it moves like a supersonic juggernaut from moment to meaningful moment at the speed of wonderful dialogue, deeply believable characterization, and casual asides that never stop.
    3. I’ve got twelve episodes of Deadwood (Season 3) in which to luxuriate between now and midnight. Then I’ll dive into Big Apple again, just to start tomorrow off right.

    4. Welcome back!

    Comment by Scott Ellington | 10 Jul 10 | Reply

  3. Also, in response to your 2882 post of 19JUNE2010, regarding people who don’t return stuff they borrow:
    Paraphrasing a moment from Out of Africa —

    Berkely: Surely you wouldn’t sacrifice a friend for the loan of a book?!

    Finch-Hatton: He did.

    Comment by Scott Ellington | 10 Jul 10 | Reply

    • I had the same response to Ed O’Neill. I couldn’t believe Al Bundy was capable of such pathos.

      And it’s great that his dead wife in JFC has the same name as his sister in Big Apple.

      Comment by Sam | 10 Jul 10 | Reply

      • The illusion of discrete and soverign personality doesn’t register as valid in the Milch cosmolgy. Whedon had Fred come right out and say explicitly that Great Stories flow from one line to the next across volumes. For these guys, the conventional barriers (that academics use to cordon off reality) seem to be imaginary boundaries, so the same actor plays degenerate Jack McCall and sociopathic Frances Wolcott. And the clues the nourish us dwell in powerful moments we recognize — not in disingenuous camera moves.
        Whedon also has Angel define a champion as someone who behaves as though the better world he envisions is the one in which he lives. I have the sneaking suspicion they’re the same guy in diffrent skins.

        Comment by Scott Ellington | 10 Jul 10

  4. Evidently I can’t drop links in the “ask me anything” box. Nor, apparently, can I type without hitting the return key like an idiot.
    This is Myles blog:

    Sorry for the confusing messages I just sent to yours.

    Comment by Scott Ellington | 10 Jul 10 | Reply

  5. Hi Scott,

    First of all, response coming to your latest email. In the meantime, I wanted to say a couple of things re: Walt Goggins. First of all, I’m particularly impressed by his performance vis-a-vis The Shield, where he plays a quite clueless and directionless character, as contrasted with this man of mission and vision in Justified. As I believe we’ve discussed in our correspondence, I heard Walton on NPR’s Clean Air a bit back, and he explained that his character was originally supposed to be just used in the pilot. However, when the pilot tested especially well among audiences, they changed the ending to allow his character to live and made him part of the show. The first part of the season flounders a bit, in my mind because Boyd Crowder was not intended to be an ongoing part of the show, and thus his character is either not in the episodes or written into a minor scene or two. The second half of the season picks up greatly with his release.

    Also, glad to see you are a reader of Cultural Learnings. I had the chance to meet Myles at Fiske Matters last month, thanks in part to a Peppercommer who follows his blog. Myles is going to be a Ph.D. candidate at UW-Madison this fall, working with (among others) the fantastic Jonathan Gray.

    Comment by Sam Ford | 12 Jul 10 | Reply

    • Ladies and Gentlemen…introducing the best friend an inquiring mind ever had, Sam Ford.

      My computer’s spontaneous crash gave me time to frame that sincere preamble. Anxiety regarding the next unscheduled interruption of power/service underscores my need for brevity in this response (in keeping with the theme of this post): That our rosy hopes for the future of long-distance conversation, entertainment and Culture should and must reside NOT in our everNew&Improved technological infrastructure, but in the people who are stuck with using it.
      The quality and character of the people I’ve encountered along the exalted path to this beknighted backwater of a blog are the only reason to keep writing it.

      Thank you! (fade to blackout)…(or not).

      Comment by Scott Ellington | 12 Jul 10 | Reply

  6. Isn’t that the truth? As a victim of various hard drive crashes and inbox losses over the years myself, I completely understand. I had many great pieces of correspondence in the Walled Garden of AOL once upon a time that I’d give anything to have back, including some emailing with the (then-somewhat-ailing) wrestling legend Lou Thesz, when I was a high school student who actually emailed Lou to ask him what he thought about various wrestlers of the era and how they stacked up with the stars of yesteryear.

    Comment by Sam Ford | 12 Jul 10 | Reply

    • And the hits just keep on coming. My operating system has now cordoned off the last external drive I’ve been using as the fallback. Backup archives are now unavailable; iTunes<Justified, Breaking Bad, valued stuff that may require repurchase…as if!
      Maybe the universal solvent that ultimately fixes the copyright conundrum will be customer-collective archives…ironclad, imperturbable access to Our Stuff — without having to buy individual libraries that drip with unsustainable redundancy.
      There's a sublime definition of culture (as a verb) derived from a model that meters how much interest is dedicated to Lou Thesz' perceptions of the next generation of wrestlers. Access to treasured information is the goal of customers, barring consmer-access to treasuries derived from bundled lots of (valueless) information is the function of non-customers, but one way or another, we're all one another's customers.

      Comment by Scott Ellington | 12 Jul 10 | Reply

  7. I think this idea of your traveling archive available from anywhere will be the next wave of media. If Apple or other current media creators don’t provide it, then someone else will come along that will disrupt their game. Hopefully, for their sakes, they don’t stick with DRM and content that’s hard to move until its too late, but it’s hard for companies to be willing to disrupt themselves…and sometimes they just wait until it’s too late.

    Comment by Sam Ford | 13 Jul 10 | Reply

    • Content is the horse that drives the wagon of commerce forward. Vast, competing companies “own” both, legally, but by putting the cart before the horse and cooperating with one another to protect their holdings, companies effectively brake progress to preserve their static interests at the expense of dynamic Culture and Society (customers).
      When content aggregators, Amazon/NetFlix/iTunes pool their databases to serve their customers more effectively they’ll model a form of corporate mental health that might become contagious.
      Transnational corporations cooperate with one another (media cartel) to the extent that content remains available to customers at a premium price. The NextBigThing in therapy will put cartel members in treatment to transform unsustainable selfinterest into a form of commerce that’s beneficial to Culture and Society. Until that changes, the 21st Century remains the 20th.
      I think the third and fourth seasons of Deadwood (how to speak truth to power) were stopped — as the perfect illustration of Power’s response to Truth:(“Shut The Fuck Up!”) And then there was silence, an ever-deepening sense of loss, and John from Cincinnati — because content drives the wagon, and corporations don’t really WANT to be a diseased brake on the natural evolution of Culture. That’s just the role they play in every form of entertainment produced in the 20th Century.

      Comment by Scott Ellington | 13 Jul 10 | Reply

  8. This gets back to Amanda Lotz’ work on industry logic. It exists until something from the outside comes along to uproot it. The VCR and TiVo, for instance, were not technologies dreamed up by the industry. As you know, many of these changes were vehemently opposed until they couldn’t be stopped. And nothing’s more painful than watching a show that is good get canceled because people just can’t get the business model right, i.e. there’s an audience for the show but it’s not the “right audience” for the advertisers that they think it should have (i.e. Veronica Mars).

    Comment by Sam Ford | 13 Jul 10 | Reply

    • Business meddle. Full stop. Next question, art without business — how?

      Comment by Scott Ellington | 13 Jul 10 | Reply

  9. […] In the past 5 weeks… […]

    Pingback by My Oldest Posts « Scott Ellington's Blog | 10 Aug 14 | Reply

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