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January 15, 2010


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Sounds like the time I tried to read ATLAS SHRUGGED.


If you threw the book at Armond White, and he fell onto an, I don't know, board of some kind, and on that board was a can of paint that then catapaulted into the air and landed on Keith Olberman's head, then everybody would win.


Am I the only one who was hoping Sony would screw around long enough arguing with Raimi that they'd wake up one morning and realize the only way to keep the rights was to give Roger Corman a call and have him sprinkle some of that Fantastic Four magic on ol' Spidey?

Stephen Whitty

I'm just still inordinately pleased -- and without justifiable reason, strangely proud -- that you and the voters decided to put Rohmer/Nabokov above Beatty/Byskind. It says something.

And take your time. Shirley's baby brother always did.

Chris O.

I'm 3/4 of the way through the Altman oral biography and the "Well, the studios didn't want to have anything to do with Altman at this point..." is funny in its repetition. So I've got him on the brain when it comes to a Soderbergh analogy. Bear with me. But if CHE is in a sense Soderbergh's POPEYE and GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE his COME BACK TO THE FIVE AND DIME..., then we've got some interesting stuff to look forward to.

As for Raimi, I agree. Maybe he'll turn to some original stories, though rumor is he may do a video game movie.

Ed Hulse

For several years now, Raimi's name has been attached to the proposed rebooting of The Shadow. He was said to be excited about the project and fanboys, citing his DARKMAN, deemed Raimi to be sympatico with the character -- who, despite having appeared in films off and on since 1931, has never been accurately portrayed. Around this time last year, an assistant to Michael Uslan (also attached to the project) said a draft script had been written, but since then there's been no further news. I wonder if Raimi's still involved?


"Sounds like the time I tried to read ATLAS SHRUGGED."

I once tried to read an atlas and, um, ended up shrugging...no coherent plot you see, though it tried to disguise that through regular changes of location.

"If you threw the book at Armond White, and he fell onto an, I don't know, board of some kind, and on that board was a can of paint that then catapaulted into the air and landed on Keith Olberman's head, then everybody would win."

But if nobody was around to hear, would any of them make a sound?


It took me a year to read ATLAS SHRUGGED. Great book no matter what her wacky capitalism.


I would have to disagree. As bad as Ayn Rand's politics (i.e. extremist libertarianism) may be, it was her paper thin characters, overwrought prose, and ridiculous dialogue (even worse in Atlas Shrugged, monologues). I don't know how anyone could make it through John Gaits 70 page speech.

Tom Russell

I'm with Sean. For me, the first (and most important) part of a book being great is that it be written with something approaching competence. Rand makes Dan Brown look like Proust.

(Only bad writer that I'd also call great was Dreiser.)

Jack GIbbs

Amen. The only thing worse than people who praise and follow Ayn Rand's politics, I'm looking at you Greenspan, are those that claim she was a good writer. Hell, beyond the "paper thin characters, overwrought prose, and ridiculous dialogue", mentioned above, her sentences are awful. Adolescent, 10th grade literary magazine writing which perfectly compliments the very same in intellect and thought.

Now, don't get me started on that similarly adolescent and worthless, can't write or think to save his life, piece of shit Vollmann.


Among MAD MEN's many virtues, there's a subtle running gag involving one of the firm's partners, Bertram Cooper, stumping for Rand at every opportunity. The show being what it is, neither Cooper nor any of the other characters are "Randy," i.e. pompously one-dimensional - yet the character's adulation of Rand seems to make perfect sense, as he spends 98% of his day in an isolated, luxury suite of an office, pondering the machinery of capital that takes place beneath him. And it's hard to watch Robert Morse without associating him with the woefully misguided hero he played in THE LOVED ONE - a film that, despite its cheeky, black-comic aspirations, is blood relative to MAD MEN in more ways than one.

(If it should follow that anyone talks about MAD MEN, Season 3, please preface your comments with a SPOILER tag, thanks! I haven't seen it.)


"Now, don't get me started on that similarly adolescent and worthless, can't write or think to save his life, piece of shit Vollmann."

I read THE ROYAL FAMILY, and loathed it. Yet I'm tempted to read more by Vollmann. Isn't that strange?


I'm actually kind of fascinated by Vollmann right now. I haven't read any of his books, but I've read excerpts, and a few of his short stories, and I'm really interested in reading more - albeit with some trepidation. Part of the interest has to do with how violent peoples' reactions to his work are.

In any case, comparing him to Rand seems pretty off-base and extreme. I mean, the guy can write a sentence (several million, it would seem).

Any WTV partisans out there in SCR land?

Dan Coyle

I find Ayn Rand to be the airport read for intellectuals. The Fountainhead was such a bizarre experience to read. She's not, in the truest sense of the term, a good writer, but she's a weirdly compelling one. But no matter how often I play her philosophy in my head, I can't make it work in the real world in any scenario I imagine. I understand why it's attractive to some people, but it does not, personally, work for me.

The deftest critique of Ayn Rand in recent years was, of all things, a video game called BioShock, which is a fantasia about an underwater city run by a John Galt like figure completely falling into chaos. Rand is never mentioned, the word "objectivism" is never spoken, but it's brutal. And occasionally you hear noises about it being picked up for a film.

Jack Gibbs

Not to get too off topic, and my apologies if I sent things askew with my Vollmann rant, but while the mention of W.V. after A.R. may seem spurious it did come from a) my somewhat intoxicated, drifting mind thinking of people who I think are horrible writers who receive praise that dumbfounds me. b) Perhaps Vollmann's problem is partially to do with those millions of sentences. Slow down buddy, edit a little. I have always found him to be an awful writer on the most basic level of sentences, paragraphs, etc so, that is where I come from. c) In some ways I think there can be a comparison between Rand and Vollmann in that they are in some respects opposite sides of the same coin. They both write from the position of a dissatisfaction with the world and more importantly a dissatisfaction that is adolescent and misanthropic. Rand has fantasies of John Galt and Vollmann has his belief in some false , adolescent, Bukowski "authenticity" in prostitutes, "hard living", the down-trodden, etc. So, while they go in entirely different directions they do come from a similar, what I would label adolescent, place and it is this that motivates their writing. Basically, both should read some Stanley Cavell and learn a productive, mature way to deal with a dissatisfaction with the world.

Bill, as to loathing yet wanting to read more, while this has never been the case with Vollmann for me (I think my thoughts are clear on him - not worth spending more time on the bastard), that is not an uncommon occurance.


Rand was a terrific writer with her own style. She wrote great terse back and dialogue, no different in style than Mamet, if not meaning. And she's an excellent cultural critic as her insightful essays on James Bond, Chayefsky, Hitchcock and Fritz Lang show. Rand's fans cut across politics, and her romantic point of view is what inspires new readers, not her politics. Ask the band Rush. But then, it's usually Vollman/Klosterman hipsters who think they have the final word on Rand. Most have never read her. And this defense comes from the biggest flaming hippie who despises her capitalistic manifestos.

Tom Russell

BioShock is a very good, very atmospheric game; I don't know if revolutionizes storytelling/morality in games as many have said, but it is pretty damn terrific. My wife, who is not the most passionate or adept gamer, fell absolutely in love with the game and played it to completion before I ever could.

The word on the film, last I heard, was that Gore Verbinski wanted to make it. Which has me trepeditious; it's exactly the sort of material that would be ruined by a blockbuster director. Even though the game is an action/first-person shooter game, it is the game's atmosphere, ideas, and occasional bits of mind-fuckery that put it above other shooters. (I personally think Paul Schrader would be a great fit, but I'm weird like that.)

Interestingly enough, the BioShock sequel coming out next month puts an ultra-collectivist, self-sacrifice for the good of all type in charge of Rapture, and from what I gather of the press coverage the effect on the setting is much the same as that of the objectivist in the first game. If this is true, and the two games together can be said to have a theme, it is that of moderation.


@Tom Russell: Paul Schrader's Bioshock would be something to see. In fact, Paul Schrader should do every videogame adaptation. I want to see Mario: A Life in Four Chapters.

Tom Russell

JF: I think Schrader would be a really bad fit for a Mario movie, though no worse than the idiots who adapted it the first time. But pair Schrader with the designer from MISHIMA and you could have a dark, gorgeous, foreboding, and beautiful Rapture and a probing look at the game's various philosophical quandaries.

James Keepnews

"Rand was a terrific writer with her own style." -- Well, that's half-right. The universe operates under the condition of relativity, the fulsome absolutist cheerleading of Ms. Rand and "Objectivist" "philosophy" notwithstanding. Why do you suppose not one captain of capitalist industry has ever dared "go Galt"? They'd last 0.000000000001% longer in the wild than Grizzly Man.

I do commend you for citing Rush unironically, something I myself would have been incapable of doing...

Jack Gibbs

Christian, I must say I fail to see this connection between Rand and Mamet. I am hardly a huge Mamet fan, though I do like some of his work, and I believe my thoughts on Rand have been stated (strongly dislike and think she is a horrid writer), but I fail to see how they remotely write in a similar way (one must also account for the difference in that Mamet is a playwright/filmmaker and Rand was writing novels). I am quite interested in hearing what you have to say about them "being no different in style" as I, frankly, am a bit flabbergasted by that. Also, I am personally not swayed when Neil Peart is offered as the critical appraiser par excellence.

Similarly, I believe I stated earlier the Vollmann is just as much of a hack (and the same goes for Klosterman) so that is clearly not where my critique comes from.

Dan Coyle

Tom Rusell: exactly. For all that Ryan's ideals are demonized in BioShock, the fact remains that Rapture was at one point a wonderful place where humanity was on its way to great things.

Mario: A Life in Four Chapters. Yep, I'd see that. And then on the DVD remake Patriotism with Mega Man.

Hey, anyone up for James Gray's Grand Theft Auto?


Glenn, glad to hear you are throwing the Beatty book against the wall. I tried to read it yesterday, and had a similar response. Half of it feels cut-and-pasted from the Beatty sections of EASY RIDERS, RAGING BULLS, and the rest that I read just felt like the usual Biskind bloviating about the degradation of contemporary Hollywood (especially ironic because even as he tries to take the 'high moral position,' so much of Biskind's work just feels like nudge-nudge salacious gossip. I don't mind gossip, but don't be disingenuous about it).

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