Thursday, March 18, 2004

Charles Foster Blog.

Some more spam poetry. "Freya carthage bowl meteor egypt," by one "Phoebe Melvin." Then the message from a "Forest Hathaway," noting: "Re: Decrease Schlesinger," which is a nifty name that reminds me of Increase Mather. Decrease's parents, however, were clearly not very optimistic. Maybe they were members of the Lost Generation.

"Lost Generation" I can live with. Maybe it's my fondness for Hemingway and Fitzgerald, or maybe because they’re almost all dead, and there are no fatuous newspaper trend pieces about the Lost Generation. (But then again, in A Moveable Feast, Hemingway wrote: "But the hell with her [Gertrude Stein's] lost-generation talk, and all the dirty, easy labels.")

Other generational nicknames are just annoying, mostly because of the stereotypes that stick to them like syrup. "Greatest Generation" is a pandering term, invented to sell books; defeating the Axis was certainly a noble thing, but you can't tell me that human beings of that generation were more noble than any other -- if fighting in a bitter war is all it takes to be the greatest, why not the generations that fought the Revolution, the Civil War or World War I? "Baby Boom(er)" almost guarantees that some silly notion is being discussed, unless it’s how that demographic is going to be shorted by Social Security. "Generation X" caught on, I believe, because people wanted a place to hang stereotypes about people born after 1964, or however it's defined.

Watched about a quarter of Citizen Kane last night because Law & Order was a rerun. The stop-motion feature proved itself during the "News on the March" newsreel-within-the-movie, when the significance of Kane's death is illustrated by flipping newspapers one atop the other, each with a headline about Kane. Several English-language papers flip by first, to anchor the scene with an English-reading audience, and then there's a rapid succession of other languages: French, Spanish, Russian and lastly Japanese.

I froze the image to look at the Japanese paper, and I could make out several words -- the katakana for "Kane" and the kanji for "newspaper" and "world" and "die." I asked Yuriko to read it, and sure enough, she confirmed that it read like a real paper, with headlines about the founder of the world's biggest newspaper company dying. Nice touch, Mr. Welles.



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