Tuesday, July 14, 2009

EXPANDING THE SLIFR KNITTING CIRCLE



To be a blogger, particularly a film blogger, is to be an antisocial, adenoidal, basement-dwelling, Cheetos-stained geek who administers blistering opinions on movies, the people who make them and (especially if they don’t agree with us) the poor mushroom-brained tools who flame us and others with their own absurd, overstated opinions in the comments columns of our blogs. At least that’s the perceived stereotype. And while I wouldn’t say across the board that any or all of those elements aren’t completely incorrect for any given sample plucked from the blogger Petri dish, I can speak for myself. Let’s take the stereotype point by point.

1)ANTISOCIAL: I have had to fight the tendency to not be the most social of animals for much of my adult life. Luckily I have usually found myself surrounded by other people who will not accept this from me, so therefore, while social interaction is a skill with which I may not be naturally blessed, my best friends have been good at keeping me in situations where my communication tools have not been allowed to atrophy.

2)ADENOIDAL: I do have sinus problems (not an uncommon occurrence in smog-smothered Los Angeles, by the way), but I would not go so far as to classify myself as a mouth-breather. (Maybe those with a more detached perspective would, though!)

3)BASEMENT DWELLER: My house has neither a basement nor an attic. I most often write and post from my laptop while seated at the dining room table.

4)CHEETOS-STAINED: I will cop to the occasional bout with the delectable day-glo treat from the laboratories of Frito-Lay. But not while I’m typing. Mama didn’t bring up no caveman.

The point of all this (and, yes, it’s a meager one) is that blogging, despite its reputation as being the art form most favored by hostile misanthropes and hopeless (choose your topic) nerds, has actually opened up my world, has reduced my tendency to want to retreat into myself, has afforded me opportunities to meet so many like-minded, smart (and sometimes smart-assed) people without whom the past five years of my life would have been a lot drearier. Many of these people I’ve never even met in the flesh—I’m talking about you, Peet Gelderblom and Jim Emerson—and yet I feel like we’ve been friends for years (and, by gum, I guess we have). The ones I have met are literally too many to even remember off the top of my head, and many of you—you know who you are—have become real friends at a time in my life when I would have expected (not unreasonably, I don’t think) that the frequency of making new acquaintances would necessarily be tracking downward.


Ali and me, seen through the eye of our Barney's Beanery waitress.

And all of this talk just so I can show off a keen pic that really sums up why I’m glad I started blogging, basement or no, almost five years ago. Last month it was my pleasure to meet friend and fellow film blogger Ali Arikan, proprietor of Cerebral Mastication, who was touring the U.S. as part of an exchange and education program for the company with which he works in Istanbul. Ali arrived in town the day the news of Michael Jackson’s death broke, and he ended up getting caught up in the Westside Traffic Nightmare to End All Traffic Nightmares just to get from the airport to his downtown hotel. Welcome to L.A., indeed, Ali. So rather than meet that evening, we shifted gears and met for breakfast at Barney’s Beanery in Burbank, where we slaughtered two hours with great ease over Diet Cokes and Barney’s massive breakfast menu. (I had shrimp eggs Benedict, and it turns out Ali likes his breakfast meats-- largely unavailable in his homeland, he composed a single-platter symphony of sausages, bacon and ham the likes of which this ex-farm boy has rarely seen.) It was a total delight spending the morning with him talking about life and the movies; I could have easily hijacked the street-side booth we had for the entire day. But there were other Burbank sites to show off. On the drive back to his hotel I drove him past NBC (where Conan O’Brien now rules the roost) and Warner Brothers studios. I was very happy when he gasped with recognition upon passing the north gate at Warners, where Harvey Korman and all the cowboy extras spill out into the real world near the climax of Blazing Saddles. As I dropped him off I promised one day I would try to get to Istanbul. How’s that for getting out of the basement?

Ali, it was a real pleasure and honor to meet you!

And all this talk of meeting people coincided with a Facebook post I ran across this afternoon from Rick Olson of Coosa Creek Cinema in which Rick listed five people off the top of his head that he wants to meet. Rick’s list has a touch of the metaphysical in that three of the people he listed are dead. His list? Andrei Tartovsky, Audrey Tautou, Jean Renoir, Bibi Andersson and Robert Altman. I don’t stop wanting to meet someone just because they’ve stopped breathing either, Rick. In thinking about my own list, I would definitely include Robert Altman if I hadn’t already had the pleasure of meeting him once, after a screening of The Long Goodbye on the UCLA campus just before the release of The Player. So I thought, gee, who would make my list? And here are the five I came up with (in alphabetical order):



Claudia Cardinale














Peter Cushing













Howard Hawks













Pauline Kael














Herb Lundy

As for the rest of you, I want to know who would make your list, but hold those thoughts. There’s another quiz coming in a couple of days, and you’ll get your chance!

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13 comments:

le0pard13 said...

Great post, Dennis. Am waiting for upcoming. Thanks.

Kevin J. Olson said...

Dennis:

This is a great post that I can relate to in more ways than one. When I started blogging a year ago I never imagined that I would have online correspondences and gmail/facebook conversations with people I've never met (let alone in other countries). It's opened up my eyes to how wonderful this whole blogging thing is. And yes, there is a grossly negative stigma that gets placed on bloggers, and even my fiance doesn't understand why I get excited about doing it (although she can sense my excitement when I talk about, so she supports me in that way), but I can be certain that my film knowledge is what it is today thanks to blogging.

And hey -- it's been fun to talk baseball with you every now and then on here...hehe. (My Mariner's did take 2 of 3 from you! But those annoying Angels maintain their four game lead in the AL West.)

I always enjoy your blog posts and especially your quizzes. You're without question one of the funniest, most intelligent bloggers out there.

Oh, and Ali's a good guy isn't he? I haven't had the pleasure of meeting him yet, but he's done a lot to help "promote" my blog...just an all-around great guy, and if it weren't for blogging I wouldn't be able to say that (let alone be sincere about saying that in regards to an online friend, which I used to scoff at myself before I took up this exercise.)

Looking forward to the quiz...

Ryan Kelly said...

To be a blogger, particularly a film blogger, is to be an antisocial, adenoidal, basement-dwelling, Cheetos-stained geek who administers blistering opinions on movies

MUST you be so cruel!

Anyway, when Ali was in NYC I was looking forward to meeting him at a mutual acquaintances' party, but was inundated with class and work at the end. Though I am glad two great voices in the blogosophere came together!

I've met many of my friends from the internet vis-a-vis, and it's always been rewarding. People try to get you to think that you're just going to meet freaks and predators on the internet, but my experience has been the exact opposite. I've become friendly with so many wonderful people that I wouldn't have otherwise. Hell, if it weren't for blogging I wouldn't have met my one and only (though this is going back to my High School xanga days, instead of my college-sophisticated-blogger days). Just one of those random things.

Great post!

Ryan Kelly said...

And I almost forgot, I love how Kael is on your list of people you want to meet. Every time I read a piece of hers, I get a little sad because I will never get to share a beer with her. Though, in a way, when you read her writing you are having a conversation with her.

Peter Nellhaus said...

By quiz, do you mean one of those lengthy lists of question where we have to choose our favorite film by Alan Smithee, or choose sides in a smackdown between Meiko Kaji and Angela Mao? If so, bring it on!

Dennis Cozzalio said...

You got it, Mr. Nellhaus! Can I use those questions? :)

Ali Arikan said...

Hey Dennis, it was an absolute delight and a privilege to meet you, and I had such an excellent time. Jim saw the photo and identified the place as Barney's based on that broadsheet-like menu! Definitely, definitely the highlight of my trip!

Next time in Istanbul, indeed!

Peter Nellhaus said...

Permission granted to use my questions. Always glad to support academic inquiries in the world of cinema.

jim emerson said...

Good god -- I haven't lived in LA for 15 years, but I recognized that menu on the table! Ali sent me a copy of the picture and I asked him where it was taken -- because that looked like a Barney's Beanery menu, but it sure didn't look like you guys were in the old roadhouse on Route 66 (aka Santa Monica Blvd.). I didn't know there was a BB in Burbank! So glad you guys got to meet up. It's hard for me to believe I've never had actual "face mail" with either of you!

Greg said...

Dennis, I'm still waiting for you to buy me a ticket to L.A. and give me a daily allowance of $250. Do that and I am sooooo there.

Also waiting for Jim to confirm me as a friend on Facebook. Hoping he will check the friend request soon.

And don't forget the ticket.

blaaagh said...

Ah, Herb, how I wish you and Dennis and I could sit for hours and have whiskey and cigars, and good talk. I miss him often--did you really not get the chance to meet him?! It seems impossible...even at our wedding? Even if you did meet there, you probably didn't have much time to talk.

Rick Olson said...

In thinking about my own list, I would definitely include Robert Altman if I hadn’t already had the pleasure of meeting him once...

I am insanely jealous. Great list, especially, as I opined on FB, Cardinale.

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