Scrooby's Musings

Started by Scrooby, March 08, 2022, 12:28:53 AM

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Ted Bundy, in his heyday in the 1970s, was the most infamous serial killer in America, whose unthinkably horrible reign of terror spread from the west coast to the east coast. His character was forward-looking in a variety of ways : for a simple example (possibly the least important point of all) his was the first nationally televised court trial. Bundy, in fact, was treated as a celebrity, in the manner of OJ a decade later, as if he were more pop-culture icon than bone-chilling and hyper-cunning sociopath. Luckily for everyone, however (even those enjoying his exploits), he was finally caught, and sizzled to death in Florida in 1989.

Now :

(a.) At the beginning of Kubrick's The Shining, we see a yellow Volkswagen bug driving in Colorado : this would have sent shivers of abject terror down the spines of all Americans at the time of first release (1980), as a yellow VW bug tooling round Colorado was indeed Bundy obliterating victims in the worst way, and precisely round that time. The VW bug was Bundy's auto of choice for his evil work for years.

(b.) At the opening of No Country for Old Men, we hear of a stone-cold killer who killed a fourteen-year-old girl : this may be a reference to Bundy's final killing, of a girl of about that age, at just that time in history (i.e., 1980). This particular reference is especially pointed because the narrator is speaking of a new kind of criminal — and that was precisely what Bundy was : Bundy, unfortunately, was the future of serial killing in America (e.g., his unspeakably complex and inhuman psychopathology).

(Addendum : It was due to Bundy primarily that the FBI inaugurated the serial killer unit featured in Silence of the Lambs, a story itself inspired by Bundy's assistance with the authorities in their struggle to catch yet another slaughterous criminal, the Green River Killer.)

Bundy may also appear in Fargo (just as Psycho appears there, before it returns in Burn After Reading) : (c.) both the kidnapped woman under a blanket in the backseat (a usual m.o. for Bundy), and (d.), in what may be an even more direct allusion, the killers being almost thwarted due to a minor traffic infraction. Indeed, "the master criminal" Bundy himself, who somehow, and miraculously, escaped custody not once but twice, was also caught twice because of the most minor and idiotic automobile offenses in each instance, and was also almost caught a third time as well (but he successfully fled the scene).

(And one of his escapes involved an almost unthinkable patience in bringing it to term, reminiscent somewhat of Stephen King's Shawshank Redemption).

There is more. I could go on. And on. But, hey, what are the rest of the users here for, but to analyze and offer close commentary, to raise everyone's game?

Best wishes.

EXTRA : in No Country for Old Men, when Anton says "ATM", he might be referring to Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, a film which inspired the opening montage of No Country (and a sound effect from 2001 opens Burn After Reading). Regarding all the running processes that HAL-9000 is involved in throughout the film : at one vital point in the narrative, one process that keeps repeating itself is visually noted as "ATM". Have a look and see. . . .

Also, in the same scene (Anton confronting Woody) there is an instance of what I call the "extremely short pan" : has anyone ever in the history of film criticism written of this technique, which has examples leading back to the silent era? After Anton dispatches of Woody, he turns his attention to the telephone, and the camera pans to the left, but travels only a very short duration : this technique is used to powerful effect in many of the greatest films, including, surprise, 2001 : A Space Odyssey, when the bone-wielding "hero" is revelling in his successful kill and power (and yes, the extremely short pan is to the left, as in No Country). But I'll let the honorable others here compile a list of memorable "extremely short pans" in cinema history.

Once more, best wishes.


Woody says : "I remember names, dates, faces." His eidetic memory is a manifestation of his character's general fastidiousness (but then recall the one time he does forget something, later in the film : he forgets his own meticulousness. In letting his guard down, the one thing he forgets is himself). His memory skills are a not uncommon trait among "psychopatic killers" : their full-blooded recall for their exploits, however detailed and expansive these may be in space and time.

See, for example, Capote's In Cold Blood : "He [Dick Hickock] talked [to the police] for an hour and fifteen minutes" . . . "summoning his talent for something very like total recall." Or Ted Bundy's meticulous description of the terrain of his crimes, even a decade later. (E.g., Keppel's book, The Riverman (1995) : "Ted described the Issaquah site like he was replaying a videotape in his mind.")

Coincidentally, in the same book, Bundy says : "If a guy has, for whatever reason, insulated himself from the reality of what he did, but can discuss it in the third person or better yet, in the first person without getting specific, you're getting gradually closer to the truth. I mean, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, including the names, dates, and places—everything he knows." This phrase recurs I think six times in a small space of pagination. Also coincidentally, one phrase Bundy uses more than a few times is "There's no doubt in my mind." (E.g., Tommy Lee.) Coincidences abound. (See an earlier post on No Country and Bundy.)

Bonus item of dubious merit : the concept of the "transponder"—and its central position on 9/11. (E.g., "Didn't think a car would burn like that." (Steel aflame that melted from the heat and three skyscrapers collapsed : the WTC; and the 47-story Building 7 at 5:20 p.m.))


Does Michael Madsen not say, referring to his gun, "I feel naked without it"?

This is the very use of the word in Homer's Iliad : "γυμνός" means both "unarmed" and "naked".

See Iliad, XVI, 815.

There are many correspondences between Hateful Eight and ancient literature (see an earlier post). A compendious study is required. Who's willing?

Best wishes.


The Queen says to her warrior son, at crunch time :

"spes tu nunc una" (Bk XII.57) :

"You're my only hope."


The Argives surged against the Trojans till the two armies
struggled by the high stone wall surrounding the city of Troy.
Patroclus looked ready to take Troy on his own command;
and ragefully he reached one colossal corner of the wall,
which ran up high into the clouds, where Apollo Shooter
took his stand. When Patroclus put his foot against the wall
(a sign that the city was threatened with imminent ruin)
while spearing Trojans dead all round him, and his Myrmidons
advanced on the city gates, leaving a widespread carnage
in their wake, then Apollo placed a silver arrow on his bow,
and let fly at Patroclus. And the arrow slammed against
his shield, knocking his foot off the wall and leaving him shaken;
and three times Apollo shot at Patroclus, his arrows
hammering Patroclus' shield with three gigantic blows,
the god shoving away the man from the wall with certain aim
and immortal bow. And Patroclus concluded a god
now was helping the Trojans, yet charged at the wall a fourth time;
and with one hand holding his spear and the other on the hilt
of his sword, he made ready to continue killing, then stopped
cold. And all the Myrmidons saw their leader on the battlefield
begin to take steps backward, retreating from his offensive,
and the Myrmidons were mystified. But they did not know
that Apollo had just spoken into the ear of Patroclus,
saying :

"Zeus-born! Go back! Fate shall not have you obliterate Troy
with your hands. Nor will Achilles either, with his stronger hands."

At that, the voice of Apollo, Patroclus retreated
from the sky-high wall of the city of Troy.

Meanwhile, Hector's quick-galloping horses approached
the Scaean gate, and there he slowed his chariot, mystified
in mind. Should he lead the entire army within the walls
of the city, or turn round and drive back into the fight?

So Apollo spoke into the ear of Hector too, saying :

"Hector, why retreat now? Slinking away from the battlefield
is abominable. That's not you. You are not weak, but strong.
So turn the chariot round and make straight for Patroclus,
and if you kill him you shall win the admiration of Apollo."

Thus Apollo Hunter; and as the high sun broke through the air-
borne dust, so Hector, his bronze armour glinting in a sunbeam,
looked all around him for enemy Patroclus. And again,
but this time so close to their goal, the Argives met resistance
from the Trojans, as Apollo flew over the battlefield,
and loosened the order of the Achaean lines, and dissolved
their offensive into confuséd motion and failure, yet
again, so that Hector and his army might win glory.
So a panic blazed through the heart of the Argive warriors
while they fought in the shadow of Ilium's sky-high wall,
as Apollo of Health and Harm flew over the battlefield. 

Hector then saw Patroclus in the midst of the fight, and turned
to his charioteer, the combat-wise Cebriones, and gave
order to lash the horses into battle, and charge forward
straight to Patroclus. Apollo, meanwhile, watched from above.

And Patroclus saw Hector racing at him; he saw how Hector
ignored the fight around him, and let the other warriors
be, as in single-minded pursuit he closed in on his goal.

So Patroclus readied himself to face off, and raised his spear
—but in his left hand; for in his right he held a stone, jagged
and crushing, that he kept hidden in his fingers. So he stood
in perfect balance, and kept his eyes on Hector's chariot
as it came close; then Patroclus threw the rock, a perfect shot
that hit between the eyes of Cebriones, a half-brother
of Hector's. The rock hit him with such force that the driver
dropped the reins and tumbled backward out of the chariot-box,
and Hector grabbed the chariot rim for support while his
horses ran free and wild, and he ground his teeth at the loss
of Cebriones.

Now Patroclus' rock hit the hapless Cebriones
so hard that bone shattered, and by the time the charioteer
hit the dirt, both his eyeballs had spilled out of his head.
He hit the dirt, but kept falling, down into the blind darkness
beneath the earth, for he was already dead; so his body
lay there, limp and spiritless.

And Hector leapt out of his out-of-control chariot,
and came down hard in his shining armour with a rattle.
Breathing heavily, he glared hatefully at Patroclus,
who was about to shout out to him, then thought better of it.

Instead, he sprang at the fallen body of Cebriones
with the fury of a lion with an arrow in its breast
yet ravaging the farmyard regardless, and his own courage
invites his ruin, and brings it. Just so did Hector spring at
Patroclus, like a second lion fighting for the dead deer
at their feet, both terribly hungry and hell-bent on fighting
for their prize, battling together up on the mountain heights.
The two warriors Patroclus and Hector battered each other
ruthlessly with their swords while stepping carefully round the body,
lest one fall and face certain death at the blade of the other.
Meanwhile, some Trojans had grabbed hold of Cebriones' head,
and some Achaeans held his two feet firmly, and neither end
would let go; but all this neither fighter noticed as they clashed
in mighty combat. And their terrible passion for each other's death
caught fire in both armies, and spread swiftly outward. No one
thought of retreat, only destructive advance, and both armies
contrived cataclysmic havoc as they sprang on one another,
as the South and East Winds combine in a deep forest to tear
all the trees apart—the long-stretched beech, ash, pine—and the clamour
of hissing leaves and snapping branches and falling tree-trunks fills
the stormy sky : so around Cebriones' body came an
aerial assault of spears and arrows, some mauling men, some
fixing in the earth, some sticking in the hapless corpse : and the
feathered arrows kept flying off the bow-strings, and many huge
rocks came soaring in to shatter indefensible shields and
flatten men; and all this while, as they fought round his body,
the dead Cebriones lay motionless in the whirling dust,
a shadow of a magnitude; and with his death much knowledge
of the art of driving the war-chariot was lost forever.

Now the sun had reached the zenith of its daily round.
And back and forth flew the arrows and spears, many reaching their
mark, and the warriors on both sides kept falling. But at
the hour when the oxen in the fields are liberated
from the yoke, and the farmers savour their early afternoon
meal, then the balance-scales of fate weighed toward the Achaeans,
and they proved themselves to be the better men. So they dragged off
Hector's half-brother Cebriones, and stripped off the armour
from his body, as war-spoils, while the noise of battle
thundered round them. And Patroclus rushed (now here, now there), as he
charged on the enemy, and brought down many Trojan warriors
to the dust with his quick-moving spear, a very  Ἄρης   
in human form, and he killed twenty-seven men. Then, after
a moment's rest, Patroclus charged again, like a god, but this
time he was to face actual gods, who bring men beginnings
and endings : for the god Apollo, not here the Far-Shooter,
not here the Healer, not here the Averter of Harm, not here
the Rescuer—not to Patroclus : to him Apollo came
as the god of awful sacrifices. And he came in a sudden
blast of blinding sunlight that obscured Patroclus' sight,
and the battlefield whirled before his eyes : and someone (it was
Apollo) knocked the very helmet off his head, and it clanged
on the ground in the midst of the galloping feet of the horses :
Patroclus' plumed helmet, dishonoured in the dust, its horse-
hair stained with blood. Never before had this helmet hit the dirt,
but had ever protected the graceful head of Achilles,
who have given it for Patroclus to wear : but now Zeus Orderer
had granted it to Hector to lift and put upon his head.
And in the storm of battle, the spear in Patroclus' hand
broke apart, just like that, however heavy, massive, and strong
it had been, with its lethal sparkling bronze-point. And his shield
fell away from his shoulders when its buckled strap was cut, and
it clattered in the dirt at his feet : and when Patroclus looked
down, then Zeus' son himself, Apollo of the Mice, undid
his clutching breast-plate, thereby exposing his vulnerable
chest. And all these things—the blinding light, the snapped spear, the helmet,
the loosened corslet—all these things happened simultaneously
to Patroclus, whose only response could be incredulity,
and momentary bewilderment. Then it turned worse for him,
when a spear entered his shoulder. It was a successful cast
by Panthous' son Euphorbus, who surpassed all his Trojans
in the spear, and in chariot-fighting, and in speed of action;
and already he had picked off twenty Achaeans when they
had come too close in their chariots to Euphorbus, master
of war. So now he had injured the wondrous Patroclus,
who came to his senses when the spear-point entered his body.
Enraged beyond telling, Patroclus reached behind him and yanked
the spear out of him; and when glorious Euphorbus, master
of war, saw this, he fled back into the thick of his army,
unwilling to face his opponent any more in any way,
regardless of how exposed Patroclus now stood in the fray,
and with a bloody wound besides. Patroclus, too, retreated
back among his men, completely baffled, and fearing terrible

But Hector had kept his eye on Patroclus the entire
time and sprang onto him now, and the two fell onto the ground,
Patroclus in Hector's quickly-crushing arms. And the two men
were almost nose to nose, they heard and felt each other's breathing
and their eyes bored into one another's : and Patroclus tried
to extricate himself but Hector's arms would not budge. Then he
saw a dagger in the air, rising in front of him, and he
grabbed at Hector's arm, but Hector pushed down, strenuously,
and the dagger point pierced Patroclus' chest : and he breathed out,
and heard Hector speaking to him, softly now :

"Patroclus, you came to destroy our city and take away
our freedom, and our women back to whatever hellhole
you come from, whatever 'dear, native fatherland'. But I have
destroyed you. You lose. In front of everyone you have now met
Hector. And this dagger proves that I am leader of the war-
loving Trojans. I defend them from this fatal chance of yours.
You, meanwhile, will be eaten by the vultures piece by piece.
Where is Achilles to help you? Where is the great Achilles
now? This dagger of mine you feel proves his love. And I'm sure
he commanded this before you entered the field : 'Don't come back,
Patroclus, master warrior, until you have soaked Hector's
tunic red with his blood.' This, I think, he said to you, while you
came here, and he waits behind. And now he will wait forever.
And all the confidence you came here with, has brought you to this."

And Patroclus felt the dagger continue its slow killing drive
into his flesh, and his struggling ceased, for his energy
was gone. But still you spoke, Patroclus. Answering Hector, he said :

"Celebrate while you can, Hector. But you're mistaken. The gods
undid me in a moment. If they'd never come I'd've killed
twenty of you. Apollo killed me, not you. And at that time
some other Trojan wounded me. So you've come to me a bit
late in my killing. So I wouldn't feel so victorious.
But remember I said this when the right moment comes :
Achilles is going to kill you."

And so by this time Hector's dagger was in Patroclus'
heart, and death took him away into the darkness of Hades,
leaving behind a body of exceeding strength and beautiful
youth. But his soul was gone. Yet δῖος Hector spoke anyway :

"So you say, dead man. Some prophesy of death came true for you
at least. I say Achilles will lie dead at my feet. I will take his life too."

So spoke Hector, and slipped his dagger out of the dead body.
Then he turned to destroy the charioteer Automedon,
but he was gone. His fast-footed horses, the immortal ones,
given to Peleus by the gods, had taken him away,
those very beautiful gifts.

End of


Both Euripides (in ancient Greek) and Seneca (in Latin) wrote plays called Trojan Women. Both plays deal with the same general situation : the cataclysmic hours after the initial fall of the city of Troy.

Seneca, writing many hundreds of years after Euripides and his Greek world, begins his play in a manner pretty much identical to Euripides. Both plays begin with a sombre song (or songs?) sung by the protagonist and Chorus. Act 1 of Seneca is, generally speaking, an intentional rewrite of Act 1 of Euripides, with a Senecan spin to it.

But after that, the two plays are completely different. The Senecan play, after fifteen minutes or so, shifts full-blown into a completely different structure. Seneca severs the cord with Euripides, and puts him aside for the duration.

So, "here's the thing" (e.g., House of Games) : why does Seneca structure his play in this way?

It's a cool thing to do, for one thing. The opening of the Seneca is akin to a sort-of psychedelic reminiscence of a massive past. It puts the audience into a freaky dream state, then shifts them abruptly into another state, a more traditionally-ordered state, for the rest of the play. The evolving structure shifts the audience into the present, so to speak, and the narrative kicks into high gear.

So, generally : Seneca begins his play with an atmospheric set-piece, then after fifteen minutes or so, cuts to a completely different way of telling his story. Initial commentary : Act 1 of Seneca could be sliced off, so the play begins with Act 2, yet there would be no alteration to the story. . . .

What movies can You think of with this sort of structure?


What sort of building does that resemble?


"Hear me baby, hold together."

Han Solo to Millennium Falcon; or young director to film.


Anton : "The coin got here the same way I did."

sounds very similar to a comment that Ted Bundy gave to two journalists in 1989 :

Bundy : ". . . This is why this Ball girl found herself to be the next victim."

Ah, the perspective of the phrase found herself.


Three amazing eye-lights in cinema history.

From one of PTA's favorite films :

The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933)

What will you discover today?


Carla Jean vs. Anton

Llewelyn Moss is a man with above-average intelligence but no intuition. (As demonstrated in the inside-the-bus scene.) Hence, he had no way to win. Reason alone doesn't bring a person to the "Big Win." (FMJ)

His wife, however, does have a "bad feeling" : and in the end, because she's clued into things, she wins, somewhat. Because by not "calling it", perhaps she skews Anton's world? If she had called it, thereby absolving Anton of all personal responsibility, perhaps he would have fled without incident? This is one way of an infinite number of ways of looking at "it". Thinking this way complexifies matters at this critical point in the narrative.

Can we agree that it is because Anton is following his "rule" that he appears before Carla Jean Moss?

If so, then we need go no further, if we like, and simply say : "By following his rule, Anton messed up. Destiny itself came up against another destiny! (As in the Oresteia and Iliad.)"

An artwork has a theoretically infinite number of significations, depending on the time one devotes to it. But a Story, a type of artwork, must have a Foundation : a foundation simple enough so that the audience "has no doubt in their minds" moment by moment of what is generally going on.

If we move further from the Ultimate Foundation, so to speak, of Anton "following his rule", and complexify the final Carla Jean Moss sequence, then many things happen, one of which being : her character takes on weight. She has the last word in their encounter.

She, the dead woman, has the last word in their encounter, because she was connected in some intimate way to things : hence her intuition was correct. Correct was her "bad feeling".

And a participant might think of whatever else.

A participant is not a viewer, not a watcher, but a maker of meaning beyond the Simple Foundation. The more concentration, the sharper the thought, the more multitudinous the understanding = the more powerful the Being.

Art is Freedom. And if your thoughts are interesting to others : "fine, wonderful, marvellous." (Brazil)



Is that really how her face looked in the film?! Haven't seen it for awhile...


Thus spoke Zeus, who then sent powerful inspirations of spirit
down into the hearts and minds and legs of the two marvellous
horses. So the pair shook their heads, sending the dust from their manes
down onto the ground by their massive hoofs. Then they leapt forward
in a gallop that left their charioteer Automedon
gripping the rim for support, and entered the field of battle.
In this way good Patroclus' chariot rushed back into
the fray, as the immortal horses of Achilles, galloping
with colossal strides, joined the fighting Trojans and Achaeans.

And Automedon, occupying the chariot-box behind
them, raised his spear and fought, though the death of Patroclus troubled
his soul. His grief made him stronger. So he attacked the Trojans
on his way back to the ships, and felled many a warrior
with his spear as he swooped in like a vulture attacking geese,
taking them one by one before they even knew what was what.

But the horses kept increasing in power, the beautiful
immortal horses of Zeus, and finally Automedon
realized he had to drop his spear and grab the reins, or expect
to tumble out of the chariot-box! Never had these horses
required so much of his strength to steer them. Never had they
run so magnificently. So with reins in hand Automedon
coaxed the horses to slow the pace, so he might remain upright
and inside the chariot-box, and not tumbled out onto
the dirt, where he would be an easy prey for the enemy.

And as he slowed down a friend rolled up beside him in his own
chariot, even Alcimedon, son of Laerces, who
was Haemon's son. And he spoke out to Automedon, saying :

"Automedon! What god has stolen your wits? Have you no mind?
What are you doing here, fighting the best fighters they have
on your own, with no warrior to wield the spear beside you?"

Then answered Automedon, son of Diores :

"Payback," he said. "Alcimedon, Patroclus is dead. One of
the smartest of us all, is gone. He could hold these fierce horses
and kill with the spear at once, when he was beside me. But Fate
is Death, and in answer to everything I am taking many lives."

And Alcimedon answered Automedon, saying :

"Then step aside! I'm coming to join you!"

And as their chariots moved side by side
Alcimedon jumped from one to the other.
Then he took the shining reins in his hands,
and the whip; and Automedon raised bronze.

During this, δῖος Hector saw them break through the swirling dust,
coming toward the fighting raging round the valuable corpse;
and he turned to Aeneas, who was fighting nearby, and spoke :

"Aeneas! Look at that coming at us! That's dead Patroclus'
chariot pulled by Achilles' very-pissed-off horses!
But the men look weak and tiny behind them. I'll take them myself,
both of them. But if you assist me we'll kill them faster."


Since 1999, I have watched EWS something like 300, 400 times. My Notes on Eyes Wide Shut, written in autumn 1999, demonstrated that my mind was in close synchronization with the film. But (and call me a slow learner), it took until earlier today for me to notice something . . . mind-bendingly amazing.

Back in 1999, in my Notes on Eyes Wide Shut, I wrote about the "Rainbow Dots Motif" : those shots of EWS (few in number) with multicolored Christmas lights blurry in the background (telephoto effect) to visualize characterological interiority and to convey something thematic. Two examples follow : the final shot of the Marion sequence (the dots convey her "upset"); and Dr. Bill in the Sonata Cafe saying, "You're a long way from home."

In the last shot of the daytime Somerton gate scene, in the right third of the screen, the trees in the background, due to the telephoto effect, are generating the "Rainbow Dots Motif"
: the dots are moving, not frozen as in a jpeg : they are mutating (recalling Seneca's "obscura nutat silva"), wavering like a man's mind mystified : an effect similar to the wavering effect in Fassbinder's Angst vor der Angst (1975), but, here, in the background.