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They can (mostly) hear those whistles blowing. (Mostly.)

[ 29 ] January 31, 2012 |

Juan Williams wrote a column on conservative dog-whistles in which he points out the obvious:

The language of GOP racial politics is heavy on euphemisms that allow the speaker to deny any responsibility for the racial content of his message. The code words in this game are “entitlement society” — as used by Mitt Romney—and “poor work ethic” and “food stamp president”—as used by Newt Gingrich. References to a lack of respect for the “Founding Fathers” and the “Constitution” also make certain ears perk up by demonizing anyone supposedly threatening core “old-fashioned American values.”

Conservatives are pouncing on the idea that “Founding Fathers” could be what Williams calls a “racial code word,” and admittedly, it’s his weakest example. (Though you need not be a Constitutional scholar to understand that everyone who signed that document was not only white but that many of them owned slaves.) The dog-whistle status of the public fellation of  source texts is questionable, but Gingrich’s refrain about Obama being a “food stamp President” certainly isn’t. Because not only is it a dog-whistle, it’s a dog-whistle whose etiology is a matter of public record.

According to a source of unquestionable integrity, on January 5, 2012 Newt Gingrich told an audience in Plymouth, N.H. that if he were invited to speak at the NAACP’s annual convention, he would accept and “talk about why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps.” Far from being an idiopathic charge arising from some haze of liberal thought, the connection between blacks and food stamps is present right there in the very words Gingrich said:

NAACP + Food Stamps = Dog-Whistle

This isn’t that complicated: Gingrich created a rhetorical situation in which any invocation of food stamps would signal to his intended audience that he was talking about black people. The fact that he dispels this notion is belied by the undercurrent of thought that gave rise to the equation in the first place. If he didn’t associate black people with food stamps, mentioning the NAACP wouldn’t have triggered a canned statement about food stamps.

Conservatives may wish this weren’t the case—that is, they may want to talk about the rise in food stamp consumption under the Obama administration—but Gingrich has made it impossible for them to do so without invoking the racist undertones of his statement.

Claustrophobia, as Wolfgang Petersen recognizes, is a cumulative effect.

[ 26 ] January 24, 2012 |

(The continuation of the previous post which, like this one, is yet another one of those posts.)

I was going to jump right into the episode of Doctor Who I’m teaching tomorrow, but due to a non-Whovian coup, I’m going to prove my point differently first. To that end, I asked my however many Facebook friends I have the following:

Please name the five most claustrophobic films and/or episodes of a television show you’ve ever seen. If your nominee is chosen, I’ll honor you by naming you by name in the post I’m going to write this afternoon. (Not much of an honor, but hey, it’s better than nothing.)

Patrick Slaven, Kyler Kuehn, Carrie Shanafelt and Gary Farber all recommended Das Boot, and since I own a copy of said film, Das Boot it is. Short plot summary: back when Wolfgang Petersen had talent, he directed a film about a German U-boat and its discontents, and because the majority of the film took place on the boat, it had plenty of shots that approximate the “coffin shots” I discussed yesterday. (Being stuck in a metal tube leagues and leagues below the sea is roughly equivalent to being buried alive.) But unlike the frames discussed yesterday—in particular, the awkward image of Reynolds in his coffin—Petersen relies on standard scaled shots to create a claustrophobic atmosphere for his audience. So long as the audience grants him the conceit that the men in his film live precariously in a long metal cylinder, he need not 1) employ conventional “coffin shots” nor 2) improve upon convention or go whole hog (as Rodrigo Cortés did in Buried).

Petersen’s audience knows that these men are confined behind a brittle shell of metal and will miles below the sea, so the enclosed atmosphere of the film is implicit. But that’s not enough. As I mentioned yesterday, audiences key in to conventions in ways that subvert their effectiveness. A director can put a person in a closed coffin, but because so many have done so previously, the effect is merely communicative. The simple fact of being entrapped comes across, but the sympathetic feeling of entrapment doesn’t.Das Boot is different. It lacks any of the obviously constricted shots and opts instead for a directorial ethos of tight framing (much as I discussed in my counterfactual Bones yesterday):

Doctor who daleks2012-01-24-14h24m32s161

That’d be a typical dinner shot. It lacks the ostentation of Reynolds in a coffin, but by framing this medium close-up as he did, Petersen’s use of shallow focus indicates that there’s little more to the room than what’s seen here. Typically, shallow focus emphasizes a face (or faces) and blurs the unimportant background into a hazy nothing; here, however, the shallow focus reveals that the walls behind these folks abut them so closely that they can’t be excluded from the shot. There’s simply no way for them to be in focus and the walls around them not, which an audience will realize (even if it doesn’t consciously understand) means that these men are very close to their walls. (Or vice versa.) It’s not a “coffin shot,” merely a medium close-up with a depth of field that reveals, in its entirety, how little there is to see. Stack a few hundred similar shots together and the claustrophobic intent of every director who’s ever buried an actor for effect can actually be realized. Just to prove my point, here are some other shots from the film:

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That shot of the living quarters need not be perfectly centered in such a way as to create a frame whose composition is so damn mathematical as to be oppressive, but Petersen’s got an agenda. Also:

Doctor who daleks2012-01-24-14h25m10s25

There are many ways to depict a man amongst his crew, but framing his head as Petersen has (in a close-up) and situating it in the composition against many other similarly framed heads limits the scope of the frame to this head and these other ones. The face, again, is in shallow focus and yet because every other head’s within the depth of field the constricted effect is only heightened. Imagine watching a film composed thus for 209 minutes (if you spring for the director’s cut): the knowledge of the predicament of the crew is augmented, visually and viscerally, by the manner in which Petersen frames them.

All of which is only to say that a claustrophobic effect isn’t bound to a claustrophobic situation. Certainly, both coffins and U-boats lend themselves to a claustrophobic treatment, but the reason Das Bootsucceeds where yesterday’s episodes and films failed has nothing to do with the narrative situation. It’s all about the mechanics of how such a situation is filmed.

Tomorrow, I promise, I’ll address this within the dictates of my class and discuss Andrew Gunn’s direction of “The Victory of the Daleks.”

Claustrophobia is a cumulative effect.

[ 8 ] January 23, 2012 |

(Yet another one of those posts.)

Representing claustrophobic situations on screen should be simple enough: you take a person, put them in a confined space, and then you bury them alive. Doesn’t matter if they’re Buffy (in “Bargaining”):

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What we talk about when we talk about hands.

[ 18 ] January 23, 2012 |

(Check me out, I’m inadvertently topical!)

As I was writing and writing and writing and writing about Jack London in my dissertation, I noticed something I was never able to fully incorporate into my argument: the man’s obsession with hands. He not only wrote about them regularly in his fiction, but his letters are heavily peppered with references to his own “deformed” mitts. I scare-quote “deformed” because history has no record as to whether his hands were as he believed them to be—the scarred and calloused collection of fingers that his life of hard labor had created. That a leading voice for the working class was embarrassed by the signs that he’d once and long been a member of the same is one of those historical ironies that’s better left for braver souls to judge. I’m more interested in the evidence. For example, were you a photographer taking a profile picture of London, he would present you with this:

Jack london hands portrait

Or this:

Jack london hands

Decent shots, no doubt, but ones in which the palms of his hands have been deliberately obscured. If you were a different sort of photographer entirely—one who wanted to take pictures of famous authors in diapers, for example—London would oblige thus:

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Why Romney Lost South Carolina

[ 26 ] January 21, 2012 |

Not much has been written about The Ibogaine Effect as a serious factor in the South Carolina primary, but toward the end of the race—about three hours before the vote—word leaked out that some of Romney’s top advisors had called in a Brazilian doctor who was said to be treating the candidate with “some kind of strange drug” that nobody in the press corps had ever heard of.

It had been common knowledge for many weeks that Gingrich was using an exotic brand of speed known as Wallot … and it had long been whispered that Romney was into something very heavy, but it was hard to take the talk seriously until I heard about the appearance of a mysterious Brazilian doctor. That was the key. Later that night, it was reported that Governor Romney was a known user of a powerful drug called Ibogaine.

I immediately recognized The Ibogaine Effect—from Romney’s near-breakdown on the flatbed truck in Iowa, the delusions and altered thinking that characterized his campaign in New Hampshire, and finally the condition of “total rage” that gripped him in South Carolina. There was no doubt about it:

The Mormon Savior had turned to massive doses of Ibogaine as a last resort. The only remaining question was “When did he start?”  But nobody could answer this one, and I was not able to press the candidate himself for an answer because I was permanently barred from the Romney campaign after that incident on the “Tall Corn Special” in Iowa … and that scene makes far more sense now than it did at the time.  Romney has always taken pride in his ability to deal with hecklers; he has frequently challenged them, calling them up to the stage in front of big crowds and then forcing the poor bastards to debate with him in a blaze of TV lights.

But there was none of that in New Hampshire.  When the Boohoo began grabbing at his legs and screaming for more gin, Big Mormon went all to pieces … which gave rise to speculation among reporters familiar with his campaign style, that Romney was not himself.  It was noted, among other things, that he had developed a tendency to roll his eyes wildly during TV interviews and debates, that his thought patterns had become strangely fragmented, and that not even his closest advisors could predict when he might suddenly spiral off into babbling rages, or neocomatose funks.

In retrospect, however, it is easy to see why Romney fell apart in South Carolina.  There he was—far gone in a bad Ibogaine frenzy—suddenly shoved out in the blinding daylight to face an exuberant crowd and some kind of snarling lunatic going for his legs while he tried to explain why he was “The only Republican who can beat Obama.”

It is entirely conceivable—given the known effects of Ibogaine—that Romney’s brain was almost paralyzed by hallucinations at the time; that he looked out at that crowd and saw gila monsters instead of people, and that his mind snapped completely when he felt something large and apparently vicious clawing at his legs.  We can only speculate on this, because those in a position to know have flatly refused to comment on rumors concerning the Governor’s disastrous experiments with Ibogaine.  I tried to find the Brazilian doctor on election night, but by the time the polls closed he was long gone.  One of the hired bimbos in his Holiday Inn headquarters said a man with fresh welts on his head had been dragged out the side door and put on a bus to Salt Lake, but we were never able to confirm this.

Who does Newt want to kill?

[ 40 ] January 17, 2012 |

Last night’s debate provided yet another example of Gingrich’s firm grasp of history:

We’re in South Carolina. South Carolina in the Revolutionary War had a young 13-year-old named Andrew Jackson. He was sabred by a British officer and wore a scar his whole life. Andrew Jackson had a pretty clear-cut idea about America’s enemies: Kill them.

He was in South Carolina and had just related an anecdote about Andrew Jackson, so I can see why he’d quote Andrew as the Jacksonian source of the “Kill them!” quotation. Only Andrew Jackson didn’t say it—Stonewall Jackson did. Accounts as to who he said it to vary, but the circumstances in which he said it don’t. Union forces greatly outnumbered Southern forces at the Battle of Fredericksburg, and shortly after the death of Brigadier General Maxcy Gregg, someone asked Jackson how the Confederate forces could win. He responded

Kill them, sir! Kill every man!

Which, of course, refers to the Union soldiers. So America’s enemies are, by Gingrich’s account, other Americans. (Most likely Democrats.) There’s the possibility that his error represents an eleventh dimensional dog-whistle blown for the benefit of the strong neo-Confederate presence in South Carolina, but I somehow doubt it.

Follow that thought!

[ 3 ] January 16, 2012 |

(Yet another one of those posts.)

The opening credit sequence in Fight Club is a nifty little reverse-literalization of a common directorial device for representing thought on screen. The technique typically works in the manner it does at the end of the film’s first scene. Start with a medium close-up of a face:

Fight club2012-01-11-14h02m31s183

Note that the narrator indicates that he’s had a revelation. The camera supports his claim by zooming into a close-up:

Fight club2012-01-11-14h02m34s212

Then into an extreme close-up:

Fight club2012-01-11-14h02m35s231

By zooming in on his face, David Fincher indicates that the audience is about to enter his mind. It’s as if the camera’s going to continue through his eyes and into his memory, which is why—as is the case here—such zooms are so often followed by a flashback:

Fight club2012-01-11-14h02m36s240

Call it an abuse of frontality—that feature of a frame that allows the audience to drink deeply of a character’s eyes and acquire sympathy with or knowledge of what lies behind them—but it’s really just an arbitrary convention. There’s no logical reason zooming in on a face should signal the beginning of a flashback. But it frequently does. What’s interesting about the opening title sequence of Fight Club is that it reverses the convention. Via CGI, the audience sees an idea—represented by an electric flash of blue light—form:

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O’Keefe vs. The State of New Hampshire

[ 62 ] January 16, 2012 |

Apparently, James O’Keefe’s latest illegal stunt ended up being more illegal than he intended it to be. He only intended to commit voter fraud to demonstrate that voter fraud could be committed, but because he chose to impersonate a living voter and misrepresented himself as that person, he may have:

(a) Pose[d] as another person with the purpose to defraud in order to obtain money, credit, goods, services, or anything else of value;

(b) Obtain[ed] or record[ed] personal identifying information about another person without the express authorization of such person, with the intent to pose as such person;

For those who’d prefer not to watch the tape, O’Keefe’s undercover agent attempted to (a) pose as another person to acquire something of value (Robert William Beaulieu’s franchise), and (b) acquire information (Beaulieu’s address) in order to pose as him. I’m not a lawyer, but it would seem that the only ways O’Keefe avoids being charged with identity theft in the state of New Hampshire is to claim that the right of suffrage has no value — and good luck with that one — or that he never intended to pose as Beaulieu in a voting booth, which he can prove by pointing to the fact that his cameraman walked out before actually voting. More significant, to my mind, is that O’Keefe seems to have sharpened his focus: before, he went after voter registration fraud and called it voter fraud, when in truth there was no fraudulent behavior involved. (You can register as “Donald Duck,” but you can’t vote as him.) Now, he realizes that it’s not the registration that’s the “issue” — such as it is one — and is attempting to commit actual Class-A-felony-type voting fraud.

I console myself with the knowledge that should he manage to do that, he’ll be convicted by evidence from his own camera.

I’m a woman?

[ 30 ] January 15, 2012 |

Caitlin Flanagan seems to think so:

The second reason Metcalf was left flat by this line of reasoning is that he isn’t a woman, and to really love Joan Didion—to have been blown over by things like the smell of jasmine and the packing list she kept by her suitcase—you have to be female.

Admittedly, I don’t find Didion’s discussions of jasmine and packing lists to be the strongest features of her work. Even if I did, I wouldn’t have to be a woman to do so. Flanagan should know better than to argue from a gender essentialist position so intellectually vapid it can be refuted by the existence of stereotypical gay males.

She clearly doesn’t. Her failure to recognize that she’s diminishing Didion by praising her thus leads her to statements like:

Didion’s genius is that she understands what it is to be a girl on the cusp of womanhood, in that fragile, fleeting, emotional time that she explored in a way no one else ever has. Didion is, depending on the reader’s point of view, either an extraordinarily introspective or an extraordinarily narcissistic writer. As such, she is very much like her readers themselves.

Calling the woman who wrote “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” a “girl” does her disservice. Calling her a narcissist and suggesting that any females who read her are similarly narcissistic does them a disservice. That Flanagan does this in an attempt to praise Didion renders it all the more appalling because, in the end, Flanagan doesn’t believe that Didion’s actually a writer:

I can tell you this for certain: anything you have ever read by Didion about the shyness that plagued her in her youth, and about her inarticulateness in those days, in the face of even the most banal questions, was not a writer’s exaggeration of a minor character trait for literary effect. The contemporary diagnosis for the young woman at our dinner table would be profound—crippling—social-anxiety disorder.

Didion emoted her prose onto the page. She didn’t perform an excruciating self-analysis in the service of a journalistic ethos, she was shy so she wrote shyly. The dinner party Flanagan recounts in the article happened after the publication of Slouching Towards Bethlehem, a collection whose titular essay is renowned for its shy lyric:

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“Not suffering like starving 19th-century Norwegian immigrants”

[ 65 ] January 13, 2012 |

That, according to Victor Davis Hanson, is the contemporary version of “the good life.” From a man who compulsively reminds anyone in earshot that “for 20 years I taught classics,” defining “the good life” as the absence of suffering is surprising. I always thought it had something to do with one of those Greek words Hanson loves so much—but I only studied classics for a couple semesters as an undergraduate and am probably misremembering. That said, Hanson’s certainly correct about one thing: no one suffers quite as poignantly as white people. It’s no coincidence that his first complaint about people who complain about class is:

Meanwhile we see the “poor” near rioting over buying the first few pairs of Michael Jordan $200 sneakers[.]

His argument is entirely about class. Consider the impoverished people at one of those near-riots:

Not a single one of them looks to be a starving Norwegian. That’s because Hanson is talking about class here:

In the car today, I heard the usual con ads on the radio. Got problems with the IRS? No problem, we can renegotiate that away. Too much credit card borrowing? No problem, we can settle it at half what you owe … Lately I heard ads from the Department of Agriculture, reminding me that if I belong to some such minority group, I can sue if I felt I was discriminated against.


My point again is not to object to magnanimity, but to object mightily to those who slander a system that is more egalitarian and generous than any in civilization’s history. Race-based quotas help as well.

What do they help? They help poor people acquire what Hanson calls “the simulacra of equality.” Here’s the actual example he uses to “prove” that the simulacra of equality is a good thing:

I also say simulacra because few in Selma vacation in Tuscany. But sitting in front of a big-screen TV, with some Italian music on, while watching Rick Steves (with TV sound off) touring Florence seems not all that different from the 28-hour hassle of flying to rural Italy. The former is free; the latter “rich” people alone afford.

Sitting in front of a television isn’t all that different from going to Italy? The mind reels. Hanson’s new definition of “the good life” entails not starving and not having to deal with the hassle of flying overseas. So if you see someone in expensive sneakers who’s neither starving nor vacationing overseas and you still think that class exists in America, you’re probably one of those people trying to “get tenure by writing obscure, clever little essays that few read on insidious class differences.”

And if you’re one of those people, your mother’s most likely a Mexican.

On Teaching Fight Club to Students Inclined to Love It

[ 44 ] January 11, 2012 |

(This be yet another one of them posts.)

Fight Club, like its latter-day counterpart Inception, is the sum total of its wasted talent. Unlike Christopher Nolan, for whom Inceptionrepresented his personal white whale chased, captured, and carved, Fincher can’t be held to accountable for the many weaknesses of Fight Club. That can be blamed on his source material: the singular novel Chuck Palahniuk’s been writing for the better part of the past two decades—Fight Club is merely an early incarnation. Read in isolation, it’s possible to believe than any one of Palahniuk’s books contains the potential to be more than it is—that its strengths, few though they are, may augur the arrival of a more sophisticated writer. Unfortunately, Palahniuk’s development as an author could never eclipse the logic behind shampoo: He lathers. He rinses. He repeats. So if I seem particularly annoyed with any isolated moment inFight Club, know that I’m not merely annoyed with that particular moment, but with its many kin. All of which is merely a long preface to a fairly simple argument:

David Fincher’s film far outstrips its source material. He accomplishes this not by altering fundamental elements of the plot, but by filming those elements in a way that undercuts, for example, explosive statements or implications of masculinity. For example, when charged to locate and lose a fight with a stranger, Fincher presents the scene comically:

Fight club2012-01-11-14h45m27s46
He uses a long shot to emphasize how unnecessary this altercation is. That priest can turn his other cheek and exist the mise-en-scène without being goaded by the mechanic and his hose a second time. The priest isn’t, to paraphrase the narrator, doing just about anything he can to avoid a fight. He’s walking away. It’s not until the mechanic steals and waters his Bible that the priest becomes disturbed enough to muster a shove. The ensuing “fight” consists of the priest slapping the mechanic twice before running away. Moreover, the goofy non-diegetic sound playing throughout this sequence undercuts the bravery of all involved. The priest doesn’t embrace his masculinity when he confronts the mechanic, nor is the mechanic’s masculinity challenged by the priest’s feeble attempt to confront him. Compare the Keystone Kops routine above with Palahniuk’s description of the same in the novel:

By this time next week, each guy on the Assault Committee has to pick a fight where he won’t come out a hero. And not in fight club. This is harder than it sounds. A man on the street will do anything not to fight.

The idea is to take some Joe on the street who’s never been in a fight and recruit him. Let him experience winning for the first time in his life. Get him to explode. Give him permission to beat the crap out of you.

You can take it. If you win, you screwed up.

“What we have to do, people,” Tyler told the committee, “is remind these guys what kind of power they still have.”

Fincher took what had, in the novel, been a call to male empowerment and castrated it. Combined with the punctuated humdruming of the non-diegetic track, the long and extreme long shots Fincher uses throughout that scene undermine Palahniuk’s insistence, voiced by Tyler, that the purpose behind this random violence “is to remind these guys what kind of power they still have.” Fincher disagrees. In addition to the altercation with the priest above, he presents two more:

Fight club2012-01-11-15h24m05s227
The first he shoots from quite a distance—one might even call it a safe distance. Moreover, the level of framing is so high above its subjects that the angle of framing is necessarily high too. The camera looks down upon the members of the Assault Committee, that is, it diminishes them by emphasizing their smallness. Nothing so small could exist independently, and the fact that this assignment’s called “homework” hammers home that point. Fully fledged adults may have to take work home, but they’re not assigned “homework.” Only children are. Speaking of which:

Fight club2012-01-11-15h24m07s245
Here’s the audience’s vantage point for the third “homework” assignment. Instead of being safely across the street, as we were with the priest, or ensconced two stories above the action, as we were in the lobby, Fincher shoots this fight sequence from behind what appear to be the bars of a crib. Whatever happens in that parking lot, the audience need not fear. If even those tiny men in the distance were to traverse the deep space between their current location and ours, Fincher provides us protection in the form of an infantalizing set of iron bars. The lesson Palahniuk’s Tyler would have all men learn? Fincher’s actively working against the possibility that his Tyler might communicate it to his audience.

That’s not to say it didn’t (and doesn’t continue to) happen, only that those who fail to pay attention end up reading Palahniuk’s book through Fincher’s film, which would be all well and good if the former weren’t so simplistic. Treating film as the sum total of the words spoken by characters in it denies the medium its unique ability, for example, to ironize any phrase by means of its delivery. Such irony is lost to the majority of the film’s fans because they find the subculture depicted in it (and the novel) as too seductive. These are the boys Robert Stacy McCain fears won’t grow into men:

In much the same way as the Bolsheviks claimed to speak for the workers and peasants, feminists nowadays claim to represent the interests of all women. On the basis of that usurped authority, feminists wield the awful fury of revolutionary terror against their enemies, so that even Jeff Goldstein seems afraid to openly oppose them.

Am I alone in seeing this? Is there no one else who recognizes the dictatorial ambitions of feminism, the steel fist inside the velvet glove? Do you not understand that you can no more placate these would-be tyrants with soft words of reasonable compromise than you can negotiate with a ravenous shark?

This is the world Palahniuk’s readers believe they inhabit. Hemmed in on all sides by distaff-wielding forces, the only alternative is to reembrace a violent and muscular culture of masculinity. Society has let these boys become men unworthy of the word, and Fight Club taught them how to do something about. The fact that it taught them that doing so entailed acquiring the radically bicameral image of a self that can only communicate with its parts through flagellation (temporary) or mass destruction (permanently) is lost on these literalists.

Fincher’s film appeals to uncritical viewers because they fail to understand it as a film. They read it. They take from it the notion that there was once a Golden Age of Masculinity and they assign themselves homework designed to bring it back. Critical viewers appreciate a film that undermines and undercuts everything their uncritical compatriots take from it. In short,Fight Club bears the same relation to its source material as I argued Kick-Ass did to its.


On Leverage (“The Van Gogh Job”)

[ 10 ] January 10, 2012 |

(This be yet another one of them posts.)

Before analyzing a sequence from the “Van Gogh Job” episode of Leverage, I need to discuss a little something about color and continuity. First, you may be familiar with Vincent Van Gogh, but if not, all you need to know is the man loved his yellows:

If you’re thinking those yellows are a little brown, you’re not wrong. But that’s the fault of history and chemistry, not intent, so imagine those yellows are as vibrant as they were the day he painted them. This is important. So too is another of his paintings with which you’re probably familiar:


What’s significant here is the contrast between the once-vibrant yellows and the rich swirls of blue that these lights fail to illuminate. The stars and moon exist independently of the night sky, which has always struck me as a visualization of a menacing thought: things can hide in the presence of all this light. Light can not only fail to illuminate, it can be swept up and away by raging torrents of darkness. (Which invariably contain monsters, because darkness light can’t penetrate always contains monsters.)

That I’m going on about Van Gogh in a post about the “Van Gogh Job” should be fairly self-evident, but it’s not just that the director of this episode/author-of-the-challenge-to-write-this-post, John Rogers, employs a palette similar to that of his subject. More significant is how he employs it, which is both 1) often to the same end and 2) create continuity between his parallel narratives. In the modern narrative, Charlie Lawson (Danny Glover) sits in a hospital bed recounting the events of the World War II narrative to Parker (Beth Riesgraf):

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