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22nd of July, 2024

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Rube

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A Scene in a Bar, Wherein Two Men Discuss Things of the Intellect

Hubert sat, looking thoughtful, twirling the wine in his glass. The pendulum had swung his way, and he was taking his time about answering the question posed.

“I see,” he began, placing his wine on the table and artfully removing his spectacles. A handkerchief had appeared in his other hand, with which he slowly began polishing the half-moon lenses. “Well, I can forgive the thought behind that particular question. His genius can be difficult to see.”

Roger was flabbergasted. “I’m sorry, did you just say, ‘his genius can be difficult to see’?”

“Yes,” answered Hubert, raising his eyebrows.

“Well,” continued Roger, “I’m not exactly sure I understand what that means.”

Hubert sighed heavily and placed his glasses back on the bridge of his nose. “It means, Kubrick’s genius could be difficult for the– “, he hesitated. “For the casual observer to even notice, let alone truly understand.” He took his glass in hand once more, and sat back in his chair, obviously pleased with his explanation.

Roger grabbed his beer glass, finding it sadly empty. He reflexively raised it in the air, swiveling his head looking for a waitress. Frustrated, he sat the glass back on the table and looked at his companion. “Why in heaven’s name would genius, of all things, be difficult to see?”

Huber smiled and, slowly, as if addressing a child, said, “my dear boy, Kubrick’s genius lies in the details of his actions, the subtleties, you understand. An uneducated observer could very well miss the meaning – indeed, the very existence of the nuances that separate him from inferior film directors.” Check-mate, thought Hubert.

“For example?” Roger asked, one eyebrow raised.

Hubert sat deadly still. Even the wine lay dead in his glass. The bar seemed to have gone silent around them. Their eyes locked, the conversation became a Mexican standoff, each party afraid to blink. No, thought Hubert, feeling suddenly panicked. He’s not afraid to blink.

Suddenly, an arm reached around Roger’s shoulder, sat a full glass of beer on the table, and expertly whisked the empty glass away. Startled, Roger looked around, trying to see who it had been that had brought the beer. There were no waiters or waitresses to be seen.

Shrugging, Roger grabbed his glass and took a quick gulp. Pondering his glass, he said, “well, I call bullshit.”

It was Hubert’s turn to be flabbergasted. “But, how can you say that? Have you never seen 2001: A Space Odyssey? It’s
genius!”

“It’s a dud!” cried Roger. “What in the world is ‘genius’ about a bunch of men in gorilla suits dancing around a big black rock? It’s the most asinine thing I’ve ever seen!”

Hubert cried out in terror. “Don’t say that!”

But Roger continued. “It’s three and a half hours of tripod shots! Didn’t Mr. Boy Genius ever hear about tracks and dollies? About camera work! And what, exactly, did all those shots of astronauts jogging around in circles have to do with the central dramatic theme? That was half the movie, men in t-shirts jogging in place!”

Hubert gingerly sat his thin-stemmed glass on the table, despite the rage betrayed in his reddening face. “Kubrick was trying to convey the utter tedium involved in interplanetary flight, I’ll have you know.”

“‘Utter tedium’ is right, I’d say. That should have been the name of the movie! 2001: Utter Tedium. You know that part of the movie, where they’re doing the interviews from Jupiter or Titan or wherever? The announcer says something like, ‘the 8-minute delays between responses, caused by the distance between Earth and Jupiter, have been edited out for brevity’.”

Hubert nodded, dreading what would surely come next.

“Well, I’m frankly amazed that Mr. Genius Director didn’t leave those eight-minute delays in the movie.”

Hubert straightened himself in his chair. “Ooooh, that’s exactly the kind of cheap-shot I’d expect from a, a, casual observer like yourself!”

“Well,” offered Roger, “just explain to me one thing. What’s the compulsion that drives people to consider this obvious hack a genius?”

“Your question is flawed,” countered Hubert. “There’s nothing ‘obvious’ about Stanley Kubrick being a ‘hack’.”

Roger thought for a moment. “Well, you said yourself that his genius could be difficult to detect. Are you suggesting that he was trying to come across as a hack?”

Hubert sensed a possible opening though which he might escape. “2001 is an intellectual film about man’s evolution as a sentient being, and his relationship with his creator, whoever or whatever that might prove to be. It’s not Armageddon; I’m sorry that Bruce Willis was too young to be involved with the project. Perhaps if there’d been more explosions you would’ve found it more to your liking.” With a dramatic motion, Hubert crossed his legs, crossed his arms, and raised his wine glass to his lips.

Roger took a sip of his beer, and kept the glass held below his chin. He frowned. “Okay, let’s drop 2001, then. It’s just a science fiction movie. That’s no true measure of talent when it comes to directors. I mean, it’s no Blade Runner.

Hubert exploded. “What is it with you, anyway? Stanley Kubrick is the most universally-respected director in the history of film, and 2001: A Space Odyssey is generally considered his magnum opus. Are you just being contrary?”

Roger slammed his glass on the table. “No, I’m just saying that it’s a bit cold out for the Emperor to be walking around starkers!”

Hubert’s eyes narrowed, the shaking of his hand sending ripples through the wine in his glass. “You wouldn’t!”

“Oh, I would! If I have to hear one more time about how great the most boring science fiction movie of all time is, just because people are too afraid to say it’s boring, boring!, I’ll bring up Apocalypse Now! Don’t push me!!”

Hubert’s face had become purple. Not Apocalypse Now, he thought. The fatal blow. The Big One. If I have to defend Full Metal Jacket against that movie, I’m doomed! Suddenly, his expression changed. His features seemed to collapse in upon themselves. He appeared to have grown smaller, older, slumped in his chair. “Okay,” he sighed heavily. “What do you want from me?”

Roger took a long swallow from his glass. He grinned, flush with victory. “I want you to tell me when you last sat through 2001: A Space Odyssey. In its entirety.

Hubert grew even smaller. “Oh, please. Not that...”

Roger’s sadism knew no bounds. “Oh, yes. I want to know when, and I want to know where.”

“Well,” shrugged Hubert. “I bought the DVD.”

“Have you unwrapped it?”

“Well...” Hubert’s face developed a wrinkle, running from his mouth to his eyebrows. This became a crack, which became a trough, through which poured a river of tears. He broke down. Roger placed a gentle hand on Hubert’s troubled brow, and lay his head on his own shoulder.

“There, there,” Robert said.

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Comments

Bob Baird

Rube -

Nice look, man. I can see that the new omnivore pathway has opened the way for all kinds of new creativity. Note.... why don't you set Kubric's Clockwork Orange aside for a few months and revisit it once your system has been adjusted to flesh tearing. Only Burgess lovers can appreciate the power of untraviolence. I notice that your girlfriend has an egg in her living room. Maybe you could conjure up a plaster of paris penis to add to her apartment. That and a white sausage should bring a little Beethoven into her life.

Bob

Rube

I found Burgess' book fascinating. The fact that half the thing was in bastardized Russian was a stroke of genius. Eh, Malchik?

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