Friday, July 27, 2012

Film Friday: Contagion (2011)

Contagion begins with one person passing a disease to another. They spread it to others. All these people die within the first couple minutes of the film. The next few minutes involve CDC members trying to track down where the disease began. From there, the film becomes the disjointed story of several individuals who really don’t do anything, nor are they interesting. Indeed, nothing about this film is interesting.

** spoiler alert **

Though critics fawn over him, Steven Soderbergh is hit or miss as a director. For every Sex, Lies and Videotape and Ocean’s Eleven there’s a Solaris and The Informant!. When he hits, he’s provocative and stylistic. When he misses, he’s predictable and boooring. Contagion is a “realistic” portrayal of a highly contagious and lethal virus spreading through the modern world. “Realistic” is in quotes because the film takes itself very seriously, but there’s no substance behind the air of realism. In this regard, Contagion is like Soderbergh’s Traffic: polished, serious, and intensely shallow.

Contagion acts like it’s presenting a scientific and non-fictiony view of virus-events, only it really isn’t. There’s almost no science presented and the serious tone masks the fact that the story is nothing more than a couple characters making uninteresting personal decisions. We do see the virus pass from person to person, but only for a minute or two -- Outbreak did this with much greater tension, as have most zombie films. They also try to track down the first person to get the disease, which could be interesting, except it gets resolved almost instantly and they don’t even tell us why it matters. At one point, they seal off Chicago, which could be interesting, except you don’t get to see it happen.
So what do we get instead? Instead, the film is about bureaucrats harassing Kate Winslet for no reason, Laurence Fishburne agonizing over bringing home one CDC employee when two million have already died and calling his fiancĂ© to tell her to leave Chicago, which briefly becomes a scandal that goes nowhere. We also see Matt Damon agonize that he can’t open the door to his house to let his daughter’s boyfriend in for a quickie, and Marion Cotillard makes an appearance as a doctor, though I honestly can’t tell you why. Elliot Gould appears too for some reason. Yawn.

The only thing this film really offers that’s somewhat original is Jude Law as Alan Krumwiede, an anti-government, conspiracy-theory blogger who sells his soul to a hedge fund and tells people they can cure this disease with snake oil. This is about as close as the film gets to an interesting storyline. Yet, while the film spends a lot of time on his character, you are never once shown any effect his actions have on anything. He just talks about getting a lot of page hits and the CDC people are upset at him. But it’s never even clear if he’s lying or what motivates him, nor do you ever see a single person get hurt following his advice.
So how could this film have been improved?

Well, for one thing, it needs focus. The Andromeda Strain created a compelling plot by focusing on whether or not the disease would escape the lab. Quarantine focused on a small group of people trapped with the infected as the government tried to bury the problem. The Crazies showed a group of uninfected trying to escape a town the government sealed off. Zombie movies, like Pontypool and Day of the Dead, thrive in portraying the early moments before the public is aware what is happening, and in showing the exponential math of infection. The Stand took another approach and built around the survivors, even as the virus was only starting. Twelve Monkeys showed mankind trying to rebuild afterwards. In each of these instances, the film followed characters whose survival was important. Their stories became the story of how the disease either spread or was stopped. As they learned information, you learned information, as they lost friends, you felt the loss. This pulled you in to the story.

Contagion isn’t like that. None of the characters in Contagion actually matter. If they all died in an industrial blender the moment the film began, not a single thing would change in the virus portion of the story. Even worse, these characters never learn anything they can pass on to the audience. Instead, the information is presented over radio broadcasts or it appears on the screen like an update. Thus, there’s no mystery and you have little actual connection to the virus story, it just seems to be going on in the background, even though these characters are presented as the most relevant characters to watch. That makes the film feel somewhat fraudulent bereft of drama.

Compare this film to Outbreak. Outbreak fell apart when it did the “crazed soldier” thing toward the end, but until that point the film was quite strong. Outbreak followed one character who had the ability to discover, diagnose and treat the virus, and it became the story of his race against the clock and the seemingly real hurdles he faced. Throughout the film, we knew little more than he did, and when we did it was used for dramatic effect. By comparison, in Contagion information gets handed out regularly and with little drama. For example, you will suddenly see the words, “2.3 million dead” written on the screen, which should be horrific except it’s just a number the way it gets presented. Moreover, in Outbreak, people close to the hero died, people we got to know. In Contagion, you almost never see anyone die and when you do, they are typically introduced as they are dying. So they’re all strangers.
This is why Contagion went wrong: it pretended it was a realistic portrayal of the spread of a deadly virus, but it gave us no realism, no science, no mystery, and no characters who mattered to the virus story. And the personal stories of the characters we were given just weren’t interesting, nor did they ultimately feel particularly relevant to anything. This was how Traffic felt. That was a film that seemed on the surface to be a serious exploration of the drug trade from Mexico to the United States, but there was no depth and nothing we hadn’t seen before. And the characters you did follow weren’t relevant to the larger point of the film, except that they were all anecdotally touched by the drug trade. It’s the same thing here. These characters don’t drive the story, they are passengers, people who kind-of-sort-of relate to the spreading of the virus.

Ultimately, a genuine story about the spread of a disease could be a fascinating film, but it needs to offer more than a glossy version of every other virus story. It needs to connect to the real people who make decisions so the audience can see how the important people would respond and the challenges they face, and it needs to connect us to the scale of death in a very personal way. Simply reading numbers of dead is not enough. Contagion does none of this.

103 comments:

Individualist said...

Andrew , very good review. I know I saw this movie but I really don't remember it. It had the plot sketchiness of traffic. Scenes that are unrealted that they loosely try to tie together which just ends up complicated for no reason.

Informant! I believe that is the Matt Damaon film based on the events at Archer Daniels Midland regarding Price fixing. I found this film interesting only for the points that it missed.

Not to get into the plot but they focus on the wrong doing of ADM becasue the company is getting together on a global scale with Asian conglomerates to fix the price of corn and sucrose and those polyunsaturate oils they have in your wheat thins.

The thing that is missed is that the Price Fixing is exactly the same thing on the world stage that the gvoernment does on out national stage by setting quotas and subsidies. The real irony is that this anti-corporation movie ignores the fact that it is government regualtion that created ADM, government regualtion that allowed them to become the conglomerate they are and government regulation that inspired the illegal activities uncovered yet the film pointedly praises the effort of the government to uncover this.

Tennessee Jed said...

I really enjoyed the book the Andromeda Strain, and as often happens, felt it lost a little bit when it was brought to the screen. Then, in 1994, I purchased a book titled "The Hot Zone" by Richard Preston. It was terrifying because it was NOT a novel. Ever since, I have never felt compelled to watch any of the pandemic, contagion films.

Notwithstanding the above comments, your analysis of how and why the film fails, and comparison to others in the same genre is, as always, excellent. I tend to look at these films as sub-genres of the overall "disaster" group such as Titanic, airport, Towering Inferno. In order to work, you have to develop interesting characters and make the story plausible.

ScottDS said...

I guess you saw Contagion when it premiered on HBO last weekend? I have it on the DVR - I just need to sit down and watch it.

Nice to see someone else who didn't like The Informant!. I thought it was an interesting story that was handled terribly. I think I got what they were trying to do but it just didn't work for me. As for Soderbergh, I'm no expert but nothing could be worse than The Good German. (Nolte's review of the film for his old site is a classic and even my film buff friend left the room after five minutes!)

As for Outbreak... I can't take the film that seriously thanks to Donald Sutherland's scenery-chewing mustache-twirling general. The Hot Zone was originally going to be made into a movie, with Ridley Scott directing Robert Redford and Jodie Foster but the project slowly fell apart. There's a fascinating chapter about it in David Hughes' book Tales from Development Hell. After reading it, I realized any movie that gets made is a miracle!

DUQ said...

I saw this and almost fell sleep. It felt dull and oddly pointless. I think you've nailed the reasons actually. I kept waiting for something the characters did to matter, but they really never did. Even the guy who invents the vaccine does it off screen and just hands it to them. And then they hint at the next scandal "who gets the vaccine first" but that lasts about 20 seconds. It's like the Cliff's Notes on viruses.

DUQ said...

Scott, I agree about The Informant. I thought it was a really neat story that was completely mishandled. I haven't seen The Good German, but I agree with Andrew that often Soderbergh's films are predictable and dull. They always feel like they were better concepts than how they turn out.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, Thanks! I think you put your finger on the problem with this film when you said:

It had the plot sketchiness of traffic. Scenes that are unrealted that they loosely try to tie together which just ends up complicated for no reason.

That's exactly what this is. This isn't a film with a plot, it's a series of vignettes with repeating characters which are all only vaguely related to the main point, but which don't tie together coherently. They ar presented in a way which makes the film feel complicated and serious, but which ultimately is only an illusion to hide the fact the film is shallow.

What really amazed me was useless the characters end up being to the film. Not one of them is vital to the film and none of them even provide you with key information -- it just gets told to you as an aside by, basically, the narrator, e.g. television news.

Traffic was the same way -- a lot of characters doing a lot of things which seemed related to the story but really wasn't and which made the film feel complicated but which ultimately was nothing more than an illusion.

And like with Traffic, the critics fawned over this one because they didn't understand they were being had. I think they were all afraid not to love an "important" film. Yeah, right.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I have not read "The Hot Zone." Interesting. I'll have to check that out.

I enjoyed The Andromeda Strain a lot, but I saw the film before I read the book. I hated the remake... don't waste your time on that one.

Thanks on the analysis! I really think a film like this could be an excellent movie, but so far now one has both taken it seriously and made it dramatic. I think this was an attempt to do that, but it really did neither well -- it just provided an air of seriousness.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Yep, that's when I saw it.

Outbreak starts really strongly in my opinion until Sutherland gets going. Then it becomes a stupid "evil soldier" film. But the first 40 minutes are really strong as they work to track down the virus.

I have not read "The Hot Zone" or seen The Good German. The Informant! stank however. As I'm beginning to realize with Soderbergh, he's good at identifying strong concepts and finding decent actors. But after that, he's intensely shallow and he's just not a good storyteller. His stories all feel disjointed and lack flow. The Informant! was like that, plus it wasn't sure if it wanted to be a comedy or a drama.

Also, Soderbergh is poor at identifying what to dramatize and what not. Contagion is a classic example. He wastes tons of time on pointless minutia and glosses over the things which would interest people. I'm not kidding when I say that they raise issues and solve them almost immediate.

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, I think that's absolutely right. Whereas most movies raise issues slowly and then create drama in solving them, this film would raise an issue and then solve it almost immediately. The scandal about him calling his fiance lasted 20 seconds. Finding the virus lasted a couple minutes tops. The passing of the disease lasted about two minutes. The scandal of who gets the virus first lasted about a minute. All the rest was people sitting around looking uncomfortable.

I am starting to realize this is common for Soderbergh films unless he's making a movie about sex -- Sex, Lies and Videotape, Out of Sight -- or a heist film like Ocean's Eleven. Anything else and he's basically out of his league.

Doc Whoa said...

I'm a sucker for medical thrillers so I went to see this and I would rate it very poorly. It was pretensious, but that's about it. Why was Matt Damon even in this film? Did he add anything? No. The rest either. There were only three interesting characters and they weren't very interesting -- Fishburne, Winslet and Law.

Ed said...

I really wanted to like this but just couldn't. I didn't turn it off, but I lost interest and began to think about other things I had to do.

Ed said...

Scott and Andrew, The Informant left me cold. I could never tell how serious it was trying to be or if I was supposed to believe any of it. I didn't like the characters and I just couldn't care.

I agree with Individualist too that they picked on ADM, who deserves it, but ignored the other issues that should have been addressed too. It's like picking out one bankrobber from a gang of bankrobbers and criticizing them.

AndrewPrice said...

Doc, I knew this wasn't going to be great from things I'd heard, but I was still hoping a solid movie with maybe something the public had missed. But it started rather poorly and it never got any better. It was almost depressing in tone and it was strangely without drama throughout.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, That's how I felt, I lost interest. It wasn't difficult to watch, but there was little that kept my mind focused on the film.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, I feel the same way about the Informat!. I was even interested in the topic because I know there is a scandal there, plus it had a solid cast and Soderbergh has a strong reputation. So I definitely wanted to see it. But it wasn't well executed at all. And I think the biggest problem was that they couldn't decide if it was a comedy or a drama, and then they fuzzied it all up by never telling you what is real and what is paranoia. That could work if handled differently, but not in a film like that.

Doc Whoa said...

Andrew, I probably had slightly higher expectations than you did going in, but I wasn't expecting anything great. I was, however, expecting a decent movie with a solid story. This film didn't really have that.

CrispyRice said...

I'm trying to remember if I've seen this one. There are so many "disease wipes out the world" movies that they kind of run together... well, The Stand excepted, of course, LOL. And there was a good Brit series a couple years ago, too, but it focused less on the spread and death than on what do the survivors do, which I quite enjoyed.

In any case, it doesn't sound like this one stands out in any sort of memorable way.

AndrewPrice said...

Doc, I agree. This violated the first rule of film making -- tell a good story.

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, I think they were trying to create "the definitive virus film." But all they got was the appearance of a serious (and dull) film about a virus. For whatever reason they stripped out all the mystery and drama inherent in this sort of event and what they were left with was just a bunch of characters being dull while a virus was killing millions of people. The decision making on what to include here was really quite odd.

CrispyRice said...

Sounds... dull... LOL. We'll stay away, thanks!

AndrewPrice said...

It is Crispy. There are much better virus movies throughout the genre.

BIG MO said...

Thanks, Andrew, you just saved me from wasting my time with this film. And agreed about "Outbreak": it was good until the cliched evil military plot killed the movie faster than the virus.

My favorite rendition of the spread of a super virus is the "News Report" extra on the 2004 Dawn of the Dead dvd. Richard Biggs (Dr. Franklin from B5) plays a news anchor struggling to understand what the heck is happening while the virus spreads insanely fast. Best part: The anchor runs a video made by a group of Obama-style "bitter clingers" showing how to take down single and multiple zombies with pistols and rifles.

(The 2004 DotD, by the way, has what I consider the best opening scenes and credits of all zombie movies, other than Zombieland.)

Kelly said...

This movie stunk.

ScyFyterry said...

Big Mo, Zombieland was great!

BIG MO said...

ScyFyterry - got Twinkies? I'm stocking up.

ScyFyterry said...

Big Mo, Smart move! I love the fact Bill Murray of all people survives. LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

Big MO, You're welcome! This one was a disappointment. I think they mistook having a serious, almost depressing tone for being dramatic and the two really aren't the same.

I love the opening to DOTD 2004. That is an excellent opening. Agreed too on the news report.

As an aside on Biggs, I was stunned when I heard he'd died a few years ago. He was really young.

AndrewPrice said...

Kelly, Yeah, that about sums it up.

AndrewPrice said...

Terry and MO, I enjoyed Zombieland a lot. It took a couple viewings to grow on me, but it's definitely an excellent movie.

And I too love the fact Bill Murray survives! LOL!

ScyFyterry said...

I like most zombie movies and virus movie, and what struck me about Contagion is that it didn't do anything those other movies didn't and it didn't do it better. To the contrary, it did it worse. That's pretty bad when you can follow in other people's footsteps but you can't even match what they've done.

ellenB said...

I won't say I hated this movie, but it could have been a lot better. I thought Law was interesting and I liked Fishburne, but they didn't do enough with either.

T-Rav said...

Simpler summation of Soderbergh: For every Ocean's Eleven, there's an Ocean's Twelve.

AndrewPrice said...

Terry, I'm a fan of zombie movies too. And I agree with you. For all it's claim to being more serious than other films, this one really didn't offer anything

AndrewPrice said...

Ellen, This wasn't an unwatchable movie, it just wasn't worth watching and it didn't hold my interest.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Nice summation. Although, I did enjoy Ocean's Thirteen, but Twelve definitely stunk.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: Another film I'll probably avoid.

I hope you'll forgive me, but I'm also using this comment to see if my comment will disappear the way they have on the main Commentarama site. If it sticks, I'll know my problem is there rather than an overall problem between Blogger and me.

T-Rav said...

Having not seen this movie yet, all I can say is that its biggest crime, so far as I can tell, is (spoiler alert) killing off Gwyneth Paltrow's character, and also making her look horribly ugly and all. Come and get me, sexism police.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I don't think you'll miss anything by skipping this one.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I was shocked, honestly.

Spoiler

They kill her within about a minute of the opening and she never comes back until the closing credits. She's even on the poster, so that was a poor choice.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: Since all my responses and even your explanation of the problem disappeared from the main site, I hope you'll forgive me for a brief hijack.

There is no reasonable explanation for the disappearing comments on my article today, and even though Andrew and I both tried to fix it, it didn't work. So since my comments here aren't disappearing, I want to thank all of you for your comments, including Andrew for trying to help me explain it. Blogger has a black heart that nothing can penetrate.

And now, back to the film site. LOL

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Good review, Andrew!

Yeah, real stinker. And apparently, basic science was too difficult to explain in the film.
Folks wanna hear at least the basics (one of several reasons I am a big fan of Michael Chrichton's works. As a doctor perhaps it was easier for him to explain science but that's no excuse for directors who don't even try to tackle it).

And nothing else was interesting. It was cliche driven and it kept crashing because the cliches were badly written.

I can handle cliches if they are done well. But here it seems like they didn't even try.

Contagion ain't contagious.

Speaking of The Stand, I liked it a lot except for the ending.
I thought the ending was a copout.

I wanted to see the final good vs evil battle and then poof! Wow. Didn't see that coming.
So, yeah, I was disappointed in the ending but still a film worth watching with very good performances.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Blogger is one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (probably pestilence).


My condolences.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Ben! I was amazed that they skipped all the science. That's kind of the selling point for these kinds of films and you would think a film which sold itself as a serious examination of this issue would have dug into that.

As for Soderbergh not being a scientist, he didn't even give the basic science we know from other films. In effect, we know there was a virus, that somebody had it first, that it "mutates" and that some guy developed a cure... that's about it.

And you're right about the rest being cliche driven and crashing and burning. Like you say, cliches aren't always bad things, but they at least need to feel original or be used in surprising ways, and in this film, there wasn't a moment which provided any surprise.

I had a lot of issues with The Stand, though I enjoy it enough to watch it every so often. I agree with you about the ending being a cop out. Everybody clap for Tinkerbell and evil will fade away. Groan.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, Blogger is finicky and this is one of those we can't explain. It makes no sense at all.

tryanmax said...

OT: Anyone see the opening ceremonies? Thoughts? I thought it was very inspiring.

AndrewPrice said...

Actually, the Olympics lost me years ago.

tryanmax said...

Well, it just turned me cold. The Brits are apparently so proud of their national health service that they are making it a part of the ceremony.

AndrewPrice said...

You're kidding?!

Also, I saw they had "the Queen" parashoot in. That seemed a little tacky to me.

tryanmax said...

I wish I were kidding. The only good thing to be said is how obviously shoehorned the concept was. Sorta gives it away that that NHS is not really a high point of British history.

As to the Queen, we live in an increasingly tacky era. I'm frankly resigned to it. Tact is only appreciated in its absence.

AndrewPrice said...

True. We live in a very tacky age and it seems to only rarely make appearances.

tryanmax said...

You probably don't want to know how much tackier these ceremonies have gotten. I was fooled by the initial segment into thinking this was going to be something high-minded and artistic. Instead, it's a chronicle of the decline of once refined British culture. To the rhythm of a drum machine.

AndrewPrice said...

I'm glad I'm not watching. But then, honestly, none of these open ceremonies have ever struck me as very inspiring. They tend to be like game shows.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Egads! Thanks for taking one for the team, Tryanmax!

I say, what illogical, fantasy drivel. How quaint.

tryanmax said...

Ben, it's a mixed bag, which I guess sums up London in a way. On one hand, there's so much emphasis on insipid pop cultural nonsense. On the other hand, the opening segment was a very admiring tribute to the industrial revolution and this latest segment was praise for Tim Berners-Lee, the type of innovator who should be a household name yet isn't.

tryanmax said...

Re: illogical, fantasy drivel -- the ceremony caused me to ponder whether the downward inflection point for Brit culture came with the rise of children's literature.

AndrewPrice said...

What made you think that? (children's lit)

tryanmax said...

The segment that included NHS was combined with the tribute to British children's lit. Now, I don't see anything wrong with sophisticated and entertaining literature aimed at children in and of itself. Quite the contrary, in fact.

But the rise of such literature at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries coincides with a turn toward the juvenile in Brit culture and, by extension, English-speaking cultures world-wide. Also, it was then that the Progressive movement as we now know it was born, built upon notions that one can wish his/her way to success.

Philosophy precedes culture by at least a generation. It begins amongst the thinkers, works its way to the literature, and finally into the culture.

AndrewPrice said...

Are you saying these two ideas are related philosophically or are you saying children's lit caused the decline?

tryanmax said...

I would never say that children's lit caused the decline, but I think the general embrace of fantasy by adults (which would have then been necessary before it could be introduced to children) marked a particular shift in what ideas were considered acceptable.

To wit, the works of Lewis Carrol are to this day described as "edgy," yet nothing truly edgy ever takes hold of the zeitgeist. There is a certain wisdom embedded in the foolish notion of "dangerous ideas." There is noting inherently wrong with entertaining fantastic ideas. The error comes from employing them.

Unfortunately, human nature dictates that if one meditates long enough on foolishness, it begins to seem wise. I don't find anything in Carrol or Barry that directly translates into failed political policy. But I think the willingness to entertain fantasy, after such a stretch of stoicism, was overindulged in.

tryanmax said...

So in short, I would say the two were philosophically related. Different facets of the same object.

AndrewPrice said...

Interesting observation. Essentially, they are both symptoms of the "unrealing" do society, where people started to entertain fantasy ideas as real and thus lost touch with reality.... ergo, the progressive "if we want it to be true, it will be true" mentality.

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. I saw In Time last night. Hmmm. Talk about a film that made no sense. Everything about the film was nonsense.

tryanmax said...

"unrealing" that's a good description of it. It's worth noting that the rise of the gothic horror novel, giving us such fantastic entities as Dracula, Frankenstein, the Invisible Man, and Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde occurred in the same span of time.

tryanmax said...

The thing that still makes my head reel about In Time is how the comparative value of things made no sense. It was totally driven by the needs of the script to take away the characters' time. It would be like making a bottle of Coke cost $20 as a way of saying this character is poor, rather than just showing him having trouble sparing a dollar.

AndrewPrice said...

You know, that's interesting now that you mention it. That whole period seems to be the moment the human race really developed a love of fantasy. Maybe that's when things went wrong?


I had problems with almost everything in the script. Why make people poor just so others could be rich? You can take more from the middle class. How can people live with only 30 minutes of life left? You can't earn anything, plus the amount of time it takes to get more time would wipe out what you got. Not to mention, society wouldn't function. People would be killing each other left and right.

The values on things made no sense either, as you note. The girl has a decade, right? How could she afford to live in the city with her father then when Timberlake was spending months on simple meals?

The time keepers made no sense either. And the crimes they committed were stupid too. Ok, you stole a million years. In a world of 300 million people, you could give everyone 1/300th of a year... about 1.2 days. Big deal.

AndrewPrice said...

I think In Time was a poor analogy that didn't fit correct, which they then stretched so far beyond the breaking point that nothing it touched made sense.

They would have been better off just redoing Robin Hood as a gangster stealing money to buy food.

tryanmax said...

RE: love of fantasy. It very well could be the start of things going wrong. It's probably impossible to say whether that's due to something in the literature, or simply due to the hedonistic escapism it fosters. More to ponder, I guess.

T-Rav said...

Andrew and tryanmax, I'll just say it--I rather liked the opening ceremonies. I was gone for most of the evening, so I didn't see the "homage to NHS" part you mention, and that does sound kinda stupid. But the parts I did see, well, they were fun and everything. Oh well. I'd rather the Olympics be in Britain than China.

T-Rav said...

That said, of course, there's no doubt NBC is milking this for all it's worth. What else can they do?

AndrewPrice said...

I'd like to see them in Antarctica, but maybe that's just me. ;)

AndrewPrice said...

Yeah, I hate NBC. I think one of the reasons I stopped watching is because they stopped showing sports and started spending their time telling you how one athlete or another had to overcome their pet dying when they were 7 or their best friend having a cold so they could bravely persevere and become athletes... whereas the rest of us would have probably killed ourselves, I guess?

I hate that crap.

Best Friend said...

Hey, it was a really bad cold!

AndrewPrice said...

I'm sure. And I'm sure it was very brave for them to go on and still compete, knowing you would feel miserable for 3-5 days. The horror... the horror...

7 yr. old athlete's dying pet said...

Where's the empathy?

Old Yeller said...

Someone needs to watch Old Yeller again.
Didn't that kid grow up to be an athlete?
Okay, maybe he didn't but he could've.

Support the Counseling For Traumatized Future Athlete's Fund.
Do it for Old Yeller.

Cujo said...

Traumatized? I'll show you traumatized!

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, I think this is what brings on the wrath of spam filter -- lots of sockpuppet posts in a row. So I would advise against it.

tryanmax said...

I turned the sound down for the parade of nations after the first three or four countries because, rather than talking about the sports, the commentators started right in on the politics of each country. And with typical NBC POV, of course. That would have been an ok time to talk about dying hamsters or whatever.

Samuel L. Cobra said...

Get these motherf......g athletes off this motherf......g plane!

Sockpuppets for a Better Blogger said...

(actually, most likely tryanmax)

We demand JUSTICE!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Oops. Sorry about that Andrew. My inner improv writer went looney. It happens whe 7 year old athletes who lost their pets gets mentioned...along with the trauma of best friend colds. :^)

AndrewPrice said...

You guys have been lucky so far. I think that posting too many (especially in a row) causes things to blow up on Blogger and it will start deleting comments and it can send you into the spam filter.

tryanmax said...

Sorry, Andrew, I came back just in time to see your comment about Blogger hating on sockpuppets and the name "Sockpuppets for a Better Blogger" popped in my head.

AndrewPrice said...

Well, it hasn't blown up yet, but I do wonder if that's part of the problem we've been having. A lot of blogs don't allow anything except registered users and I wonder if that isn't part of what is causing the spam filter to freak out?

tryanmax said...

Speaking of sockpuppets, have you noticed a sudden increase in "Anonymous" comments saying worthless things like, "I love to fine you're blog. It is always have interesting knowledge to share." I see them in my inbox on old columns that I've subscribed to.

AndrewPrice said...

Huh. I had no idea you got the spam? I rarely even get the spam e-mailed to me anymore and I'm supposed to get everything that comes to the site. For some reason it stopped sending me the spam, basically.

But to answer your question, yes, we are AWASH in actual spam.

tryanmax said...

If you are awash, I'm probably only seeing 1 out of 100. I've followed every article I've read, so that's probably why so many get to me, but it's not overwhelming. Also, I've noticed the film site is more tolerant of sockpuppets than the main site. I have no guesses as to why that might be.

LawHawkRFD said...

tryanmax: You're doing better than we are. We only see the spam in the spam filter. Didn't know you'd be able to see it. Neat trick. And as Andrew said "we are awash in actual spam." Mostly "anonymous," but others too.

I'm now biting my fingernails down to the nub wondering what's going to happen with tomorrow morning's open thread. If the comments start disappearing, you'll know we didn't do it.

BTW: "Sockpuppets for a Better Blogger" LOL

AndrewPrice said...

All told, the film site seems more stable -- fewer disappearing comments, no disappearing articles, fewer crashes, and less spam (none of which gets through). I don't know why that is because both sites use identical HTML. The only thing I can think of is that the film site is definitely on a different server. I can tell that because the images load to different places when you upload them. So maybe it's a better server?

In terms of sheer volume of spam, the main site gets about 100 posts a day at the moment, only 1-2 will get through the filter. And none of them are very creative.

tryanmax said...

Here's the really weird part, I'm subscribed to about a dozen different blogger sites, but this is the only one where any spam gets to me. I didn't realize that until now.

Actually, come to think of it, this is the only blogger site I regular that has the disappearing comment problem, too. What are guys doing? LOL

tryanmax said...

You know what, I bet the keywords related to political topics bring in the attack spam. There are jerks out there who have nothing but time on their hands looking to bring down sites that espouse things they disagree with. So, congratulations, I guess.

AndrewPrice said...

The disappearing comment things (and disappearing posts) is not unique to us. I've seen it discussed a lot at the "help" BBS. Everyone seems to think that's a spam filter issue.

I don't know why you get spam e-mailed to you because I get none of it e-mailed to me unless it gets through the spam filter.

Koshcat said...

What the hell did I just watch? A homage to the NHS in Britain? Are you kidding me? Maybe Brazil will pay homage to their ethanol heritage. And they are so proud of it that they roll kids around in 1940s era hospital beds? And during the stupid love story where they played songs from British bands was so lame. They kept out some of the more controversial ones. No SexPistols! No Judist Priest! No Ozzy? But they end the torch lighting with Dark Side of the Moon. Great song but not sure right venue.

Finally, in an interview afterward I heard something that I though I would never believe. The terms The Queen and money shot were used in the same sentence.


On the other hand, Romney got a nice, free publicity shot.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, I think tacky is the word. And they are definitely trying to modernize Britain's image, but this won't do it.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, It's possible it's the political content that is attracting the wrong element? It's also probably some of the words we through around over there that cause the spam filter to kick in.

Koshcat said...

I think it went beyond tacky right into stupid.

tryanmax said...

Koshcat, it was a truly baffling ceremony, and I totally caught the Queen/$-shot juxtaposition. Eek!

I could sorta appreciate what the director had to say about capturing British eccentricity, but what ever happened to British poise?

I caught Romney's moment, too, though it was accompanied by a soft dig at his wealth and Anne's horse.

tryanmax said...

It's really unfortunate that it ended up so tacky, b/c the first segment was awash in national pride and made me feel proud to share some of the same heritage. Then the rug yanked out...

Koshcat said...

Read the review. I thank you for your public service allowing me to skip the movie.

It has been years sine I read The Hot Zone. It'll scare you.

AndrewPrice said...

Tacky isn't great, stupid is worse. I didn't watch it, but the bits I've seen coming up on the web aren't too inspiring.

I'm honestly surprised NBC didn't try to turn this into the Obama show.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, You're welcome! :)

I'll have to check out "The Hot Zone". Several people have now said good things about it.

Shawn said...

The weak ending in The Stand mini series was from King's book. I enjoyed both, but agree that the ending wasn't particularly satisfying.

AndrewPrice said...

Shawn, I'm feel the same, while I enjoyed both, the ending wasn't particularly satisfying.

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