December 25, 2006

That conversation about a whole lot of blood.

Another one of Jack Handey's "Deeper Thoughts," read aloud...
You know what's probably a good thing to hang on your porch in the summertime, to keep mosquitoes away from you and your guests? Just a big bagful of blood.
... stirs up memories of a question in another book, "Innumeracy," by John Allen Paulos: What would be the size of a cube containing all the human blood in the world?

I tried to answer, using a reasonable method, thinking about the amount of blood in one person times the number of people in the world, divided by the number of gallons I believed to be in a swimming pool, times what I guessed to be the length of that swimming pool reimagined as a cube. I came up with 40 miles, which was way off, caused in part by getting the first number wrong. (It's 4 quarts, not 4 gallons... obvious now.) The right answer is 870 feet. Amazingly small, yet still insanely huge. Don't worry. If all the blood were in a cube, there would be no human beings to get upset by looking at it.

That reminded me of something I read today about the movie "The Shining":
Stanley Kubrick, known for his compulsiveness and numerous retakes, got the difficult shot of blood pouring from the elevators in only three takes. This would be remarkable if it weren't for the fact that the shot took nine days to set up; every time the doors opened and the blood poured out, Kubrick would say, "It doesn't look like blood." They had tried shooting that scene for an entire year.
Yeah, well, check out this feminist performance art -- NSFW -- "Red Tide."

Not Christmasy enough for you? Eh... it's red.


reader_iam said...

I really enjoy Paulos' work; I also have "A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper," which you might finding interesting if you haven't read it. "Beyond Numeracy" is in one of pending piles, so I can't speak to that one--yet.

So Kubrick, that anecdote. I didn't particularly care for the movie "The Shining"--though I liked that particular King book--despite the fact that I generally like Kubrick's stuff. The blood scene was great, though.

Anonymous said...

On the other hand, I don't know if it's mentioned at the link, or if it's true, but I heard Kubrick made Shelly Duval shoot 50 takes of the staircase scene. He wanted her exhausted and rattled. The Shining is one of the best movies ever. That, and Alien are the only scary movies I have ever had any time for. (Along those lines I really like Carrie too, but it's not exactly a scary movie.)

reader_iam said...

chuck b: I enjoyed your comment, because it's the exact experience I've always had with regard to Kubrick's "The Shining": At least among the people I've known over time, people seem either to think it's one of the best movies ever, or they're like, "eh, blah." Make no mistake: I'm taking no stand objectively, despite where I obviously come down as a personal reaction. I'm just amused.

The funny thing is that there are certain pieces, and even performances, that I do like. And--oddly enough--I tend to quote certain lines from the film in certain situations.

But overall--nah. Blah.

(I wonder if it has to do with my take on Nicholson's performance? Hmm. Probably.)

Readinga and thinking about this was fun. I can't explain (and you wouldn't want me to, on the grounds that it'd be too parochial), but it brought back some great memories of heated conversations w-a-a-y back when with a particular set of close college friends, with most of whom I've since fallen out of touch.

Nice little unexpected pleasure and unintended little gift.

Anonymous said...

Feminist art. Hmmm, strange. Beyond strange. People pay money for this?

AST said...

Re: the "art"

Uh, Ann, thanks for sharing, but not on a feasting day, okay?

Anonymous said...

Not only did this dude swipe my blog title, but... he, he, like made it.... MORBID!!

Ann Althouse said...

Reader: "A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper" is a big favorite chez Althouse.

Pogo said...

Oh boy. Vagina prints from real menstrual flow, bound into book form.

Makes a hell of a coffee table book. I'd record a video of everyone who ever sat down and nonchalantly opened that at a family get-together. Coffee? Thanks! Hmm hmmm hmmm. (flips open to mid-book): Whaaaaaa?

Ann Althouse said...

Pogo: I'm glad you got to that secondary page. That really got me. The performance art is one thing, but the prints... Actually, I found them rather amusing, but I think they would need to be framed in some careful way to preserve them properly, and then you'd have to hang them somewhere rather private. I'd like to see a movie where a feminist professor had them displayed in her office. I'd laugh.