O’Connor’s “Good Country People” on film

I didn’t know anyone had adapted Flannery O’Connor’s “Good Country People,” but somebody has posted ’60s-era short, attributed to Gary Graver, at YouTube.

Richard Grayson writes: “Wow, I can just imagine how O’Connor would have hated this. As she said about the Schlitz Playhouse version of ‘The Life You Save May Be Your Own,’ with Gene Kelly(!): ‘The best I can say for it is that it conceivably could have been worse. Just conceivably.’”

Vocabulary lessons and the neighborhood flyer

Speaking of potential libel, I happened upon this clump of flyers in the gutter over the weekend. Instantly I felt sorry for Yisroel [Redacted], alleged “‘noted’ moser!!!” of my neighborhood’s Orthodox community, whose name has now literally been dragged through the mud.

Back at home, I discovered that a moser is “a Jew who intends to turn another Jew in to non-Jewish authorities.” (The plural is mosrim.)

According to the authors of Murder in the Name of God: The Plot to Kill Yitzhak Rabin, din moser is “the duty to eliminate” such a person. I guess Yisroel got off easy.

Since I grew up in Miami, initially I was kind of surprised I’d never heard the term. But, on reflection, my friends were Reform or non-observant. One made me a BLT on Yom Kippur to cure a hangover. (“This is how I atone for last night’s party,” he said.) Another supplied the drama crowd with weed from her parents’ stash. The Hasidim were insulated from our debauchery. I think they lived way out by the beach.

Anyway, here’s a question: From the radical Orthodox perspective, do you violate Talmudic moser rules if you explain to a gentile what a moser is?

Defamation immunity for website operators narrows

Website operators traditionally have relied on the Communications Decency Act to shield them from liability for user-generated content.

The April decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley v. Roommates.com significantly narrows this immunity. Over the weekend my friend and former law professor Lyrissa Lidsky alerted me to the case, noting that it

may spell doom for websites that solicit defamatory information (like Juicycampus.com, DontDateHimGirl.com and so forth). Basically the case limits Communications Decency Act immunity if the blog/website “solicits” or otherwise actively participates in generating illegal or defamatory content.

On Friday another federal court dismissed a suit against ConsumerAffairs.com, but it seems to me that any blogger who accepts comments from users “in direct response to [his or her] questions and prompts,” and profits from those comments, should take a close look at the Roommates.com case.*

For further details and musings, see Tom Just De-Friended the Ninth Circuit.

In unrelated defamation news, Jennifer Howard considers the “chilling effects of libel tourism” at the Chronicle of Higher Ed.

* An excerpt worth contemplating: Continue reading…

John Waters: Groundbreaking director, delightful misanthrope

Years and years ago, I read an interview in which the director John Waters divulged his strategy for avoiding conversations with fellow passengers on airplanes.

He hides whatever book he’s reading behind the cover for Flying Lesbian Nuns.*

Last night New York’s Blythe Sheldon saw Waters performing This Filthy World at the Society for Ethical Culture. Among other things, Waters offered a little advice on how to keep the kids reading. “If your daughter is promiscuous, give her a book on womb raiders!” he reportedly said.

Asked after the show whether he had any desire to start a blog, Waters was unequivocal.

“No!” he replied. “I want to be harder to reach. I don’t want people to find me. I’ll write a book.”


* At least that’s how I remember it, but I can’t find a single hit for that title. Which explains why, despite years of hunting, I’ve never been able to put his suggestion into practice.

Zeebah solves all: “I simply can’t imagine John Waters with a copy (it isn’t nearly campy or glamourous enough), but… Naiad Press put out a book called Lesbian Nuns, which was pretty groundbreaking for its time.” Cecilieaux seconds the motion.

Online altar for Twain fanatics

When Charles Ives’ fiancee Harmony Twichell presented her beloved to Mark Twain for approval, “Twain drew out his first overlook, finally ordering ‘Spin him around — let’s see the aft!’”

I learned this thanks to Jack Pendarvis, who idolizes Ives as passionately as I do Twain (but probably less conflictedly), and who, after our all our excited back-and-forth, said, “I think at this point we are obligated by convention to write an off-Broadway play about the encounter!”

He was kidding. But if he loves procrastination the way I love procrastination, Let’s See the Aft! could soon be coming to a church basement near you.

The excuse for this post is that, in the midst of our volley, I discovered The Mark Twain Project, a staggeringly comprehensive site put together by the Bancroft Library. It includes not just transcripts of 2300 letters, but some digitized facsimiles. Twain’s letters to Joseph Twichell, his best friend and Harmony’s father, are part of the collection.

This year the project will start to post his writings.