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[阅读小分队] 【Native Speaker每日训练计划】No.2844文史哲

发表于 2020-7-19 10:32:26 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
内容:Inge Zhou 编辑: Vera Pan

Wechat ID: NativeStudy / Weibo:

Part I: Speaker

This is what happens when you reply to spam email
James Veitch, December 2015

Suspicious emails: unclaimed insurance bonds, diamond-encrusted safe deposit boxes, close friends marooned in a foreign country. They pop up in our inboxes, and standard procedure is to delete on sight. But what happens when you reply? Follow along as writer and comedian James Veitch narrates a hilarious, weeks-long exchange with a spammer who offered to cut him in on a hot deal.

Source: TED
[Rephrase 9:48]

Part II: Speed

Christopher Nolan Says ‘Tenet’ Will Come Out This Summer. Should It?
- The director had hoped to aid theater owners imperiled by the pandemic, but his oft-delayed film may be prolonging their pain.
Kyle Buchanan, July 17th 2020

[Time 2]
I’m dying to see Christopher Nolan’s new film “Tenet.” But would I actually die to see it?

These are the things we must mull about movies now that the pandemic has turned Nolan’s $200 million spectacle into a high-stakes test case. After months of being shuttered, movie theaters in many states have begun the tentative process of reopening. Still, with the number of coronavirus infections rising in the United States, it’s unclear whether those theaters can safely launch a would-be summer blockbuster like “Tenet” in just a few weeks.

A time-bending sci-fi flick starring John David Washington and Robert Pattinson, “Tenet” was long scheduled to come out on July 17, right in the middle of Hollywood’s most lucrative season. Then the pandemic hit American shores, states like New York and California began issuing stay-at-home orders, and spooked studios started shuffling their blockbusters out of the summer corridor. Only “Tenet” held firm to its date, the rare tentpole that wouldn’t pull up stakes.

But as that July 17 release drew closer, Warner Bros. finally blinked, moving “Tenet” back two weeks to July 31. This date would prove temporary, too: As coronavirus cases continued to climb over the summer, the studio hit “Tenet” with another two-week delay, this time shifting the movie to its current release date of Aug. 12.
[218 words]

[Time 3]
I’m skeptical that date will hold, and curious what the studio thinks will significantly change during those two weeks. Infections are still going up in many states, and there is no federal plan in place to halt that spread. Simple acts to contain the coronavirus, like wearing a mask or staying at home, have now become so hopelessly politicized that it’s all but impossible to imagine our country flattening the curve by Aug. 12, and analysts expect that discouraging trend line to prompt more states to keep their movie theaters closed.

If Nolan expects some miracle to occur between now and then, I’m afraid the science-fiction filmmaker is erring more on the side of fiction than science.

Nolan has argued that theaters are “a vital part of American social life” and need to be supported.

It’s not hard to imagine where he might be coming from: A longtime champion of the theatrical experience, Nolan surely hopes that a major action film like “Tenet” will pump money into movie theaters’ depleted coffers, while also luring back the audiences that have flocked to streamers like Netflix and Disney+ during the pandemic. “Movie theaters are a vital part of American social life,” read the headline on Nolan’s Washington Post op-ed this spring. “They will need our help.”
[214 words]

[Time 4]
In that article, Nolan made special mention of B&B Theatres, a family-owned, Missouri-based chain that had to lay off thousands of employees when its theaters closed. Those employees, Nolan wrote, were among the hardest hit by the pandemic and deserved our consideration.

But in a Los Angeles Times article published just last week, B&B Theatres’ executive vice president, Brock Bagby, said that the delay of films like “Tenet” had left 16 of his recently reopened theaters in dire straits. Without brand-new summer movies to show, Bagby had to halt his plan to reopen the rest of his theaters, and the workers who had counted on those jobs were now high and dry.

In his attempt to come to the rescue of movie theaters, then, did Nolan give them false hope? And as he dangled the gleamingly expensive “Tenet,” for which he will receive 20 percent of the film’s first-dollar gross, did Nolan encourage theaters to reopen before we were ready to go back?
[163 words]

[Time 5]
It’s become increasingly clear that people are most susceptible to the coronavirus when congregating indoors, and a recent chart from the Texas Medical Association deemed moviegoing an even higher-risk activity than traveling on a crowded plane. We simply can’t do communal things at this point in the pandemic, and to keep pretending that we soon could is at best unrealistic, and at worst irresponsible.

Washington in a scene from the film, which was initially due July 17 and now is set for Aug. 12.Credit...Melinda Sue Gordon/Warner Bros Entertainment, via Associated Press

Yes, movie theaters have touted new health and safety measures like disinfectant sprays and reduced audience sizes, but major chains like AMC and Cinemark tipped their hand when they initially announced that wearing a mask would be up to moviegoers. After a social-media outcry, the companies reversed course and promised to mandate mask-wearing, but their initial message remained loud and clear: Safety is not guaranteed.

With that in mind, it’s hard to imagine a large-scale return to moviegoing anytime soon, and Warner Bros. is unlikely to release “Tenet” if many major markets continue to keep their theaters closed. (In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo won’t even include movie theaters in a phased reopening plan.) A roadshow strategy, where “Tenet” would make its way through states and countries as they conquer the coronavirus, is just as unrealistic: A film this anticipated would surely be pirated in its early weeks of release, while the theater-rich China has so far pledged to show no film longer than two hours. “Tenet” exceeds that by 30 minutes.
[283 words]

[Time 6]
So what is this movie’s best move? Though some medium-size summer flicks have opted for a digital debut, that’s not a route “Tenet” is likely to take: Blockbusters that cost as much as “Tenet” aspire to a billion-dollar worldwide gross that simply isn’t possible with a digital release. It’s far more likely that Warner Bros. will delay “Tenet” yet again, but the time for half-measures is past. If Nolan and his studio are committed to doing the right thing, they will push “Tenet” out of the summer season altogether.

Delaying the film by several months, or even pushing it all the way to 2021, would have major consequences for this year’s already diminished release calendar: Other big movies like “Mulan” (Aug. 21) and “A Quiet Place Part II” (Sept. 4) have largely been taking their cues from “Tenet,” and without Nolan’s film leading the charge, they might be inclined to move, too. With an all-but-barren August and September ahead, it’s possible that movie theaters would have to close once again, a potentially devastating situation for a business sector still trying to claw back from the brink.

Still, in his laudable attempt to aid theater owners, Nolan and his studio have only kept prolonging their pain. With the summer movie slate wiped clean, perhaps a more realistic rescue plan can finally be forged. It won’t be easy, but if Hollywood hopes to truly grapple with this pandemic, it’s going to take a lot more than two-week delays to figure out what to do next.
[253 words]

Source: the New York Times

Part III: Obstacle

Andrew Cuomo’s Pandemic Poster and the Limits of Coronavirus Visuals
Kyle Chayka, July 16th 2020

[Paraphrase 7]
This week, the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, unveiled the latest in his ongoing series of civic-minded artworks: a monumental image illustrating the arc of his state’s journey through the covid-19 pandemic, like a map of “The Pilgrim’s Progress” for 2020. The curve of infections is represented by a craggy mountain, whose peak is marked “Day 43,” with 18,825 people hospitalized. On the symbolic mountain, a nose gets swabbed for testing. A waterfall of dollar signs represents the crashing economy. An overly Asiatic-looking dragon (China?) blows the “Winds of Fear,” joined by an octopus carrying a cruise-ship harbinger. President Trump sits on a crescent moon labelled “It’s Only the Flu.” The narrative focus of this hysterical-realist tableau seems to be the group of well-masked people—New Yorkers, essential workers, and Cuomo’s daughters and dog—using “The Power of ‘We’ ” to pull down the curve with a golden rope arcing across the composition. (The “Boyfriend Cliff,” with its dangling figure, suggests a father’s vendetta rather than a P.S.A.)

The celebratory poster, dubbed “New York Tough,” is for sale on the governor’s Web site for eleven dollars and fifty cents. “Poster art is something they did in the early 1900s, late 1800s, when they had to communicate their whole platform on one piece of paper,” Cuomo writes of the project. His side gig as a vintage visual propagandist entered public consciousness this past January, when he collaborated with the Brooklyn-based artist Rusty Zimmerman to create a similarly feverish poster depicting New York as a ship navigating stormy seas (which was actually the sequel to two previous images, the first dating back to Cuomo’s initial run for governor, in 2010). The series was inspired by William Jennings Bryan’s intricate 1900 Presidential-campaign poster, which features an octopus as a symbol of trusts—Gilded Age business monopolies. Beyond posters, the governor has commissioned two more works of covid-19 public art, which were broadcast via press conference: a tapestry of donated masks, in April, that he called “a self-portrait of America”; and, in late June, a moss-green sculptural landscape, of which, he explained, “This is the mountain that New Yorkers climbed.” The mountain, in particular, was notable for its sheer unexpectedness—a craft project in the midst of a pandemic?—and for its simplification of so much suffering into a mundane geographical feature.

Read The New Yorker’s complete news coverage and analysis of the coronavirus pandemic.
Dozens of headlines and hundreds of bemused tweets later, the new poster has become a meme—perhaps the recent streaming release of “Hamilton” primed the public for its colonial-Americana aesthetics. But what’s most remarkable is the contrast between the work’s bright, cartoonish imagery and the reality that New York has seen the most coronavirus deaths of anywhere in the country, a rolling catastrophe that could intensify again at any moment. For Cuomo, whose daily press conferences made him an early hero of the pandemic—before an awareness of the state’s deficiencies in responding to the virus crept in—the politicking iconography seems to be something of a personal obsession. In an interview with Gothamist, Zimmerman described the process by which he and the governor came up with their posters’ elaborate metaphors, a flow from the subconscious: “Let’s see what this looks like with a staircase emerging from the sea, and what if that staircase was made of brick to symbolize building a new New York as our economic policy moving forward into the future.” It’s not surprising that it kicked off with a late-night epiphany, which, as Zimmerman recalled, had Cuomo scrawling sketches at the dining-room table.

The poster has already faced criticism from Jake Tapper and other commentators as a hollow victory lap, its triumphant optimism at odds with the virus’s increase in forty-one other states. The waterfall of the economy is still definitely flowing downward, and the poster makes no reference to, for instance, the recent end of the state’s moratorium on evictions. The poster might simply be Cuomo’s way of satisfying a creative itch. But if he shares the Renaissance patron’s goal of burnishing his image for the historical record, he may well have jumped the gun.

The Times labelled the latest poster “kitsch,” and it indeed has elements of cliché legibility, like the diagrams in a middle-school textbook. But the description isn’t quite correct. Walter Benjamin wrote that kitsch is “art with a one-hundred percent, absolute and instantaneous availability for consumption.” Cuomo’s work, by contrast, includes the expression of a kind of private visual symbology, which requires some effort to decode: the first-name labels of Cuomo’s caricatured colleagues, the apocalyptic shorthands like “111 Days of Hell.” In that way, the poster is reminiscent of medieval manuscript illuminations, those complicated scenes that integrate calligraphy and numerology to gesture at a truth beyond logic. The message of this latest from the atelier Cuomo is, ultimately, that we must have faith that salvation is with us. Someday we will reach “The Sun On The Other Side,” whose beatific, anthropomorphized face is blessedly mask-free.

Such leaps of faith have been central to this country’s modus operandi in confronting the pandemic. It hasn’t gone well for us, and visibility is at the core of the problem: we can’t see the virus itself; those of us quarantined at home often don’t see the essential workers risking their lives to keep the economy going, or the doctors and nurses tending to the sick in hospitals. Our understanding of the virus and its effects relies on the secondary symbols that we do encounter in our daily lives: the refrigerator trucks turned morgues, the emptied streets and storefronts. Masks, one of the most potent weapons against the pandemic and a barometer of public anxiety, are interpreted instead as signs of their wearers’ political allegiance. We’re left, on our own, to follow inconsistent rules for confronting a little-understood disease on a suprahuman scale.

That’s why Cuomo’s poster is poignant even in its absurdity: his illustrations are grasping to understand and depict reality, just as we all are. Of course, a governor’s magical thinking—nurtured among the “Clouds of Confusion,” perhaps—is more consequential than a civilian’s. If we take the poster’s composition literally, we might wonder why the giant nose of “Testing-Tracing” appears only on the left side of Pandemic Mountain, and connect it to the fact that tests are now taking up to seven to ten days to process in New York, long enough to make them next to useless for individuals. In the bottom right corner of the mountain, near arrows pointing to Arizona, Texas, and Florida, is the churning “Sea of Division” (also seen in Cuomo’s January poster). Is this a pessimistic prophecy of civil war? Are the workers with the rope falling into it? It’s possible that there’s more to the poster than the designer himself knows. Like the Book of Kells, it will be up to future exegetes to interpret.

In the meantime, the most effective representation of the pandemic is also the driest: a simple line on a graph. Often, the line is red, especially when it’s pointing upward. It may chart the number of covid-19 infections or deaths, or the rate of unemployment as a result of the pandemic. The Financial Times is maintaining an infographic that allows users to compare the curves of various countries or U.S. states, based on a seven-day rolling average. NPR has its own selection of visualizations, showing states colored red, yellow, or blue based on the volume of new cases now as compared with two weeks ago; larger and smaller circles representing the total cases or deaths in a particular place; and the plain old line. Right now it shows that New York’s curve is only beginning its descent—there remains a long way to go. Cuomo’s surreal artworks are designed for posterity, whereas the brutal geometry of infographics informs us day by day. Our actions right now will determine whether the disinterested line will continue to angle up or down.
[1330 words]
Source: the New Yorker


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ob: 7'32''   the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, unveiled the latest in his ongoing series of civic-minded artworks: a monumental image illustrating the arc of his state’s journey through the covid-19 pandemic, like a map of “The Pilgrim’s Progress” for 2020.
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