Paris Review interview with Matthew Weiner

Here’s a long interview from the Paris Review with Matthew Weiner. Pretty interesting. I liked this answer below, sorry for the long excerpt.

INTERVIEWER

You worked on three seasons of The Sopranos before you went back to your Mad Men pilot. Did that change your conception of your show?

WEINER

Mad Men would have been some sort of crisp, soapy version of The West Wing if not for The Sopranos. Peggy would have been a climber. All the things that people thought were going to happen would have happened. Even though the pilot itself has a dark, strange quality, I didn’t know that that was what was good about it. I just wanted an excuse to exorcise my demons, to write a story about somebody who’s thirty-five years old, who has everything, and who is miserable.

The important thing, for me, was hearing the way David Chase indulged the subconscious. I learned not to question its communicative power. When you see somebody walking down a dark hallway, you know that they’re scared. We don’t have to explain that it’s scary. Why is this person walking down a dark hallway when he’s on his way to his kids’ school? Because he’s scared about someone telling him something bad about his kids. He’s worried about hearing something that will reflect badly on the way he’s raised his kids, which goes back to his own childhood. All that explanatory stuff, we never even talked about it. And I try not to talk about it here. Why did that happen? Why do you think? You can’t cheat and tell people what’s going on, because then they won’t enjoy it, even if they say they want it that way.

You know how sometimes I give you a note that says, Why don’t you do X? and you say, That’s the thing I wanted to do? That’s what I learned at The Sopranos. That’s the note I try to give to everyone who writes here. Take the risk of doing the extreme thing, the embarrassing thing, the thing that’s in your subconscious. Before The Sopranos, when someone said, Make it deeper, I didn’t know what they meant. Or really, I knew in my gut—but I also knew that it was the one thing that crossed my mind that I wasn’t going to do. To have Peggy come into Don’s office after he’s had the baby and ask for a raise and be rejected, and look at the baby presents, so we know she’s thinking about her own baby that she gave away, and then to have her tell Don, “You have everything and so much of it.” There is something embarrassing about that. A scene that was really just about her getting turned down for a raise became a scene about her whole life. That was the sort of thing I learned from working with David Chase.

Another thing that happened when I began writing on The Sopranos was I noticed that people were always telling me anecdotes. They would throw out a line of dialogue they’d heard somebody say or that someone had said to them—and that was the story. I did not know how important that shit was. There’s an episode where Beansie and Paulie are reminiscing and Tony dismissively says, “‘Remember when’ is the lowest form of conversation.” And it’s devastating. David Chase had witnessed that actual statement. Now I have a ton of stuff like that I’ve saved, things people have said to me that are concise and devastating and sum up some moment in their lives. When I’m talking to some woman on an airplane, and she says, I like being bad and going home and being good, that is very useful.

Paris Review interview with Matthew Weiner

“I have fallen through the side of a whale up to my chest”

Celebrating (no, that’s not the right word) two blue whales washing up on the coast of Newfoundland, The Atlantic has A Brief History of Exploding Whales.

The world now knows that blowing up whales on purpose is best avoided. However, dead whales can still detonate on their own. In 2004, for example, the carcass of a sperm whale was being towed through the streets of Tainan City, Taiwan, when its belly burst, splattering blood and guts on nearby people, cars, and storefronts.

If you’re curious about how much pressure might cause a whale to explode, you’re in luck? Incidentally, The Royal Ontario Museum will be collecting and preserving for study the Blue Whales that washed up on Newfoundland.

“I have fallen through the side of a whale up to my chest”

Capturing El Chapo

A compelling story about how one of the most powerful drug dealers in Mexico was captured.

Guzmán had other weaknesses. “He loves the gourmet food,” a D.E.A. official told me. From time to time, he would be spotted at an elegant restaurant in Sinaloa or in a neighboring state. The choreography was always the same. Diners would be startled by a team of gunmen, who would politely but firmly demand their telephones, promising that they would be returned at the end of the evening. Chapo and his entourage would come in and feast on shrimp and steak, then thank the other diners for their forbearance, return the telephones, pick up the tab for everyone, and head off into the night.

Capturing El Chapo

“The feds saw…a bird go up in flames every two minutes”

Various types of solar energy are great because they reduce the use of fossil fuels, that said, they sometimes create a ‘mega-trap’ cooking entire food chains in the extreme heat they create.

The feds saw what appeared to be a bird go up in flames every two minutes, according to the report. The birds killed at Ivanpah include a peregrine falcon, a red-shouldered hawk and an ash-throated flycatcher.

Via @noahWG

“The feds saw…a bird go up in flames every two minutes”

This is perfect

During a 2010 deposition, a lawyer and an IT professional got into a discussion about what is a photocopier. This Op-Doc from Brett Weiner depicts the discussion verbatim, with dramatic flair. It is brilliant.

In this short film, I sought to creatively reinterpret the original events. (I’ve not been able to locate any original video recordings, so I’m unsure how closely my actors’ appearance and delivery resembles the original participants.) My primary rule was the performance had to be verbatim — no words could be modified or changed from the original legal transcripts. Nor did I internally edit the document to compress time. What you see is, word for word, an excerpt from what the record shows to have actually unfolded. However, I did give the actors creative range to craft their performances. As such, this is a hybrid of documentary and fiction. We’ve taken creative liberties in the staging and performance to imbue the material with our own perspectives.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/bcvideo/1.0/iframe/embed.html?videoId=100000002847155&playerType=embed

This is perfect

Making Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik

OutKast’s Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik is 20 years old this year, and Myspace (of all places) has a look at the making of this classic album. Since the story came from talking to (only) two of the producers (Ray Murray and Rico Wade), and no one else, it’s hard to call this an oral history in the traditional sense. That said, it’s an interesting read.

When OutKast’s Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik dropped in 1994, hip-hop was coming off the back of a game of bi-coastal ping-pong. New York City’s dominant gritty golden era sound had been knocked off its stylistic pedestal by Dr. Dre’s smoothed-out, synth-swaddled G-Funk movement in 1992, before the stoney and rugged appeal of the Wu-Tang Clan’s assault on the rap world snaffled it back to the Big Apple a year later. Coming off the back of this broad production tussle, OutKast’s debut sounded like a melding of the two coasts, with soulful and honeyed live instrumentation being layered on top of drum patterns and breaks cut razor sharp. The credit for the album’s canny sonic make-up goes to Organized Noize.

Making Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik