The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Monday, December 22, 2008

Asians in the media

"Seven Pounds" opened a little soft, with Jim Carry's "Yes Man" beating it handily on Friday. Oops. I have this strong suspicion that the "Black Man Sex Curse" will hit again. So what exactly is it that goes wrong with studios, artists, and audiences around this issue?

1) If the film isn't good...then what exactly is it that makes it so predictable that this single element (black male sexuality in films) screws the quality of a film up, when this doesn't seem to happen to white males?

2) If the film IS good (and, of course, there is no objective measurement for most quality issues in film) then what is it that happens in the mind of the audience and critics that makes them reject it?


I honestly think that the truth is somewhere in-between the two. That things go wrong in pre-production due to cognitive dissonance and emotional mixed messages, as well as hidden conflicts. Scripts aren't as well vetted, and there simply isn't a vast library of previous images that guide the director, writer, and actor. Everyone knows they're swimming upstream, but it rarely gets talked about with the kind of honesty and clarity that would be necessary: everyone's too polite, enlightened, and liberal to grasp the totality of what they're up against: that the problem isn't "them" and never was. It is US.

Audiences love Will Smith (and Denzel, and whoever) but feel uncomfortable with certain images, and don't know why. Even the physiognomy of watching thick black lips kissing causes discomfort: it just looks wrong. But that is impossibly politically incorrect, so, what happens when something onscreen is getting too uncomfortable? You say: "it's only a movie. Only a movie..." and the instant you do that, you are yanked out of it, and are looking at structure, effects, lighting, etc: the illusion is ruined. And NO movie is perfect enough that, if you lose the illusion, you can't find flaws.

Now, this doesn't mean that if you didn't like the film you are prejudiced. Heck, there is no such thing as a film that is universally loved. All I'm saying is that if you look at just a couple of things:

1) PG and up level love scenes.

2) Black actors

3) 100-million box office

You get a really weird statistical blip. Why? Opinions vary. But my theory the "10% disconnect" in identification between racial groups (especially between the males of those groups) has had predictive capacity for thirty years. Soon, I strongly suspect, that will no longer be true. Until then, it still stings.


Someone mentioned the lack of Asian images in film and television. Man, is that true. And when they pop up, we see the same cooning tendencies that we saw in early black images. On "Dexter" the Asian lab rat is a total geek-pervert. On "Mad TV" poor Tommy Lee is endlessly mocked for his sexless, powerless aspect. Sigh.

For years, I've thought that the reason there isn't more "push-back" from these communities is that they simply aren't as hungry for the images. Why? Because since I was a kid, every community with a large Hispanic or Asian population had movie theaters and television stations showing made in Japan or Hong Kong or Mexico. Want to see yourself treated like a hero, or a heroine? Take a short trip to the Toho La Brea or Sing Lee theaters and watch Zato Ichi or Wang Yu or Sonny Chiba or Angela Mao. (BTW--always found it interesting that Westernern opined that Asian women were consigned to second-class status in Asia, compared to America and Europe, but Asian women were presented as valid heroines, totally equal or superior to males, in their television and cinema. There's a thesis in there somewhere).

ᅠᅠI don't know who the heroes of the Spanish-language films were: didn't go. But from the posters they were cops, doctors, politicians, wealthy businessmen, poor farmers. In other words, the full spectrum of human activity. Now, they were STILL denied the images of acceptance by American society, but that's a little like saying they had to import their food from overseas, because American farmers won't grow their native dishes. Well, your body doesn't care where the protein came from, even if the ego stings a little. If there had been a thriving African film industry, and movie theaters that showed them, I suspect I would have been there every weekend.

It still irritates me that I see Asian newswomen on every channel in the country, and about 1/10 as many Asian news men. I accidentally ended up in a hotel where an Asian news conference was taking place up in Portland, and went out of my way to ask what they thought about this. As I suspected, they felt it related to an American (read: white) concept that while Asian males are intelligent, they lack authority. And authority is what stations want from newsMEN. NewsWOMEN are often measured by their twinkle and sex appeal.

At least, that was their opinion. I've heard many Asians complain about the stereotypes inflicted upon them: cold, unemotional, "model minority," intelligent, successful, Kung-Fu wizards...wait a minute...those last ones aren't bad. I mean, if you've got to have stereotypes, those are the kind to have. I LOVED when the Right attacked Obama for being an "intellectual elitist." WHAT? Damn! Thought I'd died and gone to heaven. Why the hell couldn't blacks have had that stereotype when I was a kid? I doubt they would have dumped me in the slow reading group, that's for sure.


In research for several projects. For one, I need to verify my impression that there was no real law or punishment for murdering slaves (other than destruction of property.) Can anyone verify so much as a single case where a white person was tried, convicted, and punished for such a killing? Remember: just being arrested or tried isn't enough. Nor would conviction for a lesser offence. We're talking execution, or LONG incarceration. There were several cases where the perp "escaped" (hah hah) but despite considerable searching, the only conclusion I can come to is that there was no real charge of murder for killing slaves. Please: any counter-evidence?


Got this yesterday...


Let's face it: Barack Obama just isn't funny. He's sort of gangly and he has big ears. That's it. But the man's going to lead the free world; he must be effectively derided and satirized. Anything less would be un-American! But Obama's race has been a challenge to the work-a-day satirist, too. What can we say? How far is too far? Does mocking the Obama administration come with a free membership to a white power group? And does that membership entitle one to discounts at Sam's club? It's hard to say.

There's no doubt that Barry represents a change in American politics, and to help you, the reader and terrified pundits, with the apparent changes inherent an Obama presidency, here's a convenient list of cowardly, borderline acceptable ways of commenting on "the first black president." Enjoy, you bigot:

  • The first president who wouldn't look completely ridiculous with a bald head.
  • The first menthol presidency.
  • The first president to not be able to hail a cab.
  • The first president who won't smell like a wet dog after swimming.
  • The first president who can't get head lice—no matter how unclean or inarticulate, according to his Vice Persident.
  • The first president to move second if he were a chess piece.
  • The first president to die first in an action film.
  • The first president who'd even consider using mayonnaise as a hair treatment product.
  • The first president at risk of developing Sickle-cell anemia.
  • The first president that must pretend to be bad at bowling, because seeing that black ball smash those white pins, would frighten retirees in gated communities.
  • The first president whose hip-hop sales would increase if he were shot.
  • The first president who could conceivably have hip-hop sales—aside from William Howard Taft, who recited his first State of the Union in bombastic 12-bar freestyle.
  • The first president to be romantically involved with a black woman—that he didn't own!
  • The first Huxtable president.
  • The first president whose offspring have the statistical mortality rate of children in Bangladesh.
  • The first president who could be pulled over and beaten by police simply for driving a nice car. And Air Force One? Forget-about-it!
  • The first president whose uniformed attackers would be acquitted of all charges—even if it was caught on video. ("I thought he was reaching for a gun, but it was just hope!")
  • The first president who can make white women uncomfortable in elevators.
  • The first president who wouldn't think putting chicken on waffles was some horrible mistake.
  • The first president whose black children weren't a tightly held secret.
  • The first president who wouldn't look out of place on a box of instant rice, pudding or Cream of Wheat.
  • The first president that Don Imus just isn't allowed to talk about.
  • The first modern president who won't feel totally guilty while watching "Roots".
  • The first president to flinch at the title "Minority Whip."
  • The first president to cut pork from the budget strictly for barbeque concerns.
  • The first president capable of moderating his policies, yet unwilling to moderate his volume at the movies.
  • The first president who, no matter how well he performs, can't be called "one of the good ones."
  • The first president to make the White House feel insecure about its manhood.
  • The first president who can call another man "baby" and sound cool doing it.
  • The first president who can be admiringly referred to as "Big Brother."
  • The first president whose head can be Photoshopped onto NBA slam dunk contest winners.
  • The first president to make the position "White House Sunburn Advisor" seem doubly implausible.
  • The first president who can recite Chris Rock's "they spinnin'!" bit without getting beaten up.
  • The first president to deny the deliciousness of watermelon—for political reasons.
  • The first president to be less than a thousand generations removed from his African DNA.
  • The first president who's forbidden to date Pat Buchanan's daughters.
  • The first president to diminish the accomplishments of George Washington Carver—since Jimmy Carter.
  • The first president who's deft at employing the suffix "izzle."
  • The first president to make Wayne Brady seem inexcusably black.
  • The first president to effectively deflect criticism by saying, "It's a president thing; you wouldn't understand."
  • The first president to rightly believe that sandals should never be worn with socks.
  • The first president to truly think grits are an acceptable foodstuff.
  • The first president who can sing both the Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney parts of "Ebony and Ivory."
  • The first president to make Bill Clinton look like Edgar Winter.
  • The first president who can both pop, and lock, without the approval of congress.
  • The first president to make the economy more palitable with hot sauce alone.
  • The first president who could be impeached simply for barking like DMX.
  • And finally, the first president to be mercilessly pigeonholed because of his melanin.
  • We hope this has been both educational and fun. But remember, kids, if you laughed, you too are a racist!


    Mike Ralls said...

    >an American (read: white) concept that while Asian males are intelligent, they lack authority.<

    Asian males tend to to be in a number of powerful business positions (that is statistically demonstratable as the average Asian-American household income is higher than the average white household income,) and on the anecdotal level I haven't seen any of the white subordinates having trouble with the authority of my Asian boss.

    Anonymous said...

    Asians In Film.

    "Endo" of Lethal Weapon.

    Guess it's just me. Tickles me silly. Buncha badass mercs and former spooks gotta import some guy from SE Asia just to ground Riggs and light him up with wet sponges affixed to jumper cables and a Delco.

    Bennett said...

    On the shakiness of 'Seven Pounds', I have to say that I'd already made up my mind off the trailers and reviews not to go see it. This was before knowing or even remotely suspecting that sex ever came into play. It seems like a very 'deep' and frankly depressing sort of movie. Times being what they are, that isn't the kind of experience I'm going to pay to see. Life's bumming everyone out enough as it is.

    Shady_Grady said...

    I am not aware of very many slave owners being executed for murdering "their" slaves but there are a few cases of whites being executed for murdering other whites' slaves. In 1854 South Carolina, Thomas Motley who was either a thrillseeker or fugitive slave hunter, was hanged for the brutal murder of a runaway slave. The governor had to call out the militia to ensure the sentence would be carried out.

    I believe that the Elizabeth Fox-Genovese/Eugene Genovese book
    Fruits of Merchant Capital: Slavery and Bourgeois Property
    or her book Mind of the Master Class discusses a few other instances of whites being executed or imprisoned for killing slaves but such occurrences were very rare.

    Master Plan said...

    1) PG and up level love scenes.

    2) Black actors

    3) 100-million box office

    You get a really weird statistical blip.

    ************** weird?

    I'll try more googleage tomorrow, currently from 1937 (Snow White) to 2006 (the list I found) I see 337 100-million plus movies.

    So..out of how many total films released during that span? (20 a year? Maybe? 24? 36? Major releases?)

    Filter for PG-13 plus.

    Filter for sex\love scenes.

    Filter for black actors.

    And then how weird is it? We're already restricted to a very small number of movies.

    I do think we'd see some particularly egregious stuff (Hancock) but I wonder what else we'd see.

    Steve Perry said...

    Yeah, Jim is doing his Jerry Lewis shtick, and his movie is being roundly panned critically, but if you are looking for a way to escape the gloom of having lost half your IRA or SEP, that's probably why it is drawing an audience.

    The ads for Seven Pounds are trying to hard to avoid saying anything a lot of folks don't have a clue what it is about.

    Those who do might not be interested for reasons other than Smith getting laid.

    No matter how "good" a movie is, if it is downbeat, that is gonna limit the audience.
    No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood, got great actors and the critics fell all over themselves to praise them. Brokeback Mountain. Even I am Legend.
    Didn't Cage win an Oscar for Leaving Los Vegas?

    Movies where the hero dies, the guy and the girl (or guy an guy) don't live happily ever after, they will, by their nature, cause some people to stay home.

    Me among them. I can get depressed enough watching the news. I don't need to pay ten bucks for a ticket and twice that for popcorn and Coke to do it.

    Will I watch some of these. Sure. I'm in the biz, I need to know. But that the German Shepherd Dog dies in I Am Legend was enough to keep me from going to see it.

    Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

    You say: "it's only a movie. Only a movie..."

    A bit off topic, but - the most memorably unsettling case of that, for me, went as follows. I had occasion to join my husband in Croatia in 1992, when Yugoslavia had just fallen apart into its warring parts. My husband and I went to see Black Robe; there's a scene where the protagonists and captured and beaten by Iroquois. So, the violence was getting too much for me, and I did my usual emotional pulling back, and thought, "It's only a movie. I'm here in - um, never mind." Least reassuring "it's only a movie" ever.

    My husband told me later that the woman next to him had whispered, "Serbs."

    Some guy said...

    To Steven Barnes:

    This should really be a comment following your post about researching The Kundalini Equation sequel, but I just thought of it and don't know if you read the old comments, so here it is... Perhaps I should first say that no implied criticism is inadvertently intended; this is a sincere offer from someone who enjoys your work. Anyway, if you need a chess scene in the sequel edited, I would be glad to do it (as a courtesy, of course). Science fiction writers, up to and including Heinlein, never seem to get the chess quite right, (either the terminology, or the moves themselves.) The best I've seen involved no actual mistakes, but some highly unlikely scenario like the climactic scene in a poker movie where the bad guy gets four kings in straight draw, and then the hero draws to make a royal flush, leaving the poker players in the audience roaring. (By the way, George R.R. Martin is the big exception because he was a decent rated player, and a tournament director, both.)

    I don't know if I've hit the study's 10,000 hours yet or not, but almost certainly at least somewhere between five and ten, so I'm reasonably familiar with the moves and the lingo, at least familiar enough to accurately comment on a scene. (And, by the way, that's part of the reason I can't buy the 'ten thousand hours equals world-class performance' theory. I'm nowhere near national-class, let alone world-class. It seems to me that factors like brains, talent, quality of practice, competetive psyche, and the complexity of the skill to be mastered would far outweigh mere time put in.)

    Some guy

    Some guy said...

    P.S. Oops. Just made that exact kind of mistake myself. That should have been "strait flush", not "royal flush"; it didn't make sense the way I wrote it.

    Marty S said...

    Master Plan: Looking at all the movies from 1937 to present against Steve 100 million criteria doesn't make sense. Movies in the fifties cost fifty cents compared to ten dollars today, so a movie that grossed 5 million in the fifties would be comparable to one that grosses 100 million today. If you wanted to do a valid comparison you would have to figure out how many movies broke 100 million in the last five years. Lets say there were twenty. The divide by five and you get four per year. Now look at the top four grossing movies of each year since 1937. I bet using that set of movies Steve's "blip" holds up.

    suzanne said...

    off topic AGAIN:

    a wonderful article
    on the fallacies
    in Pop Evolutionary Psychology

    Anonymous said...

    Why do you care so much to see black men having sex? I am a black women and love my black men and I don't want to see my black men exploited so the "myth" about black sexuality can be revealed.

    How about this question: do you have a problem with Blair Underwood always up under some white woman when he is tv or beating black women in his films? Blair is not some new jack-he is a well respected man in Hollywood and always he is on TV fawning over the Master's stuff. And please, I don't want to hear any excuses-he could turn down these roles. Oh and and let's not forget the brown paper bag rule for Black women because a sister is not beautiful unless she is light and has "good hair". Rarely do you see a brother on tv or film loving a woman his own hue.

    Also, a sex scene or love scene in a film has nothing to do with box office success. For example-if you removed every love scene out of every James Bond film it would STILL be the successful, long running franchise it is now.

    Master Plan said...

    Marty: You can find sites which calculate life-time gross in constant dollars. That's what I'd use.

    Looking at it, in 2007, 206 wide-release movies, 20 are PG-13+ and 100M+ earners, and maybe 3-5 of those have sex scenes (300, Knocked Up, and....Juno? American Gangster? (didn't see all of these myself)).

    So we might speculate, mostly baselessly, a base rate of 2% for any given year.

    If black actors are perhaps 2% of the leading man sex-worthy pool (I can think of about 6 men currently who might qualify, not counting background\supporting characters) then... .4% of any movies in a given year can be expected to meet our host's criteria. Which is less than a movie per year.

    That's about as far as my total lack of stats math skills take me.

    Perhaps someone more knowledgeable can extend that to figure out how many standard deviations we are outside of the expected number of these films we are currently. Back to maybe 1967 (Guess Who's Coming...).

    I think we are missing maybe 2-4 of them? As far as a statistical average might be concerned.

    If we use Marty's numbers and look at the top 4 grossing movies of a year for the last 40 years (I think Poitier in Guess Who is probably the first time we could culturally expect interracial sex, at best) I think we'd find that things are quite normal as that method would tend to skew heavily towards movies with no sex in them at all (Batman Begins, Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter, etc).

    It's a fun problem tho to try to figure out how likely the event might be and thus how far we are lagging behind a expected number of films that qualify.

    Master Plan said...

    Also fun might be to speculate which movies "should have" but did not.

    Hancock, Miami Vice, The Kingdom...any others?

    Christian Lindke said...

    Arthur William Hodge was hanged for killing his slave (under British law).

    A good resource regarding slaves and the court system up until 1860 can be found at

    Lester Spence said...

    The American Culture Studies program at Washington University is in the process of digitizing court cases from Saint Louis. From what I understand there are several cases that enslaved Africans were able to bring to trial. Although you are looking at what appears to be the most extreme case, this finding blew my mind...because chairs aren't supposed to be able to bring cases to trial PERIOD.

    (and enslaved Africans for all intents and purposes were living, breathing chairs, as far as their rights were concerned.)

    Contact Wayne Fields at Washington University in Saint Louis, and he may be able to assist you.

    Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

    I think Poitier in Guess Who is probably the first time we could culturally expect interracial sex, at best

    You need to also calculate in when the first time would be that you could culturally expect white audiences to watch a movie in which both the leading man and the leading lady are black, since Steve's measure doesn't specify "interracial."

    Steve Perry said...

    Two things: All the movies opened slow last week. Except for L.A., most of the country is in the deep freeze -- we got a foot of snow on the ground in Portland, for chrissakes.

    The ten thousand hours thing. Doesn't mean that all things are equal. If you are gifted in a discipline and you put in the hours, you will do better than somebody who is less adept who puts in the same amount of time. (I always liked the scene with Mozart and Salieri in Amadeus, where Salieri labors over a piece to welcome the new kid, who comes in, listens, and then off-the-cuff, improves it -- No, here, try it this way ... Gotta hate people like that.)

    Lot of folks could have put in twice the time that Michael Phelps did in the pool and not kept up with him. (Lot of them did.) He has the body for swimming, and at world-class athletic levels, you start to see a lot of people who look alike because it self-selects for folks who have the best build for the activity.

    Same thing with mental activities. How many Bobby "I'm a psycho" Fischer's are there?

    Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

    A thought if you really want to crunch the numbers: You can use one of those parental rating sites (such as this one: to figure out which of the PG-13+ movies grossing over $100 million actually have sex (as opposed to foul language or violence). If the movie does have sex, though, you might need to check reviews to see whether the male lead is actually the one having the sex.

    Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

    OK, not touching who gets how much nookie, but just looking at how many top box office movies have black actors as one of the two main characters ...

    Looking at, I count, from the top 100:

    Independence Day
    I Am Legend
    Men In Black
    Men In Black II

    And from the next 300:

    The Pursuit of Happyness
    I, Robot
    Sister Act
    Bad Boys II
    The Green Mile
    American Gangster
    The Nutty Professor
    Nutty Professor II
    Blazing Saddles
    Wild Wild West
    Dr. Dolittle II
    Pulp Fiction
    Driving Miss Daisy

    I could be missing some through not knowing the movies. And I'm not counting stuff like Lawrence Fishburne as the Silver Surfer's voice or Eddie Murphy as the donkey in Shrek - for some of the cartoons I really don't know who's doing the voices without looking (16 of the top 100 grossing movies appear to be cartoons). But at least 5% of top grossing movies, just counting the ones where you'd see the actor, do have a black character as one of the leads. (Dreamgirls seems to be the only top grossing one which prominently features black actors of both sexes. And Will Smith singlehandedly has the top eight grossing movies featuring a black actor.)

    For top grossing movies adjusted for ticket inflation (, it looks as if the stats would be worse for black actors - at that point older movies like Gone With the Wind (with decidedly more confining options for black actors) move up in the rankings.

    Marty S said...

    Its nice that there are sites that adjust for dollar inflation,now to do a good statistical comparison find a site that also adjusts for changes in the movie going population. The population of the U.S has gone up considerably since 1937. On the other hand movies have had different competition over the years. First television and then rentals. Also it would be interesting to include rental statistics if they exist so as to encompass the total popularity of a given film. A good statistical analysis must include all significant variables. That's where most analyzes fall down.

    Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

    I'm not sure how to adjust for all of those variables, but, as long as we're only talking about top grossing movies that have a black leading man, I think we can narrow the field to movies from 1974 on, since the earliest movie that fits that bill in the top 100 movies at is Blazing Saddles (1974). That does pretty much place all such movies post-TV (though not all post-rental).

    Marty S said...

    I think using the top some number of grossing movies each year resolves most of the problems because you are essentially using what's called in statistics a paired sample. That is you are comparing the performance of movies released at the same time and so are remove all factors that are time dependent.

    Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

    The IMDB by year section ( starts supplying top grossing movies by year in 1979 (before that, it lists movies by year, but doesn't tell how they sold). So, one could do as follows:

    1) Pick a number of top grossing movies per year, based on IMDB figures, starting in 1979.

    2) How many of these movies, per year, are PG-13 and above (post-1984) or PG and above (pre-1984), and therefore in a rating where one could plausibly expect a sex scene? Of these, how many, per year, actually have a PG-13 or R level sex scene (based on reviews or parental rating sites, if you haven't seen the movie)?

    4) How many movies, per year, of any rating, have black men in leading roles?

    5) Intersection of 3 & 4, if there is any.

    I'm not about to take the time to do this, personally, but I think it would work. I suspect you'd see the number of top grossing movies with black actors going up dramatically over these 30 years (there really was no Will Smith equivalent when I was in college), the proportion of top grossing movies that have sex in them staying pretty constant, and the intersection of those two things staying nearly nonexistent (how far nonexistent might depend on how many top grossing movies you picked per year).

    That's as far as I'm prepared to go with this; if someone else wants to crunch the numbers, feel free.

    Master Plan said...

    Yes, it's a fun little problem isn't it?

    Particularly as PG-13 seems to have "stretched" in terms of what is included in the past few years.

    As well I think we're being asked to prove a negative in a way. In that just because you've got a PG-13+ movie with a black lead that could include might just...not. There are plenty of movies that *could* include sex but don't. So how then would you determine if a particular movie, which meets our qualifiers *should* have included sex but didn't because of the black actors being present?

    I think the ironic part would be the number of black leads that have turned down movies that feature interracial sex scenes because they thought they'd be cheap or exploitative. ;-)

    Some guy said...

    To Steve Perry:

    Yeah, I've got to agree. I dabble in the martial arts - a complete klutz - and the idea that I could EVER become a world-class martial artist, no matter how much time I had, makes me giggle. I'd need another lifetime for a new body or else bionic botox.

    For what it's worth, I don't even buy that 50-100 hours of training will get someone off the streets to do two-move mates as well as a world-class player, (that study mentioned in your blog). That's partly experience, but partly that I actually used to show people a two-mover a lot. These were often high-rated (for amateurs) tournament players with decades of experience - my iffy substitute for the specific 100-hour training mentioned in the experiment - but none of them could ever get it without some serious hints. I showed it to a 2400 - not world-class, but not TOOOO far away - who later became a grandmaster, and he got it that session, no hints. Even with something as "simple" as two-movers, it seems that talent will out.
    [Changing of the guard here at work, no time to edit; hope that's clear.]

    Some guy

    Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

    Sometimes you can make a reasonable guess as to whether sex would be expected in the movie - e.g. adaptions of novels, like The Pelican Brief (where a key character shifted from white to black when the story shifted from novel to movie). But generally, I don't think you can make a judgment about individual movies; you'd just have to figure that, by including all the top N movies per year and crunching stats on them, you could see how far the numbers might deviate from what you'd expect if there were even odds.

    Steve Perry said...

    Some Guy --

    I dunno enough about chess to verify the two-move teachings -- I'm assuming that the idea came from a well-versed player showing a tyro how to do them, what to look for, and how to think tactically and/or strategically.

    (I learned to play chess as a boy -- the rules, anyway -- and then where I worked in L.A. on my lunch hours, something called rapid transit. Bad way to learn -- you get the openings, but you never get to the end games. I though I knew how to play until I moved back to my hometown, went to the local chess club, and happened upon two ten-year-old boys. One of them said, "Let's play Fischer/Spassky Three." Referring to the 1972 series, I assumed.

    They then replayed the game from memory.

    That was it for me.