Wednesday, October 23, 2002
Eminently sensible Janis Ian on downloads and the music industry
The recording industry says downloading music from the Internet is ruining our business, destroying sales and costing artists such as me money.
Costing me money?
I don't pretend to be an expert on intellectual property law, but I do know one thing: If a record executive says he will make me more money, I'd immediately protect my wallet.
On the first day I posted downloadable music, my merchandise sales tripled, and they have stayed that way ever since. I'm not about to become a zillionaire as a result, but I am making more money. At a time when radio playlists are tighter and any kind of exposure is hard to come by, 365,000 copies of my work now will be heard. Even if only 3f those people come to concerts or buy my CDs, I've gained about 10,000 new fans this year.
2:39 PM - [Link] - Comments ()
Here I am once again, suckered into checking out some animation when it comes to video.
As always, Miyazaki turns his back on the simple stories of good and evil that make up most animation. What interests him isn't conflict, but harmony. In Spirited Away, it's not all about right and wrong, but about sickness and health. Usually I can't really sit with these films, even though I can appreciate the artistry (I tried Princess Mononoke too, couldn't stick with it). Maybe this will be different.
Yubaba may be wicked, but she has her reasons, and she keeps her promises. Yubaba is a fond--too fond--mother. And she keeps a cool head when an immense and vile customer disrupts the bathhouse. The spa is hard work, almost slave labor, for Chihiro. And yet it's a place of cleansing and healing--at a hefty price-- for spirits polluted by contact with human beings.
The premise alone is more interesting than most movies provide.
12:19 PM - [Link] - Comments ()
4-H Clubs adapt well to changing times, membership triples in Washington State [u]
Welcome to 4-H, a seeming anachronism that has remained so flexible that it is now the largest youth organization in the United States. More fool me -- I thought 4-H was still about marching pet sows to the county fair.
Its farming focus has evolved into programs centered on computers, rockets, baby-sitting or clubs that combine old and new interests the way this one does. Members of the Colonial Critters do hands-on work with crafts, cooking and with animal breeds brought to this country by colonists -- but many use the Internet for research.
No matter what the topic, the goal is the same: Raise the next crop of leaders by teaching children how to achieve and how to use each other's gifts.
Two decades ago, when raising swine had gone the way of home canning for most of us, 4-H membership hovered between 25,000 and 30,000 in Washington state. Today, it's tripled to 86,000, and 67 percent of the members live in urban areas.
The same thing is happening elsewhere in the U.S., where 4-H reports nearly 7 million members.
I think Kevin Phillips said something about the importance of clubs and associations in American democracy in Arrogant Capital....
This is a great example.
1:01 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
Tuesday, October 22, 2002
Frida opens (finally) on Friday
Because any film about Kahlo is just as much about Rivera -- if the couple were alive today, they'd be daily gossip fodder for the New York Post's Page Six -- "Frida" belongs just as much to Molina as it does to Hayek. What a neat cast -- Salma Hayek as Kahlo, Alfred Molina as Rivera, Hayek's husband (and co-writer on the script) Edward Norton as Nelson Rockefeller, Antonio Banderas as David Siqueiros, Ashley Judd as photographer Tina Modotti.
Calling their relationship complicated doesn't even begin to explain it: Rivera cheated on Kahlo shamelessly, including a devastating affair with her sister, Cristina. Why she stayed with him was unfathomable: Fat, brash and selfish, he reminded her of a toad, she often said.
But Molina's portrayal of the muralist is so vivid, it helps explain the mystery of their bond. He was her mentor, then her colleague. He was her friend, then her lover. He was fascinating and dynamic, and he understood her in a way no one else had, or ever would.
Hayek's portrayal of Kahlo is just as powerful. You don't feel like you're watching an actress recreating the key events of a famous person's history; you feel like you're watching the artist come to life before you.
It's not just that Hayek bears a great physical resemblance to Kahlo, complete with the trademark unibrow (though she stopped short of an obvious mustache).
Hayek brings such infectious joy and breathless energy to the role, such palpable drama and pathos, she's positively magnetic. It's a performance that will change her career.
If all you can you remember of Kahlo is Melanie Griffith reading Hayden Herrera's biography (with a different cover, a self-portrait) in Something Wild here's some more info.
Quite a lady quite an artist. She's still so controversial (she died in 1954), it took years for a film to be made about her. Communist, bisexual, fiercely proud of her Mexican heritage, she lived in pain much of her life and had many surgeries after a car accident. Some have said she became addicted to surgery (I forget the medical term for this).
Georgia O'Keefe thought she was the best female artist of the 20th century.
Yet none of this conveys her uniqueness, even at this distance (I've only read articles about her), I can tell.
4:28 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
Monday, October 21, 2002
Well, now I can relax
Universe to collapse in only 10-20 billion years
Forget that early retirement.
10:36 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
Bob Crane, meet Kenneth Anger
CSM's David Sterritt boosts Auto Focus
This paragraph is interesting:
Crane seemed born to play the affable Hogan, projecting clean-cut sincerity with every flash of his charming smile. Behind the scenes he was a tad more complicated, though, fretting about his career and thumbing girlie magazines when his wife and kids weren't looking.Um, how many guys does that describe? But perhaps this makes a point in a unintentional way. Crane was an everyman who stumbled onto the perfect TV role for his limited talents -- the Hogan of Hogan's Heroes, itself an oddly popular, anomalous take on a cartoonish Nazi POW camp. There's a subterranean sinister banality to superficially yet relentlessly upbeat 60s sitcoms, which suits the occult-glam of Nazi regalia in a way that's hard to pinpoint. Has anyone analyzed the weird popularity of this show?
For me, Kenneth Anger epitomizes the fitful Janus-face of iconized beauty shared by Hollywood and the Nazi elite. The fallen kitschiness of Himmler's Aryan-blonde Knights Templar fantasies (Anger had a collection of Nazi regalia he sold to Keith Richards in the early 80s) mirroring the precocious MGM-lush ode to idealized masculinity Scorpio Rising & the pop icons acting out Satanic devotions in Invocation of my Demon Brother, and the decidedly anti-glamorous Hollywood Babylon books.
Perhaps Bob Crane got caught in that space between icon and regular guy that Hollywood exploits (perhaps definitively) so well, and got hit with the orgone blowback from his little dirty movies.
Everyone's gone to the movies
Now we're alone at last
3:13 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
OK, last film post for now
Nice long piece on visionary filmmaker Godfrey Reggio and the new third installment in his trilogy, Naqoyqatsi (Life as War)
He's had support from the likes of Georgia O'Keefe, Francis Coppola, and Steven Soderbergh (whose profits from Erin Brockovich helped finance Naqoyqatsi).
Koyaanisqatsi is one of my favorite films, and the Glass score is my favorite of his work (I'm not that big a fan really). Yet I never got around to Powaaqatsi. The new one sounds pretty cool.
Naqoyqatsi features some of the ideas that fueled Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi: wordless images of man's ongoing struggle with technology and industrialization, set to Philip Glass' hypnotic music. (The first two films were released on DVD last month.) But from there, the new work departs greatly. In Naqoyqatsi, Reggio used almost all archival or "found" images instead of shooting locations -- taking images and "degrading" them by digitally manipulating them to make a commentary about how man appears to be losing the war. Man, as he puts it, is no longer a master of technology; he has become technology, and nowhere is that more clear than in the power of the image. This article delves into Reggio himself in some detail.
"The image itself is the location," Reggio says. "The task of this film was to deal with the evil demon of images."
They come hurtling at the viewer sometimes at lightning speed, sometimes camped out, staring back at the viewer, challenging. Reggio breaks the film down into three "movements": "Numerica.com," a series of metamorphoses including the natural to the supernatural; "Circus Maximus," in which life becomes one big game; and "Rocketship 20th Century," where the film's theme of civilized violence suggests a world so advanced that language can no longer explain it.
1:40 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
New Shohei Imamura film Warm Water Under a Red Bridge
(Akai hashi no shita no nurui mizu) Getting up toward 80, Japanese master Shohei imamura continues his exploration of desire and quirky sex: a man in search of treasure instead finds a woman whose orgasms are accompanied by prolonged geysers of water that make the fish swim and the birds sing. (Yep.) Poetic and sometimes deadpan hilarious. With the great everyman actor, the lanky Koji Yakusho ("Shall We Dance"; "Charisma").
I knew I remembered that name. He directed Ballad of Narayama back in '83. What a killer film. Gorgeous, devastating; Japanese fatalist Buddhism -- and animistic adoration of nature despite its impassivity -- at it's most seductive.
This new one sounds um lighter. It's his first since '89's Black Rain, apparently. Wait, I guess not.
1:25 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
Wow. Adam Sandler in a movie compared to Tati's Mon Oncle
Another booster for Punch-Drunk Love
From those first moments of "Punch-Drunk Love," you'll know you're in for an aggressive portrait of disconnection and externalized inner chaos that will either disturb or annoy the shit out of you. It's a comedy about OCD with OCD. For me, it's the 32-year-old director's best picture. Why? Because I can cite you a half-dozen influences or parallel bits of art and it still won't give you a clean picture of what Anderson does, not with Sandler's persona, but with Sandler himself. This performance is frightening, spot on, utterly haunted. Oscar? Don't laugh. Won't happen, but it's not unworthy.
1:09 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
Short interview with Ade Blackburn of Liverpool's Clinic
Have to check them out.
1:00 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
Sunday, October 20, 2002
About Bloody Time file
Hanes to market tag-less t-shirts
6:25 PM - [Link] - Comments ()
The new Kevin Baker historical novel Paradise Alley -- like Martin Scorsese's upcoming film Gangs of New York -- brings the Civil War draft (and race and religious) riot of New York alive
Everyone feels the tension in the air, the static electricity ready to ignite social unrest in a city already charged by strikes and uncontrolled inflation. City government flees, sensing the impending explosion, leaving 2,300 policemen -- almost all Irish -- to deal with whatever trouble may come from their fellow Irishmen. You could buy your way out of the draft with $300, and there were fears of freed slaves thronging to the North, competing with the newly immigrant Catholic Irish for jobs.
Meanwhile, the city's 6,000 firemen, also Irish, serve on a collection of viciously competitive teams. (Sometimes, men from five or six different fire houses fight for hours over an available hydrant while the building they've come to save burns to the ground.)
When the city's toxic fumes of resentment and fear finally ignite, it's a ghastly conflagration, captured here in all its consuming savagery. Baker's extraordinary talent -- even beyond his capacity to uncover such a mountain of grisly detail -- is his ability to organize this chaos and dramatize it in a way that's sensible to us.
4:48 PM - [Link] - Comments ()
I noticed the titles of the 3 books I'm reading, as they lay on their sides: Forbidden Truth - Unholy Alliance - Distraction.
I'm creating my reality, though it sure seems like it's creating me sometimes.
3:59 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
Diphtheria bacteria create a toxin that destroys some brain tumors; some patients live for over a year instead of weeks
Somehow this reminds me of Norman Spinrad's story "Carcinoma Angels" from the 60s (It was in the first Dangerous Visions anthology, which was very good). Though it ends sadly, and this is a hopeful news item.
Isn't it great that you can search for an obscure story and find the text immediately (sometimes anyway)?
Maybe I'll pick up a copy of DV.
3:33 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
I have a good feeling about Igby Goes Down
It's one of those films I can sense might be worth seeing from the press it gets, and the casting. It's got a main character played by an actor I wouldn't ordinarily think twice about watching (Kieran Culkin), whose performance sounds just right. The rest of the cast is well-known and talented (Susan Sarandon, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Claire Danes), but not in the marquee-showy way of top-heavy footballs like Red Dragon (though I'll watch it for Fiennes playing a psycho anyway, when it's on tape).
Plus the director's name is Burr Steers. That counts for a lot in a way I can't explain.
Finally, it's a satire. You can find physical comedy (admittedly done poorly a lot of the time) a lot easier, and it's just not interesting to me unless it's done really well by someone with heart. Satires that are well-written I roll over for in a heartbeat.
Hope I like it after all that...
1:59 AM - [Link] - Comments ()