Thursday, November 28, 2002
Almodóvar's new film Talk to Her gets a rave form David Sterritt
I haven't seen his latest films, though I really liked Women on the Verge... (hard to imagine an unknown Banderas playing a bookish lad in this now) and Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down. Have to catch up at some point. All About My Mother has gotten excellent reviews too.
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You've probably heard but here it is anyway: Poetry magazine inherits $100 mil from Lilly heiress
I'm not even a big poetry fan, but any support for the arts in America is cause for celebration.
For the last 15 years, the magazine has enjoyed free rent of two rooms and what the staff calls a "walk-in closet" in the annex of Chicago's Newberry Library - a nondescript place where bleak earth tones are broken only by brightly colored spines of books and a single window looking out onto stone buildings, sky, and a strip of grass. Yeah, it could have been divvied up better, between all the poetry pubs, but . . . I get the sense this fellow knows what he has and will manage it appropriately.
The arrangement has kept the operation afloat during times when Poetry had "just a hundred dollars in the till," according to senior editor Stephen Young. But every inch of shelf space is filled with poetry collections or past issues of the magazine, and the four-member staff is awash in books and paper.
[Editor Joseph] Parisi understands this is big news. Poetry has long been the art world's poor cousin, and $10,000,000 - the first installment - would keep the magazine afloat for 20 years. The bequest, which could swell to $150 million depending upon the value of Eli Lilly stock, could buy the Minnesota Twins. In the poetry world, a gift of this size is as unlikely as the US Army delivering all orders in iambic pentameter.
What Poetry will do, however, is continue its tradition of nurturing poetry and poets. Each year, Parisi sends personal letters to hundreds of writers whose work is good, but not quite up to the magazine's standards. Such attention from a poetry editor is rare, but it's an important reason why Ruth Lilly - who endowed an annual Poetry prize in 1986 and sponsors two fellowships - became such a fan. She never received an acceptance when she submitted to Poetry more than 20 years ago. But Parisi's generosity - and his uncompromising standards - have obviously paid off.
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A couple Thanksgiving texts that came my way
Subject: Martha Stewart will not be dining with us this Thanksgiving And -- if you're in a um darker mood: a special transcription of William S. Burroughs' "A Thanksgiving Prayer":
Our sidewalk will not be lined with homemade, paper bag luminaries that resemble turkeys. After a trial run, it was decided that no matter how cleverly done, rows of flaming lunch sacks do not have the desired welcoming effect.
Once inside, our guests will note that the entry hall is not decorated with the swags of Indian corn and fall foliage I had planned to make.
Instead, I've gotten the kids involved in the decorating by having them track in colorful autumn leaves from the front yard. The mud was their idea.
The dining table will not be covered with expensive linens, fancy china, or crystal goblets. If possible, we will use dishes that match and everyone will get a fork. Since this IS Thanksgiving, we will refrain from using the plastic Peter Rabbit plate and the Santa napkins from last Christmas.
Our centerpiece will not be the tower of fresh fruit and flowers that I promised. Instead we will be displaying a hedgehog-like decoration hand-
crafted from the finest construction paper. My seven-year-old artist assures me it is a turkey.
We will be dining fashionably late. The children will entertain you while you wait. I'm sure they will be happy to share every choice comment I have made regarding Thanksgiving, pilgrims and the turkey hotline. Please remember that most of these comments were made at 5:00 a.m. upon discovering that the turkey was still hard enough to cut diamonds.
As accompaniment to the children's recital, I will play a recording of tribal drumming. If the children should mention that I don't own a recording of tribal drumming, or that tribal drumming sounds suspiciously like a frozen turkey in a clothes dryer, ignore them.
They are lying.
We toyed with the idea of ringing a dainty silver bell to announce the start of our feast. In the end, we chose to keep our traditional method. When the smoke alarm sounds, please gather around the table and sit where you like.
In lieu of a formal sitting arrangement, and in the spirit of harmony, we will ask the children to sit at a separate table. In a separate room. In a separate house. Next door.
Now, I know you have all seen pictures of one person carving a turkey in front of a crowd of appreciative onlookers. This will not be happening at our dinner. For safety reasons, the turkey will be carved in a private ceremony. I stress "private", meaning: do not, under any circumstances, enter the kitchen to take photos, sample the bird, or laugh at me. Do not send small, unsuspecting children to check on my progress. I have an electric knife. The turkey is unarmed. It stands to reason that I will eventually win. When I do, we will eat.
I would like to take this opportunity to remind my sports-minded diners that "passing the rolls" is not a football play. Nor is it a request to bean your sister in the head with warm tasty bread. Oh, and one reminder for the adults: For the duration of the meal, and especially while in the presence of young diners, we will refer to the giblet gravy by its lesser-known name: Cheese Sauce. If a young diner questions you regarding the origins or type of Cheese Sauce, plead ignorance.
Before I forget, there is one last change. Instead of offering a choice between five different, scrumptious, homemade desserts; we will be serving the traditional pumpkin pie, garnished with Cool Whip and small fingerprints. You will still have a choice - take it or leave it.
Martha Stewart will not be dining with us this Thanksgiving. She probably won't come next year either. (Who knows where she will be next year!) I am thankful.
Happy Thanksgiving to ALL!
TWAS THE NIGHT OF THANKSGIVING, BUT I JUST COULDN'T SLEEP
I TRIED COUNTING BACKWARDS, I TRIED COUNTING SHEEP.
THE LEFTOVERS BECKONED - THE DARK MEAT AND WHITE BUT I FOUGHT THE
TEMPTATION WITH ALL OF MY MIGHT
TOSSING AND TURNING WITH ANTICIPATION THE THOUGHT OF A SNACK BECAME
SO, I RACED TO THE KITCHEN, FLUNG OPEN THE DOOR AND GAZED AT THE FRIDGE,
FULL OF GOODIES GALORE.
I GOBBLED UP TURKEY AND BUTTERED POTATOES, PICKLES AND CARROTS, BEANS
I FELT MYSELF SWELLING SO PLUMP AND SO ROUND, 'TIL ALL OF A SUDDEN, I
ROSE OFF THE GROUND.
I CRASHED THROUGH THE CEILING, FLOATING INTO THE SKY WITH A MOUTHFUL OF
PUDDING AND A HANDFUL OF PIE.
BUT, I MANAGED TO YELL AS I SOARED PAST THE TREES....
HAPPY EATING TO ALL PASS THE CRANBERRIES, PLEASE.
MAY YOUR STUFFING BE TASTY, MAY YOUR TURKEY BE PLUMP.
MAY YOUR POTATOES 'N GRAVY HAVE NARY A LUMP, MAY YOUR YAMS BE DELICIOUS
MAY YOUR PIES TAKE THE PRIZE, MAY YOUR THANKSGIVING DINNER STAY OFF OF
HAVE A WONDERFUL THANKSGIVING!
for John Dillinger (I hope he is still alive)
Thanksgiving Day November 28th, 1986
Thanks for the wild turkey and the passenger pigeon destined to be shit out through wholesome American guts
Thanks for a continent to despoil and poison
Thanks for Indians to provide a modicum of challenge and danger
Thanks for vast herds of bison to kill and skin, leaving the carcasses to rot
Thanks for bounties on wolves and coyotes
Thanks for the American Dream to vulgarize and falsify until the bare lies shine through
Thanks for the KKK, for nigger-killing lawmen feeling their notches
For decent church-goin' women with their mean, pinched, bitter, evil faces
Thanks for "Kill a Queer for Christ" stickers
Thanks for laboratory AIDS
Thanks for prohibition and the War Against Drugs
Thanks for a country where nobody's allowed to mind his own business
Thanks for a nation of finks
Yes, thanks for all the memories -- All right, let's see your arms...
You always were a headache and you always were a bore
Thanks for the last and greatest betrayal of the last and greatest of human dreams
2:44 PM - [Link] - Comments ()
New text analysis software TextArc looks vaguely useful
Have to play with it some.
11:30 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
R.I.P. Karel Reisz
Who'll Stop The Rain? has probably my favorite Nolte performance, and even Robert Stone thought it was a pretty good film -- though it's not as good as the Stone novel it's based on, Dog Soldiers. One of the best films about 70s America, post-Vietnam etc., anyway. Stone is too intense for Hollywood and we're lucky it's as faithful to the tone of the novel as it is.
I'd like to see his Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, which the article says launched Albert Finney's career and apparently was one of the films that first shook up British cinema in the late 50s/early 60s.
2:08 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
Wednesday, November 27, 2002
Studs Terkel's site offers a catalogue of his interviews in RealAudio
Looks like a treasure trove.
6:56 PM - [Link] - Comments ()
"Whatever they did is not sufficient"
RealPlayer full of holes
3:18 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
You have nothing to fear "Silk Skin Paws"
I'm just making enquiries
Dog bone hunting
Gives you back to yourself
Standing before me
The gargoyle turns
Jutting jaws and
The stubble burns
I shift the blame
To the worm in the bottle
I shift the blame
To anyone standing before me
I check-up the once over
Give yourself an opening
Keep your mouth shut
In the event of an accident
Contact the following
A certain air
An invading smile
Inbreeding seals the flaw
Silk skin paws
Hang by both feet
Embracing the world
Hang the expense
Breugels cut corners
Wring out the senses
I have nothing like it
I've seen nothing like it
Wire [courtesy wireviews]
2:47 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
Tuesday, November 26, 2002
My netbuddy Leif was on NPR tonight, talking about his re-creation of Beethoven's 9th as a 24 hour piece, 9 Beet Stretch
I'm fond of drones (as you've guessed by my playlists) and I quite like this piece(s). It's great that he's getting this exposure. One of the nicest people I've met online too.
8:39 PM - [Link] - Comments ()
Monday, November 25, 2002
Undernews turned me on to a neat graphics blog called portage, which led me to an extensive site celebrating Canada's Expo 67 ("the last great World's Fair"), which I attended with my extended Canadian family when I was 11
More like the last World's Fair worth seeing. We went to the 1980 (I think) Fair in Knoxville and what a washout that was. Except for the neat sculptures from ancient Egypt in that country's pavilion.
2:17 PM - [Link] - Comments ()
Virginia Heffernan wonders why everybody does love Everybody Loves Raymond when it's so creepy
Raymond's Long Island kin -- nestled in clutter, tight-knit -- are intractably messed up. Let's spell it out: Ray (Ray Romano) and Debra Barone (Patricia Heaton) don't have sex, find one another boring, and have nothing to talk about but their three children, whom they keep locked away. The Barones' lives are invaded, and stymied, by Ray's rancorous parents, Frank (Peter Boyle) and Marie (Doris Roberts), who live across the street. And they must from time to time entertain the morose bozo Robert (Brad Garrett), whom, though he's openly scorned by his parents, they insist on kicking around, too. Oh. Really.
In these cramped quarters, Robert, the gloomy cop, cycles through obsessive rituals -- chin-tapping, most obviously -- to placate himself. Marie and Frank openly wish for each other's deaths. Debra periodically makes efforts to get a job, but she's foiled by Ray, who once botched her effort to write a children's book and more recently voted against her in an election for school board president. When asked to list his own goals, the sportswriter Ray can't come up with any. As he puts it, "I got nothing; I got no dreams." No problem, says Debra -- that means you're happy.
Never had the urge to watch it myself. Then again, the only show I watch regularly anymore is 24 -- I keep missing King of the Hill, I'm tired of Frasier (though it's still very good), and now that X Files is off the air, all I do is check TCM for film noir I haven't seen. Just the fact that I might skim past a "news" channel makes even channel-surfing too dispiriting to bother with, much of the time.
And of course, spend some time away from TV, as I did a few months ago, and the pesky fact that it's basically mind control becomes too obvious too ignore.
9:01 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
Sunday, November 24, 2002
A jazz festival poster of a white devil baby being suckled by a black woman is pissing off the French far-right
4:42 PM - [Link] - Comments ()
Kathryn Hughes reviews William Naphy's Sex Crimes: From Renaissance to Enlightenment
The situation became far more complex when property was involved. For all that the elders liked to give the impression that it was the intrinsic sinfulness of the sexual act that upset them, what really got them worried was the idea that someone's bank balance was in jeopardy. Adultery was dangerous because it might result in a false heir being smuggled into the woman's family, so skewing the rightful patterns of inheritance. For that reason both parties were mostly likely to be executed (drowning was the preferred option). Likewise, if an unmarried male servant committed adultery with his mistress, he could expect to end up dead on the grounds that he had "robbed" his master of a valuable asset. If, however, the man was not a servant, but a social and economic equal of the cuckolded husband, then he got away comparatively lightly with a flogging and banishment. (It took a long time before the authorities tumbled to the complicated truth that some people found flogging sexually exciting, in which case they were effectively rewarding bad behaviour.)
4:13 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
Sterling on Calvino
Many critics talk about Calvino's imagination. Of course, as a science fiction writer I don't find this the most praiseworthy thing about him. The thing I like best about Calvino is his intellectual generosity. It is rare for a man of such intense intelligence to have such kindness toward his readers. He plays difficult games, but he doesn't make it unnecessarily difficult for us. It is just as difficult as it needs to be, and never any more. Never got into much European SF myself, though Calvino sounds interesting.
As a 14 year old I was hardly likely to follow the literary doctrines of the OULIPO group. I had never heard of Raymond Queneau, Georges Perec or Roland Barthes. But as a 14 year old foreign boy I was reading Italo Calvino, with a sense of sympathetic joy and understanding, even in a language that was not his own. Now I am 48 and visiting his country to honor him and his vision, and I am still reading Italo Calvino. As Calvino wisely says of the classics, they are works you do not read but re-read. And yes, I do re-read Calvino.
3:49 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
Microsoft: war on file sharing lost
3:32 AM - [Link] - Comments ()