==pla|\|ing lakes==

a forest called Simmer Down, wrapped in plastic
bloghome | contact: drbenway at priest dot com | blogging since Oct '01

This is Gordon Osse's blog.

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"He who does not at some time, with definite determination consent to the terribleness of life, or even exalt in it, never takes possession of the inexpressible fullness of the power of our existence." -- Rilke

        the powering,
                the Widening,
                all faces followers of

                All colors, beams of
                woven thread,
                the Skin

                alight that
                warms itself
                with life.

-- Akhenaton, "Hymn to the Sun"

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(r) = re-viewing

God Told Me To (1976, Cohen)

Whispering City (1947, Otsep)

Times and Winds (2006, Erdem)

Dirty Money (Un flic) (1972, Melville)

10th District Court (2004, Depardon)

RFK Must Die: The Assassination of Bobby Kennedy (2007, O'Sullivan)

The Furies (1950, Mann)

In a Lonely Place (1950, Ray)(r)

The Adjuster (1991, Egoyan)(r)


Mad Men
The Buddha of Suburbia
Intelligence (2006, Haddock)
Family Guy

The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear (2004, Curtis) [available for streaming/download here]

(r) = re-reading

The Blonde - Duane Swierczynski

Swansea Terminal - Robert Lewis


vaccine - v/a [hot flush]

skin diagram - david tagg

microcastle - deerhunter

saturdays=youth - m83

the serpent in quicksilver - harold budd

index of metal - fausto romitelli

Rocket to Russia - Ramones

and then one day it was over - elian

monsoon point - amelia cuni & ali gromer khan

set or performance - richard chartier

the world that was surrounded by a deep forest and warm light - ryonkt

cocoon materia aurora

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Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Somehow I didn't get around to listing DJ Martian's superb new music site in my linx section

That's been remedied. It's really an essential stop for music lovers.

I got a referral from his site today, even though music is only a part of what I do here.

Thanks, DJ!

6:30 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Sunday, December 29, 2002

According to this Donna Tartt fansite, Gwyneth Paltrow is producing and starring in a film version of The Secret History

If she's young enough to be an undergrad, I'd like to have seen Molly Parker in the role. But Jena Malone would be just right.

Not that Ms Paltrow won't do just fine. Just like to see some other faces.

6:38 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

BOOKS READ AND COMPLETED 2002 (r = reread)
Them: Adventures With Extremists      Jon Ronson
Best Ghost Stories of Algernon Blackwood (4 stories)
High Rise (r)      J G Ballard
Coldheart Canyon      Clive Barker
Episodes Before Thirty      Algernon Blackwood
Thunderbird      Susan Slater
Forty Words for Sorrow      Giles Blunt
Basket Case      Carl Hiaasen
Wild Wives      Charles Willeford
The Long Legged Fly      James Sallis
Homo Zapiens      Victor Pelevin
Neil Young: Reflections in a Broken Glass      Sylvie Simmons
The Skin Palace      Jack O'Connell
Motherless Brooklyn      Jonathan Lethem
Into the Buzzsaw: Leading Journalists Expose the Myth of a Free Press      ed. Kristina Borjesson
Dog Soldiers      Robert Stone
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (r)      Mark Twain
The Rotter's Club      Jonathan Coe
Rule by Secrecy      Jim Marrs
Man Walks Into A Room      Nicole Krauss
Crow Lake      Mary Lawson
The Butterfly Effect      Pernille Rygg
The Handmaid's Tale      Maragaret Atwood
Moth      James Sallis
A Flag for Sunrise      Robert Stone
Wild Seed      Octavia Butler
Big If      Mark Costello
The Biggest Secret      David Icke
Sideswipe      Charles Willeford
The Corrections      Jonathan Franzen
A Cold Day in Paradise      Steve Hamilton
The Very Best Men - Four Who Dared: Early Years of the CIA      Evan Thomas
Moral Hazard      Kate Jennings
The White Bone      Barbara Gowdy
Du Pont Dynasty: Behind the Nylon Curtain (1984 edit.)      Gerard Colby
Forbidden Truth: US - Taliban Secret Oil Diplomacy, Saudi Arabia and the Failed Search for bin Laden      Jean-Charles Brisard & Guillaume Dasquie
The Secret History (r)      Donna Tartt
Unholy Alliance: A History of Nazi Involvement with the Occult      Peter Levenda
Pick-Up      Charles Willeford
Distraction (r)      Bruce Sterling
The Athenian Murders      José Carlos Somoza
Children of the Matrix      David Icke
The Way We Die Now      Charles Willeford
Up Above the World (r)      Paul Bowles

3:02 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

From Jonathan Lethem's haughty and perceptive introduction to his Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick:
Dick was a writer doomed to be himself, and the themes of his most searching and personal writing of the 1970s and early 1980s surface helplessly in even the earliest stories: the fragility of connection, the allure and risk of illusion, the poignancy of artifacts, and the necessity of carrying on in the face of the demoralizing brokenness of the world.
Boy does that sum up a good deal of my world view. . .

And explains some of the reasons why Dick is a writer I'm so fond of.

4:02 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

A pretty clear-eyed review of the new edition of David Thomson's The New Biographical Dictionary of Film
He's ambiguous about Hitchcock, very smart about Godard and positively worshipful when it comes to Howard Hawks and Kenji Mizoguchi (Kurosawa gets a mild drubbing mainly because, as the longtime Japanese director of choice on the art house-revival circuit, he has overshadowed the superior, in Thomson's opinion, Mizoguchi and Ozu).

This is all very cranky and flavorful (and occasionally witty), and not entirely without utilitarian purpose. If Bresson or Godard, for example, puzzle you, then Thomson can shed some light. When it comes to actors from the '30s, '40s and '50s, he tends to be inspired. He loves movies but will brook no conventional wisdom, being too busy constructing a personal hierarchy.

More assertive than authoritative, this so-called dictionary is more like a writer's diary, a lifetime's accumulation of critical notes and perceptive appreciations, made by a movie fan obsessed with his subject, but not blinded by love.
I agree with a lot of his opinions, and that will ultimately determine how much you like the book. The "Biography" of the title is as much of Thomson as of the movies.

On the other hand, he's just very, very good, and you'll most likely learn much by reading him, no matter how much you know about film.

2:28 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Review of Rebecca Miller's Personal Velocity
...we enter the three central female characters from the inside out -- examining the world from their temporarily less-than-clear gaze, as they grope toward some inconclusive (but improving) insight, a process that seems both messily organic and razor-sharp. Personal Velocity is a series of small surprises that taken together are exhilarating.
Starring Kyra Sedgwick, Parker Posey and Fairuza Balk.

Rebecca Miller's first film was the well-received but too weird for release Angela in '95, which certainly sounds worth seeking out. It was just released on video/DVD apparently.

2:10 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Ambivalent, neurotic plush toys for adults

It's er about time. . .

1:47 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Saturday, December 28, 2002

Reading the Book magazine article on Donna Tartt in the library today, I found mention of a revealing piece she did for Harper's in '92 on growing up Gothic in Mississippi
What my great-grandfather did prescribe for me -- along with whatever medicine I got from the doctor -- were spoonfuls of blackstrap molasses and some horrible licorice-flavored medicine that was supposed to have vitamins in it, along with glasses of whiskey at my bedtime and regular and massive doses of some red stuff which I now know to have been codeine cough syrup. The whiskey was mixed with sugar and hot water; it was supposed to make me sleep and help me put on weight, both of which it did. The reasoning behind the cough syrup remains obscure, as a cough was not among my symptoms. Perhaps he was unaware the syrup had codeine in it; perhaps he was simply trying to make me comfortable in what he thought were my last days. But, for whatever reason, the big red bottles kept coming from the drugstore, and -- between the fever and the whiskey and the codeine -- I spent nearly two years of my childhood submerged in a pretty powerfully altered state of consciousness.

When I remember those years, the long, drugged afternoons lying in bed, or the black winter mornings swaying dreamily at my desk (for the codeine bottle, along with the licorice medicine, accompanied me to school), I realize that I knew, even then, that the languorous undersea existence through which I drifted was peculiar to myself and understood by no one around me. Hiss of gas heater, sleepy scrape of chalk on blackboard. I saw desolate, volcanic landscapes stirring in the wood grain of the desk in front of me; a stained-glass window in the place of a taped-up piece of construction paper. A wadded paper bag, left over from someone's lunch, would metamorphose into a drowsy brown hedgehog, snoozing sweetly by the garbage can.

7:39 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Seller's market for fine art: waiting lists and open checkbooks required for that piece you want . . . next year

6:58 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Nice little tempting review of Talk to Her

1:29 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

New Sterling & Gibson

Bruce Sterling's new non-fiction Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next Fifty Years is just out.

William Gibson's Pattern Recognition is due in February. There's an excerpt on his website. One review calls it "doubtless his best work since Count Zero. . ." Appears to be set in the near-present.

This is a new Gibson site I guess. There are links to a blog and Q & A, but no content yet.

I've added music links for artist's sites and sites on writers and books at left. The choices reflect what I've so far come upon and writers/musicians I like.

4:20 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Friday, December 27, 2002

R.I.P. George Roy Hill

While I liked Butch Cassidy and Garp and even Thoroughly Modern Millie (I was a kid) at the time, I think Slaughterhouse-Five is my favorite of his films. That I've seen anyway. It actually did justice to the book.

Though I never got through The World of Harry Orient, that was pretty good for its time too.

Not a bad record.

4:31 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

The "new Gutenberg"

A while back -- way back when I posted to Metafilter -- someone pointed me to The Noise of Culture : Literary Texts in a World of Information by William Paulson referring to Brian Eno's comments about noise and music in his "diary". I was looking for info on it since a cheap copy came up on half.com (it's an expensive textbook for graduate studies mostly, apparently). That led me to this review of the first edition of Jay David Bolter's Writing Space: The Computer, Hypertext, and the History of Writing, which inspired Eno to call him "the new Gutenberg".

Another expensive text in its second edition, which of course updates the first considerably, since the first came out in '91. There's (natch) a $10 e-text available (see title link above), but only for Macs.

Anyway, looks like it's up there with Kevin Kelly's Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems and the Economic World, Eric Davis's Techgnosis and Frances Cairncross's The Death of Distance: How the Communications Revolution Will Change Our Lives on my list of ...whatever you call books like this, that I want to read.

There really isn't enough time.

Anyway -- funny how that circled back to Eno, eh?

4:40 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Stephen Holden on The Hours

Have to admit this has been a better year for films than I've recently seen. It's still a handful of what are probably very good films with a big dropoff after, though.

1:56 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Thursday, December 26, 2002

Dan Savage defies the Behavior Police
"No one ever spoke up for the sinners," he says. "No one will come to the defense of pot smokers. No one will come to the defense of adulterer. I wanted to put those things in a book and throw it back in (conservatives') faces."

Skipping Towards Gomorrah does just that as Savage takes a road trip exploring -- and often partaking in -- the seven deadly sins with regular practitioners of the moral offenses.

"There's no shortage of people in this country who will not shut up about their private lives," he says. "A lot of people are sick of being told they're sinners. This is going to sound awful. I picked sins that had appeal to me. I may be the only American who got to write off his prostitution bills last year."

3:18 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

David Sterritt's picks of the end-of-year harvest of films

Here's a couple you might not have heard of:
The Believer, directed by Henry Bean. This trailblazing indie drama had trouble reaching theaters at all with its disturbing fact-based story of a Jewish neo-Nazi, brilliantly played by Ryan Gosling, who argues for his repellent convictions with the skill of a preacher and the intensity of a master demagogue. A more timely exploration of real-world bigotry is hard to imagine.

In Praise of Love, directed by Jean-Luc Godard. The most revolutionary cinematic maverick of the '60s has grown more unpredictable with the passing years. His latest feature has an elliptical story - about a restless movie director, an elusive actress, and an elderly couple with a haunted past - along with an unfliching moral sense and an unconventional structure. It's puzzling, challenging, and passionate. Which means it's quintessential Godard from start to finish.

3:08 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

The Payphone Project

Obviously a labor of love, the listings might be a little out of date -- the Arizona page doesn't have the 3 new area codes added in the last year or two.

There are also some photos of payphones around the world (like this solar-powered one in Uganda's Lake Victoria) and recent references to a disappearing technology in the media.

Like most people I've had mixed feelings about payphones. But I'm in no rush to get a cell. Hardly ever talk to anybody on the phone anyway.

12:27 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Wednesday, December 25, 2002

New Massive Attack 100th Window is out in England I take it; in the states in February [melody nelson]

Only 1 original member apparently. Still, I liked Mezzanine a lot. Have to sample it.

5:52 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

For Christmas observers
Harmony In My Head

Whenever I'm in doubt about things I do
I listen to the high street wailing sounds in a queue
I go out for my walking sailing social news
Don't let it get me down I'm long in the tooth

When I'm out in the open clattering shoppers around
The neon signs that take your eyes to town
Your thoughts are chosen your world is advertising now
And extravagance matters to worshippers of the pound

But it's a harmony in my head
It's a harmony in my head

The tortured faces expression out aloud
And life's little ironies seem so obvious now
Your cashed in cheques have placed the payments down
And there's a line of buses all wait to take you out

But it's a harmony in my head
It's a harmony in my head
It's a...

It's a harmony in my head
It's a harmony in my head
It's a harmony in my head
It's a harmony in my head

Whenever I'm in doubt about things I do
I listen to the high street wailing sounds in a queue
I go out for my walking sailing social news
Don't let it get me down I'm long in the tooth

'Cos it's a harmony in my head
It's a harmony in my head
It's a harmony in my head
It's a harmony in my head

-- Buzzcocks (Steve Diggle)
[thanks to The World According to Ralph]

3:16 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Not only does McCartney want his name first in Beatle songwriting credits, now he's been granted his own coat of arms

All Hail the Emperor of Pop.

Long may he rust.

2:05 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Now this I'd love to see
"Pink Flag" with stage direction & design by Jake & Dinos Chapman.

"send" with stage direction & design by Es Devlin

WIRE recorded their first album "Pink Flag" for EMI in 1977. With 21 songs in 35 minutes, it has become one of, if not THE, seminal art punk records of the '70's. Since their inception, WIRE's work has been defined by an inability to stand still. Through punk, psychedelia, and various twisted pop and experimental electronica, the band has remained in the musical vanguard (despite having disbanded twice for several years) whilst still creating a plethora of solo recordings, including music for dancer Michael Clark & more recently, writer Iain Sinclair's films & spoken word events.

Performed for the first time ever in its entirety by WIRE, who better to tackle the presentation of the art-punk icon Pink Flag than contemporary visual artists Jake & Dinos Chapman,who themselves make this their theatrical design debut.
Of course I'd need hundreds of dollars and a way to Cross Borders in our Craven New World.

Anyway, I can listen to the Wire EPs, which is like grabbing hold of a live high-voltage...cable.

The send full length comes out next year.
"send" embodies WIRE's latest work, broadly self described as Third Millennium Punk, it is rare to find such diverse publications in agreement as Artforum, MOJO, New York Times, the NME & The Independent that this is their best work to date.
If you haven't heard this material, do so immediately.

2:30 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Monday, December 23, 2002

R.I.P. Joe Strummer

I can't believe this.
[Billy] Bragg said his political imagination had been fired by Strummer, after seeing the Clash at a famed Rock Against Racism show in east London's Victoria Park.

"I have a great admiration for the man," he said. "His most recent records are as political and edgy as anything he did with the Clash. His take on multicultural Britain in the 21st century is far ahead of anybody else," he told the BBC. "Without Joe, there's no political Clash and without the Clash the whole political edge of punk would have been severely dulled."
Too soon.

Thanks, Joe.

6:11 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

AOpen's PC audio card based on vacuum tube tech is getting mixed reviews

Anyone tried it?

6:03 PM - [Link] - Comments ()


Reading about the re-issue of Gary Lutz's Stories in the Worst Way (published by 3rd bed), I found reference to his literary web site 5_trope


1:38 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

I'll never read the definitive new book on the Battle for Leningrad in WWII, but the statistics on the Eastern Front campaign mentioned in this review are numbing
The clash between the Wehrmacht and the Red Army was the largest and most ferocious war in history. The main scene of the Nazis' defeat, the Eastern Front claimed 88 percent of all German casualties in the Second World War, and the death of as many as 35 million Soviet civilians and 14.7 million Soviet soldiers. The armies struggled over vast territory, in a seemingly unremitting series of battles of unprecedented scope: in a single battle, at Kursk (the largest in history), at least 1.5 million Soviets and Germans fought.

1:11 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Don't think I've ever even heard of Alasdair Gray's Lanark, but I think it might be a good read for me, being an anti-bildungsroman

12:55 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Sunday, December 22, 2002

The Ghost Parking Lot Project

Cars were buried in asphalt in 1978 in a Hamden CT parking lot as a SITE project. They look different now.
While this Pompeii parade may have been a telling Statement in 1978, it has since decayed into a crusty eyesore -- exactly the kind of Sci Fi End Times effect we appreciate. The asphalt on top of the cars is crumbling -- torn up by skateboarders and the elements? -- and exposing rusting sheet metal beneath. Weeds grow wherever the rot is most pronounced; abandoned shopping carts litter the area.
Back then America seemed way above the clouds, untouchable.

Now the site seems positively gothic. Check the short QT driveby.

11:03 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

I hadn't heard of Samantha Morton when I saw Jesus' Son on HBO early this year -- but I've been following her career very closely since then

That was a fairly dark and challenging but rewarding movie, but she and Billy Crudup really worked it. That girl has some rage to call on. . .

Aside from her new film Morvern Callar sounding like it might be one of the more interesting films of the year, the soundtrack looks pretty damn cool too. (I enjoy Aphex and BoC more in the context of a movie than by themselves myself.)

Back to Samantha: I might even rent Sweet and Lowdown now, and try to hunt down Under the Skin at the local video stores. Callar probably won't make it anywhere near here, but I'll wait for the tape.

3:32 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

What Not To Wear

Judgement TV moves to the wardrobe, adding class terror to the mix

3:01 PM -
[Link] - Comments ()

"a Breughel painting come to life"

A O Scott's review of Gangs of New York

That quote would get me in the theatre all by itself. But the fresh historical context (for anyone but historians) of the New York draft riots of 1863 in American history would make this essential viewing for anyone interested in American history anyway.

Though GoNY is far from dry history:
The New York evoked in Amsterdam's voice-over is "a city full of tribes and war chiefs," whose streets are far meaner than any Mr. Scorsese has contemplated before. The Butcher has formed an alliance of convenience with Boss Tweed (Jim Broadbent), the kingpin of Tammany Hall, and together they administer an empire of graft, extortion and larceny that would put any 20th-century movie gangster or political boss to shame. Rival fire companies turn burning buildings into sites of rioting and plunder; crowds gather to witness hangings, bare-knuckled boxing contests and displays of knife throwing.

As new immigrants, from Ireland and elsewhere, pour off the ships in New York harbor, they are mustered into Tweed's Democratic Party and then, since they lack the $300 necessary to buy their way out, into the Union Army. Occasionally a detachment of reform-minded swells will tour the Points, availing themselves of the perennial privileges of squeamish titillation and easy moral superiority. This anarchic inferno is, in Amsterdam's words, not so much a city as "a cauldron in which a great city might be forged."
Years in preparation, this could easily be Scorsese's masterpiece, and would be worth seeing for that alone.

As Scott mentions, the POV of women is given short shrift here, and Kevin Baker's book Paradise Alley (which I've posted about) would be a great companion piece to the film, I'm sure.

9:57 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Saturday, December 21, 2002

Good exposition of Esalen's history and future
Ambivalence and feelings of irrelevance nearly closed Esalen, but what truly threatened its existence was the El Nino storm of 1998. Only Mother Nature can crush serendipity so well, and four years ago, on Feb. 6, 1998 Esalen was crushed near to death.

Lashing storms cut off Big Sur from all points north and south when landslides knocked sections of Highway 1 into the sea. All local industry was starved of cash flow and reduced to three months of feeble survival. Esalen, always living for the now and not the future, took an additional, stunning blow: Tons and tons of earth slid into its famous hot springs, destroying Esalen's crown jewel and fountain of youth. As if that wasn't enough comeuppance, three months of isolation bled the books until the institute was awash in red ink.

"We exhausted any reserves we had and we went into debt," Price says. "That opened us up to a new vulnerability."


A fundraising staff and office has been set up in Novato to pay off the baths, find the money to bankroll Esalen's massive $15 million design makeover and the extra $10 million for cash reserves and more programming. To be asking for money now, in what are less than boom times, is bad timing.

"It's new territory for us in thinking that far ahead and asking for help, and it's new to the 300,000 alumni to be asked," says Nusbaum. "There's some trepidation from all of us. How will this affect the nature of Esalen? That's a consciousness we're very aware of. We're doing it in a way that protects the things that make Esalen what it is."

As it is today, there are generally 250 people at Esalen at any one time: 110 seminarians or short term guests; 38 work scholars there for a month at a time; 34 work scholars there for extended stays; and 50 gardeners, cooks, administrators, instructors and "bodyworkers." Where Esalen used to slow down in the winter, much like resort towns, now it hums year-round.

Under the new designs, human capacity won't grow but its capacity for sewage must. Although there have reportedly been no leaks or spills, the septic tanks and leach fields are full.

12:36 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Family360: management seminar as family therapy [Undernews, see last post]

Yes, it's that bad.
The Family360 process starts with the executive's spouse, children and in some cases his parents and siblings filling out a detailed questionnaire in which they evaluate the subject both quantitatively -- scoring him from 1 to 7 on, say, how well he "helps create enjoyable family traditions" and "uses a kind voice when speaking" -- and qualitatively, listing "three to five positive attributes" and "two things you want this person to do less." The data are then analyzed by LeaderWorks, and the results are sent to the executive in a "growth summary" report that presents his family's concerns in the form of bar graphs and pie charts and identifies "focus areas" for special attention ("paying attention to personal feelings," "solving problems without getting angry").

The next step is for the executive to convene a Family360 Council around the dining-room table, an "upbeat and constructive" feedback session where the executive expresses "gratitude for everyone's help" and invites the family "to jointly create a Development Plan to strengthen family relationships." The company also provides an "investment guide" with hundreds of specific actions that let you connect with your family as efficiently as possible: buy a speakerphone for the home so that you can join in on family game night when you're on the road; go for a walk with your child every day, even if it's only to the end of the driveway; create "communication opportunities" while doing the dishes with your spouse or waiting in line with your child at the store.
And you thought J G Ballard was being coy proclaiming that business memos were the literature of the future in A User's Guide to the Millennium: Essays and Reviews.

Anthropologists will study this stuff. First they'll shake their heads, jaws wide in amazement. Then they'll splatter tears of laughter on their digital notepads and, eyes blurry, note how the Knights Templar/Business Coven model of social interaction persisted through the turn of the 21st century, as the Dark Ages of Monetary Servitude and Mind Control finally lurched to a close.

2:29 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

By turns abrasive, hilarious and just plain weak and unfair, the List of the 50 Most Loathsome People in America by the former eXile team, now in Buffalo (which I'm sure will improve their pleasantness index) [Undernews Dec 16]

Misdeeds: Wherever he ends up placed on this list will not be high enough. This motherfucker carries G.W. Bush's demon seed in his anal womb, gestates a fresh offspring a couple times a day and produces a few Rosemary's steamers at press conferences with all the non-chalance of a Spot Coffee latte jerk. Fleischer is the very bold assertion, by the powers that be, that Americans and their media representatives are too whip-shy to just say, "Wait a fucking minute. You're telling a goddamned lie, Fleischie." He is a brazen challenge from the tri-laterals and Bildenbergs, etc., that they know that we, as the TV umbilical-cable-dependent, won't do anything to jeopardize our little no-compulsory-military-service, double-mocha-under-a-self-contained, climate-controlled indoor-suburban-shopping-theme-park-with-a-Botox-safety-net dream.

Aggravating Factor: He is less life-like than every other who has stood in his rank. Within weeks, there promises to be empirical evidence that Fleischer was produced by the same laboratory that gave us Nixon tron John Dean.

Aesthetic: C3PO melded with Carson Daly operating off a modified Charles Grodin chip.

1:55 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Thursday, December 19, 2002

From Undernews Dec 13 (archive unavailable right now)
SASHA ABRAMSKY, CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION - In 1999, the British Home Office conducted a study estimating that the United States now plays host to close to one-quarter of the world's prisoners. The only countries that have an incarceration rate approaching that of the United States are Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine. "In tandem with this, a strange cultural 'normalization' of prison and of the process of arrest and prosecution leading up to prison has been occurring. "Epitomized by the content of much rap music, by the HBO series 'Oz,' by Fox TV's 'Cops,' or in a more nuanced vein, by the various NBC 'Law & Order' spinoffs, this has gone beyond traditional voyeuristic fascination and media preoccupation with crime and punishment that America arguably inherited from the 18th-century English, with their broadsheets touting public hangings and epic crimes. We have come to accept as normal incarceration rates that would have seemed the unlikely progeny of a dystopian fantasy a mere generation ago. And we have come to regard arrest, prosecution and imprisonment as fundamental props of our mass culture.
One of my cardinal rules of TV watching is no shows with cops, lawyers or doctors. Americans are fascinated by watching people get punished and/or judged on TV. The connection with UK history mentioned above helped me understand the obsession.

It still seems to me like a weird kink to enjoy this stuff. I supposed people didn't have respectable authority figures in their lives and needed the guidance, but the spectacle of the Scapegoat goes way back, right?

The Big Dog needs the Sacrifice, once again. . .

The incarceration levels in the US and the whole private prison thing is a whole 'nother thing.

11:25 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Online Eno Shop opens [Nerve Net/Tom Boon of EnoWeb]

Offering recent limited release pieces from installations etc., the Oblique Strategies card set and the catalog from the I Dormienti collaboration with Mimmo Palladino

And a new collaboration with his brother: a set of organ exercises on piano, with alterations.

Mp3 samples of some tracks included. Discs run about $22.38 including shipping for the US.

'Bout time.

2:24 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Monday, December 16, 2002

L.A. Film Critics' Awards

More along expected lines: About Schmidt got Best Picture, Nicholson and Day-Lewis shared Best Actor. Julianne Moore won for Far From Heaven and The Hours.

Pedro Almodovar picked up Best Director for Talk to Her and Edie Falco won Supporting Actress for Sunshine State.

Spirited Away won Best Animation, which from what I hear is well-deserved.

Y Tu Mama Tambien got Best Foreign Film from both groups.

2:01 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

New York Film Critics' Awards

Surprises: Best Actress -- Diane Lane (Unfaithful); Daniel Day-Lewis (Gangs of New York) over Nicholson (About Schmidt) for Best Actor (surprise for me anyway, and that just on hearsay). Of course, Nicholson has his share of Oscars, etc.

Far From Heaven got 5 awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.

1:33 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

How to be a philosopher [Undernews]
Technique 1

Begin by making a spurious distinction. Befuddle the reader with your analytic wizardry. The reader will enter a logical trance, from which she will be unable to recall the initial spurious distinction and will feel strangely compelled to accept your conclusions.

1:07 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Sunday, December 15, 2002

Alexander Sokurov's Russian Ark is "one of the most dazzling movies ever made" according to David Sterritt
On the 23rd of December an unprecedented event will take place in St Petersburg. Inside the Hermitage the film director, Alexander Sokurov, will shoot a feature-length film, The Russian Ark, in an hour and a half of real time. The camera will be switched on and ninety minutes later switched off after proceeding through thirty-five rooms, crossing four centuries, and re-enacting history on the grand scale by means of an array of sophisticated effects. As many as eight hundred and fifty actors and extras will take part in some of the scenes in this unique production.
An hour and a half in one take. Yikes.

I doubt it will play in these parts, but it could be quite an experience. Maybe the Sedona IMAX?

9:10 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

BBC 7 starts today

With The Goon Show, Dr. Who, and audio books like The Shipping News.

4:25 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Saturday, December 14, 2002

Norwegian band Cato Salsa Experience (A Good Tip For A Good Time on Emperor Norton) gets a grant from the Norwegian government to tour the US as cultural emissaries

5:39 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

"Some trying to flee burst into flames..."

Now mostly forgotten, the Peshtigo Fire in Wisconsin (October 7, 1871) was one of the worst natural disasters in US history
[Asylum Eclectica, "Morbid Fact du Jour -- Oct 27"]

The extensive site at the second link above claims it was the worst, but I can think of one right off the top of my head that had 4 times the deaths: the Galveston hurricane of 1900. Damage-wise I'm not sure.

There may be others as well. But late 19th century Wisconsin was pretty bleak, to say the least.

I recommend both those books highly, BTW.

5:23 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Good advice
24 asks a lot of us, or at least of our time, which is one reason why its ratings have never matched its reviews. Here's what I suggest. Watch it on tape, skip the commercials, and thus shrink the running time to about 18 hours. Then fast-forward through the absurd child-abuse plot (where most of the information can be followed visually anyway, even at triple speed) and you're now down to about 14 hours. 14 is a damn good television show. [ink]

11:32 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Nicholson's "strongest work in 20 years"

Looks like the director and writer behind Election and Citizen Ruth have made another winner: About Schmidt (contains some spoilers)
Very loosely based on a novel by Louis Begley, About Schmidt marks the third collaboration between director Payne and screenwriting partner Jim Taylor, whose shared vision of ordinary people keeps getting deeper and more compassionate. Their first film, Citizen Ruth (1996), was a laugh-out-loud satire of abortion activists, pro and con, that put a premium on meanness. They took a huge leap forward with Election, one of the '90s' finest comedies, which tempered its satiric edge with a melancholy that many viewers didn't notice. But the bleakness and poignancy are inescapable in About Schmidt, a character study that has the emotional richness of the great Italian and Eastern European films of the 1960s, in which humor and pathos rode up and down on the seesaw together.

Payne and Taylor are nothing if not funny, and they lace About Schmidt with terrific gags about Hummel figurines, toilet etiquette in a Winnebago, the wallowing-pig slapstick of Schmidt boarding his first waterbed, and their ear for comic speech is pitch perfect ("Heck, a business degree from Drake ought to be worth something"). Once Schmidt starts driving the Nebraska barrens, the movie seemingly takes on the loping looseness of a road picture. But, in fact, everything is carefully structured...

11:27 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

"Still so out of reach"

Site devoted to getting Neil Young's On the Beach reissued
[close your eyes]

10:54 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Nice short gush/interview on Far From Heaven, concept-wise

1:58 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Friday, December 13, 2002

R.I.P. Mary Hansen

I blow hot and cold with Stereolab, but I was fond of them. Very sad. Shared my birthday too, I see.

8:11 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

New book intriguing: The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque by Jeffrey Ford
Prophesying with snowflakes? A stunning she-ape? Jeffrey Ford's eccentrically satisfying The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque is the story of Piambo, a middle-aged painter commissioned to paint Mrs. Charbuque's portrait based only on her ridiculous stories and random clues. Piambo can ask questions about her as long as it's not about Mrs. Charbuque's physical characteristics. Samantha, Piambo's girlfriend, suggests: "Ask her about these four things: her lovers, her greatest fear, her greatest desire, and the worst day of her life."

Although the task seems impossible, it represents for Piambo the chance to make enough money to abandon a life of soulless, upper-class portraiture and return to true art. (He only gets paid, however, if he succeeds.) The motives of Mrs. Charbuque are as much a mystery as her appearance.

3:57 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Thursday, December 12, 2002

The new oral history of Saturday Night Live has good dish and a lot more apparently

I thought SNL was funny sometimes, but I was never a fan like a lot of people. Monty Python spoiled me. And I've never really liked what little I've read or heard of Tom Shales.

But even just as an engaging cultural history, I'll probably read this, since it sounds so well done.

11:38 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

"Bach is dead"

I remember getting the Residents' EP Duck Stab when I worked in a record store in the late 70s. They're great, but I never listen to them.

Maybe you should though. They're kind of a national treasure.

10:56 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Roger Dodger looks worth seeing, but I'll wait for the video

10:52 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Illegal Art [Undernews]

A fine example (over 18 only).

Mp3s too.

10:32 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Here's an diverting list of movies and their related metaphysical references & tarot archetypes

A bit hinky on the details, like Lolita is far from Sellers first film, but interesting nonetheless.

Got this from someone finding my site through search for "Dali & occult".

11:54 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

For charging the canvas readers

Something is wiggy with the blog, only the very last post is showing up. Please bear with me.

12:19 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Some good tips on secure online buying

Though none of the 3 cards that I use are part of the Verify by VISA program, which protects your account if someone hacks the merchant's files.

3:01 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

c|net has their mp3 juke comparison page updated

Looks like the Creative Nomad Jukebox 3 takes the cake -- unless you have a Mac, in which case I don't have to tell you.

The 20GB juke -- especially if you have the faster connections -- seems to make more sense than the DVD player with mp3 disc capabilities now. Unfortunately, you can get a DVD player as low as $50, whereas the Nomad for instance is at least $200, the iPod twice that.

You can also hook up your digi-cam to the Archos juke, and output it to a TV.

1:45 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Monday, December 09, 2002

The edgy charm of cheap hotels [floating wreckage: jettisoned cargo]

2:16 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Sunday, December 08, 2002

More evidence Portland OR is becoming a mecca for young creatives [Undernews]

I'm getting a good feeling about Portland.

11:44 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Beelzebozo's back

2 new Bill Hicks albums

One unreleased tracks, one the first in a series of complete live shows.

If you don't know him, you should. I think he was bigger in Britain than here.

Got Susan the Sane Man video for her birthday last month. It's good, but not for newbies. Try the Rant in E Minor CD instead.

If anyone has the HBO Special recorded in England, please let me know.

5:25 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

via close your eyes
The Mobius Band and cye's comments.

A la jolie . . . pas du tout (with Amélie's Audrey Tautou) and original post. A less impressed critic.

and a defense of Seventeen Seconds as the best Cure album. (I wouldn't know, but I'll check it out...Had Disintegration on tape back in the 80s. Never was a big fan.)

5:14 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Saturday, December 07, 2002

Adaptation sounds glorious -- if it's watchable at all
Is Adaptation self-indulgent? Undoubtedly. That, in part, is its subject. To the degree that it's a movie about the writing process, and the writer's dilemma -- caught between analytical detachment on the one hand and obsessive overidentification with one's characters on the other -- I'm not sure that anyone other than working writers will care much. But it's hard to imagine audiences not warming to this willfully convoluted movie's broader themes: love, longing, incompleteness, envy, family, and the desire to find comfort and structure in a comfortless, structureless world. In the end, Orlean discovers her life's true passion, and so -- following an insight that properly belongs in one of the less reputable self-help manuals, but manages to come off as brave and quixotic -- does Charlie.

6:09 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Chairs missing?

Amy Taubin misses the old Robert Wilson

I wouldn't know, didn't get to much performance work like this (except for Twyla Tharp, and Laurie Anderson's United States I-IV). But I've always been fascinated by Wilson since I heard about Einstein on the Beach (because Glass did the score I guess) back in the 70s. I'm sure any of his work would be perception-altering and stimulating, unless the deliberateness made you fidgety.
This Woyzeck is visually elegant and mean as spit. It depicts a world no one would want to live in and leaves you with the sinking suspicion that perhaps we all do.

It's the sheer nastiness of the production that makes it such a disturbing contrast to the work that Wilson did during the first decade of his career. My memory of those spectacles -- The King of Spain (1969), The Life and Times of Sigmund Freud (1969), Deafman Glance (1970-71), The Life and Times of Joseph Stalin (1973), and Einstein on the Beach (1976) -- is of their overwhelming tenderness and their slightly scary, dreamlike quality.

Wilson found what was potentially arresting in each of his performers, many of whom were nonprofessionals. There was Sheryl Sutton, the Medea figure of the four-hour-long Deafman Glance, standing impossibly erect in her high-necked black Victorian dress and moving in slow motion as she took a knife to her children. There was Cynthia Lubar, screaming in what sounded like a half-dozen voices at once in Letter for Queen Victoria. There was Andy de Groat, spinning like a Sufi -- so fast that he turned into a blur of white light. There was Wilson himself doing a kind of spastic dance in which every joint of his body seemed to move independently or leading a chorus of 60 dancing mammies in doo-rags and blackface, all of them hovering at the far side of the stage as if they knew they barely had to show themselves to make an impact.
Wilson's last 3 works (The Black Rider, Alice and the current Woyzeck) have all been collaborations with Tom Waits. Black Rider: The Casting of the Magic Bullets also had William Burroughs' text and Woyzeck Waits' wife Kathleen Brennan's text.

I'd particularly like to see Black Rider because of the collaborators and the "story".

Shit, now I'm looking through his site and I want to just fall into this until I "get" it.

This always happens.

5:17 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Friday, December 06, 2002

Liquid Audio dissolves

2:14 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Toyota, Honda deliver first zero-emission hydrogen cars

1:07 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Thursday, December 05, 2002

UK novelist Wendy Perriam -- nominated an unprecedented 3 times -- finally wins "Bad Sex in Fiction" award

2:45 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

National Board of Review names '02 winners

The Hours, Adaptation, Philip Noyce (The Quiet American, Rabbit-Proof Fence), Far From Heaven, Roger Dodger among winners.

2:38 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Nice tinted Landsat images

The large size versions are a long download.

2:33 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

I remember reading about the "thunder fridge" a while back: scientists backed by Ben & Jerry develop sonic fridge to eliminate freon dependency

It's may also be more reliable because it has fewer moving parts.

The sound level within the pressurized gas chamber is 173 decibels -- loud enough to make your hair catch fire.

2:12 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Sterritt caveats prospective Solaris viewers
Strong echoes of both Tarkovsky and Kubrick surge through Soderbergh's movie, which breaks every rule of Hollywood filmmaking except the one of choosing a major star - handsome George Clooney - to play the leading role.

Its mood is slow, quiet, and dreamlike. This gives it a persistently offbeat tone even when it takes on familiar sci-fi themes, including the question of whether synthetic humans are as "real" as the people they're patterned on.


None of this will comfort Clooney fans who want to see him run the usual gamut of movie-star maneuvers.

It doesn't help that Twentieth Century Fox is promoting the picture as a regular space opera, with James Cameron's name in huge letters (the "Titanic" mogul was one of its producers) and ads that make it look like a steamy love story, to boot.

The film's real appeal won't be to Clooney fans or adventure buffs, but to moviegoers who enjoy thinking about compelling questions with no easy answers.
More for people who've seen Tarkovsky's version and/or read the Stanislaw Lem book, than people looking for the usual attention-deficit Hollywood fare.

Metacritic summaries here.

The chemistry between the leads leaves something to be desired I hear. And making a film like this work as what it is, requires a visionary.

I'm not sure Soderbergh -- good filmmaker that he is -- is a visionary.

But I'll watch it on tape anyway, since Lem's story is one of the those few metaphysically wise works that I treasure.

10:35 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Still time to sign up for a web-side seat to African eclipse totality later tonight

Cost ya $9.95, but you get extras: movie download, wallpapers, hi-rez stills, etc.

Next one: 2030.

9:50 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Interesting ranch in Utah stumps paranormal researchers
There's a strange 480 acre ranch in Utah, purchased in 1996 by the National Institute for Discovery Science, where hundreds of witnesses, over several decades, have seen UFOs, balls of light, animal mutilations, poltergeist events and Bigfoot-like creatures since the 1950s.

3:35 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

TCM is running a retrospective of Ealing Studios this month

If you haven't seen the classic Alec Guinness comedies they produced in the 40s-50s, do so this month.

The Ladykillers (with Peter Sellers)

Kind Hearts and Coronets

Not as sublime but still worth seeing:

The Man in the White Suit

The Lavender Hill Mob

4:16 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Bravo to run "Smothered: The Censorship Struggles of 'The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour'" on Wednesday

3:04 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

You can now pick up or return books, CDs and DVDs you buy at amazon at Borders

2:40 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Monday, December 02, 2002

Funny blurb on the new Crichton novel, Prey
Now, I could be really mean and point out that lines such as "I read confusion on her face" and "I left the room, feeling odd" have no business being in any book, even a manifestly commercial genre novel, but Crichton is not an author to be evaluated on the poetry of his sentences, nor should the genre be evaluated thusly. And while there's no genuine feeling evidenced anywhere in Prey, we knew that already, too: Crichton does emotion like Al Gore does emotion. He's a terrible writer, but we do learn a lot about algorithms and systems here. And how many novels can you say that about?

4:13 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

The Guardian uncovers evidence the FBI extensively surveilled Graham Greene (The Quiet American)

If you're not familiar with the fellow, he was a prominent English author (the Vatican tried to get him to change the character of a priest in The Power and the Glory) who worked under double agent Kim Philby of MI6 in the 40s.

12:46 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Sunday, December 01, 2002

Universities desperately try to plug holes in crumbling dam holding back student file-sharers

I'm sure you've heard about the RIAA stealing the PCs of 100 cadets at the Naval Academy last week. Most schools are "not emulating" Annapolis, but trying other methods, which KaZaa & co -- and resourceful downloaders -- immmediately find ways around.

It does seem that they're starting to get the message that there are better things to do with their money and time than chase music lovers.

4:20 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Nice pics of Etna volcano's eruption, effects [Undernews]

Unless you live in the way.

4:06 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

The Trio channel is premiering their "Brilliant, But Cancelled" series of critically lauded but doomed TV series this month

The list is pared down from 150, but I wish "Maximum Bob" (which like "United States" featured Beau Bridges) was in the bunch. Can't even remember all the series that looked good and got trashcanned over the years.

I would like to get the complete "Family Guy" and "The Oblongs" on tape or disc, as well as "Daria."

Hopefully this idea will catch on. There sure as hell isn't much to watch these days. And TV is due to get the "Rock N Roll Hall of Fame" canonization treatment, now that the medium as we know it is pretty much over. In terms of audience and cultural wattage anyway.

And I wish I got the damn channel.
Here's the Not-Exactly-A-Hit Parade of nine such series hidden from sight since their original airings - with some never-before-seen episodes part of the mix (for days and times, check the Web site for Trio, a popular-arts channel that reaches 17 million viewers):

- "Ernie Kovacs Show" (Originally aired Dec. 1952-April 1953 on CBS; six episodes to be re-aired). TV's most avant-garde comedian to this day, Kovacs recognized no limits to the technical limitations of the young medium as he frolicked in his "hallucinatory world" of visual wit.

- "East Side/West Side" (Sept. 1963-Sept. 1964 on CBS; 10 episodes). Violating "every sacred tenet for television success" (a critic raved at its premiere), this gritty, filmed-on-location drama starred George C. Scott as a New York social worker, with Cicely Tyson in the first recurring role for a black woman on a dramatic series.

- "Kolchak: The Night Stalker" (Sept. 1974-Aug. 1975 on ABC; six episodes). Two decades before "The X-Files," whose creator credits it as an influence, this eerie drama starred Darren McGavin as a crime reporter who keeps tripping over the bizarre and supernatural.

- "United States" (March-April 1980 on NBC; five episodes). This uncommonly smart comedy about married life starred Beau Bridges and Helen Shaver, and was created by Larry Gelbart ("M-A-S-H").

- "The Famous Teddy Z" (Sept. 1989-May 1990 on CBS; 13 episodes). This too-close-to-the-bone comedy starred Jon Cryer as a mailroom worker who becomes a top Hollywood agent overnight.

- "Profit" (April 1996 on Fox; eight episodes). Adrian Pasdar starred as a ruthless young executive in this chilling yet sometimes chillingly funny drama, which had the misfortune to arrive a few years before companies like Enron would prepare the public for its premise: There are no depths to which big business won't sink.

- "Gun" (April-May 1997 on ABC; six episodes). An anthology series created and produced by Robert Altman, it has only one recurring player: a pearl-handled pistol that falls into the possession of each week's set of characters.

- "Now and Again" (Sept. 1999-May 2000 on CBS; 10 episodes). This endearingly odd sci-fi-romance-suspense-drama starred Eric Close as a $3 billion genetically engineered man who is being tested by the government - but misses his flesh-and-blood family at home.

- "Action" (Sept.-Dec. 1999 on Fox; 13 episodes). A corrosively funny look at Hollywood filmmaking, it starred Jay Mohr as an insufferably ambitious producer and Ileana Douglas as his child-star-turned-hooker-turned-studio-VP.

2:01 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Adaptation looks intriguing

I liked Being John Malkovich, but not as much as a lot of people. This could be a lot better.

1:52 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Welles' Touch of Evil -- the Murchified "Director's Cut" it appears -- is on TCM this Wednesday evening

Still haven't gotten the book of interviews between Murch and Michael Ondaatje I mentioned a while back. Here's some links to other articles and interviews with this underexposed and brilliant artist.

I've seen this film so many times, but it gets better with age. Remarkably contemporary, and raw even now. One of the best noirs.

1:35 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

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Rarely has reality needed so much to be imagined. --Chris Marker