Friday, April 29, 2011

shitbat crazy

A teen-ager showed me the song "Leather and Lace" (Stevie Nicks and Don Henley), on You Tube. (Thanks, kid, I heard it when it came out!) [That doesn't need to be said. Instead, "Wow! What a great song! Thanks!"]
Under the song, the Comments -- from people across the planet -- of course incorporate some sort of "voting" -- "like" or "dislike" the song.
That actually seems kind of unproductive, to me.
I guess they ("they" -- whomever is "running" the internet) consider thumbs-up-or-thumbs-down to be a starting point for conversation.
A few people, of course, commented in that they didn't "like" the song.
And someone typed this comment:

"You have to be shitbat crazy not to like this song!"

shitbat crazy...
is a phrase I had not heard before. Seems Genius, to me, somehow ...
I think Jack Kerouac would have liked that phrase and would have worked it into On The Road, had he known about it.

Like -- from the excerpt below, it could have read,
"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time -- the ones who are shitbat crazy, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing..."

[excerpt, Kerouac - On The Road]-----------
...I shambled after as I've been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes "Awww!" ...Wanting dearly to learn how to write like Carlo, the first thing you know, Dean was attacking him with a great amorous soul such as only a con-man can have. "Now, Carlo, let me speak -- here's what I'm saying..."

...Then came spring, the great time of traveling, and everybody in the scattered gang was getting ready to take one trip or another. ...I was busily at work on my novel ...Dean was wearing a real Western business suit for his big trip back to Denver; he'd finished his first fling in New York. I say fling, but he only worked like a dog in parking lots. The most fantastic parking-lot attendant in the world, he can back a car forty miles an hour into a tight squeeze and stop at the wall, jump out, race among fenders, leap into another car, circle it fifty miles an hour in a narrow space, back swiftly into tight spot, hump, snap the car with the emergency so that you see it bounce as he flies out; then clear to the ticket shack, sprinting like a track star, hand a ticket, leap into a newly arrived car before the owner's half out, leap literally under him as he steps out, start the car with the door flapping, and roar off to the next available spot, arc, pop in, brake, out, run; working like that without pause eight hours a night, evening rush hours and after-theater rush hours, in greasy pants with a frayed fur-lined jacket and beat shoes that flap. Now he'd bought a new suit to go back in; blue with pencil stripes, vest and all -- eleven dollars on Third Avenue, with a watch and watch chain, and a portable typewriter with which he was going to start writing in a Denver rooming house as soon as he got a job there.

...I promised myself to go the same way when spring really bloomed and opened up the land.
And this was really the way that my whole road experience began, and the things that were to come are too fantastic not to tell.
-------------------- [end Excerpt.]
{On The Road, by Jack Kerouac. Copyright 1957. The Viking Press. New York.}


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Whooee, I told my soul

Was thinking, if Donald Trump can "run for president," so can my Cat.
"Chess Pacific for President!"
Chess has perspective.
Once, politicians talking on TV, Chess with me on living room carpet.
(As cats will sometimes do), he abruptly twisted his agile body into a sort of pretzel-type shape, to peer briefly under his tail --
then glanced up at the people on TV --
and seemed to take note of the similarities between those two views ...

On The Road .
Jack Kerouac wrote it in the 1950s -- people said it spoke for "the beat generation."
People who were -- "the beats."
Later, early sixties before the word "hippie" took over the scene, "beat" transmuted into common usage of "beatnik."
as in: "That guy she's dating is a beatnik."
[excerpt, On The Road]---------------------- We arrived at Council Bluffs at dawn; I looked out. All winter I'd been reading of the great wagon parties that held council there before hitting the Oregon and Santa Fe trails; and of course now it was only cute suburban cottages of one damn kind and another, all laid out in the dismal gray dawn.

Then Omaha, and, by God, the first cowboy I saw, walking along the bleak walls of the wholesale meat warehouses in a ten-gallon hat and Texas boots, looked like any beat character of the brickwall dawns of the East except for the getup.
"During the depression," said the cowboy to me, "I used to hop freights at least once a month. In those days you'd see hundreds of men riding a flatcar or in a boxcar, and they weren't just bums, they were all kinds of men out of work and going from one place to another and some of them just wandering. It was like that all over the West. Brakemen never bothered you in those days. I don't know about today. Nebraska I ain't got no use for. Why in the middle nineteen thirties this place wasn't nothing but a big dust-cloud as far as the eye could see. You couldn't breathe. The ground was black. I was here in those days. They can give Nebraska back to the Indians far as I'm concerned. I hate this damn place more than any place in the world. Montana's my home now -- Missoula. You come up there sometime and see God's country."

Eddie and I sat down in a kind of homemade diner. I heard a great laugh, the greatest laugh in the world, and here came this rawhide oldtimer Nebraska farmer with a bunch of other boys into the diner; you could hear his raspy cries clear across the plains, across the whole gray world of them that day. Everybody else laughed with him. He didn't have a care in the world and had the hugest regard for everybody. I said to myself, Wham, listen to that man laugh. That's the West, here I am in the West. ...
It was the spirit of the West sitting right next to me. I wished I knew his whole raw life and what the hell he'd been doing all these years besides laughing and yelling like that. Whooee, I told my soul, and the cowboy came back and off we went to Grand Island.
-------------- [end Excerpt]
{On The Road, by Jack Kerouac. Penguin. 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A. 1955}


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

long, long road

Last weekend, read about 3 / 4 way through On The Road, by Jack Kerouac.
Reading this, I can "hear" Bob Dylan, and also some of the dialogue, or similar-type phrases from the TV comedy, "Friends."
At first, thought that was weird, but then realized -- the type of person who would get hired to write for "Friends" would have read On The Road.
Some place, I saw a photograph of Jackie Kennedy on a plane, reading On The Road.
(The photograph of me would have had to be on my bed, or floor.)

In "The New Yorker" online, a story about Donald Trump began, [quote]:
The Presidential candidacy as joke is a perennial sideshow along the raucous midway of the American political carnival. Sometimes the candidate -- Will Rogers (1928), Gracie Allen (1940), Pat Paulsen (1968 through 1996), Stephen Colbert (2008) -- is a fully qualified professional humorist.

Sometimes he, or it, is an animal ..." [end quote]
------------------------ This gave me an idea.
My Cat may possibly run for president.
I am going to ask him to consider it.
He cannot "toss his hat into the ring," as he does not have a hat.
But the next time he throws up a fur-ball, I may throw that in ... with his permission, of course.


Monday, April 25, 2011

the rolling stone

"Feel Good" (Ike and Tina Turner 1972)
"Enchanted" (Stevie Nicks)
"Edge of Seventeen" (Stevie Nicks)
On The Road (Jack Kerouac)

Last Friday, "Happy Easter!" was the pleasant and polite way of saying, Good night or bidding farewell for the weekend. Everyone was getting in the habit, and saying that.
Checking out from a small store, "Have a nice weekend, & a happy Easter" was the thing to say, automatically it seemed, so I said it."
The answer: "Well, I don't celebrate Easter the way other people do."
"Oh," I said.
"Most people think Christ was born in December and they celebrate His birthday on Christmas. But Jesus was actually born in April. And so -- while other people are celebrating Easter, I'm celebrating the birth of Christ."

"Oh. Okay."

"Because Christ was born in April." (pause)


"Jesus Christ was born in April."


"Christ was born in April."

"Okay." (And how many more rounds are we gonna go??")

(I wonder about the phrase "rolled away the stone" in context of "rolling stone" ...)

[Mark 16:2-7 -- Bible] Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?"

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

"Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen!" ...
-------- [end Excerpt]

I think about the name of the band, "The Rolling Stones" -- information I've seen says the "Stones" took their name from a line in a Muddy Waters song, "Mannish Boy."
("...I'm a man. I'm a rollin' stone ...")
Muddy Waters, however, (I would conjecture) borrowed the phrase from the Bible -- when you listen to blues music, if you listen to the words, there are many Biblical references and borrowed phrases.

Many of the people who wrote blues music, I imagine, may have had the Bible read to them more than any other literature, in their crucial childhood years. Some people grow up in a home where the Bible is the only Book they've got.

And what about the magazine, "Rolling Stone"? (Looking it up). (It says, "The magazine was named for the 1948 Muddy Waters song.")
Muddy Waters Influence -- all over the place.
Not to mention -- Biblical influence -- all over the place.


Friday, April 22, 2011


I happened to remember this poem.

"Overheard on a Salt Marsh"

by Harold Monro

Nymph, nymph, what are your beads?

Green glass, goblin. Why do you stare at them?

Give them me.


Give them me. Give them me.


Then I will howl all night in the reeds. Lie in the mud and howl for them.

Goblin, why do you love them so?

They are better than stars or water.
Better than voices of winds that sing.
Better than any man's fair daughter.
Your green glass beads on a silver ring.

Hush, I stole them out of the moon.

Give me your beads. I desire them.


I will howl in a deep lagoon for your green glass beads, I love them so.
Give them me. Give them me.



Thursday, April 21, 2011

down the line

Monday morning you sure look fine
Friday I got travelin' on my mind
First you love me, then you fade away
You know, I can't go on believin' this way

I got nothing but love for you
Now tell me what you really wanna do
First you love me, then you get on down the line
But I don't mind.
I don't mind.

I'll be there if you want me to
No one else that could ever do
Got to get some peace in my mind.

Monday morning you sure look fine
Friday I got travelin' on my mind
First you love me then you say it's wrong
You know I can't go on believing for long

But you know it's true
You only want me when I get over you
First you love me then you get on down the line
But I don't mind
No, I don't mind

I'll be there if you want me to
No one else that could ever do
Got to get some peace in my mind
["Monday Morning." Fleetwood Mac album. Label: Reprise. 1975.]


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

call it "news"

"I think it's hard to find happiness as a whole in anything. ... I think you can be delirious in your youth, but as you get older, things happen. We take our instruction from the media. The media just gloats over tragedy and sin and shame, so why are people supposed to feel any different?"
--Bob Dylan [The Bob Dylan Companion, Four Decades of Commentary. Edited by Carl Benson. Copyright 1998. Schirmer books. New York, New York.]

If you call something "news," you can, I think, immediately reach a much larger audience than you would if you called it "Dumb Gossip and Trivia spiced up with sexy (if empty) allegations, designed to get your dollars out of your pocket and into our corporation's bank account."
For one thing, the word "news" is shorter.
It sounds smart, and somehow -- cheery.
"News." "News!"
That one-syllable word has the effect of making the reader (viewer, listener) feel
a) smart, and
b) virtuous. ("Sshhh. Quiet! I'm watching the news!")
So -- if you want to sell a lot of it, call it "news."


[excerpt]------------ Lady Diana Spencer took her bow at the nexus of a national malaise...and an ever-hotter press competition for royal stories. The plebeian tabloids -- The Sun, the Mirror, and the Star -- no longer had the field to themselves. Under a swashbuckling editor, David English, the Daily Mail converted itself to a tabloid format in 1971 and quickly eclipsed a wilting Daily Express as the enduring bible of middle England; English's successor, Paul Dacre, has only increased its power.

(By 2006, the Daily Mail was selling more than two million copies a day.) The magic formula of the Mail was a combination of curtain-twitching class envy and strident rightist politics, with the added spice of the most waspish gossip columnist in London, Nigel Dempster, whose scoops from the highest circles of the Establishment were read at every upper-class breakfast table like a ransom note. Dempster had a thirty-year reign of terror until he was felled by ill health. He was a miniaturist in tabloid takedowns. ...

The Daily Mail -- and Dempster -- thrived on the national malaise and day after day stoked it with outrage. By the end of the 1970s, faith in British institutions had nose-dived like the pound sterling.
... At Oxford ... the fashion throughout the seventies was for sarcastic embracing of national decline. "Situation Desperate but Not Serious" is a headline that could summarize what it felt like to be English then. Let's not make too much of a fuss, but we all appear to be going to hell on a sled. The Oxford Union proposed the debate motion that "This House believes the British Isles are sinking into the sea."

Everything about England increasingly seemed a joke, a disaster....That's why we all loved Monty Python's Flying Circus....

But Cleese and his fellow Pythons represented a high-flown Oxbridgian take on the New British Impotence. Down in the streets, something else was happening. The unemployment rate among England's youth was at an all-time high, and nothing in the culture could speak to their explosive rage....It took an inspired neo-Marxist entrepreneur named Malcolm McLaren to scoop up an unemployed (and musically inept) construction worker named John Lydon, rechristen him Johnny Rotten, and launch the Sex Pistols -- a cynically manufactured but profoundly apt expression of the emerging British self-hatred. ...

A gossip industry flowered on the nation's decay of self-esteem. The apotheosis of the British style and mood was the weekly Private Eye....The "Grovel" column, written by Nigel Dempster among others, trafficked in the rumors, exposés, and inflammatory blind items that could never make it into the mainstream press. It worked both ways. Often stories originating from anonymous notes to "Grovel" were test-run there for future life in the more "respectable" outlets. And the Eye's tone migrated along with the stories. It instructed British journalists on the attitude of seeing Establishment figures as essentially comic material and any kind of aspirational sentiment as pretentious or absurd.

..."In the old days, the status of the person who featured in the story was the most important aspect of the story," Peter Tory, the journalist behind the William Hickey column in the Daily Express, told [the author] in 1979. "Status is still important but only in so far as there is a genuine story." What was a genuine story?

Anything bad or embarrassing that happened to the titled or rich. As Dempster himself put it, "There is a holiday in my heart when I discover another marriage breakup."
------------- [end Excerpt]
--Tina Brown. [The Diana Chronicles. Copyright 2007. Doubleday. New York, London, Toronto, Sydney, Auckland.]


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

sex news

[Tina Brown, new Person-in-Charge-of Newsweek Magazine (couldn't find her actual "title", wrote about England's tabloid newspapers in her biography of Diana, Princess of Wales]:
---------- Just before Diana Spencer began to emerge so vividly into public life, a kind of journalistic global warming was altering the eco-balance between the British press and the British Royal Family. ...

For Americans used to local newspapers homogenized by the stingy monopolies of big chains and no national newspapers except the inoffensive USA Today, the staid national edition of the New York Times, and the staider Wall Street Journal, the volume and variety of the British print press feels bewilderingly promiscuous. In 1980, there were ten national daily newspapers selling 20 million copies, more per capita than in any other country in the world. Their relative positions along the spectrum of sensation have remained consistent, but the entire spectrum has shifted sharply toward the garish, a trend accelerated by the resort to checkbook journalism -- a practice of buying sources routinely denounced and routinely embraced. Three of the nationals -- the "red tops" of The Sun, the Daily Mirror, and the Daily Star -- are screaming populist tabloids, on most days almost entirely devoid of anything resembling serious news. Two more tabloids, the Daily Mail and the Daily Express, compete in the same mass market but with a thin, translucent coating of middle-class respectability.

The Times, the Daily Telegraph, and the Guardian, and now the Independent, are supposed to occupy the high ground. Despite the advent of the Web, the Brits remain voracious newspaper readers, often buying more than one paper. That fact plus the country's compactness and newsstand culture make it impossible to ignore the daily blizzard of headlines, picked up immediately by television. When all the papers are on a rampage against some public figure, which nowadays is always, they invade your life. They are billboarded at every newsstand. They leap across your screen. They buzz around in your head all day like a low-grade fever. Paradoxically, it is the flair of the British tabloid press, its superb professional élan, that makes it so feared by its subjects and targets. So much good writing and theatrical presentation goes into mounting the daily crucifixions. So much competitive professional pride goes into finding just the right killer adjective.

The Royal Family used to be exempt from routine abuse. But in thirty years the tabloid view of royalty moved from the benign to the malign without a pause for magnanimity in between.
The culture of deference was beginning to crumble. ...
The tempo of the tremors increased with the arrival in London in 1969 of the young (he was thirty-eight) and iconoclastic Rupert Murdoch. Riding in from Australia, he defeated Robert Maxwell to buy the biggest of the Sunday papers, the prurient News of the World("All human life is here"). Murdoch upset the better sort from the get-go. His first act was to exhume the affair between the call girl Christine Keeler and the Secretary of State for War John Profumo. Murdoch's purchase of Keeler's memoirs for serialization in the News of the World was seen as a staggering breach of the British sense of fair play. Profumo had spent the previous six years in redemptive charity work, so Murdoch found himself a pariah overnight, condemned by the Press Council and fricasseed, to his great displeasure, on London Weekend Television by David Frost. (When Murdoch left the studio, says Frost, he told a reporter, "London Weekend Television has made a powerful enemy tonight.")

The great thing about being a pariah, however, is that it sets you free. If everybody is already pissed off, what does it matter if you piss off everybody even more? A year after he bought the News of the World, Murdoch snapped up a faltering broadsheet called The Sun -- the sad descendant of the Daily Herald, once the crusading voice of the Labour Party -- and relaunched it as a rollicking, up-yours tabloid featuring bare-breasted pinups every day. And he let his editors know that when it came to coverage of the circulation-building Royals, the gloves were off.
-------------------- [end Excerpt]
{from The Diana Chronicles, by Tina Brown. Copyright 2007. Doubleday. New York, London, Toronto, Sydney, Auckland}

Rampaging after public figures?
Writing about sex scandals from a half-dozen years in the past?
Topless "pinups"?
Those are all something, but they're not "news."
The rampaging = petty, bullying harassment.
Writing about sex scandals from the Past = recent history, exaggerated and sensationalized, for sake of Entertainment.
Topless "pinups" = -- well, topless pinups.

None of that sounds like "news," to me.
What would Walter Cronkite say?
What would Edward R. Murrow say?
...Rupert Murdoch is guy who owns "Fox News" which tells us what to think, and how to vote.
It seems like -- first he took control of England's media, and then moved on to America's media.
(I think, there used to be laws in America against one company owning such a large amount of the media, for obvious reasons, but someone -- got those laws repealed.)...


Monday, April 18, 2011

woke up this morning

I woke up this morning for work, wanting to "talk" about biographies (and "ers" -- biographies and biographers) here on my blog.
Then I get in here and discover, sort of by accident, that one of the biographers I was going to write about has Big new Position in national magazine.
So --
two brief topics.
1. Biographies. I haven't read that many, but have developed a preference: I like it when they lay out the highlights and fabric of the subject's life and the reader can't see much of the author's personal opinion. When the biographer has an "axe to grind" I find it worse than tedious. I just want to -- take the book back to the library and, I don't know, move away or something.

Why does any author write a book about a person and run them down? Either because the author just doesn't like the person, or because the publishing company says, "Write it this way, it'll sell." (I couldn't think of any other reasons....)

I like the story of the person's life to be balanced, and I don't want to hear that much of the author's personal opinions, prejudices, grinding axes, whatever -- the less of that, the better.

From small amount of biographies I've read, I want to rank them -- the top ones are the "best" in my view because the book is about the subject, not a platform for the writer.
1 (best) Robert Dallek.
his books are scholarly. (The one I have on LBJ is huge.)
Not everyone would be up for that kind of read, but my opinion of his writing & research etc. is high.

2 Grace And Power, story of Kennedy Administration, by Sally Bedell Smith.
When you read that, you don't hear about Sally Bedell Smith. You hear about the Kennedy Administration. And it isn't a bunch of gossip-innuendo-yuck. It's recent history which shaped our world, written in a scholarly-yet-broadly accessible style.

3 I, Tina the story of Tina Turner's life, by T. Turner with Kurt Loder

Tied for #3 position on my list is Donald Spoto's bio: Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: A Life

4 The Diana Chronicles, by Tina Brown.
I feel two ways about this Diana biography. I was riveted, reading it -- I love the fact that, as well as story of the Princess of Wales, Tina Brown also includes a lot of information about the aristocratic system and monarchy, which I never understood before, and also much background about current tabloid journalism scourge, and sort of its origins and its effects.
Problem I have with her book, however, is that being a (tabloid?) journalist herself (she was in charge of something called Tatler, in England, then came here for some very big jobs -- Vanity Fair and The New Yorker [hello?!]), her writing style is sort of -- well, at times, you feel like she's leading you around in a circle, saying one thing, then proving another, and -- doing what our parents' generation called, 'talking out of both sides of her mouth.' (Writing with two pens...??)

At times, The Diana Chronicles is spinning so fast, you're like -- WHAT??
It's a certain style --
but -- I don't think college professors would assign students to read it, if I can put it that way.
Then -- I glance on-line today and discover --
they put her (Tina Brown) in charge of Newsweek - !
? ! ? !
Newsweek, the magazine. Yes, that one.
Suffice it to say, I was surprised.
Not saying I don't like her writing -- I do. But -- I think of Newsweek as "hard news," not gossip, or info-tainment.

We'll have to wait and see what the other commentators on the media who are more important than me (that is to say, All Of Them) have to say.


Friday, April 15, 2011

you're getting high?

"You know, it's kind of like -- for example -- you don't like the Beatles."
"I like the Beatles!"
"Yes -- but not enough."
------------------ When I heard the above dialogue on "Mad About You" (situation comedy in the 90s) I laughed and always remembered it, because -- that is SO how it is, when you experience some type of art and then you want someone else to be "feelin' it" with you, or -- exactly, precisely the same way you feel it.

And it's impossible. And it's so frustrating.
The artistic thing -- the story, or movie, or song, or performance is so exhilarating because you love it so much,
and then exhilaration is followed by frustration because you can't communicate the feeling exactly how you want to and you find that it isn't possible to love the song, or artist's body of work, or whatever, together with another person in the same way.

On that episode of "Mad About You" the husband and wife, Paul and Jamie, are discussing the things they don't have in common -- not arguing, just having a conversation. Like -- "you prefer this restaurant, I like that other one better" or whatever -- and then he gets into the "you don't like the Beatles" statement.
(She's instantly a little indignant, setting the record [no pun intended] straight: "I like the Beatles!")

You can imagine them listening to a Beatles album, and Paul is -- INTO it, and Jamie is -- doing things around the house while the music is on -- and he's thinking she's not experiencing the Music with the same intensity that he is, and there's a sort of "let-down" there -- or, a feeling that he still has a job to do -- he has to show her, communicate to her, how Good that Music feels To Him.

Can't be done.
It's one of the un-solvable issues of humanity.
It's because I experience a song through my frame of reference -- my life experience -- and other people experience it through their frame of reference; it partly depends on where you "were at" as a person when you were introduced to that particular song, or type of music. The music means one thing to me, and something else to another person.

And -- (and) -- our Way Of Enjoying Something is individual to each person. At a Bob Dylan concert (outdoors at a horse-race track) I took out paper and pen and started listing the songs as he played them so that I could remember later and -- I don't know -- savor the experience. Nearby me in the standing-crowd in front of stage, a blonde guy was smoking a joint. It crossed my mind -- Why would he want to dull the experience, or distract himself??
And just as I'm thinking that, he looks over at me and says, sort of dubiously, like he thought it was weird, "You're writing down the songs?" ...
("You're getting high?!")...
The individuality of the experience and the Way Of Experiencing It cannot be bridged.

"You don't like the Beatles."
"I like the Beatles!"
"Yes, but not enough."


Thursday, April 14, 2011

bumpy night

"Put on your seatbelt, it's going to be a bumpy ride"
was inscribed, in magic marker, on a locker where I work.
When I noticed this, several years back when I started, I was surprised, and sort of -- transported -- because it seemed to be an homage to a memorable scene in film "All About Eve" where Bette Davis answers the question
-- "The atmosphere in here is very Macbeth-ish; is whatever it is over, or just beginning?"
(strides across to some stairs, up several steps, turns around)--
"Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy night!"

I brought in DVD of "All About" once, and showed that brief scene -- about a minute :10, to the people who use the work-shop where the locker is, so they could enjoy knowing where the phrase came from.
(I sat at home early on a Saturday morning, on floor in front of TV, with remotes, and clock, and paper & pen, intently forwarding, skipping, playing, timing -- so that I could show it to them and they could enjoy it for just a minute, during their break. I became really wrapped up in finding just exactly the right place to start it and stop it to maximize impact and -- well -- how Good it would be.

I think, if there was a Career doing that -- picking scenes from movies to show -- I would be Good At It.)

Their supervisor seemed bemused. Another day, I attempted to put him at ease by telling him, "You don't have to worry -- I would never bring a DVD to work and play a scene, or part that would be -- considered inappropriate by anybody."
"But -- those are the only parts we want to see!" he growled.

The "Fasten your seatbelts" moment is very famous.
Less well-known but also delicious, I think, is an interchange which is part of the same cocktail-party Scene (or -- Sequence??) -- Marilyn Monroe played a small part -- it was beginning of her career, (1950) she was not yet a Big Star -- she is Miss Casswell, "a graduate of the Copacabana School of dramatic arts" [show-girl or what-have-you] can feel for her when she is introduced with the above phrase by her date for the evening, "Addison DeWitt" (played by George Sanders, handsome in a granite-rock sort of way, with impeccable upper-class English accent -- everything understated in almost a monotone).

Marilyn Monroe's "Miss Casswell" acknowledges the introduction saying, "Very happy to meet you" without moving her head at all. Trying to fit in and do things right.

Marilyn Monroe was better known for other assets, but her voice is very striking: airy and -- infused with spontaneity, wistfulness, and wonder.

A little later, end of party, DeWitt, Miss Caswell, and several other main characters are sitting on the stairs, conversing. (Sitting on stairs is very intimate. Makes a good thing to look at, in a movie) -- a butler passes with a tray of drinks; Miss Caswell calls, "Oh waiter!"
DeWitt corrects her, not sharply -- gently: "That's not a waiter, that's a butler."

(He thinks she comes from a background where people don't have butlers, and he is right.)
She turns around to look at him; the camera doesn't move, so the first part of her answer, you hear it while seeing the back of her head -- with an elaborate, twisty arrangement of platinum-blonde curls:
[back of her head] {The Voice}: "Well I can't yell 'oh butler' can I?"
[she turns & faces the camera, wide-eyed] "Maybe somebody's name is Butler."
"You have a point, my dear. An idiotic one -- but, a point."
{the breathy, intimate tone} -- "I don't want to make trouble. All I want is a drink."


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Look out, kid

Johnny's in the basement
mixin' up the medicine
I'm on the pavement
Thinkin' about the government
The man in the trench coat,
badge out, laid off
Says he's got a bad cough
Wants to get it paid off
Look out kid,
it's something you did
God knows when but
you're doing it again
You better duck down the alley-way,
Looking for a new friend,
The man in the coon-skin cap
by the big pen
Wants eleven dollar bills
You only got ten

Maggie comes fleet foot
Face full of black soot
Talkin' that the heat put
plants in the bed but
The phone's tapped anyway
Maggie says that many say
they must bust in early May
Orders from the D.A.
Look out kid
Don't matter what you did
Walk on your tip-toes
Don't try "No-Doz"
Better stay away from those
who carry 'round a fire hose
Keep a clean nose
watch the plainclothes
You don't need a weather man
to know which way the wind blows

Get sick get well
Hang around the ink well
Ring bell, hard to tell
If anything is goin' to sell
Try hard, get barred
Get back, write braille
Get jailed, jump bail
Join the army if you fail
Look out kid, you're gonna get hit
But users, cheaters,
six-time losers
hang around the theaters
Girl by the whirlpool
Looking for a new fool
Don't follow leaders
watch the parking meters

Ah, get born, keep warm
Short pants, romance, learn to dance
Get dressed, get blessed
Try to be a success
Please her, please him, buy gifts
Don't steal, don't lift
Twenty years of schoolin' and
they put you on the day shift
Look out kid,
they keep it all hid
Better jump down a manhole
Light yourself a candle
Don't wear sandals
Try to avoid the scandals
Don't want to be a bum,
you better chew gum
the pump don't work
'Cause the vandals took the handles
["Subterranean Homesick Blues,"
Bringing It All Back Home,
1965. Columbia Records.]


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

of no particular importance

"How is it possible, that this congressman, who is of no particular importance, is doing this -- by himself?"

An irate, functionary-type military station chief bursts out with this question toward the end of the film, "Charlie Wilson's War," as the arms-and-training support arranged by Wilson for the Afghans turns the tide of that war, in the 80s, forcing the Russian communist aggressors to reverse course ("which way Moscow??")...
But, you know, Success and Progress seems always to irritate some people --
love that, "...this congressman who is of no particular importance..."

This morning I was thinking the off-hand inspiration of that scene in the movie (a true story) matches up with a quote I found last week --
"One man can make a difference, and every man should try."
[written on a card for an exhibit which travelled around the U.S. when the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston was first opening (1979)]
Charlie Wilson exemplified that idea.
Before he -- well -- sort of -- ended the Cold War - have-a-nice-day, he had been on a list someone compiled of the 25 least effective congressmen.

"One man can make a difference, and every man should try."
That's why, no matter world conditions or local mish-mash or negativity, we --
get out of bed in the morning.


Monday, April 11, 2011

mistaken for a joke

"Is that a joke?"
"Is that meant to be a funny joke?"
Thinking, Friday, about how people's minds work when they're "getting" a joke, made me remember one of my favorite scenes from the movie Charlie Wilson's War, where -- there's sort of a joke situation, only it's not Telling a Joke, it's being ambushed by people demanding to know IF you're joking. It's sort of -- out of order, like the Joke Process, inverted. Or tipped on its side.
There's a
in the Presidential Palace in Pakistan:
Pakistan President, Zia;
two of Zia's advisors; and
Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson (played by Tom Hanks).
The four of them sit to discuss the Communists who have invaded Afghanistan. (It's 1980.)
Pres. Zia: "I don't think the thoughts and prayers of the Texas second congressional district are going to turn the trick."
Congressman Wilson: "The State Department didn't send me; I'm here at the request of a friend in Houston, so -- this is a courtesy call."
Pres. Zia [in that middle eastern accent, with each word pulled tight]:
"I don't need courtesy. I need airplanes, guns, and money."
Congressman Wilson (a little defensive, and at same time, proud of his budget-doubling accomplishment): "Well, we just doubled the covert ops budget from $5 million to 10 million. .."

Advisor 1: "Is that a joke?"
Congressman Wilson: "No!"
Advisor 2: "Is that meant to be a funny joke?"(Wilson, startled and sputtering...) "Wait a --"
Pres. Zia: "Congressman, what they are saying is that, [let's explain this to people in kindergarten now, right?!] --
10 million dollars to fight the Russian Army,
such a low figure, that --
it can be mistaken for a joke."

Charlie Wilson, "Yeah I caught up to that -- sarcasm..."
When they first sit down, Pres. Zia asks Tom Hanks if he would like something to drink.
"Yes, I'd like a glass of ice and any kinda whiskey." (his expression dreamy, for a moment): "Rye...Canadian..."
[discomfort among hosts -- pres. clears throat]
"We -- uh -- don't serve ell-ka-hole in thee presidential palace."

Wilson: "Of -- course you don't. I'm sorry. Fruit juice?"
(guy off to side goes to get fruit juice after this order is translated by one advisor)
Charlie Wilson speaks in that gently friendly / intimate tone people use when they want to smooth something over...
(with a slight grin): "Bet a lot of people make that mistake."
Pres. Zia's chuckle at first has the same gently friendly tone:
"Heh heh heh heh heh --


Friday, April 8, 2011

looking for a parrot

"Hello. This is Officer [Something-or-other], down at the police station, and I'm looking for a parrot."

Answered the phone at work the other night, and -- that was what the guy said, after I said, "Good evening, da-Da-da, da-Da-da [name of company]!"

"Yes, hello. This is Officer Whozis down at the police station, and I'm looking for a parrot." Very strong, calm, and business-like.
------------------------------- Any time you answer the phone, you do not know exactly what's coming; at the same time it mostly, in this business anyway, isn't ever anything terribly surprising, now that I have worked here for a while.

But this was --
something a little different.
A parrot.
(You know how your mind sort of jumps around and starts creating a construct to make the thing you see or hear make sense? Like -- ok, it must be this, or it could be that. ...)
I thought, -- "There's a lost parrot. Someone's pet. Somehow it got out; someone accidently left the cage door open. And the parrot is somewhere in our town, flying around, and -- even the police are helping to search for the lost parrot! -- that's so nice! Why are they calling here? Do they believe the parrot has flown out here? Why?
Now, it's dark out -- will we be able to see a parrot? They have brightly-colored feathers, don't they? Maybe we'll be able to see it in the dark ... ?..."

Mind working on Parrot Scenario, I remained still in my chair, holding the telephone receiver, not having anything to say. I was at a loss.

Policeman: "Yeah, I have a teenager here who's been drinking, and..."
(The person who let the parrot out was a drunk teenager?)
"...he says his dad works out there. The parent's name is ________________ ."

"Was the kid drinking and driving?" I asked.
"No, but he was in the car." [Well if he had a designated driver, which is what people are supposed to do, if they've been drinking, then why are you bothering him? And where's the parrot, in this second problem you're having?]

[In Brain -- DING!]: ("I'm Officer whatever-it-is, and I'm looking for a parent.")

I believe the thing your brain does when it is trying to make a story to go with something you don't quite comprehend, is the Same Thing the brain does when you hear a joke -- we must "leap," mentally, to fill in the blank and figure it out. And to -- as people say about jokes -- "get it."

That is the pleasurable thing -- the fast-figuring-it-out.
Like -- when you tell this joke, the recipient has to quickly-figure-out WHAT is the stereotype / implication and hurry to meet you at the bottom line. Or punch-line. --

Do you know why only 500 Mexicans attcked the Alamo?
No, why?

They ony had two cars.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

have you heard this one?

A joke not everyone gets.

Thinking about French food while watching / studying the film Julie and Julia, during the past week, caused me to remember the joke which follows, below.
Where did I hear it? Not sure; maybe Johnny Carson told it.
On the few occasions when I've told it, some people get it, some don't. It depends upon how the listener is thinking, at the moment, and their frame of reference...
When you die,
you know you are in Heaven, if
wake up in a place where
the French are in charge of the food,
the Germans are in charge of the economy, and
the English are in charge of the police.

However, you will know you're in Hell if you die and
wake up
in a place where
the English are in charge of the food,
the French are in charge of the economy, and
Germans are


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

we scouted in Paris

"You have no real talent for cooking, but the Americans will nev-air know the difference!"
That was the parting statement of the lady in charge of the Cordon Bleu Cooking School where Julia Child earned her diploma.
--------------- When Julia Child (Meryl Streep) speaks of her to another woman, the answer is, "Sheez ay beech."

I hardly go to any movies, or rent any, because there's so much stupid violent stuff, and so little quality; however, I note the ones I think I want to see in a little blank book I have, on my dresser in my bedroom, and then can rent whenever I'm ready.
And I have the luminous luxury of having a friend I can call to ask if a movie is any good before I even spend the money to rent. ("Hi! Julia and Julia -- do I want to see that??") She and her husband and her mother go to many movies: their standard is different from mine -- if it's awful, I'm like, "That's two hours of my life I'll never get back." But my friends go to a lot of movies, with lower expectations -- just to relax. They have good taste & they know my taste. Money couldn't buy a service that valuable. (Maybe I should dedicate my first book to them...)

I loved the Commentary on the Julie and Julia DVD. Writer-director Nora Ephron has a little explaining - describing - wondering - digressing, going on the full-length of the film. She doesn't talk every minute of it. So it's a different way to "watch the movie" -- to experience it and let her tell you stuff.

(Nora Ephron also directed When Harry Met Sally... and she was married for a little while to Washington Post journalist Carl Bernstein, who did the investigative reporting on Watergate, with Bob Woodward, before it was even called "Watergate".)

Nora Ephron tells us, "We scouted in Paris" find restaurants that looked like French restaurants in the 1950s, but actually had better luck finding settings that would work for the movie, in New York. One of their "French restaurants in the
1950s" was in Brooklyn in 2009.

In the movie, there's a scene in a Paris train station, and another scene later in a Boston train station. They used a beautiful train station in Hoboken, New Jersey for both -- one angle for "Paris," and a different angle for "Boston."

Of the film's main characters, Ephron says, These are people who, if they're eating and at the same time discussing some deep crisis or terribly urgent or stressful situation, would say, off to the side in the middle of it, "The oysters are good!"

She "talks food," like a pro -- (like Julia Child, she has copper pots which she bought in Paris [hard core]) -- but also sort of brings you (us) back to modern-day "reality" when commenting on a couple of the recipes:
Aspics. Director Ephron thinks aspics are one thing which should be removed from ongoing editions of Mastering the Art of French Cooking: "Who are we kidding? No one wants to eat an aspic, much less make one."
Kidneys. "Who would ever make kidneys? And they don't look good either."
She kills me -- she speaks in a calm monotone.

The movie has the scene where, on live television, the French Chef dropped a fish on the floor (she dropped a fish on the floor! - the story went): except, not really -- she dropped a potato on the stove (while attempting to flip it). One of those stories that grew as it got repeated.

The meeting at the publishers: Julia Child and her French cooking co-author on one side of big table, on other side three publishing people, two suited men & one woman.
Man: "Ladies, you have 700 pages of poultry and sauces alone!"
"Well we thought you could publish it in volumes."
"Uh -- "

------------------------ I guess the thoroughgoing delight I take in this movie is because it lays out the results and transformations that are possible from the
force, and
of Enthusiasm and Excellence.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

change the world

"Julie & Julia"
Delightful: rented last Fri. night, and played over and over through weekend, while doing things -- experiencing parts of it, a little at a time.
A beautiful movie! France! The food! The people -- very funny; very gentle, tender humor. A sexy, happy movie with
Passion For Doing Something
as its theme.
------------------ Yesterday, writing here, was thinking of advice they used to give on Being Successful: dress the part; work overtime; bleh-bleh-bleh-blah; (now have job where boss insists you Leave On Time. Extra effort, or time, is NOT wanted; I see others Zoom out of here, must follow that example.)

The advice Julia Child might give on Being Successful would be: follow your passion; do what you love; live your enthusiasm.

She was the star of "The French Chef" in the Sixties, and author of Mastering The Art Of French Cooking. She found an enthusiasm and love for French cooking, and then wanted to share that with Everyone.
She's like, "We're going to finish writing our cookbook (700 pages!), get it published, and change the world."

["Change the world." : ) Just listened to an interview with Henry Kissinger. Maybe that's what his international diplomacy needed: more quiche lorraine.]
The movie's "Julie" character is a contemporary-era fan of Julia, and sets her goal: to cook her way through Mastering The Art, in one year. (I expected 365 days, 365 recipes, but it's about 540 recipes.) That's more complex cooking than I'd want to sign on for, but -- good for her!
She says, "It's good for me to have short-term goals." She cooks it all, and writes about it in a blog.

At the beginning of the movie, the Julie character tells her husband, "Ritual Cobb Salad lunch tomorrow. Dreading, dreading, dreading."
At lunch the next day, it's Julie and three other women. The waiter comes; the ladies order:
"Cobb Salad, no blue cheese."
"Cobb Salad, no beets."
"Cobb Salad, no bacon."
"Cobb Salad, no eggs."
----------------- an Upscale Career Woman "Rap"


Monday, April 4, 2011

advice sandwich, hold the baloney

"How To Succeed in Business without really Trying"
was a show -- probably a play first, then a movie, when I was a child -- I always heard of it, don't think I saw it. Even as a child, I knew that title was meant to be humorous: to be Successful at Anything, you are supposed to have tried. Tried hard, & worked hard.

(That's the Calvinist / Puritan influence from several generations of rule-obeying, by-the-book ancestors, I think.)

[I had thought of that title, and the idea behind it, this weekend and then come to find out it looks as if this show is being produced on Broadway again, now.]
Sometimes I have these thoughts in my head, and then they are Out There in world, and it's -- weird.
I don't believe in ESP. Only coincidence.

Summer after college graduation, worked at a stockbroker -- place: Shearson, in Boston.
The things people back then told you to do in order to "succeed in business" as the Broadway play says, were to --
dress the part; you must dress like an executive, even if you weren't one yet,
and then there was --
stay late at the office -- (don't be a "clock-watcher," shooting out of the place at 5:00 sharp, knocking people down in your rush for the elevator -- the idea was to exhibit Dedication -- your first thought is not, "Is it time for me to get the hell out of here?"; your thought was supposed to be, "How can I make this project better and more effective...) ...
and, on same principle, there was:
"Work Saturday mornings."

A very successful man I had known before going to college told me working Saturday mornings was important, when I had asked about his "keys to success."
He said, "I don't take the whole weekend. I'm in the office every Saturday until noon."
So one Saturday, instead of relaxing in blue jeans or house-cleaning, or cat-brushing, or novel-reading, or Cambridge-walking, or Bob Dylan-analyzing, I woke early, did hair-make-up-and-nylons-high-heels-good-outfit, and got onto the trolley and headed to the stop nearest Shearson, in downtown -- either Park Street, or Government Center -- one of those stops.

Into the building, it was considerably less populated on a Saturday. Most of those people were NOT coming in to work on Saturday.
In the elevator, going up, a guy got in with me. He was wearing an outfit that sort of looked like a policeman, but yet you had a sense that he was not a policeman. Applying my current knowledge to this distant memory, I realize this fellow was what we now call a "Security Guard."

I'd never noticed security guards in the building before; they were probably there every day, but M-F, there was so much human traffic, that you didn't notice everyone. That lonely Saturday morning, it was different.
In the elevator this guy asked me to give him some money.

-------------------- Yikes. I had thirty dollars in my purse. I gave him $10, with the idea that if I willingly gave him $10, I would not be mugged, and lose the whole $30. Then he sort of made a pass at me -- lunging across the elevator. Actually scared the hell out of me. (And he's supposed to be the security GUARD, right??!
If this guy's in charge, then who was I supposed to call, to report him, the muggers??

I stepped out of his way, and the elevator door opened at Shearson's floor: I went on into this vast expanse of Silent Office, all these desks ...
Am not even sure what I planned to do in there, that morning. Not cold-calling, because you wanted to have a broker available to speak with the person if you got anyone who'd take a minute, and there were no brokers in there that morning, I can tell you, I was it.

Maybe I was reading trade journals. Or somehow organizing my cold-call list ... honestly cannot remember. And I'd hear a click, or a tick, or a huff of Indoor Building air whishing by on stockinged Empty-Building-Air feet, and pretty soon I was like, "This is too God-damned scary; that guy knows I'm up here, and he knows I'm alone, I need t' get out. This is too weird. This is not working."

I left. And I never went in to that office on a Saturday morning ever again, the whole summer. And I remember leaving the building that day, just wanting to be alone in the ladies' room because I felt like crying, and I was not hurt, or anything, the guy didn't do anything to me, but I just had tears of (dam-mit!) frustration that I could not follow through on my plan of spending Saturday morning "in the office," like my Millionaire Role Model.

I felt lonely, and unsuccessful, and ticked off, riding the subway and the trolley home, that morning.

Looking back with hindsight being 20-20, and a more sophisticated adult perspective, I can recognize that my Successful Business Acquaintance was not being altogether straightforward or thorough in his instruction when he said the way he got successful was by working Saturday mornings.
He owned the place; he got successful by being a smart businessman and giving himself the deal. Writing himself the ticket. Arranging the songs in his key. Whatever.
And while I didn't want to See it this way, I did understand, on some level, that a big part of reason for working Saturday mornings was to tick off his wife. She would have preferred that he was "home, more." So he made stringent and consistent efforts to be Home Less.

(Yikes; yerks. When I see relationships that become a stand-off, like that, it makes me think Life With Cat is pretty good; on other hand, think Love is important. Maybe I shouldn't let Other People's Marriages scare me ...)

Me spending Saturday mornings in the empty Shearson office probably wasn't a Key to Success. After all, I didn't own Shearson.
Then why did he tell me that?
Nyeah -- people tell you anything. It's all white noise.


Friday, April 1, 2011

from adversity: Inspiration

[excerpt, Tina Turner's autobiography]:
---------------- A crucial stylistic event occurred around this time in Washington, D.C., where the Revue was scheduled to play the Howard Theatre. Ike had flown back to St. Louis to stand trial for the bank job he'd allegedly been involved in, and Tina, given some room to move, decided to have her hair bleached.

Tina: That was a trendy thing at the time, but they overbleached my hair, and they left the heat cap on too long -- and all my hair fell off. There was just like a stubble left. I thought I would die. My hair! Well, it would grow back, but slowly, right? And so that's when I started wearing the wigs.

Ike: I get back to Washington, and Tina's hair is that long! And we gotta do a show. Tina was cryin', boy. Well, I could've bought a wig right there in Washington, but instead I flew all the way back to St. Louis, bought a wig there, and then flew back again. I don't know where my head was at.

Tina: I got to like wearing wigs. Because I loved movement, especially onstage, and I had this image of myself and the Ikettes singing and dancing, and all of our hair constantly moving, swaying to the music. It seemed exciting, but at the same time very classy, you know? So pretty soon we had the Ikettes in wigs, too, and that was the beginning of "the look." I loved it.

[I, Tina, by Tina Turner with Kurt Loder
Copyright 1986, Avon Books,
The Hearst Corporation, New York, New York]
When I read that passage for the first time, it brought to mind the advice which is given by many "self-improvement" and "how-to-succeed" speakers and writers: they tell us to visualize our goals and they say that holding that "picture" in your mind reinforces your chances of being able to have it happen. Mental concentration, focus -- and starting with Having The Picture.
("I had this image of myself and the Ikettes singing and dancing, and all of our hair constantly moving, swaying to the music." ...)

ok this is it
does the spacing work?

what if I use a different font?
oh, never mind,
the font thing is hidden
OK, try this: with "Edit" dark, and
"Compose" light & underlined

will the spacing work this way??
what is the problem with my blog? why won't the spacing work right?