Thursday, May 30, 2013

Eat the news! (?)

"News is something someone wants to suppress.  Everything else is advertising."
-- Reuven Frank, NBC News

---------------------- A Comment from a reader of the Columbia Journalism Review:

Ever wonder why "news" about a similar topic is everywhere?  Because it is all a highly coordinated PR cycle.  MSNBC runs a story in the morning and NPR has the same topic running midday, then the nightly news runs the same story.  It's also in the newspaper that day.  To the passive news consumer, it is coincidental but if you start paying attention, it is a well-planned campaign.  Sure, you get disruptions like Boston bombing or 9/11 and stuff like that, but for the most part "news" is a cycle -- like retail sales.  After a few cycles, it gets tedious but fortunately we keep making the next generation who thinks it will be different.  It never is.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

I thought of nothing else

"My heart was like dust under your feet."


This sentence comes from Sentimental Education, a novel by Gustave Flaubert.

Looked it up because in the movie Manhattan, Woody Allen mentions it on his list of reasons why life is "worth living" -- along with Groucho Marx and "Potato Head Blues"....

------------------------------------ [excerpt, Sentimental Education]---  "...My heart was like dust under your feet. 

You produced on me the effect of moonlight on a summer's night,

when around us we find nothing but perfumes, soft shadows, gleams of whiteness, infinity; and all the delights of the flesh and of the spirit were for me embodied in your name, which I kept repeating to myself while I tried to kiss it with my lips. 

I thought of nothing else. 

It was Madame Arnoux such as you were with your two children, tender, grave, dazzlingly beautiful, and yet so good!  This image effaced every other.  Did I not dream of it alone? for always, in the very depths of my soul, were

the music of your voice and the brightness of your eyes!"-------------------------- [end excerpt]


Isaac Davis {Woody Allen} in Manhattan:
Why is life worth living?
It's a very good question.
Well -- there are certain things, I guess, that make it worthwhile -- like me, I would say...what, Groucho Marx, to name one thing...and Willie Mays -- and the second movement of the Jupiter Symphony.

Louis Armstrong, recording of Potato Head Blues.
Swedish movies, naturally.
Sentimental Education by Flaubert....Marlon Brando.  Frank Sinatra.  Those incredible apples and pears by Cezanne....
------------------ [end Manhattan excerpt]


"My heart was like dust under your feet."

My dust was like footprints on your hat.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

the same place you read your stuff

Until I read some weekend Comments on Slate, I had not thought in a long time about the "news story" about the "study" that said men think about sex every seven seconds -- one Commenter said that conclusion was reached by someone exaggerating "the hell out of some study" and another Commenter said, "I lump that one in with 'people only use 10% of their brains'....

Remembered that I had heard about the "every-seven-seconds" study from a school superintendent. 


What human being, man or woman, could really think about one particular topic -- sex or anything else -- every seven seconds?
It sounds extreme.
And difficult.
And improbable.

Some of these makes a person wonder about them.  I want to respect scholarship and science -- and then here comes another "study" that makes attention-getting headlines and makes us all go, "Oh my goodness, really?!" but seriously, could these things be true?  Some of these "study-dudes" are testing my respect.

(R-E-S-P-E-C-T -- find out what it means to me...)

It makes me think of an episode of "Mad About You" where the husband and wife, Paul and Jamie, are discussing something; Paul questions Jamie's approach to some issue, and Jamie says firmly:
"I read-an-article!"
Paul:  "Where -- did you read that?"

Jamie:  "Same place you read your stuff. ..."


Monday, May 27, 2013

oh isht !

A reader wrote in a Comment on the internet this weekend about (what I call "snd" -- some new drug) --
"It's likely another anti-depressant.  Doling 'em out like candy these last few decades, eh!  Doesn't do much to help us all swallow all the messages of competitiveness and implied dissatisfaction being shoved down our throats from every direction. ...Oh isht, you mean love and life is about more than just sex?!  We've all been doing it wrong all this time ..."

"these last few decades"
"swallow all the messages"
"of competitiveness"
"and implied dissatisfaction"

"being shoved down our throats"
"from every direction"

...I could relate to what he's "on a roll" about, here, though I don't know....
"Oh, isht!"
was particularly good.
(Would it be "isht" as one syllable, rhyming with "fished"?
would it be two syllables -- "ish-ett"?);

either way,
seems more polite and dignified
than the
intended original, so OK....

Another Commenter wrote, "the whole men think about sex every seven seconds thing was the result of exaggerating the hell out of some study, wasn't it?"
and a
Commenter quoted that thought back and added, "I lump that one in with 'people only use 10% of their brains' as something someone made up but people like to say because it's truthy."

Best I can figure from the context, "truthy" would mean something that people say and believe (or pretend to believe) but may not really be true. ...
And now that we consider it -- the awe-struck way it gets said:  "You know, they say we only use ten-percent of our brains...."  !  Wow, man.  Where we gonna learn how-in-hell to use th' other ninety percent???  Where's the quote-end-quote New Drug for THAT??


Friday, May 24, 2013

every morning; by the mail; to my wedding...

"A place for everything, and everything in its place"
was something my Grandma Snow said,
and I was just thinking
that maybe
this might be true, too:

"A time for everything, and everything in its time."

Like -- sometimes it's the right time to be doing a certain thing; other times it's more right to be doing a different thing.

"It was time to go to England! -- England was calling...." Tina Turner said once in an interview.

When she left Nutbush, Tennessee, it was "time" to go to St. Louis.

Some time later, it was
to go to England.

-------------------------  A train going by, heading east, has a string of at least half-a-dozen cars that say "Herzog" on the sides.  (Is the train company advertising the Saul Bellow novel entitled Herzog?  Will the next train have cars with "The Adventures of Augie March" on their sides?...?)

to write
to walk
to go east
to look west
to pat the dog
to go on YouTube and listen to
the Buckingham Nicks album
and the
Rolling Stones --
"now when you're sitting there, in your silk upholstered chair"...


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

smoothing things over...

...and one of the second-grade teachers -- Mrs. LaFollette, or else the other one -- gently asked the Cocktail-Kid to "act out" something else, instead.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

mama tried

Thinking about mothers staying home full-time or working "outside-the-home" full-time, or part-time, or whatever made me remember and reflect on a bunch of stuff....  My childhood began when most wives were home, and then by the time I was fifteen, Working-Outside-The-Home was a huge trend.

So -- I kind of watched that "evolution" unfold. 

Photographs of me when I was pre-school age showed my mother with me, wearing a dress for the usual daily-round:  cooking, shopping, laundry, whatever.  By the time I was even 9 or 10, I would look at those pictures, and think, "Mom was wearing a dress just for being home and doing regular things?"  That style changed fast, in my grade school years -- women started wearing slacks a lot more.

In the 80s, (I think) people said "full-time homemaker" -- now it seems like the most popular term is "stay-at-home-mom," abbreviated as SAHM.

But when I was little it was simply MOM.  Our mothers didn't call it "stay-at-home-mom" or "full-time homemaker," they just called it Life.

I tried to think about, and imagine, what life is like for children whose mothers work outside the home, as well as their dads -- I don't know if I can do a good job imagining myself as a child in that situation.  I guess I can't really think how it would be very different. 

I did think about swimming.
Because I remember being taken swimming just for fun,
and also
being taken to a pool for swimming lessons.

And thought -- do children whose parents both work outside the home full-time get to go swimming?  Well -- see, that's pretty silly....I suppose someone else just drives them.  Probably not a big deal.

Remembering swimming lessons made me remember "hitting a wall" with swimming.  I learned the things they taught us --
doing the "jellyfish float"
the back-float
even some diving....
but I hit the wall with the Australian crawl.  Couldn't learn it. 
Or -- I "learned" it if you count --

listening carefully to the instructions,
watching closely when the teacher and the other kids did it,
and then
trying my best, as
"learning" --
but -- I couldn't do it.
{  ?  }
I -- don' -- know.
That whole thing of turning your head to the side and breathing in,
and then putting your face into the water and breathing out --
not my area. ...

I think I worked up to the "crawl,"
in swimming lessons,
and then
worked unsuccessfully on doing the freaking "crawl"

two God-damned summers in a row - !!

But -- that was a No.
Not happening.
Not good at it.
Not Australian.
I don't know.

Temporarily I felt a little bit sad and frustrated about it -- was unaccustomed to being the only kid in a "class" who couldn't "get it." 

I had to accept that there are some things in life you might try and not succeed.  And that's a valuable lesson, too, when you're trying to learn how to be a person. 

Decided I didn't mind about the crawl, because I could still swim.  (As in -- stay above water and not drown.)  Could swim out to the raft at Friendship Acres, and dive off of it, & also go down the really tall slide.  (Fast!  Yay!)

(Years later, reading about Jacqueline Bouvier back in the 1950s, opting out of Kennedy-competitive-sports-frenzies:  she said, "It was enough for me to watch them play tennis.  It wasn't necessary for me to be the best." 
I could relate to that.)

Remembering Friendship Acres (in Ohio), led me to think of playing pretend, which was really my favorite -- one time swimming and playing in that little lake, a bunch of children were pretending different things, thinking up a story about the "act" they wanted to do, right on the spot, and then doing it -- I pretended to be drowning -- "Help!  Oh no!!" 

and even though I was in water that was not over my head, this super-tanned lifeguard

(it was the Coppertone era, no one worried about sun exposure, they only worried about having the more glamorous, darkest tan)

got down off that high chair and came ploughing through the water toward me, with her whistle dangling from a chain around her neck. 

I felt very silly and stupid about that, I apologized, because I knew she was supposed to be worried about saving people who might really be "drownding," and not have to waste her time on someone like me who was only acting -- I didn't know I was that good at pretending....(!)

Picturing that Pretending Day led me to think of another memory that I hardly ever think of, but it's never gone, it's always floating in some brain file, even if I don't think of it for -- Second Grade in Mineral City, Ohio, the two second-grade teachers let the students go together one time, to make up stories and act them out, in the classroom. 

("Acting out" didn't have the negative connotation that it has, today:  it meant "act out" the story.  Show us, rather than tell us.)

I forget what I did,
but there was this kid from the other second-grade "room"
who did this whole routine where he ran out of the classroom, into the hallway, and got water out of the drinking fountain -- I can't remember exactly what he did -- did he have several different water glasses?? 

I don't know, he had something, and he'd bring the water back in with him, and drink some, spill some, and sort of dance around -- it was quite wild, for our little classrooms.  And there's always this sense....if you're having too much fun, Teacher's going to question. 

Sure enough one of the teachers asked him, after a couple of trips out to the hallway and back, "What -- what are you doing?  What are you acting out?"

The energetic little angel replied, "I just got off-work, and I'm drinkin - !"

lol...and that little urchin probably had a perfect, home-full-time, pillowcase-ironing, apron-wearing, permed-hair Mom who had taught him better'n'at. ...

Similar to the Australian crawl, we try, we don't always achieve perfection.


Monday, May 20, 2013

Dial "M" for Mom

I e-mailed a friend about a short article which I found kind of interesting -- about doing homemaking full-time -- and then, after clicking "through" to the original (longer) article that the first article was about (...don't ask...) got down to "Comments" part -- 400 Comments from readers, and found myself hurriedly e-mailing the friend back and saying, Maybe don't read it after all, or at least just stick with the first short article, don't click through to the other one -- so. many. angry. people. ... (?!?)

The article was about "feminists" deciding to quit their jobs and make home-making their full-time careers.  Articles of this type get a lot of people mad. 

As a single person not raising children, I read the first article all sort of -- blissfully innocent, thinking it was about Setting Your Own Priorities -- honoring the activities and values that are most meaningful to you (or me) -- and you know, that doesn't have to be only for parents or feminists or anti-females or whatever -- it can be of interest to Humans.

But the readers who Comment-in, all seemed to be parents -- and it's just -- like a bunch of people whacking each other like piñatas, or something.  (But only whacking with "Comments," not literal physical violence....)

They're, like, super-defensive about whichever way they "do their business" -- if they work outside the home, then that's the right way to raise children,
and if they stay home full-time, then that's the right way....
...reading them, I began to feel, "My goodness, why do people even have children, it makes everybody so mad....!?!...!"

I think maybe the thing is, when people write articles they should just stick to safe, uncontroversial topics like -- war and peace.

No that makes no sense.

Yes it does -- it's that comments and viewpoints about the
areas that people Really Care About, and which are Very, Very Personal --

the raising of children

will get a bunch of people

And I asked self, Why?
Because those are the things that are Very Important to people -- people are heavily invested in these areas, and these areas are also the source of a lot of Concern.

(Concern = Fear [??] -- am I handling my marriage right?  Will my spouse leave me at any minute, leaving the future of the children and me dangling in mid-air?
am I a good parent?
if one of my children has a difficulty in any area, is it my fault? - have I done something wrong?...)

It's, like -- too intense.

Realized, in these two areas:
raising family
there's a lot of enthusiasm and happiness,
but also a lot of
concern (fear)
in case things do not go as well as everyone wants them to. ...

Some of the Comments posted urged other Commenters to be kinder, to cease engaging in "mommy wars"...

A couple of people suggested that online magazines run articles such as the aforementioned because they want to "stir up" a "mommy war" and increase "page views."  (Do advertisers buy space on web-sites according to # of page views??)

The "mommy-wars" have been goin' on since the 80s.  Is there any end to it?

A Thought:  OK, the anger (in the Comments) stems from fear (of not doing things right, or of not doing them perfectly enough), and the fear comes from the fact that people love their families so much.

So -- like -- LOVE
leads to
which causes


All this time -- we thought Love was a good thing.

Can we flip that over and find that Hatred leads to good things?

Like, if Love leads to fear which leads to anger,

Then, could Hate lead to courage and then could the courage lead to peaceful joy?

Rrnnhh -- I don't think that works.

OK -- everything.  Is horrible.
(Does that work??)
(For example, re-do the Ray Stevens song, "Everything is beautiful":

[sweet introductory notes]:
Everything is hor - rible,
In its own wa-ay....)

A married woman told me once to not let people push me around about being single.  "Marriage and family is not all it's cracked up to be," she said.  "You do everything for everybody else, but nobody appreciates it...."

A working-outside-the-home wife - mother, about a full-time home-making wife-mother:
"If her husband ever left her, she'd be stuck, then, and she knows that...."
{why are you saying this stuff to me, A, and B -- could you please stop rubbing your hands together gleefully and salivating, at the prospect what's wrong with you ???!!!!?}

and of course that's one of those moments when -- if the Question, "What's WRONG With You??!!" comes in to your brain when someone's Pretend Front slips and the Stuff starts coming out and the phrase What's Wrong with you comes into your head, the truth is, you don't want to know what's wrong with them.  It's just a rhetorical question.  You.  Don't.  Want.  To.  Know.

Too scary -- Alfred Hitchcock movie....
(instead of "The Man  Who Knew Too much") --
The Mommy Who Knew Too Much - !
(instead of "The 39 Steps") --
The 39 Step-mothers - !
(instead of "The Lady Vanishes") --
The SAHM ("stay-at-home-mom") Vanishes - !
(instead of "Foreign Correspondent") --
Foreign Mom Who Corresponded While Working Outside the Home
(instead / "Shadow Of A Doubt") --
Shadow Of A Mom - !

("Spellbound") --
MUAS  (moms under a spell)

("Notorious") --
Notorious Moms
...Dial M For Mom ...

("Strangers on a Train") --
Strange Moms on a Train (if they had stayed home full-time, they wouldn-a been on the damn-train....)

and --
(instead of "Psycho") --
Bates Motel Mom...
...she knocks off a few unsuspecting travelers and then trades identities with her son. ...

Am not reading any more Internet-journal Comments until I have a ghost-sheet to put over my head, to scare them back, with....


Friday, May 17, 2013

...and such small portions!

Thinking about how to deal with --

a.  a whirling dervish of wild-and-loud verbal negativity:  complaint, criticism (general), rumor-mongering, suspicion-spreading -- which batters me about, like an autumn leaf before a tornado, when it's periodically encountered (for mercifully short periods of time)

b.  price-gouging, from a service I've used & recommended, to others....!  (!!)  [Can at least save own breath, by cutting off the recommendations....]  No $$-market for my breath, though. ...


Sometimes when cannot solve current problems, a person looks back over their life to see, as Woody Allen says at the beginning of Annie Hall -- "Where did the screw-up come?"

There's an old joke.  Two elderly women are at a Catskill Mountain resort, and one of them says:  "Boy, the food at this place is really terrible."  The other one says, "Yeah, I know, and such ... small portions."  Well, that's essentially how I feel about life.  Full of loneliness and misery and suffering and unhappiness, and -- it's all over much too quickly.


Annie and I broke up and I -- I still can't get my mind around that.  You know, I - I keep sifting the pieces of the relationship through my mind and -- and examining my life and tryin' to figure out -- where did the screw-up come, you know, and a year ago we were -- in love.  You know, and-and-and...And it's funny. ...


Thursday, May 16, 2013

"The Hurled Ashtray"

I Could Bask

Cloudy day, man -- cloudy day.

Air so temperate, makes us

want to sit outside on folding chairs
with woven-nylon seats

and lemonade

under porch roof for
from occasional gentle rain

with one notebook
and one
and one book of Nora Ephron essays
("Miami" -- "The Hurled Ashtray" -- "Baking Off" -- "Crazy Ladies, 1")

and a light jacket
for when it's breezy,

Basking in the
peace and security
which one can feel, in the
of a

Cloudy day, man -- cloudy day.



Wednesday, May 15, 2013

sundown shining in

Woke up this mornin'
The sundown shinin' in
I found my broken mind
In a brown paper bag of Zen.

Tripped on a cloud,
I fell eight miles high.
Tore my mind upon a jagged sky.

I just dropped in
to see what condition
my condition
was in.
Ah, ah.

Pushed my soul in a
deep dark hole, followed it in.
Met myself crawlin' out,
As I was crawlin' in.

I woke up so tight I said
"I never will unwind."
Saw too much,
I broke my mind.

I just dropped in, to see what condition my condition was in.
Woh, Lord, Lord,
What condition my condition was in.

[Whistling chorus.]

Ah, ah, ah-ha.

Somebody painted "April Fool,"
In big black letters on a Dead End sign.
I had my foot on the gas
As I left the road and blew out my mind.

Eight miles outta Memphis,
Lord, I got no spare.
Eight miles straight up.
Downtown somewhere.



Oh, Lord, Lord, Lawd,
What condition my condition was in....[Humming...]

{"Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)" - written, Mickey Newbury - 1968 hit, The First Edition (with Kenny Rogers on lead vocals).}

"Woke up this morning'"....Sopranos theme song....
"Eight miles high -- and falling fast"...Don McLean, "American Pie"...

"Condition was in" -- been referenced. 


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

the virtues of friendly debate

---------------  They were careless people, Tom and Daisy -- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back to their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made...
----------[The Great Gatsby]

---------  "I don't know, they forgot to wind my watch."  That was Marjorie Merriweather Post's reply when a friend asked her what time it was.  And that is the quality of a "careless" life that is so difficult to capture in a film.
------------------ [reader Comment on The Atlantic review of The Great Gatsby, 2013 film, directed-Baz Luhrmann]

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^  Another Comment on that movie review disagreed with the reviewer, but the Comment was so non-obnoxious and un-combative (so unlike many thoughts put out on internet), that the reviewer himself was compelled to answer:

"Thanks for disagreeing so very generously.  Not the kind of thing one often hears, but a nice reminder -- on all sides -- of the virtues of friendly debate."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~  The New York Times review of Baz Luhrmann's Gatsby movie drew the following Comments
{and when they refer to "Scott" it isn't F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of the novel, but A.O. Scott, who wrote the NYT review} --

the great gatsby
Haven't seen the movie yet, but I think I'll like it.  I've seen many films of The Great Gatsby and I've liked them all.  Gatsby works because the character is a self-creation who modified himself constantly, even within a single conversation.  He is the American everyman.
-- sjs, Bridgeport CT

Five stars for A.O. Scott's review
I haven't seen the film yet, but that is some first rate movie reviewing.
-- Steve Sailer, America   ...

Gatsby overstated?
I've never understood why the East and the Ivy League are so fascinated by the book.  It's never had that emphasis here in the Midwest.  Maybe the focus on new money is more relevant in the East?
Or the criticism of the old money?  I guess we just don't have those obsessions hereabout....
-- jay fraser, Midwest

Reviewer Heal Thyself
Tony Scott says that the character Gatsby and the Luhrmann movie based on Fitzgerald's book are each "a mess".  So, I would submit, is the review itself.  If he can sort it out in his own mind, which I doubt that he can, Scott should write an opinion piece on why "vulgarity" holds such charm for him and on why Luhrmann's "artistic sensibility" entitles him to do whatever he pleases and then reliably expect plaudits for it from critics confused about which way the wind blows.
-- jim, alexandria va

What a Mess
Baz Luhrmann is a bad director, a flamboyant drama queen masquerading as a director.  This isn't a splashy opera:  it's a bad, annoying music video made to entertain teenagers (or at least people with the mentality of teenagers).  Wow, I know people in Hollywood can't read, but this is an absolute joke - if you have any appreciation for the book, you'll be absolutely shocked at the overt visual garbage that's constantly thrown in your face.  This isn't an adaptation, it's a text message for attention-deficient teenagers.  It's ridiculous and ultimately very disappointing because The Great Gatsby deserves a mature treatment by a mature director ... not someone whose main influence is Dancing with the Stars.
-- R W, New York, NY

In keeping with the period depicted, we are subjected to "music" from the likes of Jay Z, Beyonce and a flock of other contemporary "talent".  Nice.
-- DEJ, Portland, Oregon

Reviewing the reviewer
Love Scott's frequent, casual dismissal(s) of the novel.  "It might be even better than you expect...."  Who is he speaking for here?  Gatsby is without question one of the finest books of the 20th century, but Scott sees largely mixed results.  Not bad, mind you...I suppose this 3D version is worthy enough of the novel in Scott's mind.
What a twit.
-- hubris, San Francisco, CA

leading actor problems
I am a bit mystified why critics are enthralled by literally everything Leonardo DiCaprio does.  For me, he's only slightly better than the blandness we get from Tom Cruise's flicks.  Ewan McGregor would have been an edgier choice.
-- K Henderson, NYC

AO's apology.
So in typical Hollywood corporate style moviemaking, we're supposed to enjoy the explosions and not worry about the writing.  Rather than dismiss the book Gatsby as carrying too heavy a reputation, a more honest view is that Luhrmann made a clunky, visually noisy movie that never connects with the soul of the story and gives us the wooden DiCaprio who doesn't have the acting chops for the role.  After three tries, Hollywood has yet to make an even mediocre version of one of the best American stories ever written.  But then Hollywood gags when it has to deal with writing.  The solution here is a visual style akin to the "blow up things reeeeeal good" mentality that drives big releases.
-- Gary Warner, Los Angeles

Contradictory Review, Unconvincingly Straining to Approve
This is supposed to be a favorable review, yet everything concrete Mr. Scott says about the movie sounds to me markedly unfavorable.  The review ends thus:  "As a character in Nick's ruminations, in Fitzgerald's sentences and in our national mythology, he [Gatsby] is a complete mess.  This movie is worthy of him."  The movie is a "complete mess", and that's appropriate because Gatsby is a complete mess too?  But Fitzgerald's book is very far from a mess.  In fact, what's so good about the book is simply that everything in it meshes together almost perfectly, with very little extraneous.  It's neat, compact, and lean.  (I don't see, by the way, that Gatsby is really a character in "our national mythology".)
-- Jake, Wisconsin

A.O. Scott
Does A.O. Scott ever write a movie review that doesn't sound like an apologia?
-- Roy Zornow, New York City

...To call anything about Luhrmann's work genius is to demonstrate Stalin's theory of The Big Lie:  keep saying it enough and they'll believe it to be true.  American cinema is in enough trouble without the critics of the paper of record fawning over the filmmakers.
-- Paul, Pacific Palisades, CA

"Our Gang" does art
diCaprio is a man child and never believable as an adult.  Watching him always makes me feel like I'm watching summer stock.  And Tobey Maguire - sorry but he lacks even a droplet of talent.
A.O. Scott like most film critics today is a half-baked hack.  Anything remotely connected to Hollywood turns out to be superficial nonsense.
Look I could care less about the sanctity of F Scott, but you've got to find some kind of depth in this script.  I don't know if there will eventually be a renaissance in film making like perhaps the one in the 70's, but if not I guess I just have to rewatch the great ones.  Remember when Scorsese wasn't a pandering hack?
And 3-D...oy.
-- L.A.

Baz all over again
Luhrmann never saw a cinematic gewgaw he didn't like.  He is over the top and in your face....Initially pleasing, his movies wear and enervate with excess and leave no airspace for the viewer's imagination to take hold and join with the screen....

Carey Mulligan does what she can with a role that has fallen into cliché, and it doesn't help that Luhrmann directs and shoots her as though he's doing ads for Chanel.
-- Pauline, NYC

Well done
Really and unexpectedly enjoyed movie
Don't miss it
-- Jerry, Gold coast long island

Earlier Gatsby Movie Version
I rather liked the mostly critically panned movie version starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow as Gatsby and Daisy, respectively.  It had a quiet, lyrical and introspective tone to it that I thought captured quite well Mr. Fitzgerald's prose.  A.O. Scott's description of this latest Gatsby film iteration, replete with 3D effects, hip hop soundtrack and frenetic pacing, makes this sound like the version designed specifically to appeal to a Millennial generation attention span.  I think I will pass on this processed cheese.
-- Jeff, Chicago, IL

The Great Baz
I have seen only the trailer (or preview, or, as we usta call it in my Hudson County, NJ, yute, comin' attractions), but, in conjunction with A.O. Scott's review, I have decided not to spring for the 10 bucks (senior citizen rate) to see this film.  Tobey Maguire's voice is all wrong for Carraway, and despite my esteem for DiCaprio's abilities as an actor, he, too, is wrong for Gatsby.  Even in the short trailer, it is apparent that Luhrmann is imitating the surface, the Gatsby the world sees, but Fitzgerald's story is about Carraway's perception.  TGG is much like Warren's All the King's Men in that it is about the narrator (which is why the film versions of ATKM, whatever their virtues, are an essentially different story from the book.)

Scott is right about Luhrmann -- and that is precisely why BL is attracted to the wrong thing about the novel.  He is not, of course, alone in this.  Underlying FSF's work is a sensibility akin to that of Cervantes in Book II of Don Quixote, where Quixote renounces his madness and the author (and through him, the reader) is tugged into preference for the ideality of that madness.

-- Frank Gado, White River Jct, VT

Style over substance
...I like the energy of the film but I left thinking little about the film.  Eh?
-- kilika, chicago


"What time is it?"

"I -- don't know.  They forgot to wind my watch."


Monday, May 13, 2013

thick blankets of obfuscation--NO!

Geez, I get frustrated when I want to type out some info that I see, done by -- I would imagine -- literate experts, and I'm confronted with statements that someone was "famed" and "widely known" ...(hmm, both of those?) and sentences that circle around onto themselves and seem to make an interesting subject sort of -- opaque, and baroque, and -- like -- Never Mind. ...

Since the advent of the internet, it's become accepted practice to just slap stuff up there, even if it has not been properly edited
(and I'm afraid that unfortunate custom is even migrating into things printed on paper, out in the -- air.) ...

I'll just have to
or else I won't even be able to understand it, myself, and it was MY subject - !

In the modern world of Technology, it has become too easy to confuse ourselves.
Or to be fooled by something that looks real when it's not.


Friday, May 10, 2013

doing things

Speaking of Mrs. John F. Kennedy's 1962 televised Tour of the White House, if a person goes onto the internet and types in

Jacqueline Kennedy's White House restoration papers released, Tina Cassidy

a Washington Post article with that title and author will come up, and as we scroll down, there are two photographs from the 1962 White House Tour -- and they are

in color.

The first one, significant paintings on the red walls, the room's proportions accented by the presence of Charles Collingwood and Mrs. Kennedy, Wow... -- (you know these folks were not midgets, so -- that's one big honking room....);

the second photograph with flowers in the foreground, colors gorgeous, & it seems you can feel the atmosphere of the room, as you look at the picture.


"The papers show how the 31-year-old first lady led many aspects of the scholarly restoration, from sketching the draperies to scripting the taped TV tour, which aired on Feb. 14, 1962 in a program that 80 million people watched....

The papers provide an interesting insight into the inner life of the first lady....She was determined, smart, funny and thoughtful.  And the restoration project, which was her idea, seemed to feed her intellect and keep her sane during a stressful time in her life. ...

Within a month of becoming first lady, Mrs. Kennedy established the White House Historical Association and Fine Arts Committee and helped pass legislation designating the White House as a historical monument -- a radical concept at the time...."
{end excerpt}


The article prompted one Comment -- "...This is so good to read.  Jackie had real bona fide class and dignity and I will remain forever grateful to her for getting us through her husband's funeral, so that the nation could heal....And [later, in the 1970s] those letters for saving Grand Central Station, she really knew how to persuade and do the right thing for American culture...and how to take a stand at just the right time."
{end Comment}


And in those photographs:  her hairstyle!  Cannot you just look at that hair and see how it symbolizes (says):  "The White House shall be beautiful, with historically significant interiors and pieces"
"Messing with Grand Central?  Ex-cuse me??!!") ...


Thursday, May 9, 2013

White House medicine show

The next time I have access to complete-internet and thus You Tube, two things I want to view and listen to, for sure:

the song, "Wagon Wheel"


"A Tour of the White House with Mrs. John F. Kennedy."


Actually -- if I tried to list each thing I want to

see - listen to - read Comments on,

on You Tube,

I could note down 200,000 things, instead of just two.

Two hundred million.

But -- got to start somewhere.

================"Wagon Wheel":  I came across this song completely by accident and still have never heard it.  Not the whole thing.  Very little of it.

On Tavi Gevinson's Style Rookie blog, she had a title (or subtitle):  "caught a trucker out of Philly, had a nice long toke" and I found that phrase to be so rhythmic and engaging, I typed it into Google to find out what I could...discovered it was a song by Old Crow Medicine Show.

Based on a "sketch" of the song by --

(some obscure distant-past blues-jazz Lyricist that I need to discover...?)

Uh, no -- Dylan.  Bob.  Have a nice day.  (!)
It's like -- if I like it, it somehow leads back to Bob Dylan.
Sort of -- six -- six degrees of -- something-or-other....

Says Dylan "penned" it as "Rock Me Mama" in 1972 for the film soundtrack to Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid.

So -- Old Crow Medicine Show (O.C.M.S.) released it in 2004.
And now, four months ago, Darius Rucker releases it, as a "country" song, from his True Believers album.

I heard a little short part of it --
"Rock me mamma like a wagon wheel --
Rock me mamma, any way you feel..."
in a vehicle driven by a guy who has been part of a hip-hop, R & B group, Haiti Boy, White Boy.

I said, Wow, what's that.
He said, Darius Rucker.
Didn't he used to be in Hootie and the Blowfish?

So now -- I like this song, and I haven't even heard it.

Similar to the film, The Sting.  I liked it four years before I ever saw it.

I -- like songs I've never heard,
and I like movies I haven't seen.

(Would this be a skill set?
Or a condition?)

So when I get to a You Tube computer with a speaker, I'm a-goin' to listen to every version of "Wagon Wheel" that I can find.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^  And the Mrs. Kennedy White House Tour -- have seen it, need to see it again.

------------  Charles Collingwood:  "The Blue Room is so very different from the Red Room."

Mrs. Kennedy:  "Yes!...It's -- blue."

-------------------------  (kind, gentle giggling -- [KGG] -- laughing with, not at) -- most of the Tour of the White House is very informative, engaging, you get more interested than you thought you were, in U.S. History, more specifically, presidential history, even more specifically, White House history, listening to the First Lady most Americans referred to as "Jackie" -- she doesn't make any errors -- the "Yes, it's blue" line is not quoted here to make her sound dumb or silly, or anything -- it's just that --

everyone has their moments,

and, though well educated, she was by no means a practiced or trained television announcer or presenter.  In that area she was an amateur.  The Tour, overall, is wonderful, and pretty much perfection, but Total Perfection would not have been as much fun, if it were not "cut" with the "Yes it's blue" moment.

The hour-long presentation (in 1962 -- I picture my parents probably watching it on the black-and-white TV set that stood on the floor, on four -- "legs"....) got good reviews:  in Sally Bedell Smith's Grace And Power, she quotes a journalist who said Mrs. Kennedy related history and described the renovation project "with verve."

1.  enthusiasm or vigor, as in literary or artistic work; spirit
2.  vivaciousness; liveliness; animation
3.  Archaictalent.

1690 - 1700;  French

When Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis died in 1994, I started reading about her and after learning of the White House Tour on television, I desperately yearned to see it, and thought I never would.  I thought -- I'll never have the means and the leisure to go back to Boston, go to the JFK Library, and watch that.  Unless the History Channel or something decides to show it, and I happen to catch it, I'll never see it...!  I felt devastated and frustrated.

I did not envision You Tube coming in the future.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

nothing else mattered

I went today...maybe I will go again...
And the music there, it was hauntingly...
and I see you doing...
What I try to do for me
with the words from a poet...
And the voice from a choir
and a melody...nothing else mattered

Just like the white winged dove
Sings a song
Sounds like she's singing
ooo, ooo
Just like the white winged dove...
Sings a song
Sounds like she's singing...

{excerpt from "Edge of Seventeen" - writer, Stevie Nicks - Label, Modern Records - recorded, 1981 - released, February 1982}


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Mastering the Art of Blog Adventures

Julie Powell cooked her way through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year, and wrote a blog about it.

Then Julie Powell wrote a book about the blogging and cooking.

Then the book was made into a movie.

Then Lawrence Dai watched the movie every day for a year, and blogged about that.

If you can have a book about a blog, you can do a blog about a book.

If you can blog about cooking, then can you cook about blogging?

Not really, but you could cook from a blog -- a recipe blog.

Could they make a movie about cooking from a blog and then write a book about the movie?

Then someone reading that book could blog about the book.

And each of these projects must go for a year.  That's the --
a)  challenge, and
b) framework,
within which to work, to give these projects shape, and a set of limits -- parameters.  Like baseball having nine innings.

Recently read some of Lawerence Dai's blog (The Lawrence / Julie & Julia Project) -- it's funny -- profane, too....These kids today....In the August 2, 2011 post, there's a story written by a guy who had a small part in Julie & Julia -- he wrote all about what it was like to work in a movie, how nervous he was, etc.  He was "the cheese guy" at Dean & De Luca in the film, & in real life he worked in cheese.

Commenters on that post really liked the cheese guy's story, as did I -- I liked that there was no brutality or disgusting-ness or cruelty or meanness in what the cheese actor wrote, AND -- everyone -- LIKED it.  (!!!!!!!!!!!!!)  If found that encouraging.

One commenter wrote,
"There's something oddly meaningful about this post.  It reminds you that everyone has a story.  I kind of wish every movie had a blog like this now."

Wow, that's some wish.

That, of course, "encouraged" me to --
think of the movies I would blog about for a whole year straight, each one, if I decided I had the stamina and there was a good reason to do it (don't know, however, am no Lawrence Dai....) --

When Harry Met Sally...



The Big Chill

Body Heat

Coal Miner's Daughter

The Last Waltz


His Girl Friday


one year of watching-and-blog-posting-about:

Play It Again Sam
Annie Hall
--three movies that I consider sort of the core of Woody Allen's "oeuvre."
Instead of each of those films for one year,
I'd do all three, through a year -- comparing, contrasting -- ... >>> seriously, I could do that....
Could throw in When Harry Met Sally... during that same year with the three Woody Allen works, even though that's a Rob Reiner film, not a W. Allen -- I read someplace recently that someone said, "When Harry Met Sally was Annie Hall with a happy ending."
And I felt like I should have said that, or at least consciously thought it....

I had noticed so many homages toward Woody Allen's work, in Harry-Sally, but I never pursued or explored these observations....