Saturday, August 30, 2014

Jingly Saturday Random Ten

Tonight I watched the first couple of episodes from season 2 of Mad Men.  I can see why some aren't into it but there's a strong appeal.  Part of it is the compelling figure of Don, who wants to do the right thing even as he frequently doesn't.  There's also a nostalgia for a time when you could tell your secretary "I've been wanting to see that Valentine heart" because she's got a nice ass.  For some reason that one doesn't appeal as much to women.

There's a deeper nostalgia, though.  In the houses and offices, you can see what was still a thriving middle class, with jobs in general being more secure.  Advertising and spin did very well as the cherry on top.  Now they're supposed to be the whole sundae, which doesn't work as well.

1. Benny Spellman - Fortune Teller
2. Reading Rainbow - Animals Take Control of Me
3. Beasties Boys - Crawlspace
4. Broadcast - Subject to the Ladder
5. The Band - I Shall be Released
6. Diana Krall - So Nice
7. New Order - Blue Monday
8. Lower Dens - Propagation
9. Dirty Projectors - The Bride
10. Heidi Bruhl - Sieh Mal An

Friday, August 29, 2014


Today I...

Had to do a couple of items of business at my local library branch.  They close a little ahead of six on Fridays.  Friday was the deadline because the branch will be closed on Saturday and Monday, due to the holiday, and is always closed Sunday.

So I had to be there earlier than I would have had the chance to normally.  Got around this by eating lucnh at my desk.Finally I did make that trip and picked up what I needed to pick up, as well as some other stuff.

And I solved today's crossword, despite being at the groggy state of the night.  So, happy Labor Day to all, where applicable

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Serenity prayer, breakfast edition

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, pancakes, syrup, and coffee.

I'll be back on the blog with something more substantial Friday night, I think.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A colorful, dangerous world

In my optical wanderings (not as unhealthy as it might sound) I've found a lot to like about Simone Haack, a German painter, and a fairly young one.

She's good at faces and figures.This is highly expressive, fever dream stuff.  She might bear a heavy heritage from the Dutch Baroque artists.  Frans Hals seems like he could recognize her as one of his own.

The color work in this collections bears a starkness that could almost be black and white.  If that makes any sense.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Samaritan Saturday Random Ten

A waitress asked me today if I was feeling better.  The last time I was in the restaurant I was definitely under the weather.  She noticed that time and remembered this time.  This would be worthy of praise even if - especially if? - I was still/again sick as a dog.

1. Lambert, Hendricks & Ross - Moanin'
2. Heidi Bruhl - Chico Chico Charlie
3. The Band - To Kingdom Come
4. Dave Van Ronk - Brian O'Lynne
5. Elton John - Love Song
6, Neko Case - The Needle Has Landed
7. New Order - 5 8 6
8. The Beastie Boys - All Lifestyles
9. Diana Krall - Walk On By
10. Brian Eno - Becalmed

interesting oater alert

Westerns, or at least new Westerns, have been out of favor for some time.  Occasionally they still happen to get made, though.  An unusual and fascinating recent example of the form is Kelly Reichardt's Meek's Cutoff

The film is set on the Oregon trail migration and follows a wagon train making its way through the mountains.  The first five minutes or so elapse with no dialogue and no music.  When people do start speaking it's presented naturalistically and it might take some time to tune in.  I can honestly tell you that there are some exchanges where I don't know what people said.  Partly because I was eating, but also partly because Reichardt and scriptwriter Jonathan Raymond care more about you understanding the characters than every word they say.

The wagon train is guided by Stephen Meek, played in a bird's nest beard and an impressively resonant growl by Bruce Greenwood.  Meek comes off as something of a braggart, a man given to embellishing his past deeds beyond recognition, but he's never exposed as a coward.  He is revealed, or at least suspected, as a poor guide.  His route takes the settlers off-track and into Cayuse territory.  Here they take a lone Cayuse aboard, one who speaks no English.

Meek distrusts the Cayuse, and immediately wants to kill him.  The others, including heroine Emily Tetherow (Michelle Williams) entrust the Cayuse with helping them find water.  It's a tentative trust, however.

Who's right?  It's a mild spoiler to tell you that we never find out.  Meek, in his loating of the Cayuse as a tribe, repeatedly bring up their purported slave trading.  Given that the movie is set around 1845, that doesn't give Meek and America much of a leg to stand on.  The Cayuse himself, played by veteran stuntman Rod Rondeau, does seem shifty at times.  Other times he looks to be as lost in his own way as anyone.

The film places us on one side of a cultural divide, the side that you'd expect, really.  But it acknowledges that divide, up close.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Clean bills of health

And we're back.

I've had a bit of a tech crisis here, whcih is the reason I've been out for a couple of days.  A surprisingly unsubtle malware took over my laptop, and I had to find a way to get rid of it.

This interrrupted the telling of my most recent visit to the dental hygienist.  Almost complete lack of pain, which potentially could be a bad thing but wasn't.  My teeth and gums look great , apparently.  And I have above average saliva production, which is good if weired.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Shaggy dog story (sorry)

From the category of "cool things that are new to me if not necessarily new in and of themselves" is this story.  Most reliable info I've read puts original publication at 2005, so it's recent anyway.  The career of its author is storied.  Kit Reed has been writing science fiction and other fiction since the latter tip of the Eisenhower era.  She's done a lot of her best work in the 21st century.

I had her omnibus collection The Story Until Now out from the library recently, and this was one of my favorite stories from it.  It's got some very interesting story elements.  A premise that operates in a grey area - a twilight zone, if you will - between science and mysticism.  A not-too-sympathetic but understandable central figure with a tragic lack of understanding.  The story unwinds in a strange, hard-to-predict way.

Sunday, August 17, 2014


Not much to say about this situation that isn't being said elsewhere, better. Only that it's depressingly predictable. Not unavoidable, that's very different. We don't have to have police take on the role of invading armies. But if it's going to happen, it's going to happen in places like Ferguson, to people who look a certain way. For now at least. I think we all have an interest in stopping it, but the sad truth is that for whites it's an abstract concern.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Blood all over the Friday Random Ten

Chan-wook Park's Thirst, which I just watched, is a vampire update of Zola's Therese Raquin, which I read a long time ago.  Definitely an interesting idea, and the film has its moments.  A little too long, maybe?  Too many false endings?  But Park's visual sense is as sharp as ever.

1. Paul Simon - I Don't Believe
2. Amy winehouse - Know You Now
3. Lou Rawls - Show Business
4. Brian Eno - Spirits Drifting
5. Elvis Costello & the Attractions - Lovers' Walk
6. Pink Martini - Sway
7. Broadcast - I Found the F
8. Nancy Wilson & Cannonball Adderley - A Sleeping Bee
9. Neko Case - Maybe Sparrow
10. Dave Van Ronk - He Never Came Back

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


I can't say for certain that this is how he would want to be remembered, but it's one of my better guesses.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sunday Random Ten (feels weird just saying it)

Day off tomorrow on account of VJ Day.  Victory over Japan.  Rhode Island is the only state that still celebrates it, which feels kind of weird.  Pretty sure Pearl Harbor was elsewhere.  But a day off is a day off, I guess.

1. Broadcast - Goodbye Girls
2. R.E.M. - Driver 8
3. Beck - Waking Light
4. Paul Simon - How Can You Live In the Northeast?
5. Elton John - My Father's Gun
6. Dave Van Ronk - Stackerlee
7. Tito Puente - Take Five
8. St. Vincent - Bring Me Your Loves
9. Fats Domino - Walking to New Orleans
10. Diana Krall - Quiet Nights

Saturday, August 9, 2014


Okay, it looks like I was lying about a Saturday Random Ten.  Turns out my day was scheduled a little beyond my control, although not in a bad way.

Last night I watched The Americanization of Emily, which I'd ordered from the library.  Actually it turns out that I could have watched the whole thing on YouTube, but hell, why not give my TV set something to do?  It was getting bored.

It's an antiwar comedy released in 1964, so while it's sentiments were a little more acceptable to society than they had been, it wasn't really something most people had been thinking about.  James Garner is a navy "dog-robber", which is to say the guy who makes sure the admiral is coddled and happy.  He's a self-professed coward, and so of course falls into a love affair with Julie Andrews, a widow who buys into the myth of war being noble.  It's well cast all around with Melvyn Douglas as the loony admiral and James Coburn as a propaganda officer.  His character goes power-mad and has moments of pomposity that kind of play against his cool image.

I'm not sure the movie keeps all the balls in the air, but it is worth seeing.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Message to the future

I just called myself at my work number to leave myself a reminder about stuff I should do tomorrow.  No, I did not hear myself answer.  Still, the activity does have a kind of sce-fi thriller feel to it.

Looks like another Saturday Random Ten week.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Get up, stand up

I sometimes envy natural squeaky wheels, people who enjoy fighting.  It does seem to be a basic part of life, after all.

Self-advocacy doesn't come naturally to me.  If I think I'm being overlooked or taken advantage of, I need time to draw up a case and learn the arguments that will bolster it.  And no matter how reasonable or even minimal my request is, it always occurs to me that I might be met with a "How dare you?" or a "Fuck you" enforced with a hammer-blow to the head. Of course if that were to actually happen I know it's time to escalate.  But the wait makes me nervous.

That said, the occasion that triggered these thoughts resulted tonight in my sending a politely worded email and receiving a polite email and mostly getting what I wanted.  So my not being hot-blooded isn't totally a bad thing.

Monday, August 4, 2014

That's some book

Lightness of spirit, levity in approach to life: These are good things to have.

On a related note

ENJOY 40 from Chiara Guidi on Vimeo.

Love the way it even captures the sound of needle hitting record.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Saturday Random Ten downpour

A certain kind of rainy day is the ideal time to take your umbrella out for a dry run. Well not dry exactly. This morning was such a day. Little wind, so it didn't threaten to get turned inside out. Nor did I fly like Mary Poppins, alas. And no big puddles for drivers to drive through. Getting splashed by a driver is rage-inducing. So yes, altogether a successful test.

1. Nellie McKay - The Big One
2. St. Vincent - Prince Johnny
3. Elvis Costello & the Attractions - Shot with His Own Gun
4. The Velvet Underground - Lady Godiva's Operation
5. Lower Dens - Lion in Winter Pt 1
6. Arcade Fire - Here Comes the Nighttime II
7. Mose Allison - Lucky So & So
8. Pink Martini - Sway
9. Fairport Convention - Mr. Lacey
10. Diana Krall - Boy from Ipanema

Friday, August 1, 2014

Movie time (or is it?)

I'm wondering about comic book people and movies.How one field might see the other as a place of liberation, and how that might effect them.

Guardians of the Galazy is basically two different series in the comics world: one based on the memory of the other and both pretty obscure.  Much has been made of how third-string characters like these never being the subject of movies.

Except now the Guardians are?  What to make of that?  At the Big Two comic book companies, there's tended to be more freedom on titles about minor characters.  But if this movie hits, that might be read as proof that there are no minor characters, so the corporate bigwigs might as well micromanage everything.  So whether the movie is good, bad or indifferent, creators trying to break in or just maintain their independence within the system might want to root for Guardians of the Galaxy to fail.  Or at least to be a perceptual failure like the Daredevil movie with Ben Affleck.

On a very different cinematic front, I watched F for Fake tonight.  This was Orson Welles' last film as director, and it's a "documentary" about fakery of different kinds, including a successful art forger and a journalist who seems to have manufactured an interview with Howard Highes.  (The journalist, Clifford Irving, is an intimidatingly tall man who almost always has a monkey on his shoulder.)  "Documentary" is in quotes because it's obvious that it's going to live up to its name to a large extent, and it's obvious this is supposed to be obvious.  One of the first scenes is of men on the street all ogling the same woman, and it could not be more staged.  (On the other hand, she was his real life girlfriend, so that counts for something.)

The movie doesn't entirely cohere, but Welles' voice and skill as  a raconteur carry it through.