Thursday, June 30, 2016

A "joke" +

Q: What do you call a banana lying at the beach?
A: A sandy banana!

Hmm. Not much of a joke, really. Maybe more of a sound poem.

Blogging at half power now. Should be back to relative normal in a few days.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Now they call me Three Finger Joe

Get a load of this when you have the time. It's a little over twenty minutes.

I saw it earlier in the eventing at a live broadcast of Rifftrax, one where they brought back a lot of old MST3K people, including Joel a couple of times.

Anyway, this safety film is a rich target being the three G's: goofy, gory, and grim. But it's kind of artful as well. The shots are well centered. The guy playing the foreman, at least, is a natural. As it turns out the film was made by Herk Harvey, the director of the cult classic Carnival of Souls. Which makes you wonder about the metaphysics of this construction site.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

toothy 2: literary edition

I'm entering the homestretch now on Zadie Smith's White Teeth. No sense in me running down the plot, because it's not really that kind of book, although assuredly things do happen. Best way to sum it up is that it's a multi-decade, intergenerational story based around two families in London. One is Bangladeshi and Muslim. The other is the product of an old-fashioned Englishman and his much younger Jamaican wife.

While the book is set in the late twentieth century, it feels a lot like a nineteenth century novel in many ways. Smith's narrator has the tones of a wise pub storyteller, like those of Dickens and Thackeray, rather than the detached third person of modernist fiction.

One thing I like about it is that everyone is wrong, in their own way. The character you sympathize with the most will simply be the one whose wrongness you're best able to tolerate. For me it's probably the Bengal matriarch Alsana, but if you read it you could pick someone else.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Nun but the lonely heart

Well, I thought spoiler-filled movie trailers were a recent scourge, but apparently they've been around a few decades.

Kerr is sent to the Himalayas - possibly India,, as Calcutta seems to be the nearest postal site - to oversee a convent. There's inappropriate sexual tension between several of the nuns, including Kerr, and the local British handyman/translator. Somebody goes psycho, as you might guess from the above.

There are plenty of places you could take offense at this film. In fact it seems never to have met a cultural or gender stereotype it didn't like. But you'd be missing the point. This movie is batshit insane! Just giving into the sensual experience is the best way to appreciate it. It's a massive head trip.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The great divorce

I don't have a vote in it, for obvious reasons, but I'd say that Eno and Harry Potter's mum are right and Basil Fawlty is wrong. In this case.

There are things to dislike about the EU, such as its one size fits all monetary policy. But the UK has been pretty lucky overall. It hasn't been through a harrowing audit like Greece. The Brits have even been able to keep their pre-EU currency. On the whole they'd probably take a serious economic hit if they left, a possibility most Brexit supporters don't really seem prepared for.

Beyond that, the pro-Leave coalition just makes me queasy. The man who killed Jo Cox wasn't representative, but that doesn't mean he isn't symptomatic. It seems to have been a fairly racist campaign. The most powerful advocates of this side are against immigration. They're also probably against a lot of other things that make British life better.

Monday, June 20, 2016


Flossing your teeth at the end of the day gives you time to relax and think. Granted, most of what you think will be, "Hey, look what gross thing I just found," but it's better than nothing.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Queen Watch: "The Adventure of the Sunday Punch"

The world recently lost Muhammad Ali, a man much of the country feared when he was at the height of his powers and on his way to prison for refusal of the draft. This may have been the knockdown of his lifetime, but he rose again, and it's often forgotten that he wasn't universally beloved back then. He was, however, undeniably significant. A picture I've only seen once or twice, but which has stayed with me, shows my grandmother's younger brother, who did some sports reporting in England, speaking agog to the champ.

While survivors from this episode's time period - 1947 - undoubtedly think we've gotten softer since then, and are in many senses right, boxing and related bloodsports have remained big. And it's been a favorite background in crime fiction and film as well, often in the context of fixing. Marvel's noir superhero Daredevil - he of the unloved Ben Affleck movie and subsequent Netflix series - was created a half century ago with part of the premise being that Matt Murdock's father had been murdered for refusing to throw a fight.

Thursday, June 16, 2016


Rain Keeps Falling from Chris Smith on Vimeo.

Why did this catch my sustained attention? Maybe because, while the days aren't getting that hot, the nights aren't really cooling down anymore. So rain feels like it should happen too. And this clip feels nice and meditative.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Two joys

A couple of things brightened my day today, I mean besides taking it off.

I saw the above picture in the newspaper, along with this analysis. The author isn't wrong about the man. The kindest thing to think about him is that he may have just been overindulging and thus looks dopier than usual. The woman certainly looks intoxicating in herself. She's perfectly ordinary, you say? To my eyes more ordinarily perfect. In any case, if there is something congenitally wrong with her husband, at least he seems to be in good hands.

Also I listened to an old episode of Piano Jazz, a radio show that Marian McPartland hosted, tonight. Her guest was the late Sarah Vaughan - both women are "late" - one of my all time ideals. It was interesting listening to Sassy talk between tunes. She sounded kind of drunk, but I don't think that was it. In her singing she almost always placed tone above articulation, and that seems to have carried to the way she spoke as well.

Monday, June 13, 2016


From a good piece by Paul Waldman:
Our relative safety from terrorism comes from our geographic isolation, but mostly from the fact that there simply aren't that many Americans who want to commit these kinds of acts. Unlike what we see in many places, American Muslims are overwhelmingly assimilated and patriotic—and maintaining those feelings in the last 15 years, in the face of government harassment and widespread bigotry, is pretty heroic. The reason ISIS hasn't been able to inspire or direct more attacks like the one in Orlando is that in America, there just aren't many takers for their hateful ideology.
This is one our better strokes of fortune. Especially since we've got military grade hardware like the AR-15 floating around. If Omar Mateen had walked into the Pulse with a handgun the outcome could still have been tragic, but not on the same scale. His potential to harm would have been less, and there would be a chance that someone might be able to tackle him. (Don't take that as an endorsement of any "If I was there I woulda..." type assholes, even in more human-level crime scenes.) The kind of firepower he had meant that no one could get near, nor could they get far enough away.

Also, scapegoating sucks all around.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Queen Watch: "The Adventure of the Black Falcon"

So. 1947. As you MAY know, America was just a couple of years past a big war, a war in which one of the main adversaries was Germany. This was the second war with Germany. The first had occurred from 1914-18, with the US only really getting involved in the last year. It was an intense war, though, and Germans in America/German-Americans being stigmatized stateside. This didn't really happen in the second war, though, due to a number of factors: German-Americans had assimilated more, our military leaders had names like "Eisenhower" and "Nimitz", the Japanese attacking Pearl Harbor and their descendants not being white made them more of a target, etc.

All of this might sound like a digression, but Germany, the German people, and the war(s) lie at the heart of this episode.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Here in my car where the image breaks down

During lunch today I saw a little car on the road that - I'm not positive, but I have a feeling - looked to be electric. After work I saw another one. Well after that, I saw a car whose fuel system I couldn't tell you, but was shaped like a Formula 1 car. So is there some kind of convention in town? One wonders.

I don't walk around with a camera all day. That means I don't have pictures of anything described above. Which, I guess, means it didn't happen.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

It figures

Queen Watch? Absent this past weekend, should be back Saturday. I'm about at the halfway point, I guess, give or take. So far it's been lots of fun.

In the meantime, there's this. I've long been a fan of Chirico's paintings from his surrealist/metaphysical phase, so I'm delighted an animator has worked his imagery into this (slightly florid?) scenario.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Dinner and a show

* Most of us aren't going to go swimming anywhere near where sharks do the same. Part of that is our fear of being killed and eaten, which is understandable but not really reasonable: they're not really going to attack a human in ordinary circumstances. A better reason is that we simply don't go out to those depths, that far from land. If you see a shark, the chief danger to you is drowning. So it's ncie to be able to feast your eyes via photography and the intertubes, in case you never get to in person. They're some stunning creatures.

* I did watch Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye last night, as I've been meaning to lately. And one thing I hadn't known before was that Leigh Brackett had written the script. Making this her second Raymond Chandler/Philip Marlowe adaptation, since she'd scripted the Bogey Bacall Big Sleep back in '45. Not a bad record.

Just coming into his own as a director, Altman takes on a different kind of material with pretty rewarding results. Elliott Gould must have seemed like an unlikely gumshoe, best known as he was - and remains - as a kvetching comic actor. But Marlowe is a human scale character, and Gould nails him. Also cast against type is Laugh-In's Henry Gibson as a creepy rehab doctor.

Maybe the most interesting aspect is the way noir claustrophobia is turned inside out, imbuing a sense of agoraphobia. Marlowe isn't confined to dark alleys, he's out in the open air of sunny Southern California. For that very reason he seems vulnerable to attack from any direction. The restless camera sometimes seems about to flee in terror.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Some fun

Just earlier tonight i heard this song for the first time in a long time. I'd always liked it, though.

The person responsible is  Amanda Nazario, who singles it out for the rougher sound of John Sebastian's voice. Nazario is up there with Charlie Lewis as my favorite FMU personalities. She does recaps of years-old Simpsons episodes that I just have to kind of stand up and figure out the applause.