Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Faster, hepcat, thrill, thrill

I thought I'd try the fast-writing advice at this link. It's not NaNoWriMo (that's November) and I'm not exactly working against deadline. It's just that I'd like to get a lot of ideas out there without too much fuss. Managed to get 1,600 words down, or thereabouts. Maybe more progress as things go on.

I didn't have to turn down the contrast on my monitor or remove any keys, luckily. It does sometimes help to wear sunglasses.

'Course the project is limited by my need for sleep. Oh well.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Scottish post

My friend was right. He said he knew Edinburgh was the capital of Scotland. I said I wasn't sure but I thought it might be Glasgow. But no, it's Edinburgh. Glasgow has a much bigger population, though.

Britain still does have successful radio dramas. Good on the Beeb for that one.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Captain, ye don't have the power

We had what seems to have been a pretty extensive blackout last night. This is an impressive thing. I got off the bus at my street, and noticed that pretty much all the lights were off. A couple of businesses had emergency lights, and some houses had working footlights on the lawn (?) but that was it. So unless everyone had decided to get a very early bedtime, something was off. And even if they had, why were there no streetlights?

Like I say, this is an impressive sight. Blackness all around, light only from the headlights of cars. A pizzeria where some friendly young adults were hanging out had a couple of candles lighting it.

I'm just as glad it didn't last that long, though. Especially since I had to reset my alarm clock when the power came back on.

Still found time to watch an episode of the second season of Fargo. I'm about halfway through it. In general I don't have the time or inclination to be a genuine binge watcher.

The general consensus I've heard is that the second season is magnitudes better than the first. I wouldn't really agree. Actually I'd say that they're about equally well constructed, it's just that the first season has some x factors that grab me more. Season 2 is good, though. The central story of a small town couple in trouble after the wife hit-and-runs a member of a crime family picks up a lot of tension.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Deep thoughts

I read about this project a few weeks ago in a book about artists who work on a very large or very small scale. Erlich is one of the former, as you might guess. This is just such an unusual idea to have, much less realize, but on a certain level makes perfect sense.

Monday, August 22, 2016


Thought just now: We haven't had much in the way of mosquitoes, this year. Not if my own experience is anything to go by. I can't remember the last time I got bit.

Seems likely the dry weather has something to do with it. Massachusetts has a drought going on, although I haven't heard the d word used here.

Also noted. Mosquitoes are a more fearful subject than usual this year. They're also part of the ecosystem in a lot of places.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Found movie

Lost River, the first film directed by Canadian heartthrob actor Ryan Gosling, quickly developed a bad rep. Critics savaged it as soon as it screened at the Cannes Film Festival, and in the US it only opened for a short time in LA and New York, although it seems to have had a bigger opening in Britain. Generally it's considered a rehash of David Lynch's greatest hits, as well as a few of Gosling's other favorites.

Is Lost River a good movie? To be honest I'd have to watch it again to make a decision. But I can aver that it's not a pointless one.

It's indebted to Lynch, but goes a little further in some ways. In Blue Velvet, Lynch presented Frank Booth as the unacknowledged id of straight, suburban society. He wasn't too subtle about being a violent criminal, but he operated in the shadows and it seemed most people agreed not to see him.

Lost River, centering on a single mother and her teenage son struggling to keep their family home, takes place in a heartland that's already in ruins, where the monsters have entirely taken over. In fact there are effectively two Frank Booths here. Bully, played by former Doctor Who with a mooky Yank accent and a ridiculous sequined jacket, claims profits on all copper piping stripped from razed houses, basically a violent form of rent seeking. Dave, played by Australian Ben Mendelsohn in a performance that's two parts John Malkovich to one part Alec Baldwin, is a little slier. A bank manager who announces his intent to foreclose on mother Billy's (Christina Hendricks) subprime loan, he gives her an out by offering her a job at his night club. It turns out to be a weird, creepy place, and he's got nasty designs on her.

Possibly excessive but definitely worth investigating.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

In the pink

Big curved beaks. Beady little green eyes. Absurdly long legs. Oh, these are beautiful birds and good parents, but I wouldn't want to get on a flamingo's bad side.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Getting to know you

I'm noticing a lot of what seem to be effectively blind dates these days. It might be because so much of coupling is done through phone apps nowadays. But you'll be out and at a table there will be a couple who, you can tell by their conversation, don't know each other at all.

There's frequently a quality of sales pitch in these encounters, and it's obvious who's doing the selling. The man talks more, talks louder, is more grandiose. My sense of order in the universe insists this must backfire a lot of the time.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Deep into the dog days

We've had two thunderstorms in the past couple of days. In fact Friday night I heard a lightning strike just outside of the cafe I was in. It was a somewhat nerve jangling experience.

But neither of those storms did anything to cut down on the heat, which is immense. Just makes you appreciate cool breezes more when you find them, or they find you.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Art for heart's sake.

A friend of mine told me about Portrait of Jennie last year, I think. Maybe the year before. In any case I just got around to watching it. It's a strange film, when you get down to it. Enchanting while not being entirely trustworthy.

An artist with great skill, but one whose work (we're told) shows little passion, meets a girl. A girl from the past. He falls in love with her, and she with him, and she becomes his great work.

The fact that he meets her when she's a little girl and they already have chemistry is more than a little creepy when you think about it. But that part seems less severe given the movie's air of fever dream, fueled by the Debussy-via-Tiomkin score. But it's questionable whether this obsessive, consuming romance is actually healthy, regardless of whether Jennie is real or not. Fever dream, drug haze, all of that.

Joseph Cotten had a very fertile period in the late 1940s. Between this, Gaslight, The Third Man, and Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt he showed a lot of versatility. (Citizen Kane was his first, I think, but for obvious reasons he wasn't the lead in that.)

Also, I swear I wasn't looking for movies with Ellery Queen connections, but this turned out to be one. An amazingly young David Wayne plays Cotten's Irish friend, exhibiting much charm even if the screenwriters did go for ALL the stereotypes.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Going underground

A Chance Meeting from Frances Love on Vimeo.

Charcoal is a messy medium, as you can tell if you've ever drawn with it and then looked at your hands. For that reason it's an interesting choice for animation, especially in the pixel era.

Glad these people got through their subway ride all right. Have to admit, I was a little worried someone might throw themselves on the tracks.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Strauss walts, OR Look at the birdie

Vivienne Strauss has a whole bunch of collages and drawings on her site. Not all of them show birds interacting with mid-century modern furnishings and cars, but this vein does seem to produce rich results for her. Okay, yes, the birds are adorable. But the juxtaposition also draws parallels between birds and ourselves, raising the question of what is natural vs. conditioned behavior for them and us. There's a kind of surrealism here and also a kind of allegory.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Queen Watch: "The Adventure of the Sinister Scenario"

We begin with a closeup of a classic rotary dial telephone in a familiar study. Very familiar, at least, if you've been watching this series. A hand lifts the receiver, and the man attached to that hand speaks into it. This is the first sign that something is off. Although the tweed coat and Bear Bryant hat match those of our hero, the hair under the hat is blond. Furthermore the man voice and manner are all wrong. His tongue is too thick for the words he speaks. The a woman shoots him in the back and he falls. Another not-quite-familiar figure cuffs her and he rises again. A director yells "Cut!"


Sending characters in a TV show to Hollywood when they usually function somewhere else is a classing jump-the-shark sign, right up there with sending them to Hawaii.Probably worse, though, because a Tinseltown show is more likely to result in a self-congratulating "as himself" cameo from a guest star who owed someone a favor.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Shifty ground

For whatever reason I never saw Eve's Bayou when it came out in '97. Nor have I in the almost twenty years since. Until now.

As you might guess from the title, it's set in Louisiana, apparently sometime in the fifties. The middle child Eve narrates as an adult. She remembers her father vividly, perhaps a little too charming to be good. Samuel L. Jackson gives one of his very best performances. The cast in general is first rate.

Eve's Bayou looks like a movie. In point of fact it looks like a movie from the time when it's sent. Of course there's some content that wouldn't have made it at that time, and Hollywood wasn't making movies about Creole populations in the postwar years. (Nor are they now.) But in terms of framing, saturated colors, and the musical score, it feels like a work of classic Hollywood. That's part of the subject, I think. Memories of the past are a show, and an unreliable one at that.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Choir practice

The poem "Farewell, Ungrateful Traitor" is an excerpt from poet John Dryden's 1681 verse play The Spanish Fryar. I honestly am not quite clear on the plot but the bits of dialogue I've read are all full of this bitter humor.

The poem was set to music by P. D. Q. Bach, playing it relatively straight. There's something perfect about this covey of well mannered North Dakotans bringing it to life.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Night note

I feel a deep sleep coming on. It might be because the weather's cooled down a little. Anyway, I'll let you know if I remember anything coherent from my night visions. If they're not coherent that won't be much of a surprise.