Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Chuck Klosterman

Detroit is like a 16-year-old girl who just paid $110 for the haircut she always wanted, but now she's driving to school and checking herself in the rearview mirror, and she's starting to suspect that she looks a little like Tawny Kitaen on the cover of "Out of the Cellar." Kids can be cruel, rockers.

from blog by author and Pop culture guru (why is it always guru, it's inaccurate) chronicler Chuck Klosterman who is in Detroit this week covering Super Bowl for espn.com's Page 2. Since Bill Simmons is taking this Super Bowl off, Mr. Klosterman is definitely a worthy replacement. Especially for non-sports fans. C'mon you know you want to read it.


Marilynne Robinson

"But Wallace Stevens I think is probably as great a single influence as any. I just love his poetry. I've taught his poetry. And William Carlos Williams, and Emily Dickinson. Talk about the phenomenology of daily life! She's simply unbelievable. When you look at the older writers like Melville, and Thoreau, and Emerson, who were very influential for me in the way they use metaphor — and William Faulkner also is a very good example of the same thing — this deep, integral use of metaphor as a way of accessing experience."

Nothing but quick hits today. Short attention span theatre in the making. The excerpt above is from an interview with Pulitzer Prize winning local author of Gilead and Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson.

The complete interview available from Powell's.com


Costanza is upset...again.

I can't wait until his parents tell him it was actually the film that he was named after. From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Meet Seven and his mom, Stephenie Barber.

Seven was born Oct. 26, 2004, between Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's fourth and fifth consecutive victories of his rookie season. Although Seven's parents -- who live in Indiana, Pa. -- are often asked whether they named their son after Mr. Roethlisberger, they were actually inspired by another Western Pennsylvania institution: After driving by an 84 Lumber sign, they "decided to go with something numerical," said Mrs. Barber.

When Seven watched his first game, however, the connection to Mr. Roethlisberger was instant. "We realized it was Seven and Seven," said his mother. "It became too cool."


Monday, January 30, 2006

Mix Tape Redux

Apart from a few brief spurts of productivity I spent the weekend doing little else but reading and watching mindless television. Also watched two recent releases which left me feeling dissapointed as I was looking forward to seeing them but then felt that they were over-rated, over-hyped, or both. The first, Red Eye, was at least mercifully brief (75 minutes) but not even remotely scary or surprising. Waste of a decent cast. The other, The 40 Year Old Virgin, was almost excruciatingly long and seemed a bit choppy in its editing with some scenes ending abruptly, transitioning strangely or carrying on forever. I do like Steve Carell and the film did have its moments but they were overwhelmed by the mediocrity of the rest of the movie. Thus endeth the film critic portion of the show.

Tiny Mix Tapes Automatic Mix Tape Generator is a site I ran across on a music blog (see I AM FUEL link). The site takes suggestions for mixes and those deemed worthy or interesting enough are posted back up with a track listing of songs tailored to theme. The actual mixes are sometimes cool but not nearly as interesting the themes submitted. Samples of themes:

Songs for a man who woke up 30 years later only to find himself in trouble with the dutch mafia and the world of snuff films.

I am 23 and recently got my first of potentially many cats. Songs that say 'I embrace being a spinster.' Songs that say 'Is that cat urine I smell?' Songs that say 'You can never have too many cats.'

songs whose lyrics revolve around body parts that are NOT the ass.

And my current personal favorites are tied for 1st place:

I really like you but...that's not my clit, it's my thigh. A mix tape for breaking the bad news, or at least help me get a little lovin' in the right general vicinity.

Songs to celebrate my really fantastic first date that occurred on Friday the 13th and continued into Valentine’s Day but ended tragically with my date getting hauled off to jail for drunk driving and left me stranded in his BMW convertible on a cold bridge in Minneapolis.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Iowa Exit 211 by Tom Langdon

This picture is currently hanging on a wall in my living room courtesy of the Iowa City Public Library. It was one of the winning entries from this years library art contest. You can see all the winners from this and previous years and can also tell if they are available to be checked out here.
I enjoy the thought of my living room playing host to a rotating art collection. All I need to do is find a docent to stand in the corner. Happy Friday. Enjoy the weekend.

NASA has set aside the final Thursday in January as a Day of Rememberance for the Apollo 1, Challenger, and Columbia tragedies.

I remembered watching the Challenger explode on television after a phone call from a friend alerted me or at least I thought I did. James Oberg has piece on the myths of the Challenger disaster. This Saturday night the National Geographic Channel will have a special on the untold story of the mission marking the twentieth anniversary of the event.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

A poem I had to share

Living Sacrifices

. . . a living sacrifice. . . which is your reasonable service.
— Romans 12:1

To love and work, not die. The longer effort
of staying the exile's course until it crosses
a threshold into breathful amplitudes. . .
entrenched and therefore toxic codes of action
and judgment freely handed over, with
the quickening intent to be less trammeled,
less gripped by power surges of self and self
and self. . . That done, an ocean washes in —

waves, daylight, gusts. The way they ring, high-pitched
hurrays released in volleys by those at play
on the nearer inshore. . . Standing with them, two
figures whose seventh decade lend a kind
of independence to, and crinkled laughter
revive, the second childhood of a child
who hasn't heard of sacrifices; but will
in time salute their clear soul-heartedness,
lean into the air, and never count the cost.

Alfred Corn
Art • Faith • Mystery
Number #48
Winter 2005-06

from Poetry Daily

As if I need more ways to waste time

While waiting for supervision to get back to me I was browsing through some musis blogs I came across this link. Endless variations. I don't want to spoil the effect so just trust me it's fun... You will need to turn off pop-up blocker...Audio required...

Let them sing it for you!


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Splurge on the cheese or the wine but apparently it would be foolish to do so at the same meal. Some of you may have seen this already on A&L Daily in the Nota Bene section... it's a brief piece so I will post the entire article.

Vintage or vile, wine is all the same after cheese

19 January 2006
From New Scientist Print Edition

NEXT time you are organising a cheese and wine party, don't waste your money on quality wine. Cheese masks the subtle flavours that mark out a good wine, so your guests won't be able to tell that you are serving them cheap stuff.

Bernice Madrigal-Galan and Hildegarde Heymann of the University of California, Davis, presented trained wine tasters with cheap and expensive versions of four different varieties of wine. The tasters evaluated the strength of various flavours and aromas in each wine both alone and when preceded by eight different cheeses.

They found that cheese suppressed just about everything, including berry and oak flavours, sourness and astringency. Only butter aroma was enhanced by cheese, and that is probably because cheese itself contains the molecule responsible for a buttery wine aroma, Heymann says. Strong cheeses suppressed flavours more than milder cheeses, but flavours of all wines were suppressed. In other words, there are no magical wine and cheese pairings.

Heymann suggests that proteins in the cheese may bind to flavour molecules in the wine, or that fat from the cheese may coat the mouth, deadening the tasters' perception of the wines' flavours. The paper will appear online in March in the American Journal of Enology and Viticulture.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

My nephew John (with special guest star Andrés)

John and Andrés

If I can't embarrass my 15 year old nephew I am not doing a thorough enough job as an absentee uncle. So here I go... (I need to dig into the photo albums when he was Andrés size at some point in time.)

Monday, January 23, 2006

My nephew Andrés

My sister emailed some pictures to me so I am happy to play the dutiful uncle and dump them on my friends. Next week home movies, The Directors Cut.

(That diaper seems a bit large or a bit full to me.)

Of course I had to send him a Sox outfit.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

"Edgar Allan Poe & The Juke-Box"

The New Yorker this week has three poems from Elizabeth Bishop from the forthcoming collection pictured above. She is one of my favorite poets and I would love to own one of her watercolors or drawings for my den/library when it exists. I thought it was strange that a women who has been dead for almost thirty years continues to publish poems with the same regularity that deceased Tupac cranks out rap albums. It just goes to show you the power of a good agent. In Bishop's case, editor Alice Quinn has sorted through a mountain of papers to come up with many unpublished poems from all stages of Ms. Bishop's life. This book is due out in March.

The Moon Burgled The House

The end of the world
proved to be nothing drastic

when everything was made of plastic

we slept more and more even after
the pills gave out

and vast drops of of the rivers ran
intor the drying canyons of the sea

the sun grew pale as the moon and then
a bit paler
although we could still see -

It was pleasant, it was lovely and
no one felt the urge to do anything,
even the children

we dreamed and dreamed all the cars
were parked, no one went anywhere
they just stayed home and held hands,
at first, then stopped holding hands-

peace peace just what we've wanted all

the whole world turned like a
fading violet, turned in its death
gently, curled up didn't stink at
all but gave off a l0ng sigh-sweet

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Welcome to the Jungle

Together Club, March 1988 , TDC Korea

Clearly, we were the best and the brightest the 102nd Military Intelligence Bn had to offer. (Names withheld to protect the guilty. There were no innocent.) In the interests of equal time/fair play I will share this picture from Korea 1988. The slogan on the banner in the background is one of my favorites from our brethren in the infantry. Despite appearances we were in the Army not the Navy, not there is anything wrong with that.

There was decent music in the '80s. I want to add this to the recent spate of documentaries that are on my must see list. Still waiting to see if the Minuteman film, We Jam Econo, shows up somewhere. K. also recommended, Rock School. Also I still have not seen the Metallica movie.
Throw in the Dylan film that I missed when it was on PBS and it seems like we are in the midst of music documentary New Wave. Notice from Pitchfork follows...

American Hardcore Doc to Debut at Sundance

Current trendhoppers may be surprised to learn that the 1980s weren't all one big John Hughes movie, that some alienated (mostly) white youth rejected the choice between Duran Duran and Mötley Crüe. These Reagan era moppets of suburban rage have been felt more than they've been seen or heard in recent years: with hardcore punk, they created a sound and a scene that forever altered American youth culture, bearing fruit as diverse as Metallica, the Beastie Boys, and Blink-182. But the resolutely anti-commercial hardcore era has been left out of most mainstream punk histories, lost in a Dark Age between the Ramones and Nirvana.

Writer Steven Blush brought these shadowy years into the light with his 2001 oral history American Hardcore: A Tribal History, and now he's joined with video director and fellow hardcore scenester Paul Rachman to produce a documentary film of the same name. The 90-minute American Hardcore premieres this Friday, January 20 at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, with four further screenings scheduled throughout the festival. Yes, we know there's something weird about a film chronicling a raging basement revolution being brought to the public via a star-studded event like Sundance, but, hey, punks gotta get paper just like the rest of us.

Cobbling together footage from "before even the VHS video revolution," as Rachman told Billboard, the film includes vintage live clips of bands like Bad Brains, MDC, Minor Threat, and Black Flag, along with numerous contemporary interviews with the grown-up versions of the scene's major players. "I think the most interesting thing to me was to see what has happened to people [in the last 20 years]," Blush told Billboard. "You see how poor some of these people are, and how bitter some of these people are-- people who did not get their due."

A decidedly un-punk premiere party will take place at the Star Bar in Park City on January 25, featuring performances by the Circle Jerks and D.O.A. It's sponsored by Vans and there will be free Stella Artois and Aquafina. Somewhere, Ian MacKaye is banging his head against a wall.

Jason Toon

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Greetings Red State Librarian!

(Christmas in Korea 1987)

I was recently informed by the author of the Pho Manifesto that an Army comrade of ours and frequent heckler here, Red State Librarian, has an active blog going. It's bad enough I am getting tag teamed on El Duderino's blog by reactionaries in the guise of libertarians back east. Now we have another rightwinger from the Mid Atlantic section of the country. Welcome to the fray.

Monday, January 16, 2006

"There will be some who remember us when we are gone." - Sappho

I started reading The First Poets by Michael Schmidt to distract myself from a disheartening loss by Patriots. (By the way, a belated Happy Birthday to K.) The first chapter on Orpheus is prefaced with a poem by Wallace Stevens and an opening paragraph that wakes Greek poetic history up and make it more inviting to me than it was in high school. This may be a bit too much to chew on as a library book for a short check out period but it is a volume that of course I want to own eventually. At long last I can learn more about Semonides of Amorgos (who is naturally not to be confused with Simonides of Cos). That would be a rookie mistake. The following is from intro to Orpheus chapter.

He left half a shoulder and half a head
To recognise him in after time.

These marbles lay weathering in the grass
When the summer was over, when the change

Of summer and of the sun, the life
Of summer and of the sun, were gone.

He said that everything possessed
The power to transform itself, or else,

And what meant more, to be transformed.

"Two Illustrations That The World Is What You Make of It,"

"What would a man not give," declares Plato in the Apology, "to engage in conversation with Orpheus and Musaeus and Hesiod and Homer?" Can we do something of the sort? If not to engage in conversation, then at least to glimpse them as they go about their holy and unholy business?

If I start with Orpheus, father of poetry, of music and, some say, of the art of writing itself; tamer of wilderness and wild hearts, servant of Apollo and, paradoxically, servant also of a new Dionysus; torn limb from limb as Dionysus was himself; dissuader of cannibals, maker of the ordered liturgies that displaced the abandoned frenzy of the orgies . . . If I start with Orpheus, it is to make it clear from the outset that this is a history in something other than the modern sense of the word. My Muse is Clio, as she was Plutarch's and Pausanias'. My Muse is Calliope, as she was Homer's and Apollonius of Rhodes'. And Erato of the lyric, tragic Melpomene, spirited Thalia shaking with laughter at solemn, spiritual Polyhymnia, who mutters prayer and praise. Orpheus is a hero, not a god, and a hero more valuable than most of the gods, just as Prometheus was.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Bloody but Unbowed

I know some are as excited about football and the team from Foxboro, MA as K. is about hearing Sam Beam whisper another song but as the Patriots take a depleted but recovering team into Denver I have to hold out hope for at least a chance to win three straight Super Bowls and enter the pantheon as the greastest football dynasty ever in an era that is designed to prevent such dynasties. That and the postcards of Brokeback Mountain that El Duderino keeps sending me keep me going.

The funniest and best sportswriter not named Gammons, Bill Simmons aka Sports Guy (who happens to hail from Boston and is a Pats fan too) has his picks for the weekend games and offers sage advice on gambling, including the following:

1. Never fully trust anyone named Manning.

2. Never wager on a Giants game in which a crazy-looking LT might be prowling the sidelines and looking like he's about to ask a bummed-out Carl Banks for money during every timeout.

3. Beware of young quarterbacks at home or on the road, especially anyone who calls Phil Simms "Dad."

4. If you have a large amount of money wagered on a team that loses its starting QB within two plays, and Jon Kitna comes off the bench to replace him, just throw some clothes in a bag and start driving south.


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Fail Better

Untitled Haiku

Haiku makes you fail,
fail, fail, and fail some more—
then for once not fail.

Billy Collins

Poem is from another old link to a lit mag, failbetter.com (from the Beckett poem which is on the site's main page) that I ran across again while looking for something else and ended up reading for a bit. In addtion to haiku there is an interview with the former Poet Laureate Billy Collins and an engrossing story by Lou Mathews, The Garlic Eater. The opening line draws you in, "Mr. Kim squatted in the shadowed storage room of his market, Lupé's Groceries, contemplating his new gun. "

Ragna had mentioned having a New Order song stuck in her head and I went looking for it. The RetroVid section of Rhino Records has several new order vids. I have only begun to explore but was lost in this site too as they have tons of videos including one of my favorite cover songs, the band X's version of Dave Alvin's 4th of July. There some gems like Johnny Cash's version of The City of New Orleans, Dwight Yokam doing I Want You To Want Me, some Mystery Science Theatre clips, and several Pixies videos from the Sell Out tour DVD. You can enter for a chance to win an autographed copy of Sell Out.

The Pixies have also released a new live album, Hey!, some of the bands personal favorites from the 2004-2005 seemingly endless tour. Alas, it is only being released via internet by download. Review of the 'album' is here from Pitchfork.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Naked Angels

"Whither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?"

-Jack Kerouac

Found this on the discard shelf of library. I have read a lot of secondary Beat material and while at UConn wish I had taken a class with Ann Charters, one of the leading Beat scholars in the country. Charters included, the opening chapter of Naked Angels ("Broken Circuit"), is the best short introduction to the holy trinity of the 'angel headed hipsters' of the Beat movement I have read. (Burroughs did not consider himself part of the Beats but he did serve as mentor like Manet to the Impressionist movement that followed him). It could stand alone as a course syllabus. Imminently quotable and full of information that could also lead one into a dissertation sized digression. I had a hard time finding out about this book orginally published in 1976 as it was out of print. It is being reprinted next month. While looking into the author and book I kept running across a reference to a motorcyle movie from 1969. (Featured below). Gotta stick with the theme.

"Mother has just got out of prison and wants to get revenge on the biker gang that put him there."

Monday, January 09, 2006

Top 50 Videos

Somone was ambitious. Not sure if all the links work. I love the video for Interpol's "Evil" (# 22) and the Beck robots (#9). Stole the link from New Yorker critic Sasha Frere Jones site, minimalist but cool.


Year in Culture

Slate has Year in Culture review from multiple contributors. Highlights and lowlights both. A cool digitization link is provided by music critic of old wax cylinders converted to downloadable files, music, voice recordings of Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and Taft, also Ernest Shackleton talking about surviving south pole etc... I love this kind of stuff and was sidetracked for a bit. Others include Pinter's Tom Cruise-Today show like moment at the Nobel Prizes Anti-American rant and former Poet Laureate Pinksy on South Park's contributions.

I have been slow in posting. I had to make a trip to hospital last week for the embarassing reason of a having a piece of food stuck in my throat. I thought it would take care of itself but it did not and I found myself in Mercy ER with an IV in my arm , wearing a gown, attempting to maintain composure chatting with student xray tech while waiting for the Xray doctor to show up. This was not the simple procedure I had envisioned. Each new person that came into the room I started adding on to the bill in my head. I felt like that Woody Allen line from Manhattan..."You're so beautiful, I can hardly keep my eyes on the meter." Anyway all's well that ends well. They may have actually found one of the reasons that I suffer from frequent bouts of heartburn, a stricture of esophagus or something. I will find out more today when I go back for an endoscopy. I don't even want to think about the bill for that one. Still, if I was in Canada I would probably still be waiting in line to get the piece of food removed from my throat. In the meantime like Mom said, taking small bites and chewing food thoroughly.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

"It was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained glass window." - Raymond Chandler

Returning to the noir theme since I have been wrapped up in watching the Sin City dvd extras and the reading one of the original noir guys, Franz K. I ran across this film festival ad on the TCM Channel website. I miss San Francisco and I love the genre of noir and the combination of both was too enticing not to look into. I enjoy a lot of genre fiction and dislike how some of it is relegated to the role of second class citizen of fiction as if it can not arise above a certain 'B' grade status. Granted the genres have to take some of the blame for the shlock that populates it but good writing is good writing nonetheless. The film festival points out a few things to me. This town needs a decent Art House theatre in addition to the existing foreign, independent and the occasional classic film that plays at the Bijou on campus. I don't even like calling it the Bijou because it is just a room with bad sound and a large projection screen at the student union.

Raymond Chandler is just simply a great writer despite that he said if his books were any better or any worse he would have never been invited to Hollywood. My favorite film conversion of Phillip Marlowe is Big Sleep with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall which was reshot to much improvement to highlight the obvious sexual tension between them. The best book with Marlowe is probably The Long Goodbye which has been filmed at least three times, once with Elliot Gould in an Altman film that was 'interesting' in the non-pejorative sense. Okay, there is no such thing but it was fun to watch. If I recall the current governor of California had a slight mumbling role as some mob muscle. Los Angeles is usually the noir scene that comes to mind probably because of Chandler's Marlowe as well James Ellroy's L.A. Confidential quartet, and Walter Mosley's East Rawlins even though one of the best noir characters, Sam Spade, had his office in San Francisco (shared briefly with the unfortunate Lew Archer) in The Maltese Falcon. That is the only Sam Spade novel that Dashiell Hammett wrote however. The hybrid science fiction noir coincided wonderfully in Phillip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep but even in the film version of Blade Runner they moved the setting from San Fran to L.A. I never understood why. San Francisco is perfectly insular for a noir setting. More recent takes on this blend include Jonathan Lethem's Gun, With Occasional Music and Richard K. Morgan's Takeshi Kovacs series starting with Altered Carbon. I would have liked to go see the film festival and see some of the rare films scheduled on a decent screen. Nothing better than, to borrow the words of Chandler, when the plot flags to bring in a guy with a gun. Even if he lifted it from Chekov.

Monday, January 02, 2006