Monday, August 22, 2005

Burghers, Where were you during the storms Saturday?

What happened? What did you see? Any photos? Please write or link . . .

Hope all is well, though.

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Friday, August 19, 2005

15th characteristic of fascism

Not to make a joke. Because I do believe that we are currently living under an undemocratic and militaristic regime. But, Mussolini and the Futurists thought that pasta makes the nation weak, physically and morally. And now the country is going through this Atkins thing . . . this is also to remind us that people participate in fascism, then and now, not just the leaders.

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Thursday, August 18, 2005

the best lasagne noodles yet

Ciao, Ragazzi.

My favorite lasagne noodles that I've found so far are . . . De Cecco. Yes, you have to boil them first. But you do so in enough water and they are soft and sweet and rich and very wide. In celebration of the slightly cooler weather we made a spinach lasagne this week. You can buy them at PennMac, but also at most regular grocery stores too.

Most amazing, though, in the dubious tradition of pasta (multi?) nationalism, is the multi-lingual De Cecco website, where you can still send e-cards, each with a pasta themed image of an Italian tourist attraction and a recipe. Anyone else notice how elaborate and beautiful so many Italian websites are? There's an amazing website for the Chaplin archive too.



Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Justice Talking and Anonymity

As for my housemate's pseudonym below, I'm really beginning to be troubled by my own anonymity. I used to live in an apartment building where one of the tenants would leave admonishing notes about the safety of the building, etc, UNSIGNED. I thought this was creepy. If you want to make an issue public, sign your name and we'll talk. But here I am, no signature. Then recently I heard a broadcast of the NPR show Justice Talking (titled "Stop the Presses") and they were having a discussion of unnamed sources. It seems like an idealistic position, but the journalists interviewed (left and right) seemed to think that public discussion should be public and I found I agreed with them. So hopefully I'll sign my name someday soon and take responsibility for the things I say.


"cinematic" Michael Chabon

So my housemate and partner in crime (aka "Benjamin Greenfields") has been reading Michael Chabon this summer. Right now he's reading Kavalier and Clay and, as was the case with Noah Baumbach's "My Dog is Tom Cruise," he reads the funny parts aloud. I died laughing throughout chapter 3, the brainstorming session for superheroes.

However, I am annoyed with Chabon as I am annoyed with anyone who indiscriminantly uses the word "CINEMATIC." To describe a talented and ground-breaking comic artist, Chabon writes, "he joined three panels vertically into one to display the full parabolic zest of one of Superman's patented skyscraper-hops (the Man of Steel could not, at this point in his career, properly fly), and he chose his angles and arranged figures with a certain cinematic flair." (p.77) This kind of innovation, he dates at 1938.

I feel Chabon is putting the cart (cinema) before the horse (comics). Does Chabon mean the comic looks cinematic to a late 20th C eye, familiar with the cinematic techniques of various film industries of the past 100 years? Or does he mean it looks cinematic to the eye of the day? It would have to be the former. Comics didn't become popular in that period because they looked like movies - they looked better, more exciting, more mobile, more dramatic. Films, by comparison, were sort of doing "less" for the visual imagination than comics, or radio, in some ways . . . the cameras were less mobile than they are now and less mobile than the imaginations of the illustrators. For example, in the way of action and adventure, filmmaking in the US had achieved Chaplin's slapstick, and Tarzan and King Kong - which are all a little stagy and 2-D compared to good comics of the period. It's tough to date these things, and its all related . . but still.

Above: Action Comics #1 (1938) Note the 2 frames with canted "angles" above the buildings, the "extreme close up" of the insects. Uncommon in popular period filmmaking. Composition of baby with chair is more "cinematic" c. 1938, though the subject matter would have been difficult for film photography.

Do other people have this kind of trouble with the word "literary?" Does cinematic simply mean visual in its imagery? Iconic?

Modern Times (Chaplin, 1938) And this is the exceptional film with a lot of "action" in 1936, not the run of the mill comedy of people chatting, shot head on and from the knees up.

Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941) Now, that's more like it. Films followed quickly, but I'd argue they followed. A good example would have been the "exterior" crane shot that introduces Susan's nightclub.

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June 27 New Yorker issue

I've been wondering what article it was, by Alex Ross, that I read in the last year and really loved. It was not the article on Philip Glass and film music in the June 27 issue though. That was dull. He explains that movie music can work in tension with the image, to produce critical thought on the part of the audiance and, whoa there, irony. They wish! Eisenstein, Brecht, Adorno and Eisler agree. Alex Ross is, indeed, a scholar of modernism. Alright, cheap shots, I know. Moving on . . .

Wait, I found it, Alex Ross reviewed a production of Wagner's Tristan and Isolde. Now that's what I like - Southern California, Baudelaire, and Wagner, all on the ugly edges of modernsim. Who wants to see a production of Tristan and Isolde? After reading that review, I do, I do! What a review!

I really love swimming. Image from the video art of the opera. And I hate video art, or so I thought.

Pittsburgh Note: The water at Presque Isle State Park was full of pigeon feathers this past weekend. So I could not swim. Because a elderly relative has passed down a story about how her brother died of a pigeon disease. Granted, that was New York City in the early part of the 20th C but our knowledge of bird disease still leaves much to be desired. Call me paranoid.

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Where should my little sister go to college?

I'm asking everyone.

What she's looking for: A medium sized four year school. Maybe something larger, more diverse and less isolated than a typical small liberal arts college. She's travelled a good deal in the US and she's familiar with different parts of the country, except maybe the mid-West west of Pittsburgh and east of Oregon, and she's open minded about where she'd go. She's considering women's colleges.

What she's into: Theater, film, math, Spanish and Portuguese. She also spent the last year living in a small town in Brazil and going to high school in an exchange program. Right now, I think she might want to be a language major, either Spanish or Portuguese and she's pretty fluent in both.

Oh yeah, her application: She's in her senior year at a very small, rather conservative, private school. I don't think her grades are perfect (she's more goofy than serious) but her test scores are fine. She's been on the swim team and crew team and in the school plays, but doesn't need or want to do athletics in college.

Please feel free to describe and recommend places you've attended, visited, sent family to, live near, whatever . . .


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

aug 2 (?) New Yorker issue

I did find it in the trash, but then left it in another state, so I'll be working without the magazine in front of me.

Philip Gourevitch, why do you always wax rhapsodic about landscape? Examine this, be critical of this romantic tendency of yours. Sri Lanka piece was interesting, but off-putting. Why did you bring up Faulkner? Really, I mean it, think about what it does to your argument . . . .

Review of new Gus Van Sant movie, could have applied to Elephant, which I just saw this summer. However, there is not a clear enough sense in the written review of how much Last Days appears to rely on a kind of period movie recreation of the grunge look. Honestly, this is genius, and was in his Psycho. Looks almost EXACTLY the same, feels different. He inserts a kind of absolute, unbridgable difference, despite an uncanny visual verisimilitude. Plus, I luv Michael Pitt and have since his tortured Dawson's Creek days.

Review of Steven Bocho's new Iraq war TV series. This sounds like a disaster, but I too (along with the New Yorker) am interested in the long career of odd Steven Bocho. General query: Why does the New Yorker review TV?

David Sedaris, tired, tired and out of season.

Another cute sidebar in the front . . . by Alex Ross. Who is this Alex Ross? Oh, here he is, or, rather, his temporarily out of order blog. Music critic. Sidebar was on Aaron Copeland, with a great quote about making pop music. Under the "Lit" heading at Ross's blog this piece on Thomas Mann looks interesting . . . I luv Doctor Faustus.

Also watched Hollywood Ending (Woody Allen, 2002) this past weekend. Blindness as slapstick and philosophical problem. For those who've seen it, he went blind from "narcissistic masturbation" right? I feel the son subplot is quite lame and the movie is about moviemaking . . . would provide cute clips for teaching undergrads about auteur theory.

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Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Query: What should I do in LA?

The recent trip to NY was a research trip for my dissertation. Today I'm leaving town again, for DC, to watch a film at the Library of Congress, also for the diss. But later this month I will be visiting an old friend in Los Angeles and I have never been to Los Angeles . . . so I'd love your thoughts on the city.

I'll check out a travel book or two from the library but does anyone have any particular recommendations? Or even just good websites to browse before I go? I love new landscapes and city landscapes and the beach, so I'd especially like recommendations for parks. Note (here is the challenge): the two of us have very little spending money. We cook, never buy coffee out and clip coupons.

FYI, I found the latest NYer in the trash.

And I recently learned that Peter Falk (aka Columbo) has a glass eye.


Tuesday, August 02, 2005

july 25 New Yorker issue

best of the issue:

'My Dog is Tom Cruise' This piece is almost impossible to read, which is a theme of this issue. But when it was read outloud to me, it was a fun time. Also, the good friend who read it to me identified with a sense of joy of both dog and Tom Cruise, which I think is nice, after all the negative vibes.

Actually, this good friend is falling in love with Noah Baumbach, as far as I can tell, which will be an interesting development for me and my ihatethenewyorker blog. We watched The Life Aquatic this week too - it took us so long to get around to watching this because (a) we'd heard only tepid responses (b) Wes Anderson's previous films seemed aimed at people just a little younger than us. But this movie has a GREAT pace - slow and deliberate and you don't get stressed out watching it. Romantic too. And I don't mean the Cubby and Ned story, the other stories.

From the Nyer review of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (which we also saw, its HOT here) describing the family "a selection of bedridden grandparents who appear to be rehearsing for a production of 'Endgame.'" (p.100) This is just the truth, not a brilliant piece of writing on the NYer's part. Dahl, Quentin Blake and Burton are all working from this same model. And I think that is why, when I read "Endgame," those two elderly dears were familiar and uncanny, and held my attention.

As for the movie, my little brother and I liked the drawing out of the denistry-teeth theme, present, but quieter, in the book.

worst of the issue:

'Bloodsuckers' Impossible to read, in a bad way.

raises the eyebrows:

Seymour Hersh's discussion of Nancy Pelosi's protest against US interference in the Iraq election. (p.53) If she's has information about rigged elections that she is not "going public" with, well, that is frustrating. And if Hersh has sources, she should too. Where is the opposition party?

The following issue of the NYer is also impossible to read, but that is because I have lost it!

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