Monday, October 31, 2005

David Denby's Apartment

Another reason to resent New Yorker film reviewer David Denby - his lovely Manhattan apartment. It's a beautiful HOUSE, Tiddly-pom. I wish it were MINE, Tiddly-pom.

Here's the story, at least for now.

I also heard on the public radio show Marketplace that people are buying $50 dollar brownies in actual New York City. When the revolution comes . . . Marketplace is funny, they are always exposing the backside of capitalism in backhanded ways.

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found! my grey hat! thank you everyone!

This past weekend saw a sudden trip to the DC area . . . we drove our old Honda (I think it is a '92) and it still gets almost 30 miles/gallon on the highway. What a wonder.

But before we left town, I ran into the Squirrel Hill Theater to ask about my missing hat.

And they'd found it!

I had checked at the theater the Saturday night I lost the hat, but either our lines were crossed that night, or someone returned the hat the movie theater later . . .

In other news, we stayed in a Motel 6 in the DC suburbs and when we arrived, very late, at the hotel we saw a little person, he had long dredlocks and he was talking on a cell phone in French. When we woke up, we saw in the parking lot a van labelled "El Circo."

We also ate at the Sushi Chalet in the DC suburbs. Its a sushi buffet and also has Korean vegetable pancakes, beef ribs and kimchi . . . We always go when we are nearby and it's very tasty, even if it's not the fanciest sushi you'll ever eat.

On the way home from DC we listened to The Who's Tommy in full. It took exactly the amount of time to play as we spent on 76, from Breezewood to Pittsburgh. Spooky. I felt very close to my TV friends on Freaks & Geeks and I felt like a pinball myself when driving on 76 in the dark what with the big concrete bumpers and the lights and the whizzing back and forth.

We also heard a nice interview on NPR with very elderly historian John Hope Franklin.

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Friday, October 28, 2005

the profound mystery of book design

Honestly, now, which would you read? I'm still circling round the Oct 17 Art and Architecture Issue of The New Yorker. These thoughts in response to Updike's book cover art article, which I've mentioned already.

This is my recent haul from the book sale shelves of the Squirrel Hill Public Library. Total cost $6.00. I think the guy cut me deal, the softbacks alone are $.50 each. But some of these withstood (note the past tense) only one reading.

The Man Without Qualities, Robert Musil - Recommended in passing by one of my favorite profs.

All Passion Spent, Vita Sackville-West - With a title like that you could put a parsnip on the cover. I love Woolf, so I thought I'd give this a try. I also loved Mr. Skeffington, a less properly "modernist" novel in the same vein. More like Edith Wharton or Henry James.

The Documents in the Case, Dorothy Sayers - Not a mystery. Could have been so great, if the letters (this is an epistolery narrative) had obscured the solution to the crime, rather than just given evidence in a straightforward way. And she does all this modernist name dropping, DH Lawrence here, DH Lawrence there, and everyone in the novel discusses the uncertainty of empirical knowledge but what for? She doesn't even exploit the untrustworthy narrator possibilities of the form, the easiest play in the modernist book. Is she pulling a double switch? I don't think so.

The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club - Here she has this guy dump his fiancee and accuse her of being a lesbian. He does this so she'll be too ashamed to discuss the break up with anyone. Spoiler: he's the murderer, so clearly he's evil when he does this. It's interesting, Christie wouldn't go there.

And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie - Those crazy racist Brits. I would call this popular modernism. Or "vernacular modernsim" if necessary.

The Man in the Brown Suit - Those crazy racist Brits, part two. This one is set in South Africa during the Boer War. Actually, this one, which relies on diary entries for its narrative, suckers you right in with the untrustworthy narrator-diarist. I didn't notice until I took the photo that the gems are arranged in a skull shape. Scary.

N or M? - Nationalism, national security and a generally light hearted look at WWII . . . Impossible now, but interesting.

Ursula H. Le Guin, Three Hanish Novels - A favorite profs favorite sci-fi, but I don't like sci-fi so I think this will be a holiday gift . . . It's gift quality, no?

MLA Handbook - A real page turner.

I just finished a fellowship application so I'm in a euphoric state.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

affect and sensory experience

Note the new ways I've got to categorize my posts, in the left hand sidebar. I'm ridiciously interested/excited about this.

Tomkins' Affects: I took the nine affects from Silvan Tomkins' Affect Imagery Consciousness and I kept disgust and dissmell, though I didn't know if I'd use them. Funny thing, I used disgust right away!! I added bored/frustrated, which probably should be boredom/frustration, but oh well. And maybe that's more of an emotion . . . but I find Tomkins a little arbitrary. Compelling, but/and arbitrary. Here's the Wikipedia summary.

On the one hand, I don't really like how these affects are, for Tomkins, tied primarily to visual facial cues. There might be more affects that linked to hands, feet, tummy, etc. And not everyone can read/see faces but they might perceive these other cues. He suggests this, but its not really there. On the other hand, because the affects ARE tied to visual facial cues, they become, for Tomkins, part of a feedback system that is bound to communication and social interaction. One sees that the other is angry . . . And I like the idea that, now, in my blog I am giving you visual (textual, here) cues that you can intepret and so the affect is communicated . . . As if it weren't before. I may add more if need be.

Sensory Experience: I came to this first, because I didn't like the idea of an "images" category that reduced all my images to visual images. So I thought I would break down the kind of descriptions of sensory experience that I address in this blog. Funny thing, if you think about it, how sensory blogs are - food and knitting, gustatory, olfactory and tactile . . .

Actually, I'm also thinking about this in response to Schjeldahl's "Words and Pictures" too, today, I think I'll write more fully on this in a bit, but the following is the worst of it: "the incommensurable functions of reading and looking." (162) Wrong, wrong, wrong. Reading and looking are both visual experiences and slide back and forth into one another. Especially in poetry, the literary point of comparison with graphic novels, for Schjeldahl. But also in movies and collage and reading and magazines and the web and TV and travelling and advertising . . . Actually, when I was tagging the last entry, I misstyped and got visualliterary as a sensory experience. Which is exactly right, right, right.

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oct 17 issue "overheard in the new yorker offices"

John Updike (puzzling to himself and tapping on the keyboard): "Hm . . . Hey Schjeldahl, you might be able to answer this, what's uh, you know, modernism?"

Peter Schjeldahl: "Uh, I think its, like, you know, "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon" and "The Waste Land" and all that stuff."

This because Schjeldahl cites these two works as properly modern on p. 168 and Updike cites the exact same two works as properly modern on p. 170. Granted, they aren't making controversial claims, but the editors do need to keep us from getting bored. What is this, fill in the blanks?

Actually, the whole issue reads like "Modernisms Greatest Hits," or maybe just the parts I read. Which goes to show you . . . more on the "Art and Architecture" issue later.

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Monday, October 24, 2005

lost: grey wool hat at squirrel hill theater

Lost on Saturday, October 22 at the 5.20 showing of History of Violence at the Cinemagic Squirrel Hill Theater on Forward Ave. It looked a little like this, only heather grey, not plaid. The hat itself was bigger, the brim was wider too. But this distinguished hat differed from the standard crusher and fedora by the way the wedge shaped pieces were sown together on the cap. Like this one here.

I looked like Donald Sutherland in M*A*S*H* people. I'll give you the corduroy newsboy I just bought at Goodwill. I cannot move on . . .

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Sunday, October 23, 2005

lost: grey wool hat at squirrel hill theater

I left my hat in the Squirrel Hill Theater on Forward Ave after the 5.20 showing of The History of Violence on Saturday October 22. Have you seen it? It had sentimental value and I am offering a small reward . . . Please contact me if you've found it! Or if you have any advice for how to find lost items in the Squirrel Hill area . . .

The hat was old, a kind of heather grey, and maybe sort of "crusher" style, but bigger. Almost Sherlock Holmes like . . . But with a round brim, no ear flaps.

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

More on Dictators, NYRB Nov 3

As you may know, I've objected to Ian Buruma's essay "The Indiscreet Charm of Tyranny", in the May 12, 2005 New York Review of Books. Then I had the opportunity to expand more fully on my objections to his book review "Kimworld" from the August 22 issue of the New Yorker at emdashes. Here's Buruma's review, here's Thomas Riggin's eloquent reply, and here's my recommendation for a film on the subject.

But I think someone at the NYRB has taken responsibility for countering that original tyranny piece by Buruma with another, more serious, reflection on the conept of "dictator" and the writing of history. In the Nov 3 issue of The New York Review of Books, Jonathan Spence reviews a political biography titled Mao: The Unknown Story. Spence is critical of the work, on these grounds:

"Despite its length, Mao: The Unknown Story avoids seriously grappling with other factors that made the twentieth century such a terrible one for tens of millions of Chinese, irrespective of what Mao may have done: these would include the depth and savagery of the Japanese assualt on China, the nature of the Chinese labor movement, the realities of peasant deprivation in republican China, the collapse of local order and the spread of banditry, the strength of organized criminal gangs, the significance of Chiang Kai-shek's lack of political and military skills, the social, regional, and class differences that separated the Communists from one another, and the technical aid, including police training, and military communications, furnished by the United States to the Nationalists.

By focusing so tightly on Mao's vileness - to the exclusion of other factors - the authors undermine much of the power their story might have had. [ . . .] The countless Chinese who did struggle for change are denied any role in their own story, and become mere ciphers, their lives and deaths without purpose. [. . .] Locked into their misery by the force of one man's personality, the Chinese people as a whole are denied all agency."

His objections are that this kind of biography-of-a-dictator approach sidesteps history, as it is made and lived by "people as a whole." A very similar objection to that made by Thomas Riggins vis a vis Buruma's account of Kim Jong Il and 20th C Korean history.

Maybe it's a problem with the concept of "dictator" altogether. Maybe lumping all these different contexts together (between the articles mentioned, and the film, the concept has been applied to Mao, Stalin, Franco, Hitler, Mussolini and Kim Jong Il) by using common terms denies the specificities of history (bad news for Buruma, who seems to be structuring a major work on this theme, and these figures) . . . but its a popular concept and persistant in contemporary rhetoric.

Take a recent BBC world service report on international war tribunals. A quote from a political scientist at Princeton on the effect of the trials, perhaps "the next dictator will think twice, before doing something."

This unfortunate quote points out the utter ridiculousness of this way of thinking. Dictators exist in relationship to historical circumstance, mass movements, populations, the whole enchilada. Its not a question of their personal decisions, or their personal lives, or their personal evil-ness. This shit is not located in the individual.

Why is it important to make this point, now? Because (some) people bought the rhetoric that overthrowing Sadaam would solve everything abroad. Because (other) people hope that the end of Bush's reign will solve everything here at home in the US. But in neither case is this even remotely true.

And to continue the speculation surrounding Kim Jong Il, his sex life and its political implications or lack thereof, I bring you, as found on the blog Multi Medium, and elsewhere . . .

. . . . something entitled Cunnilingus in North Korea. Don't click on it if you don't want to see it.

Ok, now apart from anything else you're thinking right now, think about what happens if you put this phrase in google. Think about the fact that this has no images.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Cheap bulletin board, amateur food porn

Two cheap solutions:

(1) This bulletin board (although not, strictly, in my line of site from the computer, unless I have eyes in the back of my head) is a good alternative to just sticking things into the wall. These are interlocking foam squares, usually placed on the floor and, at $1/sq foot, quite a deal. You may have seen these in smaller dimensions and kid colors, but its the same principle. Unlike, say, regular old cardboard (which I considered) this foam holds push pins very well.

Note to juniper pearl, I've reinstated my it's reminder, I'm afrail I'll never commit this to memory . . .

I just nailed these to the wall, but you could mount them more carefully with a drill, plastic anchors, drywall screws and washers. I might do this if the current method doesn't hold.

(2) If you're not shy or impatient or uptight, you might like Freecycle. It's a yahoo group where people post things they are giving away for free - there are separate groups all over the country. You can respond and arrange to pick the things up, or offer your own cast-offs. I got this very attractive and fully functional food processor.

I've never had one, nor has anyone I've ever lived with or any family member . . . I guess we're not afraid to chop . . . But this worked like charm mashing up baked acorn squash (not much of a challenge, but I'm starting slow). On top you see garlic, honey, cinnamon, sage, salt and pepper added . . . for a kind of tortelli di zucca lasagna from Everyday Food. Plus it is cute as a button. And its buttons are very cute.

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Monday, October 17, 2005

rememberance of memes past

Evidence that I love a bad pun as much as the next blogger.

I also love the magazine Vanity Fair. Like the New Yorker, it's written by an elite clique, or at least it tries to sound like it is, but it's therefore more upfront about this. Like old Dame Edna. And Graydon Carter (or is it Carter Graydon?) writes a heartfelt editors letter. All in all, I would read the magazine if it were free. I especially like the Hollywood history stuff.

I also like Thackery's Vanity Fair, and, I feel like the only person in the world, Mira Nair's Vanity Fair. That was a long movie, but when it was over I just wanted more . . . Like the book.

But that's not what this post is about. It's about the relationship of memes to the Vanity Fair Proust Questionnaire. A short history of which, including Proust's original answers, is found here. Pair this with the Wikipedia definition of meme and ponder . . .

Q: To what faults do you feel most indulgent?

So, if there isn't already a meme based on the Proust Questionnaire, I'll be writing one. And if there is a Proust Questionnaire meme, let me know, and I'll send it to you, and others.

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Thursday, October 13, 2005

segregated dining, McGee Women's Hospital

Has anyone else who has visited or worked at the hospital noticed this? I heard this from a friend . . .

The unhealthy, but more affordable cafeteria is frequented by the less well-paid staff and patients and the more healthy, but overpriced snack bar is frequented by the doctors and wealthier patients?

And this is in a hospital. The Penn Hospital in Philly actually had a McDonalds in it.

Its shit like this that really gets to me. Why are they serving unhealthy food at all? And why are they pricing it differently? This isn't a for-profit enterprise and when you are work, or visiting at the hospital, you don't really have all that much choice and/or you are possibly going way into debt for medical bills to begin with.

Tell me it isn't so.

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fallen fruit and other food smarts: LA, NY, PGH

Wow, this looks like a great resource for every mouth. I have so often been tempted to gather mulberries from Pittsburgh's public areas. Luckily, my backyard has a big mulberry tree. But not everyone is so lucky . . . Yes, this is about picking fruit and finding food in public spaces. But only in LA and NY.

I also wanted to draw your attention to my collection of Pittsburgh food blogs. Its now in the sidebar, with my Pittsburgh film links. If you have any further suggestions, lemme know and I'll add them. With some snide commentary, no doubt. Sorry about that, I couldn't help myself.

The photo is a mulberry bush, located, by chance, in NYC. But if you live in Pittsburgh, you've seen them. Perhaps in front of the Main Library in Oakland. Those are "weeping" mulberries, for obvious reasons. The ones at the CLP, not in the photo.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

sept 19, sept 26 issues

"Troilus and Cressida" I like that Lahr makes fun of the idea of "Original Pronunciation" of Shakespeare's English. The more startling claim would be to say flat out that we have no idea what that might have sounded like. How would we know? And, for that matter, how do we know what Beowulfian English sounds like? I guess there might be some argument for a preserved knowledge within academic study, but really?

"The roles of Hattie McDaniel" Basic, but interesting.

"Lord of War" I thought I could possibly see this, but the dialog in the online trailer is un-listenable. Painfully so. Too bad, seems like a dirty, controversial bit of business.

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oct 10 issue: Harvard, Capote, Ghosts

Gladwell on Harvard is great, fuckin' CRITICAL of what passes for an education in this day and age. Or in recent history. But the New Yorker attacking provincial WASP elitism? There's something inherantly contradictory about that. My only real argument with the piece - the article acknowledges that admissions are international, but seems to argue that Harvard is contributing to a primarily national definition and function of an elite. But this elite (and this definition of an elite) is definately an import-export commodity . . . Best line: Harvard worries about "a surfeit of 'pansies,' 'decadent esthetes' and 'precious sophisticates.'" Gosh, me too.

I think I may be agreeing with Denby yet again, on this Capote movie. Love Capote, love In Cold Blood, love all the sexual disfunction . . . can't wait. Also anticipate good things from Good Night and Good Luck.

Who is this Vince Aletti? He seems to know how to write, and to think about history and photography. I really wish I could see this exhibit, "The Perfect Medium: Photography and the Occult," "Photographs lie - they just can't help it." Nicely put. Could have used more images, there are a few here.

As for this odd coal mining article, my partner in crime is fascinated by the endless stream of non-signifying technical detail. It's like Pynchon, he says. Crazy, precious sophisticate.

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oct 3 issue, alex ross wanders in the desert

Opera is exciting to many people for many reasons - you've got voices and music and theater staging and acting and choreography and a story that's already been told and retold a few times . . .

But Alex Ross takes it bit far, in his article "Countdown" on John Adams and Peter Sellars' "Doctor Atomic." Or he doesn't take it far enough. He tries to cover everything in the ol' Gesamtkunstwerk without structuring his thoughts, and if I were him, I'd structure them around a critical point, or perhaps the questions, "Just what kind of representation is this - is it realist in any sense, an allegory, a historical record, what? What kind of representation does it want to be? And why?"

Sellars and Adams are conflicted, and surely this must tell in the opera, about what kind of representation they are creating. No, they don't have to settle on one, that isn't quite the formal or historical nature of opera, is it? But the conflicted work that arises is bound to the conflicts they articulate . . . Ross doesn't make that clear. What follows is a scattered account of the scattered accounts given by Sellars, Adams and Ross . . .


Sellars: "This is 'Goetterdaemmerung' for our generation, with our speed, with our tension points, with our nervous energy, but with nothing being a metaphor and everything being a reality." (62)

Well, I'm all hot for non-metaphoric thought. So the work of art is going bear an experiential or sensational relationship to a period, but not a metaphoric or allegorical one, as we might now understand Goetterdaemmerung to have done in its time. That sounds great . . . but . . .

Ross follows this quote with an exploration of the historical reading the creators and cast have done and Sellars' relationship to the libretto "assembled from extant material," not written as fiction. Ross emphasizes that "Events are sometimes condensed but almost every line can be checked against a source." So what? What is the significance of a historically accurate representation? Why depend on this kind of documentary truth? And how does documentary meet sensation? Without becoming allegorical?

Adams; For Adams, maybe it doesn't. A telling quote from him mixes them all up together and adds an element of what he calls elsewhere "the psychic" :

" 'The atomic bomb was the ultimate archetype [abstracted, metaphoric figure], the ultimate looming presence [of fear, a psychic experience]. And I do remember, as a kid - I don't know how old I was, maybe seven or eight years old - living in the most secure, Steven Spielbergesque, idyllic village in New Hampshire [postmodern refraction of experience through pop media] . . . getting into bed one night, and my mother gave me a kiss and turned out the light [sexual and psychic]. I heard a jet plane way, way high up in the sky, [sensory] and I went into a panic, because I wondered if that was the Russians [historical context] coming to bomb us.' " (64)

I think this is the longest quote Ross uses from Adams. Although it unites a particularly obvious Oedipal psychic scene with a precise sense experience, in a historical time, it actually distances Adams' experience from that of the figures in the opera, or the historical moment. His experience seems naive and melodramatic compared to the experience of Oppenheimer and the others he is trying to represent.

Sellars: When Ross gets to Sellars and the actors, its all about psychology and how these various characters might really feel. So the representation is psychological realism of some kind? (And a psychological realism that Ross actually identifies with, using the personal pronoun "I" )

The best passage of the piece mentions Sellars' undergrad work which, Ross suggests, tried to reconcile "avant garde theater of abstraction and defamiliarization" (Brecht, Beckett, Artaud, etc) with "Stanislavsky's art of psychological naturalism" (ie, Hollywood cinema from Brando to DeNiro) - a huge historical and theoretical tension in 20th C US performance. In this quick reference, there is some suggestion of how this tension over the ways and means of representation might influence "Doctor Atomic," but Ross avoids going there with a lame from Andrew Porter, which says simply that Sellars' work is " 'meant for nimble minds' " Why nimble, how nimble? Because there is no single consistant, identifiable representaional strategy. Why not say it and explore it?

Sellars: According to Ross, Sellars gives the orchestra musicians "the same sort of Stanslavskian motivation that he had offered to the singers" - he offers them fairly specific meanings to attach to the sounds they are making. This is a very representational representational strategy, which Sellars himself contrasts with understanding music as "purely descriptive."

Adams: Ross offers plenty of his own, very formal descriptions of the movement of the music. These are fine of course, but sometimes Ross gets carried away with being descriptive without telling us how the music fits with or works against other elements of the opera - ie, the narrative, the actors, the language, the voice. He suggests that the music works against itself, as it references "the entire ghoulish army of twentieth century styles." (69)

With, of course, a signficant "archaic gesture" thrown in. Just more evidence that this opera is all over the place for all kinds of reasons, none of which Ross really tries to get to the heart of. Frankly, this is the moment that maybe frustrates me most - Adams music is often spare, minimalist, repetitive, tight. A kind of closed and measured system. Here, obviously the music is wild, and its interactions with the other elements of the opera must be wild in the extreme. What does this conflict produce?

Sellers: Ross addresses a key element of Sellars libretto, the inclusion of lines from poets Baudelaire, Rukeyser and Dante. I imagine that this was added, at least in part, so that the artists don't have to sing only the prosaic (in every sense, see above) lines from historical documents. But Ross doesn't really speculate on how poetry, as a form of language and/or sound, is integrated into the whole big thing . . .

Adams: Ross writes, "Once Adams was done, though, he admitted that the Faust metaphor stil interested him, as long as it was not taken too literally." What the hell does this sentence mean? How literally can you take a metaphor? Wouldn't you be taking it metaphorically? Very imprecise language, and that's not what the complicated stew of an opera calls for. And we're back to an allegory, after all . . .


At two points, Ross tries to account for the complexity of the thing: on the working relationship of Adams and Sellars he mentions their "opposing traits" but he doesn't allow this to structure the article . . .

Ross also tosses in a half-hearted comparison of the elaborate nature of the Manhattan Project and that of the opera when he begins to discuss the lighting, sets and costumes. Frankly, though this may be technically apt, it is tacky, an opera never (rarely?) killed millions of people. And, of course, Ross doesn't go on to examine what kind of representations the materials on stage are aiming for, kitchen sink realism? Abstraction? Absurdity? Minimalism? What? Again, he notices some attention to period accuracy, a whimsical approach to the bomb . . . all sorts of this and that.


Because the essay is neither conclusive nor judgemental, its not a review and in many ways that's a good thing. But it does seem a bit sprawling . . . and un-explicit about the complicated representational approaches of the opera and to its subject matter. In some ways, Ross shows and doesn't tell, which is usually a good thing (and the way I like to do it too) but there's a lot at stake here:

Namely, between Adams' New Hampshire sense of security and the close of the essay, in which Sellars describes "the scene at Trinity today, even though he had never been there" Ross reveals a huge sense of distance between the creators of this opera and its historical subjects - how is that distanced travelled? In many ways, yes I get that, but what is produced by so many ways of seeing knowing hearing acting moving bumping up against each other? I want to know.

Super-promotion and lots of interesting info here.


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

back to Boston, the Harvard Bookstore

This was an odd experience. I haven't been in a used bookstore in ages (in the basement of the Harvard Bookstore there are used books), I guess I've been relying on Powell's online, Alibris and Amazon for academic books. And since Threepenny Books, a good place to browse for light reading and walking distance from my place in Pittsburgh closed.

Anyway, in US fiction and lit, lit crit and philosophy, classic British mysteries they didn't have anything I'd look at twice. I was daunted, but I pursued and I did find:

UnInvited: Classic Hollywood Cinema and Lesbian Representability, by Patricia White. Which includes a great reading of "The Haunting" and nice analysis of the supporting female role, specifically Agnes Moorehead.

Femme Fatales: Feminisim, Film Theory, Psychoanalysis, by Mary Ann Doane. Which has the amazing essay, " 'When the direction of the force acting on the body is changed' : The Moving Image" Given that she's written this, I think I can just plug in a few new terms and examples and call the dissertation written. Ha ha.

Meyer Schapiro's classic essays on Modern Art.

EH Gombrich, The Story of Art in a beautiful hardcover edition for only $4 with some intriguing clippings inside, as a bonus!

Pauline Kael 5001 Nights at the Movies. Mini reviews on film classics written by the New Yorker film critic published in 1982. Both a reference book and a kind of historic document.

I was also able to get mom a birthday present. A catalog for the Shelburne Museum, in Shelburne Vermont. This amazing indoor outdoor museum is an eclectic of early American New England material culture, brought together by a Victorian sensibility. Barns, houses, quilts, cruise ships, toys, cigar store Indians, domestic stuff, all manner of technology and folk art . . . I can't even describe it. It is nothing like Williamsburgh, nothing.

Thats a portrait of Schapiro, Moorehead is the glamourous girl, Electra Havemeyer Webb, a Shelburne collector, is sitting with the dogs and Kael is the early 80's auntie, Gombrich is in the chair. A good looking group, no?

I also slipped and fell in Harvard Square. I landed right in puddle, my ass got very wet, and my umbrella went hurtling into the street. Traffic stopped, someone retreived my umbrella and I was damp and mortified.

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Friday, October 07, 2005

assorted comments, recent films, and Dawson's Creek

I responded to emdashes with thoughts on New Yorker literary gentlemen of historic import William Shawn and Roger Angell.

I compared keeping pets to wearing fur at the fun and smart as a whip FLUFFY DOLLAR$$$ blog. I also wrote about Tom and Katie in response today's post there (Oct 7). I've revealed my perverse sympathy for these two before, in my own blog when I praised The New Yorker piece "Tom Cruise is My Dog."

I offered thoughts on public transport in Pittsburgh, DC and Durham, North Carolina at the local Pittsburgh AntiRust blog. I've posted on the Pennsylvania State Stores (for alcohol) at AntiRust before, and I think my experience is still telling, despite that myopic and conceited response from someone named "Rich" - if my name were Richard, I'd go by $omething el$e. Say, perhaps, "Dick" ?? OK, nevermind.

I made my own country and found this a lot of fun, following a link given by juniper pearl at i am a pretentious hack.

I also met with my dissertation committee and, by a kind of elaborate coincidence, my old advisor from my undergraduate days, to ask for diss feedback, fellowship letters and validation of my entire existence. Ha. Ha? Ha . . . They were great, really positive and, as always, pushing me to follow through on the wildest of my wild ideas, but its been exhausting . . .

Recent Films: Bonnie and Clyde (Penn, 1967), The Eyes of Laura Mars (Kirshner, 1978) and Vera Drake (Leigh, 2004). All of which might lead to some speculation about historical relationships among women, sex and violence. If you consider Gosford Park (Altman, 2001) to be a charming little film about class and violence, I like it better than Vera Drake. The Eyes of Laura Mars tries to be arty, but acheives a real 1970s dirty glow. It borrows explicitly from Helmut Newton - they are his images - but also from Diane Arbus and Susan Sontag too. And Bonnie and Clyde, why does no one mention Clyde's fear of sex?

We also watched Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burghundy and this film lead to the most spirited household discussion - Why can't the women be funny? These straight women sidekicks (in Zoolander or Austin Powers 2, or Hitchhikers Guide, or . . .) are awkward and hard to play and aren't given any of the subversive gender mocking power of the films' humor, of which there is plenty in each example. Lucy, Lucy, why have we abandoned you? Ah, for the Golden Days of the Golden Girls . . . Even poor Margaret Hoolihan is allowed embody, poke fun at and transform stereotypes of femininity.

Back to Katie, I hated the smug, self-righteous, disciplined, repressed, manipulative, and ENTIRELY UNFUNNY good girl she played on Dawson's. And I dislike what seems similar in Lindsay, moral center of Freaks and Geeks. The show is more critical of her than DC was of Joey, but . . . Ok, time to visit Television Without Pity. You've heard enough.

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