When you're scared enough, you can't think straight.
When you're mad enough, you can't think straight.
So when someone is trying to scare me or make me mad, I ask, "Why don't they want me thinking straight?"
The Film Center
has been doing an Anna Magniani retrospective
, which I've unfortunately missed most of. But tonight was a Jean Renoir, The Golden Coach
, and I had
to catch it.
If I'd had expectations, they would have been wrong. It's commedia dell'arte about a commedia dell'arte troupe (!), who come to Lima around 1700. On the same ship they traveled on was the titular magnificent, unaffordable carriage built for the viceroy, which is the maguffin for half the action.
Everyone is a commedia dell'arte Type. The direction and cinematography are very proscenium. The color is lush, though a couple of the reels in this worn print were a little out of register. The final resolution of the plot knots smelled to me of Molière. And the score is all Vivaldi!
Once in a while I read or see or hear something that makes me wish I knew more of the subject so I would get
more of it. This was delightful, but if I knew more theater, I suspect it would be even more.
One of those things where getting old and tired can look like getting old and somewhat wise is learning to manipulate yourself to accommodate the weaknesses/bad habits which just aren't going to change.
One of the things I Don't-Get-To the most is laundry. I don't mind doing laundry much, I Just Don't Get To It. So my workaround is to be careful how much socks and underpants I own. After decades of thrifting, I recently culled several Large garbage bags of shirts to the resale shop and freecycled a score of pairs of pants so I'm down to hardly more than a hundred shirts. I haven't counted the pants . . . So when I literally can't get dressed because there are no clean socks, I Have To Do Laundry.
Well, the last generation of socks is starting to seriously wear out. Last week I was going a few other places which put me in between places with the time to do some shopping. I bought a dozen pair of socks AND a package of underpants.
There's been no point in thrifting, and not much money, but the day took me by one of my favorites (The Village on Milwaukee just north of Armitage & Western, for Chicagoans). I got 5 shirts and a pair of pants. And when I got home I steeled myself and went through my shirts and pulled six to recycle.
There's a sort of meta-experience I know precisely but have no common name for. Once in a while, you're in an extreme situation and right there in the middle of it, as it's happening, you know that this is your lifetime peak of this exact kind of thing.
(I used to hitchhike a lot. When I was in Australia, I hitched a total of about 6,000 miles, half the circumference. When I was about a third of the way from Melbourne to Adelaide, a guy picked me up who was starting a two week vacation, and had some of the interests I did, so he took me along. A two week ride. That will never happen again. There's also the story of the magnificent $2 thrift store Clearance wedding dress that Alice Insley Bentley ended up wearing to be married in . . . )
So there's this excellent bulletin board for giving things away called freecycle
. I got a solid sleeper sofa a couple inches shorter than the distance between the wall outlets in my new living room, just before I moved here. I asked the guy if I could wait a couple weeks before picking it up; loaded the moving van; and swung by to get it. I have a microwave, a Cuisinart crock pot, and an Oster bread maker from freecycle.
A week or so ago, someone listed an 11th edition Britannica. Yes, the
Britannica. I got it. I have a complete (large volumes, not well-bound) 11th Britannica. free Because someone was giving it away and I happened to be online when the come-and-get-it appeared.
(stock snappy comeback to "You're back.")
In this year's campaign to do a little less nothing, I finally got the warranty repairs on my computer which fixed the internet connection, so I'm back to a real keyboard and screen instead of doing everything on my phone. So I'm likely to be back to the livejournal pages I used to haunt, and we'll see if my faceb ooking declines. [ooh, I like that typo. I'll leave it in.]
I enjoy and strongly support con art shows. A place where anyone can exhibit is vital. Even at the worst, I think of the classic lament about the death of vaudeville: "There's no place to be bad any more." [attributed to George Burns]
But there's a phenomenon, or pattern, which is numerous and predictable enough to be, for me at least, its own category. Pieces which are executed with serious technical skill, but say nothing. "It's done very well, but why do it in the first place?"
That was the feeling I had through most of The Goblin Emperor. I couldn't find a single plot element that didn't seem painfully cliched, all the way through to the dashes and pinches of steampunk and feminism.
The craft with which the book is written is excellent. But why write the story yet again with nothing new added at all?
I need a word that I can't find. There are tremendous lists of specific arcane phobias, but there doesn't seem to be an official name for paralyzing fear of finishing, completing things. What is it?
It isn't (thank you, Google translate)
What is it?
I haven't seen a lot of actual productions of Shakespeare. That's the main reason it took until Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing
for me to learn that even more than a peak challenge to an actor (Hamlet, Lear, yadda yadda), Shakespeare is a peak challenge for a director
Well, I just got out of a showing of Orson Welles' Chimes at Midnight
. Holy mother-humpin' cow! Or your choice of ejaculation.
Yeah, Margaret Rutherford and Jeanne Moreau. Even a proper credit to Raphael Holinshed for Ralph Richardson's narrative voice-overs. But John Gielgud's Henry IV is secondary?!?! Supposedly, this was Welles' favorite of his movies. You could probably do a graduate curriculum in film direction with no other text.
We'll see how prescient, impatient, or foolish this post ends up.
A coupla years ago, looking at post-industrial Chicago, I said to myself, “This would be a good time for Mayor Junior to get out. The city is destitute, he's been selling off the furniture to pay the rent, and there's not much left to steal.” But I didn't date-stamp the idea.
A few days later he announced he was retiring. There followed a dozen or score of little trial balloons from wannabees, and I said to myself, “It takes substantial resources of several kinds (cash, donors, clout, troops) to run a credible campaign. Anyone who can do that has to already know the score, so they'll have to have an agenda.” But I didn't date-stamp the idea.
So we have the rat weasel. The real question continues to be What is this a stepping stone toward? Senator? President? Rentier? Well, I still have no idea, but he just was forced into a runoff for re-election, and after spending another $25 or $30 million, only won the runoff by 5 to 4.
So: If he doesn't go for Mark Kirk's Senate seat next year, I will be very unsurprised if he announces in about three and a half years that he's heading off in some other direction. He can probably juggle the books well enough not to need Chapter 11 that long.
From Poesy to Carrot Carnations — When arts die, they turn into hobbies.The short story, like poetry, already may have gone from being a minor art to being a craft. When I worked as an editor at Harper’s magazine in the 1990s, many acquaintances would comment on our essays and features, but I never heard anyone mention one of the short stories we published. The short story writers whom we published were almost exclusively MFAs who made a living by teaching short story and novel writing at liberal arts colleges. I may be mistaken, but I suspect that the same group that writes short stories today makes up the majority of those who read the short stories that are still published out of a sense of cultural responsibility in magazines like The New Yorker and Harper’s.
The literary novel, too, may be on its way to losing its minor art status and becoming a pure hobby of the creative writing professors who produce most of it in their spare time, while teaching writing courses. Some time ago, I was surprised when the editor of a highbrow magazine and of a major book review, respectively, both told me that their favorite contemporary author was Patrick O’Brien, author of “Master and Commander.” You hypocrites, I thought. You don’t even read the literary fiction that you publish or review. You read well-written genre fiction on your own time. Goodbye, Jonathan Franzen, and ahoy, matie!