<$BlogRSDUrl$>

Monday, April 25, 2005

Writing this post likely means not grading as many papers as I ought, but hell, I did already (a) exercise, (b) draft my Oceans Apart review today. (Not mentioned: The Go-Bs still make ouright terrible videos.)

~~~

Getting groceries up Beechwood Canyon, paused to skim Time cover story on Ann Coulter; brief graf on her reading habits made mention of "French philosopher Jacques Ellul," a name I can't recall having encountered. 1/2 hr. later, reading Craig M. Gay's Cash Values: Money and the Erosion of Meaning in Today's Society at the Y, Ellul is quoted: "Nothing, whether in human nature or the nature of things, adequately explains the original act of accepting and creating money. Nothing explains the blind confidence that we continue, in spite of all crises, to place in money. This is an absurdity which neither economists nor sociologists are able to clarify." This is what Ann curls up with, of a free evening? (Gay is a theologian; his book is an oddity, moving lucidly through Schumpeter and Simmel's critiques of the monetization of value, then turning sharply to claim that we can combat this by [only by] accepting God's grace. "Life is a gift." True, in a way. I think I was attracted to the book b/c the title and cover reminded me of Bob Perelman's Face Value. Live and learn.)

~~~

Speaking of contemporary French thought, here's a translation-in-progress of Alain Badiou's Numbers by one Robin Mackay. I have barely glanced at this and have no measured opinion about Badiou (apparently a working mathematician turned philosophe), just passing it on for the interested. (First entry on page, click link to pdf.)

~~~

I don't ask a lot of a new rock band, these days; just short-circuit my heard-it-all filter long enough for me to think "this is the shit," even if only for a week or two. Maximo Park, or at least "The Coast Is Always Changing," does the job. (Here's their only slightly less dismal video. They're not a great interview either, but I'm glad to have the accent ID'd as Newcastle.) Maybe I was wrong about The Edsel Auctioneer -- more a C86 song (the lyric reminds me of The Siddleys) transformed into this-year's-Britrock (non-Go4 division) by a tight mix -- but I still a touch of the Play Hard stable. (Anyone remember Kit? Ludus covering Send Me A Lullaby? Anyone?) The rest of the Apply Some Pressure EP, and the new "Graffiti" single (found elsewhere on their site), have more "attitude" and less structure (remember, I'm the guy who voted for "Dark of the Matinee"), but I'll reserve further judgment until the album.

~~~

And yes, I do absorb, oh, "Wait" (novelty crunk!), Arular, Run the Road (faves = Lady S. and Ears, though the MC growling "deep shit" on "Cock Back" almost put me off the whole thing), it's just that others get there faster and smarter, so why sit here nodding?

~~~

Noirfest ended last night with two scarcely-seen Dan Duryea items. In the outstanding Larceny (1948, dir. George Sherman), he's essentially support, as "Silky Randall," nominal brains of a con-gang, the real operator being John Payne, a grifter so smooth he can improvise a speech on "honesty" to a youth group while posing as the battlefield buddy of monied war widow Joan Caulfield. Payne's not an actor I usually care for, but here you actually start believing he's as irrestible as the dialogue claims ("Do you still have that fatal charm?" "I haven't heard any complaints lately."); Caulfield is a Grace Kelly-type, right for a slightly stupid character, blinded by self-righteousness to her own suckerability. The main grift involves collecting contributions for a war-memorial/youth activity center that is not, needless to say, going to be built; Caulfield suddenly decides she wants to bank the whole thing herself, eliciting a twinge of guilt from Payne, with a predictable (but nicely followed-out) triple-cross result; the exact shape of the scam changed about four times in the last 1/2 hr., but I think I kept up.

This was one of the few films this year that actually ran with the social cynicism that is among noir's main strengths; Payne's spiels are not far from what would be spouted with complete sincerity in a post-war "A," here presented as the bullshit (in the Harry Frankfurt sense) it is. Loved that it was set in a fictional suburb of Pasadena, in an atmospher more Cain than Chandler. As a real estate agent's secretary (a very lovely Dorothy Hart) says: "The weather here is like dope. There are people here who have been trying to break away for fifty years, but they don't have the willpower." Plus, weasel-king Percy Helton and a cameo by Jack Benny's announcer Don Wilson. Plus plus Shelly Winters, anticipating future outlandishness as a moll involved w/ both Duryea and Payne, and self-involved enough to fuck up a $100G deal. (This is the tab for the priciest tract of land in town, by the way; this sort of thing always gets laughs from an L.A. audience.) With gun in hand: "I think I still remember how to use this...there's four bullets left. Or is it five? -- It's been so long since I murdered my mother." Payne to Winters: "If you could buy a cheap horse, you'd rent your mother out as Lady Godiva."

~~~

The other feature, Johnny Stool Pigeon (1949, dir. William Castle, pre-horror), also w/ Duryea and Winters, was less substantial. Points of interest: Howard Duff's totally unsympathetic portrayal of a cold-fish cop, a long stretch that takes the characters to a resort/ranch in Arizona, as an excuse to dress everyone in Western duds only slightly less unbelievable than the "Reno" sequences in The Women, the fact that the train station and some exteriors were actually recognizable to me as downtown Tucson, and a pre-fame Tony Curtis, billed "Anthony," as a mute gunsel -- seriously, no lines, which works well for him.

~~~

I just don't think I'm ever going to get back to Obsession or Possessed. Both should be on your to-see list, though the second is, I'll bet, much easier to find. Don't know how it would play on video, but at full-size, it was genuinely disorienting -- Bree and I couldn't make a rational decision for about 45 min. afterwards. Last time I vividly remember that happening was the first time I saw Repulsion, which I've since advised Bree to avoid.

~~~

Oh, looking up Dorothy Hart from Larceny (she died just last year), I chanced on this 2002 John Lahr column on Richard Rodgers fairly greivous failings as a human being. Complete accident; Larry Hart's sister-in-law, closely involved in estate issues after his death, was also named Dorothy (as was the brittle Mrs. Rodgers, nicknamed "La Perfecta"*) -- the interesting part, four or five sections down, is on Rodgers' attempts to keep his work w/ Hart underexplosed during the height of his partnership with Hammerstein. Creep. (*Bree owns her books on entertaining and decorating.)

~~~

From the start, tne problem with F=O=E=T=R=Y (I'm avoiding searches), aside from what one actually thinks of the "money in poetry" issues, has been the hard-to-shake sense that the most vocal participants are those who would, given a tenth of a chance, grease themselves into the same heirarchy they propose to eliminate. If, that is, they gave any indication of having read a poem, ever. This is not helped by the fact that, now that the masks are off, even the front matter of the site is openly vindictive, making it less possible than ever to view it as a serious endeavor/inquiry. None of which makes J@net H0!lmes, apparently equally defensive about matters she's right about (the Foes' Coulterish tone and tactics, that screwing-with-avatars crap) and ones one which she might reasonably give a little ground, an angel, necessarily. It's just a shit-slinging match now. (But aren't most unresticted forums, whatever the topic, thick with nutjobs. Yeah, but here the moderator fanned the flames in the service of self-aggrandizement and at the expense of his project. When you think about it, it's a miracle that ILM isn't any loonier than it is.)

~~~

Thought I might review night two of Conrad/Snow for pay, but since that's not happening, very briefly. Snow: Roughly 30 min. of solo piano, apparently largely improvised, passing through several textural 'cells' inc. and hands-inside-the-box stretch and ending with major gliss action. Could read his jazz roots off his technique (better right hand than left) and relatively loose rhythms -- plus a few bars of I-IV-II-V he played under the applause. Piece was titled Visits, wonder what he does differently when he calls it something else. Conrad: Roughly 50 min. of multi-tracked violin backing, basically a D-major triad, over which he ran effected modal violin, then viola, then back to violin. Behind sheet streched across entire stage, of course, wearing hat, striking Fiddler on the Roof poses. Great thing: an assistant sitting on stage the whole time, his Chucks visible in the strip of stage not hidden by the sheet. At one point, he sprawled out, making the monied Getty theater stage his own Dream Theater crash-pad, luckier than the rest of us who had to sit upright. Encore, presumably planned: Snow on prepared piano (must have been done in the break before Conrad's set), Conrad bowing the metal rim of a floor-tom head (much like what he'd done w/ a strip of film the previous night), very loudly amplified. Some of the most unpleasant sounds I've heard people make voluntarily, and I've heard my share. Fine, but no real focus; member of Open City looked pleased. Whole thing made me wonder if these guys ever think, "They haven't found us out yet," esp. in light of this being, I'd bet, a money gig? Not about everything they do or have done, but some of it, sometimes? No?

~~~

Adding, immed. upon posting this, three links at right. Bachelardette is Ange Mlinko -- hardly anyone I'd be gladder to see start blogging. (Re Anne Winter: I admire the very light-handed formal linkages of the title poem, and respect, couldn't quite see what I was getting from some other poems that I wouldn't find in a prose presentation of the same material, haven't gotten to the sonnets. Getting over a fear of subject matter -- endemic to L.A. poets, who favor an emptied-out narrativity -- myself.) 33third is Continuum ed. David Barker, mostly relevant to the series, but also engaging when it isn't. (Scary; sounds like they've taken delivery on copies of Armed Forces -- and Grace and Murmur. Watching my mailbox.) Thejimside is thejimside, because damn if I don't hit it nearly every day, almost despite myself. (Liking the stickers, esp. the angels; must be a huge time-saver.)

~~~

I know, this got out of hand.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?