Monday, December 29, 2008

Wives & Daughters

I was so engrossed with the BBC four-part version of Elizabeth Gaskell's Wives and Daughters that I watched the final version right after I woke up this morning. It was kind of weird, watching a movie at 9:30 on a Monday morning, but I felt so involved with the characters that I knew I wouldn't be able to concentrate. And I'm glad I did, the fourth installment was definitely the best. The two fathers in the story were my favorite characters, particularly the father of the brothers, the Hamlins I think... The lead actress, pictured here, was so, so good. Wonderful the way her face registered emotions...

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Yesterday I read Goffman's Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity for what I believe was the fourth time. The first time in college, after having enjoyed Asylums. The second time preparing for my orals. The third time for a deviance class I was teaching, and now, to go through concepts I will specifically reference and work with in the dissertation.

It's a great little book. (Although after all these years my copy is rather worse for wear.)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Capricorn One

Last night I watched Capricorn One on the Netflix Watch Instantly feature. It was annoying because my internet connection kept going out.

Anyway, I really like this movie. As a child I saw it when it came out -- my parents just dragged us to whatever. I remember it being really scary and fascinating. I also misremembered the plot. I thought they fooled the astronauts into thinking they were on Mars.

It was a very good story, although filled with holes. Too many people in on a conspiracy, for one thing. But where it was really weak was all the speechifying and moralizing that went on. That kind of just seemed corny.

It was fun watching young Sam Waterston. So many of us must have a fondness in our hearts for him because of Law & Order.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Back to the Futures

Last night I watched Back to the Future II and tonight I watched Back to the Future III. A friend of mine had said he had his young daughters watch all three of them one rainy day and recommended them to me. I remember really liking the original. The sequels are good as well. Obviously not fresh, because obviously the concept is the same, plus twenty years have passed since they were made. Speaking of time travel.

Anyway, I really enjoyed these. They took my mind of my dissertation and were amusing. I got restless during all the fight/chase scenes, as I always do. Not an action film person, I guess.

Well, back to the present...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight was really intense and creepy. I liked it a lot. The joker character, played by Heath Ledger, was frightening and so unique. On edge and agitated, disturbed, menacing but not filled with rage.

I find the whole comic book genre kind of exhausting and tiresome and childish, but this was much better than the rest. Truly a cut above. Yes, it was over-long. Could easily have been half an hour shorter. And yes, the psychological conflicts between and within characters were broadly drawn. But I really felt for the characters and was interested in most of the scenes. It was incredibly well filmed and visually arresting.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Like Life

I was kind of disappointed in Like Life, a collection of stories by Lorrie Moore. I thought the writing would be like Anagrams, but the stories would be better constructed. The stories ARE exquisite. Excellent, but compared to the prose of Anagrams, they don't jump out in the same way. All the sentences in Anagrams crackled. Also, these stories, as much as I liked them, fell kind of flat in a depressing way. They left me empty.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Valley of the Dolls

Okay, I know you don't watch a bad, campy movie to complain about the lack of plot, the phoniness, the horrible acting. But when you watch a bad, campy movie by yourself, a lot of the "fun" goes out of it, and you find yourself just watching a cheesy piece of crap. Iconic crap, yes. But still crap.

That's what happened to me last night when I watched Valley of the Dolls. I had read the book -- and loved it -- in 7th grade and I think at some point in college I watched the movie, but don't really remember. So this was to refresh my memory. It was horrible. Not fun. Okay, maybe a little unintentionally funny. But not fun.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Le Scandal

I went to a burlesque show last night! I had never been to a burlesque show -- except I went to an amazing Coney Island benefit last spring that included one and it was amazing. But it wasn't quite the same as going to a club for the show.

We went to Le Scandal at Cutting Room. It was a terrific show. It included a regular strip act, a sexy chanteuse, a contortionist or two, a naked acrobat/aerialist, a sword-swallower, and a fire-eater. Every act was done to hot, thumping kind of music and had a real sexy slant to it. Although the fire-eater was kind of the most dramatic, my favorite was the aerialist who performed in a suspended hoop to Jessie's Girl. She was very sexy.

I kind of would like to go to a show that's less "neo-burlesque" and more old-fashioned. Just to see.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Elements of Teaching Writing

The Elements of Teaching Writing by Gottschalk & Hjortshoj is an excellent, concise, handy book on integrating writing into the curriculum. It's very well written and well organized, and the authors have a tremendous amount of respect for the teaching process. I found it very helpful, and will use it in my faculty development work as well as my own teaching.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


I was disappointed in Hancock. I had been looking forward to seeing it for a long time. I loved the premise: an alcoholic near-do-well fuck up guy who is also a super hero and ends up with a PR rep. That part of the movie was fairly good, but then it got into this supernatural stuff and just went off the deep end for me.

I was also bored with all the violence. I was beading a box while I watched it, so it was good as something to have on while I did something else.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Ernest Concepcion

I saw an exhibit of Ernest Concepcion's work at Kentler International Drawing Space in Red Hook today. The show was called The Line Wars Deluxe. It included very large scale, detailed pen and ink drawings of animals fighting as well as some figures that looked sort of superhero-ish. It was a small show in an interesting intimate space.

Friday, November 28, 2008


I've had Happiness at home for several days, maybe a week, and never quite felt like I could handle watching it. I saw it when it first came out (ten years ago! I can't believe it was that long ago!), so I knew it was intense and I was kind of scared of being depressed and over-identifying with the characters.

It's such a good movie. Very brutal scenes, brutal acting. It's about ordinary people, but there is so much disturbance in their emotional lives, that they aren't really ordinary. I don't think. Even if there's a lot of despair underneath most people's exterior, I don't think there is psychopathy. I don't know. What do I know.

The frank discussions about masturbation between father and son, Philip Seymour Hoffman masturbating while making crank phone calls, the father masturbating to the teen magazine in the car -- it was all kind of too intense for me. I was trying to eat a shrimp burrito and felt sickened. I also felt self-conscious, like if a camera were on me now, at home alone on a Saturday night watching a DVD on the computer with my ordered-in food amidst a messy apartment and three cats, and piles of printed out articles for the dissertation that is taking forever... Would I hold up to scrutiny? Could I be a character in a meanly yet tenderly drawn Solondz film?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Manhattan Murder Mystery

I watched Manhattan Murder Mystery on Netflix Watch Instantly while eating terrible steamed Chinese food -- tough and gooey shrimp. Yuk. Anyway, the movie is okay. Woody Allen got on my nerves the whole time, and the talky talkiness of it was irritating as well. But, I became engrossed in it and in the end found it entertaining.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I just finished Anagrams by Lorrie Moore. I had read her first book, a short story collection called Self-Help when I was in college, I think, and I loved it. I found an old copy of this novel in the laundry room. I'm glad I did. I really, really, really enjoyed this book. It is crisply wry and insightful and every sentence crackles. I became very bonded with the main character, and sort of with the writer. It has a very sad ending, though. And I feel bummed out.

Also, I sense that novels aren't her forte. Anagrams starts with a few stories with the main character in different lives, before it gets into the main one, and I just get the sense that Moore is probably more gifted and adept at short stories. I'm going to buy one of her other collections and read it VT!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Prokofiev at the 92nd Street Y

I went with a friend to hear a concert at the 92nd Street Y that was part of the Bard Music Festival with a focus on Prokofiev and the silver age of Russian music. The performances were so wonderful. There were piano solos, vocal and choral numbers, string quartet pieces and a cello solo. It was really a delightful mix. I didn't save the program so I can't remember the names of which pieces I liked best -- the Ariel String Quartet numbers were definitely favorites. I had a lovely afternoon.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Mitchell Marco at Christopher Henry Gallery

Last night I went to the opening of Mitchell Marco's exhibition Ordinary Childhood at Christopher Henry Gallery on the Lower East Side. I hadn't seen Mitchell's work in a couple of years, and was really impressed by how his images continue to evolve. His work is always thought provoking and evocative. Simple and crisp, and yet nuanced and mysterious. Very mysterious, actually. There is always something going on behind the scenes, or immediately prior to the image, that the viewer can never know. But it's there.

The gallery's copy reads: The images reflect upon a time in which the family structure was simpler, evoking a bygone era of black and white media. However, the past is never simple, and Marco shows us that the eternal conundrums of human psychology are always present just beneath the surface." Very true.

I couldn't find an image of his current work on line, so simply posted a photo of the artist that I found.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Kung Fu Panda

I watched Kung Fu Panda tonight on a friend's recommendation and have to say I really loved it. The colors and Chinese motif were beautiful, the animation was breathtaking at moments.

It's weird, it has all this Buddhist philosophy throughout; I mean, it's pretty explicit. Do kids get that stuff these days? It's surprisingly sophisticated if you ask me.

The plot, however, wasn't. It was fairly typical, although there were some emotional moments. I loved the wise old turtle the best; I loved looking at his neck. And I loved the chubby bear portrayed as an emotional over-eater.

I love bears, but not panda's. The markings around their eyes freak me out and remind me too much of raccoons, which I hate.

Angelina Jolie and some other famous actors did the voice work. I don't get that. Her character was pretty thin and not too important. Why have a big star do that? There's nothing distinctive about her voice. And you don't get to see her face, which is her big draw.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Gary Gulman at Gotham Comedy Club

Last night a friend and I went to a comedy club and had so much fun. The headline act was Gary Gulman, whom I had never heard of, but who was so charismatic and funny. The other acts were great too. The evening was hosted by a woman who had a whiny good-naturedness to her that I found very entertaining. She made a lot of jokes about having small children. Then there was a guy who I don't remember as well. He was quite funny, but his personality didn't quite emerge in the same way. Oh, he did make some good comments about what kind of people would never become president (openly homo or midgets). Then a superbly funny geeky guy with an undercurrent of hostility. Finally, Gary Gulman, who as I said was really charming.

I think I like comics best when you can warm up to their persona. Like when you enjoy watching and listening to them even when they are not laugh-out-loud funny. When they are taking their time setting up their jokes. Also, there is a kind of brilliant, incisive humor that can be very mean-spirited, which often makes me uncomfortable even as I am laughing. Last night wasn't mean-spirited at all, and I had a wonderful time.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sidewalks of New York

I watched Sidewalks of New York last weekend but forgot to post about it. It's really crap. Pretentious crap. Adopting a cinema verite style that made no logical sense, it follows a bunch of intertwined New Yorkers and explores their romantic relationships. It's very nothingish but tries to be deep and funny and it's just crap. I hated it.

Brittany Murphy is in it and I love her and enjoyed watching her.


I saw a matinee of Gypsy yesterday with my mother. Patti Lupone. She was amazing, but kind of underwhelming; her voice isn't as layered and lovely as it once was. But it was incredible, incredible performance.

Gypsy seems unique for a musical in that it is psychology complex, about unhappy, unsatisfied, dysfunctional relationships. In fact, much of the humorous moments or gags left me cold, seemed to be getting away from what is so gripping in the story. I felt that Patti Lupone's Rose could have been slightly more unlikeable or something. Even though Louise kind of triumphed, Rose basically ruined her daughters. But I didn't feel pulled into the melodrama, felt distracted by the musical numbers and the hamming. Also, the sound quality was off -- it was kind of hard to hear a lot of the lines.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I just finished reading this engrossing novel, Helpless by Barbara Gowdy, about a girl who is abducted. The novel explores the subjectivities of many of the characters and is well written and sensitive. I particularly liked the girlfriend of the abductor. However, the end was abrupt and seemed like a cop out.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Winged Migration

Winged Migration wasn't easy for me to get into from my desktop. I think it would be better as a captive audience with the big screen. However, I'm really, really glad I watched it. It is incredibly beautiful, amazingly filmed. It follows all these different flocks of migrating birds and provides very little narration. You are just watching birds fly. And it's incredible. They are so fascinating and intense. The cinematography was really awe-inspiring. No special effects were used and the whole thing seemed kind of fake because it was so other-worldly and surreal. There were some sad narrative moments, too, when birds got caught in sludge or were shot down by hunters.

In a way I would have liked more narration, because I know so little about birds and am now fascinated by them and want to know more. At least about geese and pelicans and penguins and cranes. I don't give a rats ass about pigeons. Sorry, but I just don't.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fun Home

I started Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel on the subway on my way to work this morning and could not put it down all day. I had a two hour break between presentations where I sat in a Starbucks completely absorbed in it. Then I spent another couple of hours with it on my couch.

It's a graphic novel memoir about a woman's strange family life. He father ran a funeral home and was a closeted homosexual. The story is very much about the pall that his shame and unhappiness cast on his family. The way they lived with something that was never said or understood but that which effected them all very much. It's also about how the daughter reconstructs her own and her family's past, how she begins to understand her anxieties and her relationships with her parents. It is interspersed with the unfolding of her own gay sexuality as well as her and her family's reading of literature. Joyce, Collette, Fitzgerald and Camus are very much entwined in the story. I thought it was excellent. It was incredibly sweet, and creepy, and fascinating, and moving.

Richard Siegal & Fang-Yi Sheu

Last night I went to an other performance at City Center. This time I sawBeijingdance/LDTX: The Cold Dagger (excerpt); Houston Ballet:Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux; Richard Siegal/The Bakery: The New 45; Fang-Yi Sheu: Single Room (excerpt); and The Gentlemen of Halau Na Kamalei: Kahikilani.

I really loved the Richard Siegal and Fang-Yi Sheu performances. Richard Siegal/The Bakery consisted of two men doing very charming tap-like or soft shoe type jazz dancing. I'm not sure what the term is, but the choreography was very playful, the music very lively, and the dancers very charismatic. I was blown away by the Fang-Yi Sheu piece, which was just her and a long table. She was incredibly lithe, small and strong and was able to undulate beautifully in an unearthly way against the table. I found it very emotional and haunting. Riveting. I was literally at the edge of my seat, holding my breath. It was very erotic, but also sad. Kind of lonely. The music was somewhat industrial, and it added this inhuman or inhumane element to it.

The other pieces were okay, but didn't quite do it for me. The Hawaiian troupe was kind of fun but also nothingish. I once saw a performance of Hawaiian dance on PBS that was much more involved and layered. This was kind of simple seeming tribal dancing. Or maybe I'm missing something. Or maybe I don't know what I'm talking about.

In any event, I hate that I wasn't able to find a photo on line of any of the pieces I saw. I'm sick of this festival picture, but it's all I have.

Monday, September 22, 2008


This weekend I read Overexposed: Perverting Perversions by Sylvere Lotringer. A friend of a neighbor had recommended it to me and it's awesome. It's a strange account of a form of therapy for sex offenders in the 1980s that involves making clients' deviant fantasies as boring to them as possible. To do this, they use a couple of techniques to measure penile arousal to deviant and normal stimuli, and more fascinatingly, they have offenders tape record verbalizations of their masturbatory fantasies while they masturbate and then go over the tapes with them. They encourage the clients to masturbate beyond satiation, that is, after ejaculation, to the deviant fantasies for a couple of hours a day, until they are just so sick of it that they are done.

This book is brilliantly presented. It presents a very French Theory overview of the topic -- which I'm a little bored by, actually. Then it is mainly the text of interviews with the behavioral psychiatrist who runs the clinics. These interviews, the things that come out of his mouth are truly bizarre. It also includes long excerpts from the sessions reviewing the masturbation fantasy tapes, a long monologue from a client (who basically says everyone "cheats" on the penile measurement things and on the tapes as well), and a list-poem type section of quotes from people's fantasies.

It was very disturbing and fascinating and I'm very glad I read it.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fall for Dance matinee

Today Tits! and I saw a matinee of one of the Fall for Dance programs at City Center. It was truly excellent, although are seats were truly, truly sucky. We were so incredibly high up.

The pieces we saw were: Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal: Les Chambres des Jacques; Oregon Ballet Theatre: Rush; Madhavi Mugdal: Odissi: PRAVAHA (world premier); Sheron Wray: Harmonica Breakdown; and Hofesh Shechter Company: Uprising (pictured). The two solo pieces (Mugdal and Wray) were the least interesting to me. I would like to see the Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal piece again. It was very quirky and fun, but I had trouble concentrating because of personal stress. Uprising was incredibly intense and powerful about agression and war. The music was loud and industrial, the corps was all male. It was just intense. Everything was great, really. I was also moved by the pas de deux (Rush); the dancers were like liquid.

Sorry, Tree

I read this recent book of poems by Eileen Myles, Sorry, Tree the other day. It was wonderful, reading a book in more or less one sitting. Getting immersed in the poetry and the voice. These poems seem different than her previous work, but I'm not sure how exactly. A little more interior, a little more probing of language. Really great. I read everything she writes because everything manages to hit just the right spot.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit

I started watching The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit last night, and finished it tonight. It is very interesting. It takes it time developing conflict and character and relationships and is very introspective and thoughtful. It's about a man who suffers PTSD from WWII trying to live an average life, and goes into all the frustrations of that average life. That makes it sound simple and cliche, which of course it kind of is. But the slowness and methodicalness of it created this kind of quiet restrained feeling. Gregory Peck was very dignified and cold. In fact, there was much missing from all of the performances.

I think it should be remade. I think a new director would create more narrative tension. The war flashbacks would be scarier and more intense. And they would do away with the cheesy music and stylized acting...

Saturday, September 6, 2008

In the Line of Fire

You know, I don't know what to say about movies like these (In the Line of Fire). They are kind of gripping and suspenseful, but so riddled with cliches and predictable. It's like, while I'm watching I get tense and scared at parts, but am rolling my eyes and flipping through a Land's End catalogue during most of it. Resenting all these obvious tropes -- the failed agent who has to prove himself: do you doubt for a second he will be vindicated. Then again, the dialogue was rather good in parts. Malkovich as the crazy was riveting. It was worth watching. Not worth losing important writing time over, however...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Double Indemnity

I watched the noir thriller Double Indemnity last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. Aside from the cheesy noir rhetoric, which rubs me the wrong way, I found the cynical lack of love throughout the film to be quite gripping. It was sexy too, and suspenseful.

I know I'm alone among my friends on this score, but watching old movies I always think about how they could be remade. I just don't like the rinky-dink sets and the old-fashioned way tension and suspense are created. Although, I don't like it when remakes update the time; things make less sense that way and don't quite work.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


I saw Hair tonight! It was wonderful!

I had LOVED the movie when I was a kid; saw it many, many times. So, I couldn't help comparing.

Anyway, I had to wait in line for HOURS, to get tickets because it was part of Shakespeare in the Park. The musical numbers were all enthralling and I didn't want any of them to end. Unfortunately I was extremely tired after spending basically an entire day waiting and waiting and waiting.

But it was worth it (sort of). I was so tired that I didn't feel an emotional investment in the story and themes, so that was kind of disappointing. But I would definitely go again -- if the tickets just magically appeared, that is.

Master & Man

I read the second Tolstoy story, Master & Man, in the collection that included The Death of Ivan Ilyich. I didn't like it as much. I found the quotidian descriptions of the beginnings of the journey kind of boring and flat, and the terrifying parts left me cold (ha, ha!). It just didn't do it for me. Plus, the romanticizing of peasant life was a little much, as was the rather two-dimensional portrayal/critique of the materialistic master.

Ironically I read the story in the blazing sun, while waiting for tickets to Hair.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Eddie Izzard

I watched Eddie Izzard: Dressed to Kill this evening when I should have been working.

He is very, very funny; and very charismatic. I guess that's what makes most comedians work. It's not just their jokes, it's the enjoyment you feel in their performance, like you like their presence. You wish you could hang out with them.

He made a lot of funny jokes about Europe. Very cute and clever.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Death of Ivan Ilyich

I just read The Death of Ivan Ilyich in one shocking, depressing, scary sitting.

It was simple and intense. I had read it in high school, and loved it at the time, but it's different now. Now that I have a quaking, useless, deep and utter fear of death which has haunted me since I was 25.

There's nothing to say about it really. But its inevitability thoroughly galls me.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Toshi Reagon

Last night I saw Toshi Reagon perform with her mom, Bernice Johnson Reagon, and the band the Big Lovely at Lincoln Center out of doors. It was a great concert, but we as an audience were a little sedate and ungenerous and... well... kind of white. It was gospel/blues music and the performers really wanted the audience to get the fuck into it; to sing along, to clap, to call and response. But we just sat there nodding our heads with the occasional WooHoo! Their voices were wonderful.

Bernice Johnson Reagon is one of the founders of Sweet Honey and the Rock, and I think I'm going to put on a CD right now. I might buy a Toshi CD at some point too.

After the concert there was a dance performance, David Dorfman, but it looked pretentious and Tits! and I left after the first few seconds, where the stage was quiet and a voice over went: "Does anyone know why we are here?" or something like that...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Cousin Bette

I watched most of Cousin Bette last night and just finished it. I thought it was awful. It's supposed to be a satire but it fell completely flat. I read the book, which I didn't particularly care for but which provided a lot of cultural context and was just richer. Elizabeth Shue was atrocious, completely miscast. You just could not see her appeal; she was cold and indifferent and also kind of seemed clunky and graceless. It didn't make sense that all Paris would be at her feet. And the bedroom comedy aspect of it didn't play off either. Jessica Lange gave a good performance. But not that good. Basically there were no likable characters and the plot moved on meaninglessly.

Like I said, I didn't particularly care for the book. It was that satirical style where there is no character development or emotional pull. Vanity Fair is like that, the book I mean. The author keeps interjecting wisecracks and his prose is dripping with sarcasm. There characters are two dimensional and there's no description of inner life. Watching Cousin Bette convinced me that I don't need to finish Vanity Fair.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

An Inconvenient Truth

I watched this last night after I got home from dinner and have to say I didn't like it. I fell asleep about two thirds of the way through.

It seemed like a lecture. I mean, yeah, it explained global warming, but I already understood the basics. It was basically Al Gore promoting himself. I fell asleep before they got to the part about what we can do to stop it. I mean, I assume he includes that. But what I saw wasn't particularly inspirational. Of course I will continue to reduce, reuse and recycle, but I was doing that anyway.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Our Guys

Yesterday I read Our Guys by Bernard Lefkowitz. I just stayed in and read the thing, from cover to cover. It's about a gang rape incident in an affluent suburb that involved a group of popular jocks and a retarded girl.

The boys had exhibited a range of really egregious behavior since middle school and no one did anything about it. It was like the whole town was in their thrall. They sounded like a group of major assholes. I can't imagine going to a school like that.

The book was pretty well written. Although it was kind of cheesy, it sucked me in. It provided all this background information about the town and the characters, and then more and more information came out. He didn't get to the trial till more than half way through.

Anyway, I think this will be a good book to use in class at some point.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Rose of No Man's Land

I read Michelle Tea's Rose of No Man's Land last week, finishing it on the bus to Boston. I really love her writing. She created this wonderful, alienated, intelligent character and described a kind of lower middle class lifestyle with great wit and insight. All of the relationships resonated with me: the one between the two teenage girls, the one between the sisters, the one between the daughters and the mother and boyfriend. I enjoyed it very much.

Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice

I watched this movie a week ago, the night before I went to the conference, and I really didn't care much for it. It is just too dated. The main couple who were into being super open about sex and affairs seemed very unrealistic and idealistic and also stupid. The other couple who were having marital difficulties was more interesting. But none of the relationships made sense to me.

The women were incredibly beautiful. I think one of the main draws of the film must be watching them prance around in bikinis and lingerie.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Edward Scissorhands

I watched Edward Scissorhands a few nights ago and felt so-so about it. On one hand I liked the kitschyness of it, and the sweetness. On the other it felt dated and corny and actually kind of thin.

Also, it made me kind of sad how young Diane Weist and Alan Arkin looked, actors who were older than me at the time it came out, fully adult, who now seem so dewy looking back.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Black Dog Songs

What a perfect way to spend an overly-hot Saturday. Indoors with an amazing, refreshing poetry book. Black Dog Songs, by Lisa Jarnot blew me away without intimidating me into existential paralysis. That is, they engaged me. Linguistically, technically brilliant. Playful and yet deep. Using language and meter and sound to create emotional worlds that are surreal and somehow mental, like cognitive dissonance in an urban park. Whatever that means. My favorite was a series called They. Here's one of them:

They Loved Paperclips

They loved harmony they loved ant hills they loved food and cookies and harpoons they loved the sound of laces of the shoes and snow they loved the snow on Thursdays in the rain and when they met they loved that too and igloos and the trees and things to mail and chlorine and they loved the towels for the beach and hot dogs and the pool and also when the wind rose up they loved the ceiling and the tide and then they loved the sky.

(This poem is left and right justified in the book.)

The Little Mermaid

I watched Disney's The Little Mermaid on a friend's suggestion. It was thoroughly enjoyable. Kind of fluffy and shallow, of course, but really visually gorgeous. The story didn't grip me, and I always have trouble with how evil is portrayed in Disney features, but this was just very charming. And like I said, visually delightful.

I'm sort of jealous of children. How they can get so absorbed in a story. So scared at the scary parts, so moved and the moving parts, so happy and relieved at the joyous parts. I remember that intense engagement, but it's rare that I feel it. Or, let me take that back: of course I feel it, but just not in Disney flicks...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Frank O'Hara, Darger & more

What a lovely day I had! Tits! & went to hear a tribute to Frank O'Hara in the garden of MOMO. A handful of poets read selections of his work, and some of their own. I loved hearing O'Hara's work. How easy to let his brilliance fall by the wayside, how easy to go on with life without reading his poems, which should be read, really, on a regular basis, because they are so perfect and always fresh.

Afterwards we went to the American Folk Art Museum to see a group show of work inspired by or related to Henry Darger. I love Darger, and the exhibit included many, many of his pieces, juxtaposed with those of contemporary artists. It was really a very vibrant show, with a lot of depth. I forget the names of the artists, other than Amy Cutler, whose work I'm a big fan of. But there were a handful of others' work that very much captivated me. There's a joyousness to all that is disturbing in his work that somehow was revealed. Also, the contemporary artists, no matter how excellent their work, lacked the unsettling obsessive quality his has. Which is a good thing!

(The piece pictured here is by Justine Lieberman)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

I love this book.

I love this book.

I love this book.

I just read this book

and I love this book.

I wish I wrote this book.

It is funny, sad, wise and unique.

It's one of the best poetry books I've ever read.

I love this book.

This book is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy by Tao Lin. It is one long terrific poem that is funny, sad, wise and unique.

Beth Orton

I saw Beth Orton perform at Prospect Park's Celebrate Brooklyn last night. She was incredible. Incredible. The only album I have is nearly ten years old, Central Reservation, which is relatively polished and a little trip-hoppy. But apparently she has gone in more avante-folk directions since then. She performed with one accompanist, who alternately played piano, guitar, and violin. She sometimes played guitar and piano. Her voice was very raw, back and forth between deep and controlled and airy and fragile. She was a very sweet performer who kept apologizing to the audience. It was a lovely night for a concert in the park, too.

Tell No One

I saw this intense French thriller, Tell No One, the other night with my mom. It's very good, very tense and engaging and there is something just imminently watchable about the French. There seemed, however, to be a few holes in the plot; at least it was kind of confusing at the end and I'm not sure if I thoroughly understood it. It's about a man whose wife is killed and years later starts sending him emails and people are out to get him...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


This movie was horrible and pretentious. It is one of those talking, trying to be "real", actor-y things that just make me want to cringe. Cringe! Like bad, bad Woody Allen. And without the humor. Everyone taking themselves so seriously. Oppressive bourgeois pseudo-suffering. Open a window for God's sake.

Glenn Close looked great with brown hair, although her face was very Botoxed-up, which depressed me. And she's had a distracting brow life.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Plot Against America

Roth's The Plot Against America has such an abrupt, disappointing ending!

I don't know what to say. This is a marvelous, brilliantly written book. I got totally absorbed and could barely put it down for two days. His sense of history is rich and densely detailed, and his writing is marvelous.

But somehow, there was little heart to it. I feel like I should have been sobbing, that this should have been a cathartic read. Somehow, as much as I enjoyed it, I was left cold.

Part of it is that it's about a nine year old boy, but told from a historical point in the future, by an adult, and I never really felt the nine-year-old-ness. He described the vulnerability, fear and confusion, but it didn't hit me. I wasn't pulled in emotionally.

This book, by the way, is an alternate history, where Roosevelt loses his third term election to Lindbergh and the country signs a peace pact with the Nazis...