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...

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Threatened Children

Oh, I hate it when the only image I can find of a book has that "Search Inside" thing from Amazon!

Anyway, Joel Best's Threatened Children: Rhetoric and Concern about Child-Victims is an EXCELLENT and thorough analysis of the way issues around children are constructed. It covers missing children, child molestation, and urban legends such as Halloween sadists. It looks at how claims-makers operate and explores the way secondary claims-makers, such as network news and popular culture amplify and distort these claims. Importantly, he points to the fact that individual deviants are always identified as the problem, not larger social factors... Also, he addresses the fact that even when momentum dies down, many of these campaigns leave legacies and can become entrenched taken-for-granted ideas in the general public.

My only wish is that he had written this more recently! I have my work cut out, having to update his information!

Saturday, July 5, 2008


I had mixed feelings about this "docu-comedy" exploring the fanatical Star Trek subculture.

On one hand it was just terrific. Trekkies showed so many aspects of the intense phenomenon and included great interviews with fans as well as stars. The picture here is of a real dentist's office that is all done up Star Trek style.

On the other hand, it was vacuously voyeuristic. It just exposed these people without much contextualization or interpretation. Called a "docu-comedy" or something like that, it is meant to get laughs. In that it succeeded, but was it just holding these people, these earnest, marginalized intense people, up to be mocked? Although there were attempts at showing the more positive side (?), it really seemed more to be saying, "wow, would you look at these freaks!".

I guess it's the sociologist of deviance in me that wanted more.