Tuesday, January 31, 2006
story of intrique and questioned identity
Where a mild-mannered history teacher
watched a rented video and dicovers a b-level
actor who is his exact double, visually identical in every way.
The story progresses as the teacher does all sorts of logical though slightly paranoiac
detective work to find the actor and eventually confront him.
Saramago is grand at using different voices (including in "The Double", an internal voice simply and repeatedly referred to as common sense)
He builds tension in ordinary situations, keeps his word choice quite simple, and usually leads up to some nail-biting and visceral scene where his characters
are pushed beyond their own personal limitations, made all the stronger by Saramago's exquisite abilities to make you sympathize with some of the most boring personlities ever put on paper.
Anyway, The plot thickens as both characters feel vaguely threatened by the very existence of the other
My bag was stolen off the back of my chair in a very crowded Corner Bistro this past Sunday with "The Double" in it.
The book is gone. Vanished
And though I'd really lke to know what happens in the end, I find it all kind of appropriate
BEST MOTION PICTURE OF THE YEAR
GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK.
And yet, Deuce Bigalow, European Gigilo? You bet your ass I even watched the Special Features.
Monday, January 30, 2006
I like shuffle because it approximates that wonderful feeling radio used to provide a long long time ago, when a song that you weren't thinking about but which was absolutely perfect for your mood would materialize out of nowhere, as if beamed across waves and signals and circuits and transformers specifically for you at specifically that moment.
I almost cried today when a particular Mojave 3 song came on. Especially when it was followed right up by Dylan's 4th Time Around.
Of course, it doesn't always work, like with the Bright Eyes/Jay-Z mash-up that soon followed. My Realplayer seems to particularly enjoy the Bright Eyes/Kevin Devine combo on this Monday, January 31, Year of Our Gourd 2006. Now Mogwai is on and I am happy.
This has been a truly idiotic post.
It seems that Franco Canadian Punk bands from the late 80s no longer get the attention they deserve. Therefore, I decided to pay tribute to Dayglo Abortions. Most of us will remember them from their bilingually titled masterpiece Two Dogs Fucking-Deux Chien Fourrent; others will remember that they were prosecuted for the distribution of obscene material in their native Canada in 1988. It was the first such prosecution since this particular offense entered the criminal code 29 years earlier. Their three most influential songs were:
Scared Of People
(I'm scared of people really don't know why
I nearly shit my pants when they look me in the eye
I'm scared of people and I'm scared of you
I'm gonna go inside and shoot some glue
(Flesh and blood and splattered guts
Dripping brains and radiation
Screaming missiles and burning babies
Proud To Be Canadian
(I'm proud to be a Canadian
Pass me another beer
I'm proud to be a Canadian
Hold my seat while i take a piss
Friday, January 27, 2006
1. ALL of the unabashed naked women that surround me at every turn.
*I understand that I may be somewhat of a prude in a locker room environment, but these people have no respect. They bend over in everyone’s faces, have lengthy conversations with each other while standing right beside me, and give me dirty looks for wearing a robe (a little thin one, not some floor length terry cloth job) over to the showers.
2. Every single woman that walks past my locker aisle and stares me down while I’m dressing.
3. The woman who brings an additional duffel bag full of hair, makeup and skin products and spreads them out over an extensive area like she owns the place.
4. The woman who sits (naked, of course) in front of the only full length mirror for forty-five minutes drying her hair and styling it.
5. The eighty-five year old people who get in my swim lane and proceed to swim at a negative ten mile an hour pace, especially when I only have 5 more laps to go.
6. The hot men’s swim team members who flaunt their skimpy Speedos in the lane next to me while I try to suck it in and swim faster, so as not to appear so out of shape.
7. Anyone who attempts to pass me while I’m swimming.
8. The women who take my favorite showers stalls and my favorite lockers.
He kept asking "what are you doing to change things? what do you think should be done?" I think the implication was that since I was having drinks with friends and not out fomenting revolution on 7th Avenue, I was betraying my own cause. I fell back on the argument that I don't know what should be done to change things, nor am I sure what type of world I want to live in. This is a cop out and later I was annoyed with myself. I realized that I only said it to avoid being seen as ridiculous for any opinions I might offer. To save face in front of a drunk old idiot!
I'm sick of this shit. I should have said that I honestly believe that drugs should be legal, that health care should be universal, and the President should be impeached, that I adhere to the materialist conception of history, that class trumps race, that societal structures are geared towards preserving the power elite and repressing the masses, that white collar labor and the proliferation of communication technologies are annihilating human mental capacity, that the fundamental elements of the modern condition are greed, alienation, boredom and brutality. In a political climate this ridiculous we shouldn't be afraid to say whatever we want.
Later I went home and caught Jonathan Caouette's Tarnation on Sundance Channel. It was strange to go from barstool pontificating to viewing such an intimate piece of work. You may remember the film, it was the personal documentary edited on iMovie and produced for something like $800 that won a bunch of acclaim at Cannes a while back. Well, it's pretty damn good. What struck me most was the central theme (and I'm not sure this was intentional) that the way we perceive our lives and the way we document our lives (through photos, videos, etc.) have merged into one conception of "truth." The film is a compilation of 30 years' worth of home movies and photos that seem almost ready-made for the documentary, as if shot specifically to fit the concept and not the other way around. Caouette is unabashed in his use of the video camera. The subjectivity, and indeed solipsism, of his endeavor is always out in the open. It kind of makes you want to question his intentions, but actually serves as a built-in credibility mechanism. His film is simply a construction, and an acknowledged one, of his life as he sees it. And the central, bracing theme of Tarnation is that in reality this is as close to "truth" as we're likely to come.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
Just finishing up a few weeks of high volume at the job and now that it's over there's more time to screw around. The memory of all that work just a few days ago leaves me with a feeling of creative possibility (fleeting, limited and false) that only a cubicle-rat could understand. Obviously there's the internet at my fingertips, music on my speakers and coffee on my breath.
Opposed to the false and limited feeling I just described, last week the concept of true personal (not political) freedom came up for definition and it left me baffled. There seem to be instances where you can pin-point it, like an electron, but what I'm trying to define is so powerful that we shouldn't even use words. The best private moments with your lover, being moved to tears by a piece of art, the myriad of religious experiences- things like these could stand as examples. Some call it "losing yourself." I call it personal/emotional/spiritual "freedom." Losing oneself "just because." Like galaxies swirl around just because, animals run, fight and screw just because. Matter exists just because. When there's great music blasting from a nice sound system, sometimes I find myself screaming with joy- no longer thinking or making decisions- it's a scene from Dave's primeval forest- it's animal but specifically human. And I suspect this momentary freedom is dangerous to many in the world who exert great power over people. I don't understand why. It's so personal- hardly any money is changing hands, there's no violence, and sex... well, (REDACTED FOR POSSIBLE USE IN HK-SYMPHONY) The point I'm searching for is too big for this blog post- please excuse me.
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Night is the new Oprah Book Club pick. Right after James "Pants-On-Fire" Frey. It's not that I don't want my favorite book to be appreciated by millions of people. It's not that I don't want to share my beloved Elie. It's not that. Maybe I want everyone to read the whole trilogy, Night, Dawn, and Day (or The Accident), as well as Rollo May, Viktor Frankl, Primo Levi, and Kurt Vonnegut. Night weighs in at a scan 128 pages. Albeit, 128 very dense pages. I think Oprah should have assigned the whole Triology.
Dawn takes place in one night, as a survivor of Auschwitz is living as a terrorist in British-controlled Palestine after the war. He is given the task of killing a prisoner at sunrise if the demands of the Jewish terrorist gang he is a part of are not met. He ruminates on the nature of his task for the hours approaching dawn.
The Accident is also about a man who has survived the Holocaust. He is walking in Times Square and is hit by a cab, and nearly dies. He is bedridden and drifts in and out of dreams, wondering always how it is possible to move forward in life when such an anvil of suffering has crushed not only your past, but your very ideas of human nature.
Nowhere in this world is there more knowledge of, experience with, and dissection of the glorious highs and depraved lows of human nature than in the accounts of people who survived the holocaust. I wish Oprah would assign all these books.
I don't mean to have sour grapes. It's just that when I was in Eckerd yesterday, I saw Night for sale on the same rack with the Nora Roberts books. That made me feel weird inside.
I was happy to start my day by reading that "scientists just don't understand clouds very well." Must be all the contrails controlling their minds.
The clouds over Brooklyn last evening about 5:30 connected in a lovely pattern, set against subtle hues of blue and fading orange; a nice reminder that the days are indeed getting longer (it's almost February!). It's crucial to find hope wherever you can.
Anyway last night, he asked Hopkins ( Who he truly revered as one of the real old-schoolers, dropping superlatives on him left and right, between coughs ) if there were any actors which he saw as having a "talent" which Hopkins himself could never achieve, "anyone who ever made you feel that if they are so good and I can't possibly do that, than what am I doing in this business?" Hopkins qestured around a bit and squinted. "I think, Brando, because..." "T-that's what everyone says!" stammered Rose. After calming down a bit, Hopkins was asked why, "What was it?" "Brando had an animal magnatism, he was always watchable." Hopkins ponders while Rose reminises, "he was pure animal, pure intelligence, and relaxation."
The combination of the three is what caught me.
Monday, January 23, 2006
Friday, January 20, 2006
As Bart Simpson said, "all the best bands are affiliated with Satan."
For the record, I quite like Page France, and their spiritual symbolism doesn't bother me because the images are rather good and unconventional, and the songs are good. Sufjan Stevens on the other hand............eh, not my thing. Plus it seems a little disingenuous to complain about being pigeonholed as religious when your whole initial marketing campaign featured glossy photos of yourself surrounded by white-clad "angelic" (and attractive and female of course) persons.
I don't think my disdain for religion is bigotry, though I suppose that's precisely what a bigot would say. I just think it's imminently logical that religion causes more problems than it solves and the whole world would be much improved were it much mre secular. The Deepak Lal article cited previously illustrated that perfectly. Even when religion does good there's always a catch - donations to be made, guilt trips to be pressed into.
I don't find "Christian" music interesting because I find it's perspective - and by extension, the "struggle" it purports to portray - cloying, reductive, myopic and BORING. Of course, I don't have to buy it, and neither does anybody, and if someone does, that's fine too. Because we all know, deep down, which God we're really beholden to in the end.
Thursday, January 19, 2006
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Friday, January 13, 2006
The First World, eager to play paterfamilias to their historically shackled Third World bretheren, lectures in drab and condescending tones about how yes, it was they, who in their unbridled quest for technological advancement and unending pissing contest for global dominance, first unleashed the power of the atom upon this planet, but really they've learned a lot since then and it would be much better if you inferior nations just heed our advice and take a pass on this one. A child can understand the double standard here! It is the logic of the larger boy who forces the smaller into a game of his devising, changing the rules to his benefit at every step. The United States' pandering to Pakistan, whose government is just as reactionary as Iran's, further exposes the selectivity of their ire.
I'm not saying that an Iran armed with nuclear power is a good thing, far from it. But I am of the opinion that the patronizing tone of First World power brokers, who are only interested in maintaining their own hegemony anyway, must cease before there's hope of moving forward with serious discussion.
Thursday, January 12, 2006
To paraphrase Stephen Gaskin, in his book Monday Night Class, laughter is an absurd, non-linear reaction to an absurd, non-linear series of events. A man is walking down the street, the man slips and launches into a pratfall, limbs akimbo, look of utter shock on his face. There is no way to predict the second event from the first event, it does not follow. We react with a wordless, gutteral laugh at this unexpected hilarity. This is not to express pleasure at his embarrassment, but rather a child-like delight in randomness and unity of chaos.
I believe the same is true of crying, it is the same absurd reaction. A man is walking down the street, the man slips and cracks his skull on the curb, and suddenly he is dead and there is brain matter splattering the cross-walk. We react with a wordless, gutteral sob at this unexpected tragedy. We react with a child-like fear of the randomness and disparity of chaos.
A friend once remarked on the length and depth of proper grief. There is a socially acceptable time for sympathy and caseroles, but beyond this time grief becomes a personal and quiet affair. Its length and depth are impossible to share. Even after the sadness stops, the absurdity remains, and may never go away. I fear when I am old, decades from now, I may still carry this wish around, to reverse that which makes no sense. Some of us take comfort in the possibility of heaven, some in the forgetfulness of time. And some of us carry our ghosts around forever, like watchful parrots on shoulders of pirates.
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
IN RESPONSE TO THE "RANDOM FACTS" THAT ARE BEING GENERATED ON THE INTERNET
I'm aware of the made up declarations about me that have recently begun to appear on the Internet and in emails as "Chuck Norris facts." I've seen some of them. Some are funny. Some are pretty far out. Being more a student of the Wild West than the wild world of the Internet, I'm not quite sure what to make of it. It's quite surprising. I do know that boys will be boys, and I neither take offense nor take these things too seriously. Who knows, maybe these made up one-liners will prompt young people to seek out the real facts as found in my recent autobiographical book, "Against All Odds?" They may even be interested enough to check out my novels set in the Old West, "The Justice Riders," released this month. I'm very proud of these literary efforts.
~ Chuck Norris
I am posting this because I think it's an hilarious phenomenon. I enjoy Chuck Norris because I used to live on a dirt road with no cable. Our TV antennas picked up CBS from a city 60 miles away. On Saturday nights, before I had a life, I used to watch Walker, Texas Ranger every week. Much like Diagnosis Murder, I just enjoyed the bejesus out of this program for no apparent reason, and without any irony.
Chuck Norris is currently experiencing an increase in popularity via the "Random Facts" website (which also holds forth evidence of the kick-assery of Vin Diesel and Mr. T) and dozens of postings on collegehumor.com. A new generation is discovering Mr. Norris for earnest hero he portrays in dozens of movies and his series, Walker. I only hope that he does not become an object of derision.
I think, secretly, that everyone loves Mr. Norris in large part for his intense and heartfelt demeanor. Today's kid might mask this with a sarcastic, or "ironic" affection but I know better. I wish Mr. Norris the best of luck, and I know he will continue to rule with a beareded fist.
There's an unsettling symmetry between the testimony of Judges Roberts and Alito and the news coverage of it; both pander to image and skirt substance.
There's no way to know how Alito will behave if appointed Justice, but every reason to suspect that he and Roberts are meant to be a conservative wedge on the court, tasked with rolling back many of the progressive precedents of recent years. In fact there is no need to suspect it: it's the stated goal of the Republican party. How irksome to barely hear a whisper of it in the press.
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
On Saturday, Lt Gen Urano Teixeira Da Matta Bacellar was found dead. He was wearing a white (blood stained) T-shirt, white boxer shorts, and sandals. His body was slumped on a tile floor against the balcony of his suite in the upscale Hotel Montana in Port-au-Prince. He appeared to have been alone at the time of the shooting. His gun was found near his body. He was the commander of the United Nations’ peacekeeping force in Haiti.
Monday, January 09, 2006
Friday, January 06, 2006
It's a strange thought, it made me realize just how little I examine my daily life. Could I dictate a police sketch of the person that sat across from me this morning?
If I met someone in passing two years ago and they committed a crime in the present, could I recognize them now?
I also realized that I lack the language to properly describe facial characteristics. How can I be sure that the "tufted bangs" and "sloping forehead" and "prominent jaw" that I would describe mean the same thing to someone else?
Hell, sometimes I look in the mirror and wonder if it really is me staring back. The real me? The same one as yesterday? Are you sure?
"One thing member Nick Kroll discovered: People like online comedy."
But most importantly...
"People seem to be desperate for content," he said, "because they're terribly sad at work."
Yes. Yes we are. But it's even sadder that the company that is trying to cure the working world is leaving out the most important person: me. I can't watch MotherLoad because it doesn't play on my Mac.
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
Among them was one I got last night from (remove name) at 12:15 last night saying: I DO NOT THINK WE GET TO KNOW WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO DIE.
bizarre enough, kind of passed it off, then about an hour or so later I wrote back: NO SHIT
Not the most elegant or polite response, for this I apologize, it was an exhausing couple days and the nature of human mortality and its facets was not on the menu for me.
However, today is another day and it's not very often I get to reference this on of my most favoritest of quotes within any normal logical context so here goes. A question with an answer
"...who would fardels bear, to grunt and sweat under a weary life, But that the dread of something after death, The undiscover'd country from whose bourn not traveller returns, puzzles the will, And makes us rather bears those ills we have Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all, And thus the native hue of resolution is sicklied o're with the pale cast of thought, And enterprises of great pith and moment with this regard thier currents turn awry, and lose the name of action..."
The Prince of Denmark was by no means a great philosopher, but in this statement he has a point. Death, the "undiscover'd country", is by nature unknown. And thus (remove name) your answer via the Great Bard, and a good one at that, except I personally feel differently about the whole "dying" ordeal (terrible thing, that) and will offer my own opiion upon further request.
That is all