Monday, July 28, 2014

HMMMM...

This link is for all my friends who, on Facebook and elsewhere, are citing extremist Islamist views to justify Israel's actions (and I do not justify anyone's actions on any side of any issue if they end in the murder of innocent people, especially children, so that includes the old IRA, ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the USA in Afghanistan, Russia in the Ukraine, Hamas in Israel, etc.) because this shows the rightwing religious pressure in, and on, the Israeli government for justifying eliminating all Palestinians from what was once, and in much smaller acreage still is, their homeland.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

THIS IS THE END VS. IT'S A DISASTER

THIS IS THE END is a disaster movie that came out last year and I caught on cable. It's a seductive set up, a bunch of Hollywood types, including celebrities, are at a party at James Franco's house when the Apocalypse occurs. A disaster/comedy, great. Franco does a good job of tweaking his image, as does Jonah Hill and a few others, including Emma Watson in one of the better cameos and Michael Cera who turns his public and movie persona on its head as a coked up sex object.

One of the main roles is played by Seth Rogen who just plays the same guy we see in every Seth Rogen film which isn't that interesting or funny when everyone else is either playing extreme versions of who the public thinks they are or the exact opposite.  There are some very funny bits, especially early on, but there is also a lot of the usual bodily fluids and functions adolescent humor that I didn't even like when I was an adolescent, back when that humor was confined to schoolyards and locker rooms and team buses, not in movies or in comics' routines.

Of course the adolescent boys it seems to be aimed at all know this film, like my sixteen-year-old youngest or my about to turn sixteen grandson. But for this adult, it ultimately failed to live up to expectations. All that talent and money seemed almost to deliberately be frivolously thrown away on not very original comic set pieces in what promised to be a very original premise.

Whereas, IT'S A DISASTER, another end of the world disaster/comedy that came out the year before, no one I know seems to have even heard of let alone seen, and yet, it's a masterfully original movie with a small cast that should have been nominated for a SAG ensemble award. Some are known, though none as big as Franco and Rogen etc., like America Ferrera and Julia Stiles, and most audiences would recognize David Cross even if they didn't know his name, but the rest of the cast were pretty unfamiliar to me (they may be on network TV shows I don't watch but I didn't remember them from any movies) like Rachel Boston, Kevin M. Brennan et. al.

But man, what a simple set up and satisfying pay off. It's four couples, one of which is on a more or less blind date (Cross and Stiles) having a get together in one of the couples homes when some sort of disaster hits the world and they are stuck together for what may be their last hours. Unlike THIS IS THE END, there are no adolescent potty jokes etc, but in fact pretty grown up wry comments on what it means to be a grown up in a relationship. Lots of tension and release, feints and jabs, pretense and brutal honesty.

If you haven't seen IT'S A DISASTER, do. If you haven't seen THIS IS THE END, well, you might want to watch it for some of the funniest bits and set ups, but except for a handful of scenes, don't expect anything too great or original. Anyway, that's my opinion.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

ON SOME MOVIE SETS

Peter Coyote & me on the Deadwood set
me & Michael Harris on the set of The Technical Writer
James Remar, me & Bill Mosley on the White Fang set
me, Patricia Hammond and director Dominic Paris on the set of Dracula's Last Rites
just me on the set of the short film The Milkman

Friday, July 25, 2014

JOHN HOCKENBERRY VS. CHARLIE ROSE

Just a short late night judgment. I haven't watched Charlie Rose in a while until tonight when I caught an interview with Jeff Koons. I never really liked Rose's interview style. He somehow got this reputation as a great interviewer because his show is set up in a way that makes it seem almost pure in its approach (around a table with iconic cultural figures and supposed intellectuals etc.) and quiet minimalism.

Despite the  fact he uses notes like everyone else, he seems to either quickly become redundant, like he forgot he already posed that question or one almost exactly like it, or fails to follow up (or through) on an interviewee's statement that raises interesting questions never asked...etc. Also, I met him once at a TV awards show in L.A. and he was sloshed and I can't help when I see him on TV wondering if he's a little bombed and that's why he's repeating himself or just stating the obvious.

Whereas with John Hockenberry, I listen to his public radio show, called "The Take Away," on WNYC in New York pretty much every day and consider him the best interviewer in contemporary media. He always seems to immediately grasp what the person he's interviewing means and restates it in a way that any listener can understand—in case they didn't get it—and then asks a follow up question that either challenges that or takes it to the next level, and keeps doing that until the segment's over where he draws it to a conclusion that either summarizes the main point or draws his own insightful conclusion that's "the take away."

I wonder if he hasn't been asked to have his own show on TV only because he's in a wheelchair (and has been as far as I know his whole life) or has deliberately chosen NPR for the latitude it gives him to shape his show the way he wants and to do the kinds of swift, informative and smart interviews that always leave me informationally and intellectually satisfied.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

SOME RECENT (RELATIVELY) POETRY (CHAP)BOOKS

I'm always reading poetry and haven't caught up on this blog with much of it lately, so here's three slim volumes (what folks call "chapbooks"—those stapled in the middle, thin collections more like little magazines or brochures—but I call all of them "books" cause they are).

WALK ZONE (AlookWritenowBook) is the title of a unique short book of poetry and photography by Phil Johnson. The poems and the photographs depend upon the use of familiar imagery (seemingly "found"—in the sense of stumbled upon, though in many cases obviously "selected") juxtaposed in unfamiliar ways. Dreamlike in their evocativeness, they demand attention while at the same time eluding it.

Here's some lines from "If You Don't Know Spanish/And You're Age 50."

"She's fascinated by the power strips at Staples.
Are they really surge protectors?

Who can fail to remember the healthy vitality
of the Doublemint Twins: soft, sweet, and chewable.

He fucked his brains out and now he's living on fumes."

AN EVENING IN EUROPE (Toad Press) is Mark Terril's (a poet I have written about often on this blog and elsewhere because I love his work and his BREAD & FISH is on my alltime favorite list) translation of some poems by Jorg Fauser (the "o" should have an umlaut but I don't know how to make one, and as you can guess if you don't know, Fauser was a German poet who was born at the end of WWII and died in 1987).

I love most of these poems, their fierce honesty and casual throw away quality, similar to a lot of "American" poetry since the 1950s, but uniquely his own in the end. My most favorite are too long to quote here but here's a not too long one:

""Apartment House

The televisions spit out purple dentures
And goals in the last minute
And violence in every form
And every machine-language
But in the hallway it smells like the Yugoslav's
Goulash and the wet underwear
Of the girls and mortar and mud
And the rock'n'roll hammers on the third floor
And Schubert's unfinished starts up
On the eighth, and the dachshund barks, the
Canary chirps, in the rear courtyard
The pigeons coo, even they no longer
Feel the winter, Nature,
That's the suicide who first
Waters his geraniums,
The porpoise in the sewage pipe, the rat in
The toothbrush glass, and
Beer is the blood of the poet.

Even the writer on the second floor
Has a woman in his bed.
Let him in, girl, and
Hold him tight.
We only live once, or as CW always says:
You never know what it might be
Good for."

Seems like I'm always reading someone's translations of Rimbaud. I used to get in arguments over them, as if I knew (because despite his rep Rimabud often translates poorly in my experience). A poet I've known for many decades, Bill Zavatsky, is the translator of a recent (chap)book: RIMBAUD 1O POEMS (Omertà Publications), that includes "The Drunken Boat," and a mixed bag of others, which, when they're good, they're terrific, as these lines from the second section of "Novel" may illustrate:

"—That's where we can pick out a tiny patch
Of dark azure, framed by a little branch,
Pinned with a naughty star that melts
In gentle shudders, small and all white...

June night! Seventeen!—It knocks us out.
The sap is champagne and rushes to our heads...
We talk a lot; on our lips we feel a kiss
Pulsing like the heart of some tiny beast..."

Seems to me most of the books I've loved the most in my life were hardly known by most people and that will only become more true as books with any literary quotient seem to be going the way of theater, a kind of almost elite art form for a small portion of a mostly educated audience (whether self-taught or formally schooled) that got hooked on the magic of the intellectual and emotional satisfaction of lit that touches their sense of what it's all about, or should be. I'm happy to be among them.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

ANOTHER OLD FAVORITE QUOTE

"All you do is head straight for the grave, a face just covers a skull awhile. Stretch that skull-cover and smile."  —Jack Kerouac (from Visions of Cody)