Saturday, January 29, 2005

I was looking for Dromm, a scifi world...

    "Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field One Night

Vigil strange I kept on the field one night:
When you, my son and my comrade, dropt at my side that day,
One look I but gave, which your dear eyes return'd, with a look I shall never forget;
One touch of your hand to mine, O boy, reach'd up as you lay on the ground;
Then onward I sped in the battle, the even-contested battle;
Till late in the night reliev'd, to the place at last again I made my way;
Found you in death so cold, dear comrade-found your body, son of responding kisses, (never again
on earth responding;)
Bared your face in the starlight-curious the scene-cool blew the moderate night-wind;
Long there and then in vigil I stood, dimly around me the battlefield spreading;
Vigil wondrous and vigil sweet, there in the fragrant silent night;
But not a tear fell, not even a long-drawn sigh-Long, long I gazed;
Then on the earth partially reclining, sat by your side, leaning my chin in my hands;
Passing sweet hours, immortal and mystic hours with you, dearest comrade-Not a tear, not a word;
Vigil of silence, love and death-vigil for you my son and my soldier,
As onward silently stars aloft, eastward new ones upward stole;
Vigil final for you, brave boy, (I could not save you, swift was your death,
I faithfully loved you and cared for you living-I think we shall surely meet again;)
Till at latest lingering of the night, indeed just as the dawn appear'd,
My comrade I wrapt in his blanket, envelop'd well his form,
Folded the blanket well, tucking it carefully over head, and carefully under feet;
And there and then, and bathed by the rising sun, my son in his grave, in his rude-dug grave I
Ending my vigil strange with that-vigil of night and battlefield dim;
Vigil for boy of responding kisses, (never again on earth responding;)
Vigil for comrade swiftly slain-vigil I never forget, how as day brighten'd,
I rose from the chill ground, and folded my soldier well in his blanket,
And buried him where he fell."

--Walt Whitman

Friday, January 28, 2005

On my victrola: Eurovision '81.

Silicon Caissa. (via R*b*cca Blood)

"The mental gap between the rulers and young people is now between 100 and 150 years," said Mohammad-Ali Abtahi, a former vice-president who resigned in protest at parliament's conservative shift.

"World's Gr*at*st Writ*r".
    "Well, the big story of Oscar's day is that Martin Scorsese's entertaining biopic of Howard Hughes, The Aviator is up for 11 awards.  That number is hardly a record, but it does place The Aviator as the nominations leader, and history tells us the most nominated movie usually wins Best Picture--and director--but not always, however, as Scorsese well knows.  In 1980 Scorsese's Raging Bull and David Lynch's The Elephant Man were both up for 8 awards, but they were bested by Ordinary People, which made the grade with only 6 (?) noms to its credit.  Still, Scorsese and company are well positioned.  The only real drawback, so far, is The Aviator's meager box office, but that could turn around now that the movie appears to be the front runner.  Still, Million Dollar Baby, which ties with Finding Neverland as the year's 2nd most nominated movie (w/7), has yet to go into wide national release, and if the movie really takes off at the box office, the way many prognosticators (and what a great word) believe, then it might not be smooth sailing, so to speak, for The Aviator.  The situation looks even less promising for Finding Neverland, being as how its director, Marc Forster has been shut-out.  Statistically, this has never been a good thing, and with Finding Neverland's wobbly box office, things look even more dour. (Full confession: I didn't care much for the movie as a whole, so that Forster was not nominated is somewhat vindicating for moi).  Sideways, the movie that seems to have dominated all the early prize giving is only up for 5 awards, which seems to weaken its chances, especially given that its nominal lead actor Paul Giamatti was overlooked--a surprise since, so far, Giamatti has won the few Best Actor prizes that haven't gone to Ray's Jamie Foxx.  (Again, I can't say I'm hurt that Giamatti wasn't nominated, as I think both he and Sideways, in general, have been waaaaaaaaaaay over-rated.)  The fifth Best Picture nominee is Ray (w/6 noms), which at this point is the big moneymaker in the bunch--but that will change.  Still, this movie's chances are buoyed by the damn-near universal goodwill toward Jamie Foxx's electrifying performance. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind would have been a great addition to the Best Picture race; now its best hope is to win Best Original Screenplay.

     There are a lot of Best Actor also-rans, but we'll get to that.  The nominees are Foxx, Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda), Johnny Depp (Finding Neverland), Leonardo DiCaprio (The Aviator) and Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby).  It is, of course, interesting to see both Depp and DiCaprio, Mama Grape's boys, competing against each other, but I believe, as do many, many others, there will be rioting in the streets if Foxx loses.  That said, I'm thrilled Don Cheadle is nominated.  I haven't seen Hotel Rwanda yet, but I plan to this weekend; moreover, I'm still nursing wounds from 1995, the year Cheadle wasn't nominated for Best Supporting Actor for Devil in a Blue Dress (in which he stole the show from Denzel Washington--no easy feat, that).  Among the more prominent Best Actor also-rans: Liam Neeson (Kinsey), Javier Bardem (The Sea Inside), Gael Garcia Bernal (either Bad Education or The Motorcycle Diaries [as Che Guevara]), Jeff Bridges (The Door in the Floor) plus the aforementioned Paul Giamatti.  I would have liked for Kevin Spacey to have been nominated for playing Bobby Darin in the musical biopic Beyond the Sea, but, oh well, Spacey already has two Oscars, and I guess the Academy thought one Best Actor nominee in a musical biopic was enough.  Did anybody really expect Tom Cruise (Collateral), Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ) or Jim Carrey (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) to be nominated?  Well, they all have their fans, that's for sure.  I, of course, adore Cruise, and think his hit man in Collateral was one of the year's best conceived characters; he even looked like a silver bullet.  Carrey, I think, had a much better showcase in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events--but I never smelled an Oscar (though I'm pleased that Lemony Snicket is up for a handful of awards including Best Art Direction, Makeup, and Costumes).

     For Best Actress, it's still anyone's guess.  Hilary Swank (Million Dollar Baby) could emerge the front runner, but Annette Bening (Being Julia) still looms as a sentimental favorite, and Vera Drake's Imelda Staunton is firmly in the race, being as how her movie picked up important nominations like Best Director (Mike Leigh) and Best Original Screenplay (also Leigh).  Beyond that, it's great to see the way cool Kate Winslet (Eternal Sunshine) in her fourth Oscar race in less than ten years.  Is she an upset in the making? The fifth nominee is Catalina Sandina Moreno (Maria Full Of Grace), which I will be checking out soon on DVD. Was anybody overlooked?  Maybe only Emmy Rossum in Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera (which, surprisingly, is not up for Best Costumes).  Rossum, to this viewer, was not definitive in her Phantom role, but there was enormous hype surrounding her perfomance. I kind of liked beautiful Bryce Howard as the blind heroine of M. Night Shyamalan's The Village (though the movie just sort of wound up as a curiosity piece).  I don?t think anybody ever really considered Jennifer Garner major Oscar material for her performance in the age switcheroo comedy 13 Going On 30, but I'm still surprised that she didn't get a Golden Globe nomination.  Well, don't feel so bad, Jennifer, last time Jamie Lee Curtis was highly touted for the superficially similar Freaky Friday remake, and she didn't get an Oscar nomination either (though she was tapped for a Globe nom).

   The  Best Supporting Actress race is led by Virginia Madsen (Sideways), Cate Blanchett (The Aviator), and Laura Linney (Kinsey), all of them easy calls.  This could be a showdown between the critics' darlings.  The other two nominees are Natalie Portman (Closer), who, after her icky Golden Globes speech, should never be allowed near a microphone again, and  Hotel Rwanda's Sophie Okonedo.  Any shut-outs? Well, I know a lot of people were rooting for Kate Winslet to score a second nod for he role in Finding Neverland, but that always seemed to be a bit generous to me (especially because, among other things, her role was more leading than supporting in nature anyway; Madsen, meanwhile, could almost compete in the Best Actress category, as could Laura Linney.).  It would have been nice if Regina King and Sharon Warren had been included for Ray.  King the former child actress of the old 227 sitcom from the 1980's, and later the wife of Cuba Gooding Jr's character in Jerry Maguire, finally, really and truly came into her own as one of Charles's mistresses; she had some great scenes, including a fiery interpretation of "Hit the Road Jack."  Warren was perfection as Ray's mom.  On the one hand, she endured a lot of pain and suffering, while on the other, she had to dole out some tough love to her boy. Another widely touted candidate was former Oscar winner Cloris Leachman (Best Supporting Actress, The Last Picture Show, 1971) in Spanglish, but despite being an audience pleaser herself,  the movie, overall, was not especially embraced by critics or the general moviegoing populace. My own personal favorite supporting actress of the year, without taking away anything from Madsen, was Jada Pinkett Smith in Collateral.  Smith's footage in Collateral was limited, yes, but she was blessed with one beautifully written scene (not, to clarify, her only scene), and she just played it so naturally--as an attorney slowly opening up to cab driver Jamie Foxx--it was a miracle in miniature.  I also liked veteran Dallas actress Irma P. Hall in the Coens' remake of The Ladykillers, but I guess that movie came out too early and just had a hard time finding an audience, besides. Thank goodness, on the other hand, the Academy had the good sense to pass on Meryl Streep's performance in The Manchurian Candidate remake.  Angela Lansbury already played that part--of fiendishly domineering mother--to legendarily wicked perfection, and Streep, as good as she often is, was no match for the original.  And I wasn't wild about Minnie Driver's diva in Phantom of the Opera, either, so her omission is not so surprising, though I know she was generally well reviewed, and that surprises me.

     In the Best Supporting Actor race, the clear front runner so far has been Thomas Haden Church in Sideways (like Foxx, a local boy),  but that might change, what with the likes of Morgan Freeman (Million Dollar Baby), the enduring vet--who's been nominated three times previous and never won--and movie star in the making Clive Owen (Closer).  Also along for the ride, Alan Alda, his first ever nomination for The Aviator, and, oh yeah, Jamie Foxx for Collateral.  In the case of the latter the nomination is just gravy.  And, no, to answer some of the naysayers, I never thought Foxx was the lead in Collateral. Cruise was the star, the draw--which is not to say Foxx didn't hold his own. (To refresh, the movie details the shifting relationship between a hit-man and the cabdriver he ropes into a plan to commit several murders in the span of a single evening.)  That Foxx did hold his own (against an especially dynamic Cruise) is part of what makes Collateral such great moviemaking--and what makes Cruise so great as an actor: he doesn't mind sharing the screen, as per the case of the aforementioned Cuba Gooding Jr.,  and Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai), a Best Supporting Actor nominee from 2003.  Even last year's Best Supporting Actress winner Renee Zellweger (Cold Mountain) had to back up all the way to 1996 and thank her Jerry Maguire leading man in her acceptance speech. Furthermore, Academy rules prohibit actors from competing against themselves, which means Foxx was never going to be nominated for Best Actor for Collateral.  That would have never happened--and no one made Academy members nominate him for Collateral at all.  I mean, there was no need, since his nomination for Ray was always a lock.  Plus, if Foxx is the lead, as some suggest, in Collateral, then likewise so is Thomas Haden Church in Sideways, which for all practical purposes is barely--if that--nothing more than a glorified buddy pic.  Was anybody overlooked?  Maybe only Alec Baldwin, also in The Aviator.  Nothing else comes to mind right away.

     I'll wrap up now.  It's encouraging to, at long last, see Taylor Hackford (Ray) up for Best Director, and I'm glad that Michael Mann, as the producer of The Aviator,  has a chance of claiming an Oscar, since the Academy had the bad taste not to nominate him for directing Collateral.  About the latter, I don't know that it was the best movie of the year or not, but I think it was superb filmmaking.  The most crushing disappointment of all, for me, was that the goregous cinematography by Dione Beebe and Paul Cameron (for Collateral). Mann and his team (especially Beebe) worked hard with state of the art digital technology to give Collateral a unique look--at LA at night has never looked more seductive, more dangerous. (Beebe was previosuly nominated for 2002's Best Picture winner Chicago)  And Mann, who shook up the status quo with tv's Miami Vice in the 1980's, certainly knows a thing or two about hypnotic visuals.   If it matters, Beebe and Cameron were nominated by their peers in the American Society of Cinematographers and are likewise up for the British Academy Award equivalent. Collateral was, on the other hand, nominated for Best Editing.  It's better than nothing I guess (I mean, besides the nomination for Foxx.)

     The relatively meager showing of House of the Flying Daggers indicates the Academy believes it did its part in singling out Chinese martial arts movies a few years ago with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.   Myself, I think Daggers lacks the narrative thrust of the earlier film, though it has better visuals. (They are both, however, great eye candy.) The most splendid of this recent batch, however, may very well be Hero, which was excluded because it was up for Best Foreign Language Film two or three years ago.  I'm also crushed that composer Michael Giacchino's score for The Incredibles was shut-out.  That's just insane!  It would've been great if The Incredibles had been nominated for Best Picture, but that's the curse of now having a special category for feature length animation; it's like a ghetto.  Still, happily, The Incredibles is up for a few other awards, and should handily wining the aforementioned feature length category.  I still think, as well, Napoleon Dynamite should have been up for Best Original Screenplay, and that Mean Girls ought to have snagged a slot in the Best Adapted Screenplay slot--I love that Tina Fey, the Saturday Night Live head-writer and performer who did the adaptation (which was singled out for praise by the Writers Guild).  That the motion-control/animated feature Polar Express was shut of the race for Best Animated Feature is justified in that as beautiful as the movie's surfaces were, the newfangled process (a tweaking of an old process called rotoscoping) failed in the area of making its human characters physically convincing.  At this point, actors can breathe a sigh of relief that they?re not quite yet obsolete.  It's too bad, on the other hand, that Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, with its lavish computer generated backgrounds, did not fare any better with Academy voters.  

     As for The Passion of the Christ, I still don't know what to make out  of that movie's phenomenal success.  I was in the midst of it for weeks on end, and it was quite unlike almost anything I'd ever seen in 20+ years as a box office cashier. I do know this: Mel Gibson made a concerted effort not to do any Oscar campaigning for his movie (meaning no ads in the trade magazines, and presumably no home-screeners, maybe even no special theatre screenings).  With that in mind, it's hardly surprising that the movie didn't score more nominations than it did.  On the other hand, the movie did get a nod for Caleb Deschanel, the great cinematographer who's never won, despite a career that includes The Black Stallion, The Right Stuff, and The Natural.  Maybe this year the Academy will finally honor him and, in turn, recognize Gibson's movie in the doing.

Coments? Questions? Feedback? Good natured differences of opinion?

"Sect 4209 Desecration of a Venerated Object

to seriously offend
one or more viewers
by breaking this
everyone's toy--
toy we should break
ourselves for, first;
toy infinitely cheapened and
fit symbol of
the daily betrayal of what it once stood for:
what we never knew
and still won't miss,
though every toy in toyland break
though every body break to save the toys"

--Dakar Coolm*adow

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Atlanta Nights. Go, prosaic flarfists!

Dschingis Khan. A viddy!

Now this is art. Ditto.

Whether dinner was pleasant, with the windows lit by gunfire, and no one disagreed, or whether, later, we argued in the park, and there was a touch of vomit-gas in the evening air;
Whether we found a greater, deeper, more perfect love, by courtesy of Camels, over NBC; whether the comics amused us, or the newspapers carried a hunger death and a White House prayer for mother’s day;
Whether the bills were paid or not, whether or not we had our doubts, whether we spoke our minds at Joe’s, and the receipt said “Not Returnable,” and the cash-register rang up “No Sale,”
Whether the truth was then, or later, or whether the best had already gone--

Nevertheless, we know; as every turn is measured; as every unavoidable risk is known;
As nevertheless, the flesh grows old, dies, dies in its only life, is gone;
The reflection goes from the mirror; as the shadow, of even a rebel, is gone from the wall;
As nevertheless, the current is thrown and the wheels revolve; and nevertheless, as the word is spoken and the wheat grows tall and the ships sail on--

None but the fool is paid in full; none but the broker, none but the scab is certain of profit;
The sheriff alone may attend a third degree in formal attire; alone, the academy artists multiply in dignity as trooper’s bayonet guards the door;
Only Steve, the side-show robot, knows content; only Steve, the mechanical man in love with a photo-electric beam, remains aloof; only Steve, who sits and smokes or stands in salute, is secure;
Steve, whose shoebutton eyes are blind to terror, whose painted ears are deaf to appeal, whose welded breast will never be slashed by bullets, whose armature soul can hold no fear."

--K*nn*th F*aring, op cit

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

"Flarf is made of emotional materials that are unprepared for poetry." --Pangrammaticon

What to do at an art show.

Past our political horizon.

   "My Spirit, Sore from Marching

My spirit, sore from marching
   Toward that receding west
Where Pity shall be governor,
   With Wisdom for his guest:

Lie down beside these waters
   That bubble from the spring;
Hear in the desert silence
   The desert sparrow sing;

Draw from the shapeless moment
   Such pattern as you can;
And cleave henceforth to Beauty;
   Expect no more from man.

Man, with his ready answer,
   His sad and hearty word,
For every cause in limbo,
   For every debt deferred,

For every pledge forgotten,
   His eloquent and grim
Deep empty gaze upon you,--
   Expect no more from him.

From cool and aimless Beauty
   Your bread and comfort take,
Beauty, that made no promise
   And has no word to break;

Have eyes for beauty only,
   That has no eyes for you;
Follow her struck pavilion,
   Halt with her retinue;

Catch from the board of beauty
   Such careless crumbs as fall.
Here's hope for priest and layman;
   Here's heresy for all."

--Millay, op cit
‘...there deep as all rebellions shine
the Virgin Mother’s cast-iron eyes...’

--V. Khl*bnikov, “Lightland”

  “...prepared vistas extend
As far as harvest; and idyllic death
Where fish at dawn ignite the powdery lake.”

--G*offr*y Hill (1959)

    “...the idea
that the picture might be doctored:

it’s the false monster in the lake
known as George Washington.”

--Ra* Armantrout (2004)

“When satire becomes impossible, only impossible pens will write satire.” --Irma V*p, Op*ration Fanciful Nam*

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Thinking about 51 P*gasi.

    "A Minor Bird

I have wished a bird would fly away,
And not sing by my house all day;

Have clapped my hands at him from the door
When it seemed as if I could bear no more.

The fault must partly have been in me;
The bird was not to blame for his key.

And of course there must be something wrong
In wanting to silence any song."

--Rob*rt Frost, in: Chi*f Mod*rn Po*ts of *ngland and Am*rica (1947)

Mostly Mosasaurs.

Anatomy of Art-Rock.


Monday, January 24, 2005

    Myrrhy Indigo Moko

1. No way of writing is natural, no way is unnatural.

2. To link to past things is good; implicitly is smart.

3. Hstory is in word history, not in who did what.

4. Try to mix as many opposing pairs as you can.

5. Irony has had its day, but that day still glows.

6. Guard dogs who prowl ‘twixt ground bombs and barb volts.

7. What you must say will not draw you to it.

8. A song aims for its mark without thought or adjusting.

9. Its way runs through chords of partially right fitting scraps.

10. A druid knows much but admits only to what shows.

"It's amazing how as things get worse, you begin to require less and less. We have a saying for that in Iraq, "Ili yishoof il mawt, yirdha bil iskhooneh." Which means, "If you see death, you settle for a fever." We've given up on democracy, security and even electricity. Just bring back the water." --Baghdad Burning
    "Not Real Windows

I lightly let go of my sanity,
that Antarctic gear
of monstrous precautions.
I say: things are not so bad
here and now
and how they do it...
Ten thousand years later I am dug
out of a glacier
with flesh on my bones."

--Ogd*n Pound, Ransom Not*s That Hav* Work*d (2006)

Sunday, January 23, 2005

On my victrola: Boris Godunov.

"Two of my co-workers were talking about whether there were any contemporary art-movements. One,
an artist herself, said that what they do now is take something old apart and put it back
together in a new way. But, she added, that's really no different from DaDa, early in the 20c.
At first I wanted to butt in, then I decided: there's only one art movement left. INVISIBILITY."
--Cun*iform D R*am, S*v*n Habits of R*lativ*ly Succ*ssful P*opl* (1988)