Saturday, December 10, 2005

sad to hear that Richard Pryor has died. As a stand-up comedian, he built on Lenny Bruce and was a lot funnier. As an actor mostly ill-used, but his performance in Paul Schrader's "Blue Collar"--for all its faults, still one of the few movies to try and deal unsentimentally with American working class experience--was something special. You could feel the sweat of his betrayal crawl up your own spine.

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Friday, December 09, 2005

serving up the BBQ, from Charles Reade's 1861, 15th century set The Cloister and the Hearth--

"The next trifle was a wild boar, which smelt divine. Why, then, did Margaret start away from it with two shrieks of dismay, and pinch so good a friend as Gerard? Because the duke's "cuisinier" had been too clever; had made this excellent dish too captivating to the sight as well as taste. He had restored to the animal, by elaborate mimicry with burnt sugar and other edible colours, the hair and bristles he had robbed him of by fire and water. To make him still more enticing, the huge tusks were carefully preserved in the brute's jaw, and gave his mouth the winning smile that comes of tusk in man or beast: and two eyes of coloured sugar glowed in his head. St. Argus! what eyes! so bright, so blood-shot, so threatening--they followed a man and every movement of his knife and spoon. But, indeed, I need the pencil of Granville or Tenniel to make you see the two gilt valets on the opposite side of the table putting the monster down before our friends, with a smiling, self-satisfied, benevolent obsequiousness--for this ghastly monster was the flower of all comestibles--old Peter clasping both hands in pious admiration of it; Margaret wheeling round with horror-stricken eyes and her hand on Gerard's shoulder, squeaking and pinching; his face of unwise delight at being pinched, the grizzly brute glaring sulkily on all, and the guests grinning from ear to ear."

I first read it (and the whole book is this intense) after buying it for 5p in a jumble sale at the church across the street from our place in Castlehill Road, in Ayr, '69 or '70. A small harcover with limp leather and that deceptive bible paper, so that 700p books could be easily carried into battle or on long ocean voyages. The very sad ending of the book reveals Gerard and Margaret to be the parents of Erasmus. Like a lot of really great books it's not that well known now, but my great fondness for it was validated by finding out that it was one of Baron Corvo's favorites. And it sold boatloads for decades, which is why its easy to find. Reade was best known for such realist Zolaesque "sensation" novels as "Hard Cash" so he knows how to punch everything home and still keep the plot moving. Keep an eye out for it in the small town libraries and mildew'd bookshelves of the former Empire. Don't spend more than two dollars. I had not known that there was a Classics Illustrated version of it until I discovered the whole comic scanned on this strange anti-Catholic website; apparently the Vatican had something to do with the downfall of the Classics Illustrated franchise, who knew? Ignore that and enjoy looking at the anonymous, crude, blocky but effective condensation of Reade's book with only the ending changed, with its washes of blood red and Lichtensteinian facial features. I think the reason I have so much trouble with "graphic novels" is that beyond old Superman, Caspar or Classics Illustrated comics everything was just too overdetailed and impenetrable for me; I could figure out real novels easier than Marvel comics.

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"Vermont Marble Company #5, Abandoned Granite Quarry, Rochester, Vermont, 1991"
from Edward Burtynsky's "Rock of Ages" series.
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The Terror Verdict TV Networks Ignored

"When then-Attorney General John Ashcroft personally announced the Al-Arian indictment on Feb. 20, 2003, in a press conference carried live on CNN (Ashcroft tagged Al-Arian the North American leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad), the story garnered a wave of excited media attention. ABC's "World News Tonight" led that night's newscast with the Al Arian arrest. Both NBC and CBS also gave the story prominent play that evening. But last night, in the wake of Al-Arian's acquittal, it was a different story. Neither ABC, CBS nor NBC led with the terror case on their evening newscasts. None of them slotted it second or third either. In fact, according to TVEyes, the 24-hour monitor system, none of networks reported the acquittal at all. Raise your hand if you think the nets would have covered the trial's conclusion if the jury had returned with a guilty verdict in what the government had hyped as a centerpiece to its War on Terror."

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

"The Pennsylvanian treetops, flecked with gold like the entree at a wedding feast..." Posted by Picasa

"Schooled on the rugged washboard backroads of western North Carolina, TT gunned the Subaru down the syrupy smooth 222--which rises into the Alleghenies with the gentle slowness of a child fetching a midnight glass of water--with an indescribably light touch." Posted by Picasa

View of the the carillon of the Theological Seminary from my Chelsea bed just as the sun hit. Posted by Picasa

Harewood wordsmith K. Davies (of the popular "Goatman" thrillers) at Stephen King's house in Bangor, Me. Posted by Picasa

Beaver Memorial in Bangor, Maine. Posted by Picasa

watching Sideshow Bob's peerless houseboat solo performance of Pinafore on the Simpsons last night made me come over all D'Oyly Carte, with bitter regrets for my non-existent career in light opera, further deepened this morning by the perusal of this very thorough Gilbert and Sullivan Homepage. My long-suppressed fondness for G&S much stoked a few years back by Mike Leigh's "Topsy-Turvy", as good a film about the process of artmaking as any I can think of. Lovely ending, with the wonderful Scottish actress Shirley Henderson playing Leonora Barham (above, with Sybil Grey and Jessie Bond) as Yum Yum in the original production The Mikado singing (to a mirror) one of my favorite songs--

"Yes, I am indeed beautiful! Sometimes I sit and
wonder, in my artless way, why it is that I am so much
more attractive than anybody else in the whole world. Can this
be vanity? No! Nature is lovely and rejoices in her loveliness.
I am a child of Nature, and take after my mother.

The sun, whose rays
Are all ablaze
With ever-living glory,
Does not deny
His majesty--
He scorns to tell a story!
He don't exclaim,
"I blush for shame,
So kindly be indulgent."
But, fierce and bold,
In fiery gold,
He glories all effulgent!

I mean to rule the earth,
As he the sky--
We really know our worth,
The sun and I!

Observe his flame,
That placid dame,
The moon's Celestial Highness;
There's not a trace
Upon her face
Of diffidence or shyness:
She borrows light
That, through the night,
Mankind may all acclaim her!
And, truth to tell,
She lights up well,
So I, for one, don't blame her!

Ah, pray make no mistake,
We are not shy;
We're very wide awake,
The moon and I!"

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happy birthday Agnes Moorehead, perhaps best known as Endora on "Bewitched", but whose performance as Fanny Minafer in Orson Welles' "Magnificent Ambersons" is one of cinema's best--

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Monday, December 05, 2005

Seattle Doin's--


WHAT: Action Books! reading @ the Jewelbox
WHO: Joyelle McSweeney (Alabama), Johannes Goransson (Alabama), Don
Mee Choi (Seattle), Kreg Hasegawa (Seattle)

WHERE: Jewelbox Theater at the Rendezvous: 2322 2nd Ave. / Seattle,
WA (Bell Town) / 206-441-5834
WHEN: Dec. 10th (Sat.), 7:30 pm
CONTACT: Kreg Hasegawa


JOYELLE MCSWEENEY is the author of The Red Bird and The Commandrine and Other Poems, both from Fence Books. She writes for The Constant Critic and teaches in the MFA program at the University of Alabama. She recently co-founded Action Books with Johannes Goransson.

JOHANNES GORANSSON was born in Sweden but now he lives and teaches in Tuscaloosa, AL. The most recent issues of the journal Fourteen Hills and the on-line journal Typo_feature his selections of innovative
Swedish poetry from the the past 100 years. Remainland: Selected
Poems of Aase Berg is now out from Action Books, and Ideals
Clearance by early Finland-Swedish Modernist Henry Parland is
forthcoming from Ugly Duckling Presse.

DON MEE CHOI lives in Seattle and translates the poetry of
contemporary Korean women poets. Her forthcoming books of
translations include When the Plug Gets Unplugged_(Tinfish 2005) and
Words of Anxiety (Zephyr Press, 2006). More translations of Kim
Hyesoon's poetry are scheduled to be published by Action Books, 2007.
> KREG HASEGAWA lives in Seattle. He occasionally puts on readings such as this. He usually doesn't book himself to read but Joyelle twisted
his arm. He writes stories. They have been published in The News, Sal Mimeo, Spring Formal, and Greetings. He apologizes to the poetry
community for not getting out much lately, but he's in graduate
school. He hopes no one has taken this personally. He wishes
everyone well.


Johannes Goransson and Don Mee Choi will be reading translations of
Aase Berg and Kim Hyesoon, respectively. Here is some information on

AASE BERG is one of the most celebrated yet subversive young poets in
Sweden. She has published four books: With Deer, Dark Matter,
Transfer Fat and Uppland. She has recently given reading tours of
the US and the former Yugoslavia, and her work has been translated
into several European languages. She is currently translating the
complete works of H.P. Lovecraft into Swedish.

KIM HYESOON (Kim Hye-sun) is one of the most prominent poets in South Korea. She teaches creative writing at Seoul College of the Arts. Kimis the first woman to receive the coveted Kim Su-yong Poetry Award.
Her books include Seoul, My Upanishad, Poor Love Machine,
Calendar Factory, Factory Supervisor, Please Look and A Cup of Red
Mirror. She also writes feminist literary criticism.

ABOUT ACTION BOOKS: Action Books is for poetry that goes too far. We started this press in the spirit of internationalism, and to that end
we are publishing both emerging American poets and contemporary poets in translation. Our debut volumes, available now on and , are:

The Hounds of No, an entirely unheimlich debut by Lara Glenum,
whose blog of the same name has gained a wide following in the blog
world, and whose debut volume Claudia Rankine has called "morbidly brilliant" and K. Silem Mohammed has called "zoologically savage."

My Kafka Century, a bristling and brainy second volume by Arielle
Greenberg, whose work Publishers Weekly has called "both slippery and
sharp, like ice skates in use."

Remainland, a selection of disarmingly visceral miniatures from the
internationally acclaimed Swedish poet Aase Berg. Lisa Jarnot has
characterized Remainland as "a place of weird music and visceral

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the Shelley Berman revival continues...

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Deaths from international terrorism compared with road crash deaths in OECD countries

"In the 29 OECD countries for which comparable data were available, the annual average death rate from road injury was approximately 390 times that from international terrorism. The ratio of annual road to international terrorism deaths (averaged over 10 years) was lowest for the United States at 142 times. In 2001, road crash deaths in the US were equal to those from a September 11 attack every 26 days."