Friday, December 23, 2005

"And a merry bloomin' Christmas to you, too!" Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Philip Pullman: not as smart as he thinks he is?

"Tolkien is not interested in the way grownup, adult human beings interact with each other. He's interested in maps and plans and languages and codes."

This kind of naive essentialism (see too his take on "Narnia") certainly explains (along with the near-absence of armoured polar bears) the trilogy's falling off in the third book...

from Penny Postcards via Plep
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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Anthony Powell's Century

"Powell decided to write "A Dance to the Music of Time" during World War II. He was resigned that the war would destroy the last remnants of the world in which he had passed his youth, and sought a way to preserve it. Whether he considered it from this angle or not, only an English novelist could have preserved that world. Almost anyone else would consider it a society too sadistic, selfish, and unfair to merit preserving. In an essay on Powell several decades ago, V.S. Pritchett expressed the view that the key English value--out of which all other values grow--is cruelty. 'To stand up to the best manners of English society,' he wrote, 'one has to be rude, exclusive and tough. One must be interested in behaviour, not in emotions; in the degree to which people hold their forts--and how much money the forts cost--not in what human beings are.'"

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

This Is Where I Came In: The Song Cycles of Jimmy Webb--have been enjoying "A Tramp Shining" and "The Yard Went On Forever" tonight--

"The song in question was, of course, "MacArthur Park," which the pair would soon ride majestically into the Top Ten in 1968. The park itself was the now-infamous LA locale that Webb and his girlfriend would often visit during lunch, walking around the lake, doing, as he later recalled, "what boys and girls do." Though many visiting the spot have found it unremarkable in years since, Webb remembers otherwise: "It was beautiful," he insisted to writer Paul Zollo. "It was beautiful. I will always remember it that way.""

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Monday, December 19, 2005

the Lion, the Witch and the War

"The Pevensies' every step is guided by Aslan, a Christ figure in lion's fur, who accepts on Edmund's behalf a death sentence from the White Witch, then rises again, with little explanation, in time to lead the uprising. Each time the kid soldiers nearly run from the battlefield, we're certain they not only defy some vague principle of empathy, but also the express commands of the hawkish lion. The magic of the movie, if one can call it that, is how precisely it conflates the duties of the do-good warrior with the precepts of the salvation minded. Peter's wafflings may placate viewers wigged out by the latest from Fox News, but they also remind us, in Technicolor, that pacifism is for cowards."
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Sunday, December 18, 2005

(check out the subtle Vance Packard advertising techniques!)

a few picks from Turner Classic Movies Print Schedule (times Pacific schedule Cdn)

Wednesday 21

6:30 PM Seven Men From Now (1956) A former sheriff hunts down the seven men who killed his wife. Randolph Scott, Gail Russell, Lee Marvin. D: Budd Boetticher. 78m. (never seen this, sad to say)

8:00 PM Budd Boetticher "A Man Can Do That " (2005) Documentary that explores the life and career of action/adventure director Budd Boetticher. C 86m.

11:15 PM Western Union (1941) An outlaw goes straight to work for the telegraph company, which puts him in conflict with his lawless brother. Robert Young, Randolph Scott, Dean Jagger. D: Fritz Lang. C 95m. (the bias of communication, sans pigeons)

22 Thursday

8:00 AM Great Day In The Morning (1956) The Civil War triggers unrest in Colorado. Virginia Mayo, Robert Stack, Ruth Roman. D: Jacques Tourneur. C 92m. (not seen)

11:30 AM The Tarnished Angels (1957) A newsman falls for the wife of a barnstorming pilot whose work he's covering. Rock Hudson, Robert Stack, Dorothy Malone. D: Douglas Sirk. BW 91m. (my favorite Sirk, from Faulkner's Pylon)

1:15 PM Fighter Squadron (1948) A dedicated flyer pushes himself and those around him during a perilous World War II campaign. Edmond O'Brien, Robert Stack, Rock Hudson. D: Raoul Walsh. C 95m. (not seen Walsh)

5:00 PM A Christmas Story (1983) An Indiana schoolboy dreams of getting a Red Ryder air rifle for Christmas. Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillon, Darren McGavin. D: Bob Clark. C 93m. (last chance before Xmas--Bob Clark is due for serious reconsideration)

7:00 PM Holiday Affair (1950) A young widow is torn between a boring businessman and a romantic ne'er-do-well. Robert Mitchum, Janet Leigh, Wendell Corey. D: Don Hartman. BW 87m. (????)

10:15 PM Maytime (1937) An opera star's manager tries to stop her romance with a penniless singer. Jeanette MacDonald, Nelson Eddy, John Barrymore. D: Robert Z. Leonard. BW 132m. (any time is a good time for a big sweet slice of operetta)

2:30 AM Festival of Shorts #13 (1998) A compilation of MGM's holiday shorts including Jackie Cooper's Christmas Party, Silent Night, Loew's Christmas Greeting, Holiday Greetings 1941 and Mario Lanza Christmas Trailer. BW & C 21m.

24 Saturday

5:00 AM Lady In The Lake (1947) Philip Marlowe searches for a missing woman in this mystery shot entirely from the detective's viewpoint. Robert Montgomery, Audrey Totter, Lloyd Nolan. D: Robert Montgomery. BW 103m. (one of the great strange films)

5:00 PM The Shop Around The Corner (1940) Feuding co-workers don't realize they're secret romantic pen pals. Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart, Frank Morgan. D: Ernst Lubitsch. BW 99m. (linzertorte and a hit of coffee, memorable double bill of this and Anthony Mann's "Roman Empire" at Vic D'Or's in the 80's )

7:00 PM Christmas In Connecticut (1945) A homemaking specialist who can't boil water is forced to provide a family holiday for a war hero. Barbara Stanwyck, Dennis Morgan, Sydney Greenstreet. D: Peter Godfrey. BW 101m. (good Xmas eve choice--Brooklyn Ruby puts a little reality in the eggnog)

9:00 PM Meet Me In St. Louis (1944) Young love and childish fears highlight a year in the life of a turn-of-the-century family. Judy Garland, Margaret O'Brien, Mary Astor. D: Vincente Minnelli. C 113m. (also a good choice, sentimental but smart)

25 Sunday

7:30 AM Quo Vadis (1951) A Roman commander falls for a Christian slave girl as Nero intensifies persecution of the new religion. Robert Taylor, Deborah Kerr, Peter Ustinov. D: Mervyn LeRoy. C 169m.

10:30 AM King Of Kings (1961) Epic retelling of Christ's life and the effects of his teachings on those around him. Jeffrey Hunter, Siobhan McKenna, Robert Ryan. D: Nicholas Ray. C 171m.

1:30 PM The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) All-star epic retelling of Christ's life. Max von Sydow, Dorothy McGuire, Claude Rains. D: George Stevens. C 199m. (really not a bad line-up if you're stuck in bed or in a hotel or something though they might start to blend together)

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an oldie, but nice to see it in the proper "Harmonium" order so quickly into the Collected (begun on a whim on the ferry, also new a water damaged but not too badly copy of Bernadette Mayer's "Memory", which I'm saving for a train or bus trip) with W looking sideways from the stars--

The Snow Man

Wallace Stevens

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

photo via Greenpoint Picture Tour - Page 1 - The Old Gang in The Olden Days--a good group!

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