Saturday, July 29, 2006

as part of an Angela Lansbury evening at TCM on Tuesday they're showing Albert Lewin's classic 1945 version of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray with Hurd Hatfield, George Saunders (first glimpsed in his carriage reading a large-print edition of Baudelaire through his monocle)& a 19-year-old Lansbury stealing her scenes as a "cockney sparrow". Fans of poet Charles Reznikoff might be interested to know that Lewin (who also did the wonderful "Pandora & the Flying Dutchman" with Ava Gardner & James Mason) and he were close friends, as I found out in Reznikoff's letters. "Dorian Gray" one of those books that's a classic when read at 14 or 15 (like John Fowle's "Magus") but seems silly a year or two later...

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Friday, July 28, 2006

"Then, bolder than the storied Cyclops, great Cthulhu slid greasily into the water and began to pursue with vast wave-raising strokes of cosmic potency. Briden looked back and went mad, laughing shrilly as he kept on laughing at intervals till death found him one night in the cabin whilst Johansen was wandering deliriously.

But Johansen had not given out yet. Knowing that the Thing could surely overtake the Alert until steam was fully up, he resolved on a desperate chance; and, setting the engine for full speed, ran lightning-like on deck and reversed the wheel. There was a mighty eddying and foaming in the noisome brine, and as the steam mounted higher and higher the brave Norwegian drove his vessel head on against the pursuing jelly which rose above the unclean froth like the stern of a daemon galleon. The awful squid-head with writhing feelers came nearly up to the bowsprit of the sturdy yacht, but Johansen drove on relentlessly. There was a bursting as of an exploding bladder, a slushy nastiness as of a cloven sunfish, a stench as of a thousand opened graves, and a sound that the chronicler could not put on paper. For an instant the ship was befouled by an acrid and blinding green cloud, and then there was only a venomous seething astern; where - God in heaven! - the scattered plasticity of that nameless sky-spawn was nebulously recombining in its hateful original form, whilst its distance widened every second as the Alert gained impetus from its mounting steam..."

from "The Call of Cthulu" in this H.P. Lovecraft Anthology

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tonight at 11 PST on TCM Canada Victor Erice's immortal 1973 The Spirit of the Beehive certainly in my top 10 if not 5.

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

The devil in Tasmania

"Those who have observed devils gorging on a possum carcass will need no reminder of how efficiently they dispose of offal, fur and bones. A bone-dissolving enzyme in their stomach enables them to approach practically everything with an open mouth. Nick Mooney, the Parks and Wildlife biologist who is regarded as a foremost authority on devils and thylacines, once listed the unusual items he had found in devil scat:

:part of a woollen sock; a wallaby foot complete with snare; part of a dog or cat collar; 27 whole echidna quills; stock ear tags and rubber lamb "docking" rings; head of a tiger snake; aluminium foil, plastic and Styrofoam; ring off a bird's leg; half a pencil; leather jacket (fish) spine; boobook owl foot; cigarette butt; part of a "steelo" pot scraper.:"

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Fire destroys wreckers

"A malfunction of a propane-powered forklift is the suspected cause of a fire that destroyed BC Auto Wrecking in South Wellington Monday, Cranberry fire Chief Ron Gueulette said.

The fire call came in at 2 p.m. and black smoke was soon visible for kilometres.

"We had guys at the hall so we were there within a couple of minutes, but we knew it was bad," said Gueulette.

"Reports from the people who were there said it basically exploded." "

This happened a few hundred yard from us, just across the highway. On the hottest day in some years. Luckily the wind blew the smoke in the opposite direction. In the yard Daph heard the propane tanks pop--I was inside with a fan beside my head.

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"Is it possible - is it conceivable - that Israel is losing its war in Lebanon?

From this hill village in the south of the country, I am watching the clouds of brown and black smoke rising from its latest disaster in the Lebanese town of Bint Jbeil: up to 13 Israeli soldiers dead, and others surrounded, after a devastating ambush by Hizbollah guerrillas in what was supposed to be a successful Israeli military advance against a "terrorist centre".

To my left smoke rises too, over the town of Khiam, where a smashed United Nations outpost remains the only memorial to the four UN soldiers - most of them decapitated by an American-made missile on Tuesday - killed by the Israeli air force.

Indian soldiers of the UN army in southern Lebanon, visibly moved by the horror of bringing their Canadian, Fijian, Chinese and Austrian comrades back in at least 20 pieces from the clearly marked UN post next to Khiam prison, left their remains at Marjayoun hospital yesterday.

In past years, I have spent hours with their comrades in this UN position, which is clearly marked in white and blue paint, with the UN's pale blue flag opposite the Israeli frontier. Their duty was to report on all they saw: the ruthless Hizbollah missile fire out of Khiam and the brutal Israeli response against the civilians of Lebanon.

Is this why they had to die, after being targeted by the Israelis for eight hours, their officers pleading to the Israeli Defence Forces that they cease fire? An American-made Israeli helicopter saw to that..."

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

familiar court behaviour from Stendhal's "Charterhouse of Parma"--

"Presently he began to imagine that he was hated; finally, in a moment of ill temper, he had two Liberals hanged, who may or may not have been guilty, acting on the advice of a wretch called Rassi, a sort of Minister of Justice.

"From that fatal moment the Prince's life changed; we find him tormented by the strangest suspicions. He is not fifty, and fear has so reduced him, if one may use the expression, that whenever he speaks of Jacobins, and the plans of the Central Committee in Paris, his face becomes like that of an old man of eighty; he relapses into the fantastic fears of childhood. His favourite, Rassi, the Fiscal General (or Chief Justice), has no influence except through his master's fear; and whenever he is alarmed for his own position, he makes haste to discover some fresh conspiracy of the blackest and most fantastic order. Thirty rash fellows have banded themselves together to read a number of the "Constitutionnel", Rassi declares them to be conspirators, and sends them off to prison in that famous citadel of Parma, the terror of the whole of Lombardy. As it rises to a great height, a hundred and eighty feet, people say, it is visible from a long way off in the middle of that immense plain; and the physical outlines of the prison, of which horrible things are reported, makes it the queen, governing by fear, of the whole of that plain, which extends from Milan to Bologna."

"Would you believe," said another traveller to the Contessa, "that at night, on the third floor of his palace, guarded by eighty sentinels who every quarter of an hour cry aloud a whole sentence, Ernesto IV trembles in his room. All the doors fastened with ten bolts, and the adjoining rooms, above as well as below him, packed with soldiers, he is afraid of the Jacobins. If a plank creaks in the floor, he snatches up his pistols and imagines there is a Liberal hiding under his bed. At once all the bells in the castle are set ringing, and an aide-de-camp goes to awaken Conte Mosca. On reaching the castle, the Minister of Police takes good care not to deny the existence of any conspiracy; on the contrary, alone with the Prince, and armed to the teeth, he inspects every corner of the rooms, looks under the beds, and, in a word, gives himself up to a whole heap of ridiculous actions worthy of an old woman. All these precautions would have seemed highly degrading to the Prince himself in the happy days when he used to go to war and had never killed anyone except in open combat. As he is a man of infinite spirit, he is ashamed of these precautions; they seem to him ridiculous, even at the moment when he is giving way to them, and the source of Conte Mosca's enormous reputation is that he devotes all his skill to arranging that the Prince shall never have occasion to blush in his presence. It is he, Mosca, who, in his capacity as Minister of Police, insists upon looking under the furniture, and, so people say in Parma, even in the cases in which the musicians keep their double-basses. It is the Prince who objects to this and teases his Minister over his excessive punctiliousness. 'It is a challenge,' Conte Mosca replies; 'think of the satirical sonnets the Jacobins would shower on us if we allowed you to 'be killed. It is not only your life that we are defending, it is our honour.' But it appears that the Prince is only half taken in by this, for if anyone in the town should take it into his head to remark that they have passed a sleepless night at the castle, the Grand Fiscal Rassi sends the impertinent fellow to the citadel, and once in that lofty abode, and "in the fresh air", as they say at Parma, it is a miracle if anyone remembers the prisoner's existence..."

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the mystery deepens with this Antique Collection Box , Nanaimo

"This box was used to collect donations during meetings in a "Kangaroo Court".

Easy to forget how lodge-happy and clubbed up places like Nanaimo used to be. But the Sons of Norway hall--with its delightful hint of Viking ship--has been repurposed, and the Townsite Elks have been moved into their own basement. I guess people go on-line for their esoteric ritual fixes now.

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$500 CDN gets you this Antique Black Ball Voting Box , Nanaimo

"This box was used in political voting, when a black ball was dropped in the box then the person was not voted in or if a black ball was pulled out of the box then that person had to deliver the verdict."

Not quite sure how democracy worked in the Hub City's formative years...

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What makes someone a "chicken hawk"?

"A "chicken hawk" is one who strikes the pose of a warrior, who imputes the personal courage of a soldier in combat to themselves by virtue of the fact that they are in favor of sending that soldier off to war, or who parades around with the pretense of personal courage and resolve while assuming none of the risks. And a "chicken hawk" will, conversely, attempt to depict those who oppose such wars as being weak, spineless and cowardly even though the war opponents are not seeking to avoid any personal risk to themselves, but instead, are arguing against subjecting their fellow citizens to what they perceive are unnecessary dangers."

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

free samples of this good, cheap selection of ROSSINI: Overtures so really folks. And undoubtedly still available in cylinder, 16, 33,45, 78, direct-to-disc, reel-to-reel, cassette, 8-track & DAT. Cheaper than gelato, tastier than gelato & no headache. I'll be back later with the recipes and brass band versions.

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Well-tuned reminder of The timeless joy of Rossini.

His "La Gazza Ladra" overture (drums snapping like fireworks) the perfect soundtrack to Stendhal's account in "The Charterhouse of Parma" of the teenage Fabrizio's epic stumble through the battle of Waterloo...Stendhal's funny, gossipy, opinionated biography of R. (quoted below) the first book I ever bought in NYC (at the Strand fall '95, along with the WPA guide and a still-unread Hermann Broch novel)--his accounts of the opening nights, and he went to a lot, really "put you there", as at Waterloo...

"Again, it would be almost impossible to describe the enthusiasm and delirium of the Milanese audiences on first hearing this masterpiece. The pit, having clapped and cheered to the echo, having shouted for five whole minutes on end, having in fact created such an uproar and pandemonium that no conceivable stretch of the imagination can visualize it, found itself in the end utterly exhausted, too physically weak to cheer a moment longer . . . "

" . . . I am always struck by a note of rustic energy, by a strong flavor of the countryside, above all by a complete lack of urban sophistication . . . I like to think that, if there were music in Washington or Cincinnati - music which were genuinely national, and not merely imitative - it would betray the same characteristic absence of artificiality and sophistication. "

Must rummage around for Pynchon's great paragraph on R. in "Gravity's Rainbow"...

(later: here it is, poached from a board so no page ref.--

"The point is," cutting off Gustav's usually indignant scream, "a person feels GOOD listening to Rossini. All you feel like listening to Beethoven is going out and invading Poland. Ode to Joy indeed. The man didn't even have a sense of humor. I tell you," shaking his skinny old fist, "there is more of the Sublime in the snare-drum part to La Gazza Ladra than in the whole Ninth Symphony. With Rossini, the point is that lovers always get together, isolation is overcome, and like it or not that is the one great centripetal movement of the World. Through the machineries of greed, pettiness, and the abuse of power, LOVE OCCURS. All the shit is transmuted to gold. The walls are breached, the balconies are scaled -- listen!" It was a night in early May, and the final bombardment of Berlin was in progress. Saure had to shout his head off. "The Italian girl is in Algiers, the Barber's in the crockery, the magpie's stealing everything in sight! The World is rushing together...." )

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Monday, July 24, 2006

"Three girls from Hankou play the parts of three hoodlums" (1932)

from Ling long Women's Magazine--

"Ling long women's magazine, published in Shanghai from 1931 to 1937, was popular during a time of dramatic material, social, and political change in China. Today, the magazine offers researchers a unique glimpse into women's lives in Republican-era (1911-49) Shanghai. This site features Columbia University's collection of Ling long magazine, one of the most complete holdings outside China."

(thanks gmtPlus9 (-15))

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a visit to Walter Benjamin's Grave

"If the theory is correct that feeling is not located in the head, that we sentiently experience a window, a cloud, a tree not in our brains but, rather, in the place where we see it, then we are, in looking at our beloved, too, outside ourselves."

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Sunday, July 23, 2006