Friday, December 21, 2007

via Bookslut--Dickens Christmas Drinks--

"Mr Pickwick expressed a strong desire to recollect a song which he had heard in his infancy, and the attempt proving abortive, sought to stimulate his memory with more glasses of punch, which appeared to have quite a contrary effect; for, from forgetting the words of the song, he began to forget how to articulate any words at all; and finally, after rising to his legs to address the company in an eloquent speech, he fell into the barrow, and fast asleep, simultaneously."

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

the wonders of Piedmont Pate, Liver Mush aka Scrapple--

"Take eight pounds of scraps of pork, that will not do for sausage..."

& more respectably 101 E-Z Snacks for entertaining, from the NYT"s "minimalist"....

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Theodor Adorno's essay on "The Old Curiosity Shop" at Google Books--

"Mr Quilp could scarcely be said to be of any particular trade or calling, though his pursuits were diversified and his occupations numerous. He collected the rents of whole colonies of filthy streets and alleys by the waterside, advanced money to the seamen and petty officers of merchant vessels, had a share in the ventures of divers mates of East Indiamen, smoked his smuggled cigars under the very nose of the Custom House, and made appointments on “Change with men in glazed hats and round jackets pretty well every day. On the Surrey side of the river was a small rat-infested dreary yard called ‘Quilp’s Wharf,’ in which were a little wooden counting-house burrowing all awry in the dust as if it had fallen from the clouds and ploughed into the ground; a few fragments of rusty anchors; several large iron rings; some piles of rotten wood; and two or three heaps of old sheet copper, crumpled, cracked, and battered. On Quilp’s Wharf, Daniel Quilp was a ship-breaker, yet to judge from these appearances he must either have been a ship-breaker on a very small scale, or have broken his ships up very small indeed. Neither did the place present any extraordinary aspect of life or activity, as its only human occupant was an amphibious boy in a canvas suit, whose sole change of occupation was from sitting on the head of a pile and throwing stones into the mud when the tide was out, to standing with his hands in his pockets gazing listlessly on the motion and on the bustle of the river at high-water..."

Monday, December 17, 2007

the peerless Frank McHugh in "Lily Turner"--

Spencer Tracy: "Frank, dear Frank. Of all our gang, Frank was the funniest one, and the only people who saw him at his funniest were the boys down at The Players and The Lambs. He'd take those skinny little parts they gave him at Warners and make them little bits of comic genious. I saw him just a few days ago on television in the musical version of State Fair, a nothing part, and Frank made it bloom with his charm. An actor."

another reason to move to Weehawken--New Jersey officially abolishes death penalty

"Corzine said the new law 'best captures our state's highest values and reflects our best efforts to search for true justice rather than state-endorsed killing.'"

Local trees

getting ready to read "The Old Curiosity Shop" (which Walter Benjamin translated into German) found this fine essay Dickens and the Dream of Cinema by Grahame Smith

"Quilp said not a word in reply, but walking so close to Kit as to bring his eyes within two or three inches of his face, looked fixedly at him, retreated a little distance without averting his gaze, approached again, again withdrew, and so on for half-a-dozen times, like a head in a phantasmagoria..."

Led Zep

“Kashmir” is as good an example as any of Zeppelin’s weird genius. The lumbering riff pits three guitar beats against two drumbeats, executing a Sisyphean march that cycles over and over without becoming tiresome; on the record, it is the shortest eight-and-a-half-minute song I know. Its minute-long breakdown is like one long drum sample, held together by the motion of John Bonham’s dancing right foot. (P. Diddy and Schoolly D have rapped over “Kashmir.”) The lyrics are allegedly inspired by the Sahara Desert—“the storm that leaves no trace”—and the combination of strings, guitar, and Mellotron keyboard has often been described as Middle Eastern. In concert, though, it became clear that “Middle Eastern” is just one way of capturing an implausibly big and eerie song that wanders through a spooky fog in enormous boots and could just as easily be about settling on the moon or diving to the bottom of the ocean..."

thanks CB & the photographer for these amazing images of the Nanaimo River Flood

Sunday, December 16, 2007

via Ron Terry Eagleton vs the new atheism--

"He suggests that the question 'do you believe in God?' is akin to asking someone whether they believe in the Loch Ness monster. Dawkins, he says, seems to imagine God 'if not exactly with a white beard then at least as some kind of chap', whereas even in the simplest sense, 'for Judeo-Christianity, God is not a person in the sense that Al Gore arguably is... He is the condition of possibility of any entity whatsoever, including ourselves. He is the answer to why there is something rather than nothing. God and the universe do not add up to two any more than my envy and my left foot constitute a pair of objects...."

Glenn Greenwald

"More than anything else, what these revelations highlight -- yet again -- is that the U.S. has become precisely the kind of surveillance state that we were always told was the hallmark of tyrannical societies, with literally no limits on the government's ability or willingness to spy on its own citizens and to maintain vast dossiers on those activities. The vast bulk of those on whom the Government spies have never been accused, let alone convicted, of having done anything wrong. One can dismiss those observations as hyperbole if one likes -- people want to believe that their own government is basically benevolent and "tyranny" is something that happens somewhere else -- but publicly available facts simply compel the conclusion that, by definition, we live in a lawless surveillance state, and most of our political officials are indifferent to, if not supportive of, that development..."

today's YouTube - JOE BATAAN-I WISH YOU LOVE (check out the red trombone!)

Jim "Ball Four" Bouton on the 'roid scandal...

"They knowingly turned a blind eye to almost everything. It’s not just baseball. It’s in politics, it’s in business. You’re sitting around the White House, or you’re sitting around a Congressional staffing meeting, “we’ve got this big problem, what are we going to do about it?” We’re going to keep it secret and not tell anybody about it and maybe we’ll be out of here by the time it gets discovered. It’s a failure of leadership, we’re really lacking in leadership in this country. Not just baseball executives and union executives but business executives and major politicians, presidents, congressmen, senators. It’s a shame. Nobody wants to come out and give people the bad news..."

(eagle-eyed viewers might also remember Bouton from his small but pivotal role in Altman's "The Long Goodbye")

nice to see the great fly-on-the-wall documentaries of Frederick Wiseman finally being made available on DVD, though not yet my favorite, the six hour acute care epic "Near Death"...