Thursday, October 29, 2009

Are You Crazy?

9 Signs You Might Be Going Insane

"Insane people are always sure that they are fine. It is only the sane people who are willing to admit that they are crazy."
--Nora Ephron

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Word of the Day: blatteroon

blatteroon (n)

Someone who boasts or babbles senselessly. Someone who won't shut up.

"Yale Kamisar's acute logorrhea, which is apparently not susceptible to any effective treatment, is well known to all. The only uncertainty, it seems, concerns the magnitude of the problem; some but certainly not all would go so far as to label him a blatteroon, a verbomaniac, or even a pisk or a plyoot. But I would protest that his 'gift of gab' is certainly not all bad, for it played a major part in bringing him into the legal profession (where, of course, such a condition, more commonly characterized as cacoethse loquendi, is by no mean unusual)."
--Wayne R. Lafave, "What Is a Kamisar?"

Pisk? Yiddish for motor mouth. Plyoot? Yiddish for bull-shitter. Yiddish is cool.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The T&T List

Cowboy Junkies
Eldorado Biarritz
Leahcim Setag
The Dakota
Dr. Jeffrey Thompson
microwave paneeer matar
the Smart Grid

Monday, October 26, 2009

Weekend Loew's Report: Rosemary's Baby (1968)

All of Them Witches....

Rosemary's Baby was playing at the Landmark Loew's Jersey Theatre on Saturday night, and I didn't let monsoon-like weather conditions stop me from seeing this iconic 1960s film on the big screen. The audience was large and enthusiastic, the print was pristine, and the popcorn was cheap and passable. (There was a sonorous theater-organ concert before the show, too.)

This film, Roman Polanski's American debut feature, still seems fresh, making any remake unnecessary -- I'm glad that idea was nixed. The directing, acting, and art direction are all superb. Watching it for the first time in years, and for the first time in a theater, it occurred to me that it's as much a satire as a "horror"/suspense film. The satirical targets include meddling mother-figures (Ruth Gordon, in an Oscar-winning performance), the generation gap (a HUGE concern in the 1960s), New York apartment life (including having to listen to your neighbors' chanting through the walls), and the career desperation of aspiring actors (would you sell your first born for a part in movie?).

It's also an ironic film, now, since it's climax is a rape scene -- Mia Farrow being impregnated by Old Nick. I wonder what Polanski was thinking while that was being filmed, and what he thinks of the scene today, while facing his own decades-old rape charge.

One aspect of the film I had forgotten about was that it contains some extremely well-done dream sequences that, while brief, actually have the texture of dreams. The silent shots of Mia in bed while floating on a lake and some odd, fuzzy, non sequitur scenes on a boat reminded me of my own nighttime reveries.

One problem: the movie (and probably the Ira Levin novel it's based on, which I haven't read) thoroughly confuses witchcraft with Satanism. They aren't the same thing at all -- ask any pagan -- although I suppose it's possible that they could be combined in some fashion by unscrupulous cultists. In any case, the film performs the neat trick of making the coven next door seem believable, at least while you're sitting in the dark.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Big Fish

David Lynch's photograph of his fish is here. It's a rainbow trout. Looks happy. Looks like it might have something to say.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Consciousness Streaming

I scraped by to break myself recently -- had to live in purgatory under an old stone wall in Devonshire. He who assays the hour of such entrance is a lucky cat, though gray and with a relatively besmirched family observing his table manners at a small lunch. This is a scenario of little consequence in a walled outpost. Here, each boy from the town's whistle-stop recites verbs in the morning, directed by a small concatenation of squirrels. And each morning, that circle of fur requests that llamas join them, to come live with them and join their league, distancing and separating everything from its element. That straight-line, forsaken boy of the Brown's with the worn, upturned collar sees this clearly, but is not taken seriously.


Sorry. Just felt like posting some nonsense.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

I looked down at the sidewalk today and saw a little rubber alien guy down there. I put him in my pocket. Felt lucky.... Listening to the audiobook of Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon, a sort of psychedelic Philip Marlowe doomaflatchie. Feel entertained, at least so far. I've never been able to wade through any of Pynchon's long (very long) meganovels, only his short novel The Crying of Lot 49, a fascinating foray into paranoid fantasy. This one seems to be heading in a similar direction.... Looking forward to getting a flu shot? I am. Feel anxious....

Monday, October 19, 2009

Word of the Day: antithalian

antithalian (adj)

Opposed to fun.

"Mr. Toobad described her as being fully impressed with the truth of his Ahrimanic philosophy, and being altogether as gloomy and antithalian a young lady as Mr. Glowry himself could desire for the future mistress of Nightmare Abbey."
--Thomas Love Peacock, Nightmare Abbey

Hmm. "Ahrimanic" refers to Ahriman, which in Zoroastrianism is apparently the name for a devil or Satan. Speaking of Satan...(yes, I have a mind that wanders)...the Landmark Loews Jersey Theatre here in the JC is showing Rosemary's Baby on Saturday night. A fave. I'm there!

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Army slang collected in Mrs. Byrne's Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure, and Preposterous Words:

snafu: situation normal, all fucked up
janfu: joint army and navy fuckup
susfu: situation unchanged: still fucked up
fumtu: fucked up more than usual
tarfu: things are really fucked up
fubb: fucked up beyond belief
fubar: fucked up beyond all recognition
sapfu: surpassing all previous fuckups

(via Futility Closet)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Have You Seen This Man?

dream man

This is a face that reportedly haunts the dreams of thousands of people all over the world, yet no one recalls ever seeing this person in real life.

Read more here.

He does look vaguely familiar....

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Word of the Day: meaching

meaching (v or adj) [also spelled "meeching" or "miching"]

Hiding, skulking; cowardly.

"Again and again he had seen young lawyers who had been brilliant in class with him, meaching around, in seedy clothing, unmarried, always together in some cheap bar because they couldn't afford to take a girl out. And seeing them he had been glad for his own job, although it paid only twenty-four hundred a year."
--Harry Sylvester, Moon Gaffney

"Seedy"... I'm wearing my seedy wool sweater today with the little hole in the front. It's cold and rainy outside, and the heat isn't working inside -- someone is coming to repair the boiler tomorrow morning. Meanwhile, I've got a fire in the fireplace and my laptop to keep my, uh, lap warm.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Meditation on the Letter E


Easy eggs equal excellent eats on the edge of the equinox. Every essential edict evades erasure, even if egalitarian. Estimates evince evolutionary erudition, ever erratically. Endurance elicits equestrian effects, evidently. Earth entered elliptical error in the early enchantment era. Email eases enveloped, eclectic evenings like an enigmatic enema, eh? Exactly!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Weekend Netflix Report: Surveillance (2008)

Poor Jennifer Lynch. The first film she directed, Boxing Helena (1993), was torn apart by the critics, though it wasn't nearly as bad as they said. (Nor was it a bloody film, despite what you might gather from a plot summary, but that's another story.) Being the daughter of David Lynch, critics were not going to cut her any slack, but a lot of them have had to with her new (and second) film, Surveillance. It's a very well made thriller, though an extremely violent and cold one. There's no one to really root for among the characters, except maybe for a nine-year-old girl, but even she seems to be 90-percent ice water.

The plot borrows some devices from Lynch's father, especially his Twin Peaks cult TV series and his Fire Walk With Me feature film. Two FBI agents visit a small-town police station to investigate some horrific serial killings -- but there's something a bit "off" about these agents. Now there's nothing unusual about FBI agents acting strange in a Lynch-family project, but what's odd about these J. Edgars turns out to be the key to the whole mystery.

Lynch uses some intriguing Rashomon flashback techniques to tell her story, including different film stocks as she shows what various witnesses to the crime saw, or say they saw, or think they saw, as the FBI agents videotape their testimony. A drug addict's tale, for example, is shown over-exposed, while the only fully reliable witness report (the little girl's) is shown with aching clarity.

This is an admirable but depressing film. Despite some similarities to Lynch's father's work, I don't think it's a film he would have made. (He reportedly called the script "sick," which is saying something, coming from him.) There's no surrealism or humor in it, nor is the ending uplifting. Even a more hopeful alternate ending included on the DVD isn't all that hopeful. This isn't the type of film you watch for pure entertainment; it's the type you watch if you find the darker aspects of human nature interesting and admire artful movie-making.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Random Acts of Poetry

Indian Summer

You know what I mean:
cracked flagstones, brown pools shaded by oaks,
old faces and jaded eyes,
children running barefoot and shirtless,
sun-drunk, sipping the day's thaw
like soda through a straw.

The bronze eagle stuck on her stone pillar
watches everything, her talons scratching the air.
My cap with the long brim
flies off in a blur. Our sneakers
soak up the ooze; dogs dash
after invisible cats.

The wind knows what's coming.
I taste barbecue smoke, I think.
Overhead, a leaf-strewn sky
flaunts its gauze and blue,
swirling streamers in a slow-motion frenzy.
We're stupidly happy.

The sidewalk ends in a tousled park,
all blown to seed,
where piles of damp leaves decay in the heat.
They say frost tomorrow. Meanwhile,
around the spiky hedges we wander
nostalgic as geezers.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Reel Talk

"It's a sunny, woodsy day in Lumberton. Get those chainsaws out."

Check out a collection of cult movie quotations at Alternative Reel.

"I'll send you a love letter! Straight from my heart, fucker! You know what a love letter is? It's a bullet from a fucking gun, fucker! You receive a love letter from me, you're fucked forever! You understand, fuck? I'll send you straight to hell, fucker!"


Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Monday, October 05, 2009

Weekend Loew's / Netflix Report

Two movies last weekend: I saw a somewhat scratchy print of The Untouchables (1987) at the Landmark Loew's Jersey Theatre and a DVD of Atonement (2007) in my own non-landmarked living room.

Two very different films, but there are similarities. Both are period pieces about the 1930s, and both concern crime (or a crime). Beyond that, the differences are more notable. The Untouchables is a glossy Hollywood production, expertly fashioned, with not all that much on its mind beyond good guys (cops and a federal agent) versus bad guys (Al Capone and his cohorts). Atonement is a far more nuanced British production that revolves around the uncomfortable truth that minor events and misinterpretations, even by a child, can have enormous, even tragic, consequences.

I enjoyed both, and both showcase some terrific acting and dialogue, but frankly one was entertainment and the other was also art. I've always found Brian DePalma, who directed The Untouchables, too stylish for his own good -- all those arbitrary overhead and crane shots -- and a copycat. The many visual homages to Hitchcock, Eisenstein, etc. get a little annoying after a while.

Atonement was directed by Joe Wright, a director I'm not otherwise familiar with, but, based on this film, he's equally talented at intimate drama (tense relationships in and around an English country house) and large-scale crowd scenes (Dunkirk during World War II).

I'll be thinking about Atonement for a while; The Untouchables only touched me for an evening.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

On Tour


I went on the Jersey City Artists Studio Tour today and took some freaky/arty/pretentious/amusing/silly pics.... You decide.

I also saw a couple of good films this weekend, including The Untouchables (again) at the Loew's Jersey and Atonement (a better film) on my plasma. More to come about those.