Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Brancusi, etc.

This one is pretty much for Cory. Like much of my life, it'll seem a little random, but has an underlying logic. Or something.

Charlotte Gainsbourg

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Third Man

Last night Cory and I went to see The Third Man at Film Forum. So good.

So. Good.

The angles, the lighting, the story, the acting, and - oh man - that amazing Anton Karas score (has to be the most famous zither music of all time, right? I just read an article saying that Karas had been essentially unknown, playing music in wine bars, prior to Carol Reed hiring him for this film.) One of those movies you can see over and over again and keep getting new things from it. And this was Cory's first time seeing it, so that made it extra special exciting!

This film also shows just how great an actor Orson Welles was. He's the first person you think of when the subject of The Third Man comes up, he's usually the guy who appears on the poster, the picture seems to rest on his shoulders. But really, he's only in three scenes in the whole damn movie. He just fills them with so much life that he turns out to be the star of the show. His first appearance has to be one of the all-time-most-incredible onscreen entrances. And then, of course, that ferris wheel scene... Ok, ok: I don't want to give too much away in case you haven't seen it for some reason (for the love of god, see it.)

The Film Forum run of the new print (released for the 60th Anniversary) ends tonight, so we can put this post in the Too Late to Do Anyone Any Good file. But, well, maybe it will inspire you for the next time around. Watch the DVD in the meantime, for sure; but check it out in a theater if you get the chance. (Oh, and for the Third Man fans out there: this was a good clean print with the extra material and the original European narration. It's got to be making the rounds, right?)

So. Good.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Post Holiday Post

SO -

Christmas '009 came and went in Phoenix, as it did everywhere else. There was something heightened about it for us this year, being that this might have been the Last Christmas Together in Phoenix, but, if anything, that just led to more celebrating.

Holiday bonding for Dad and Otis.

Mary diving into some Christmas goodies.

And the whipped-cream aftermath.

Anna's approach to Christmas involved quite a bit of ecstatic responses to gifts. This is not a child who can be accused of ingratitude for presents. Pink factored heavily - see the drop-proof camera, and the fuzzy pig, to which this almost-four-year-old responded, along with much shrieking, "I've wanted a pig my whole life!!"

Some of Sam.

Jason, a beyond-serious baseball fan and one who knows the "Reason for the Season," appreciating a hitting lesson from Jesus.

The brilliant blur that is Otis.

Mom and Dad.

Ferocity itself.

Dancing at the speed of joy.


I'll try to get a Post-Christmas Post up today, but I can't say for sure that it'll happen. Meanwhile, here's this, to recognize the saddest event of Christmas Day (with all respect to the people on that flight to Detroit.)

The song is at least 15 years old, but it's a beautiful video, and heartbreaking in the wake of Vic Chesnutt's terribly sad and premature death.

We'll miss you, Vic.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday Fun

As promised!

Let's start off with yesterday evening. I was on my own for logistical reasons, but I tried to make the most of it. First, I walked past Bryant Park to see the people skating there under the tree.

As you can see, I didn't have my good camera with me yesterday, so these shots won't be my finest work. But I do love that Holiday-in-the-City energy.

Then I went to the farmers' market on 9th Ave. and got some provisions. Made a pretty good pasta and a spinach salad, and opened a bottle of vino for the occasion.

My sister was having something of a rough time last night (if you're reading this - I'm here for you, sis. Always.) so I talked to her for a while. And I wrapped some presents while I watched part of a Charlie Brown special that I'd never heard of from 2003 (?!?!) called I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown (seriously, who knew? Rerun gets fired from kindergarten for sexual harassment. I'm not even kidding.) and part of The San Francisco Ballet's Nutcracker on TV. And I dug up some of the old Christmas tapes to accompany the task as well.

That's right. Tapes.

This morning I went to the post office to pick up the present that Grandma and Grandpa sent me. Don't know what it is yet, as she asked that I not open it until Christmas (so that's what's going to happen gol' darnit!)

Then, at work I finished up the birthday present I put together for Grandpa and put it in the mail - it's his birthday today! I know he's not reading this, but say it with me: Happy Birthday, Grandpa! As he approached 92, he shared with us all that he has a formerly closeted fondness for "that long hair violin music" (the "long hair" variety being the arty kind that happens in orchestras, as opposed to the fiddle kind that happens in the backyard jamboree accompanied by banjo, accordion and/or washboard percussion.) I had to put together a collection for the event. (And yes, I know he'll get his present late. I'll call him tonight to wish him a timely Happy Birthday.)

'Tis the Season for fun tasks!

*Oh, and if I'm reading my dashboard right, this is Love Minus Zero's 400th post. So, there's that.

Moving On

Ok, I don't always agree with him, and know that many people strongly disagree with him in good faith, but Glenn Greenwald has been making quite a bit of sense lately. I'm thinking particularly of his analyses of the Health Care Reform debate, his (shockingly lonely) voice calling out some allies of the Obama Administration turning a blind eye toward the way some of its policies resemble those of the Bush Administration, and, particularly, his examination of the trend of Corporatizing the U.S. Government.

...this growing opposition to corporatism -- to the virtually absolute domination of our political process by large corporations -- is one of the many issues that transcend the trite left/right drama endlessly used as a distraction. The anger among both the left and right towards the bank bailout, and towards lobbyist influence in general, illustrates that. Kilgore says that anger among the left and right over corporatism is irreconcilable, and this is the point I think he has mostly wrong:

To put it more bluntly, on a widening range of issues, Obama's critics to the right say he's engineering a government takeover of the private sector, while his critics to the left accuse him of promoting a corporate takeover of the public sector. They can't both be right, of course, and these critics would take the country in completely different directions if given a chance. But the tactical convergence is there ifthey choose to pursue it.

This supposedly irreconcilable difference Kilgore identifies is more semantics than substance. It's certainly true that health care opponents on the left want more a expansive plan while opponents on the right want the opposite. But the objections over the mandate are largely identical -- it's a coerced gift to the private health insurance industry that underwrites the Democratic Party. The same was true over opposition to the bailout, objections to lobbying influence over Washington, and most of all, the growing anger that Washington serves the interests of financial elites at the expense of the working class.

Whether you call it "a government takeover of the private sector" or a "private sector takeover of government," it's the same thing: a merger of government power and corporate interests which benefits both of the merged entities (the party in power and the corporations) at everyone else's expense...

I'll have more Holiday Fun for my next post...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Life Is Good

Yes, there will be naysayers (there are always naysayers.) You could mention how the Health Care Bill is selling out the working poor (again), delivering even yet still another affront to women's health, and a form of political suicide for the already unfathombly divided Democratic Party. And you'd have a point. You could refer to the Global Climate Conference ending in a toothless accord. And there'd be something to that. You might wonder: whither the American Left? When they're reduced to playing "gotcha" about commentators spatting over whether the First Family was polite at a Christmas Party? And you would very, very sadly be on to something.

But I maintain that in these days between Chanukah and Christmas, joy is alive and magic is afoot. Mike Daisey delivered an astounding show - I'm telling you, people: when this man is in town, drop what you're doing and go see his show. No kidding. Bob Dylan's Christmas record is amazing - irrationally fun (thanks for a great holiday present, Cory!) The Ailey Season is driving forth with full vigor. This past weekend's Snowgasm left us with a Winter Wonderland.

And as if that weren't enough, enjoy this video confection. It's latter-day Bad Lieutenant Cage, diving deep into translation on behalf of pinball gambling sensation Pachinko. And now, I present it for your comfort and joy.

You're welcome.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Holiday Happenings

There is a LOT going on right now. More even than usual at this festive time of year. The biggest news of all is that there is a very very good chance that my sister and her family will be spending a significantly higher percentage of their time out here starting at some point in '010. Something along the lines of 100% of their time. More on this as it develops...

Meanwhile, this is very late notice, but, consider yourself notified: I will be reading tonight at the Renegade Cabaret. It will be a short but presumably jolly performance of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas tucked in among jazz and Holiday musical faves. The High Line at W. 20th Street, 7 p.m.

Speaking of Holiday faves, I haven't figured out how to embed from this site, but in honor of Chanukah (it's the 7th night, after all, or will be in a few minutes) click here for a great viddy from our friend Leslie Jonath teaching us how to make latkes! It's controversial in a small way, and not completely specific, so you may still want to refer to a recipe, but it's got some great tips. Enjoy!

Friday, December 11, 2009

120% of those polled responded...

Really guys? Really?

I mean, never mind that you're trying to provoke debate about things that don't warrant debate (kind of like you do with evolution) but: are you really on a continuing mission to take fact-checking to a new low?

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Speaking of Sad Anniversaries...

It was 29 years ago today.
Photo by Bob Greuen.

Strummer on Springsteen

Sometimes you stumble on something that just kind of makes your whole day better.

Joe Strummer shooting from the hip and waxing poetic about Bruce Springsteen. This is from a fun blog called Letters of Note. Worth a browse, in my opinion, but be warned that you might get sucked in for a while. For you Chicago types: check out this little gem from another of Jersey's finest to Mike Royko.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Historic Events

Today, of course, is the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, which event ushered the U.S. into World War II. And while that does tempt me to discuss America's current military incursion in Asia, I'm actually thinking more about a big round anniversary that happened yesterday, but didn't get a lot of attention. That would be the 40th anniversary of the concert at Altamont. You know, the big Peace and Love Fest that Wasn't, where the Stones headlined.

It's often painted as the Anti-Woodstock, for its aggressive nature and tone, and, oh yeah, the deaths. (4 people died, one stabbed, by a Hell's Angels security guard.) Rob Kirkpatrick gave the anniversary some column inches, but on the whole it's been ignored, much more so than the Woodstock anniversary a few months ago, with the reunion concerts and the special edition DVDs and the new movie about the event and such. This makes a certain amount of sense, as, unlike Woodstock, it's not something people want to celebrate. But it is historically significant; some people think of it as the moment when the '60s ended, in spirit if not in chronology. I might pick another event that resulted in 4 fatalities a few months later on a college campus in the heartland, but Altamont was an important indicator of the shift. Again, a celebration of Flower Power it was not: that Hell's Angel was acquitted, as the court determined that the woman he stabbed was waving a loaded gun toward the stage.

I think of it also because, though a sense of Utopian possibility may have been slipping away, there was still a lot of activism going on that was, well, pretty active. Cory and I were talking about some of the things going on and wondering where the creative, energetic, risk-taking, influential activist groups are. Where is today's SNCC? Does the SDS have any momentum? Is Act Up still out there acting with the kind of force it used to? Is the ACLU still successful at getting Congresspeople's attention?

This is not some kind of appeal for the good old bad old days (and actually, I think the ACLU does still have some sway), but it is an appeal for the kind of juicy, vital, fingers-on-the-pulse-rather-than-on-the-keyboard kinds of social movements that actually move things. And yes, I admit that I don't lie down in front of tanks much myself. But people might lie down in front of the entrance to City Hall (or the Lincoln Tunnel) if there were a well-organized group ready to jump in there.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

The Plan

Alright, I admit it: I was in a weird and not-so-good mental space when I wrote my last post. Lotta things just came to a head yesterday. But of course there is plenty of good work to be done.

Here's an interesting perspective by Nicholas Kristof on the sitch in Afghanistan.

And thanks to Mike Daisey for this next tidbit sharing a Master Plan from a website that's currently down for repairs. (Hmmmm...) Looks like a swell time for all!

Daisey's new show is happening at the Public, by the way. You know it's gonna be good - Cory and I are seeing it next week. Very limited run for this one, so don't wait too long...

I've been a busy auditioner/theatergoer these days too. Besides the brilliant From the House of the Dead last weekend, I saw the very worthwhile, if imperfect, A Streetcar Named Desire at BAM on Tuesday (may end up writing fuller posts on those two shows if time permits), and am going to Love Child at New World Stages tonight. Oughta be good. Looking forward to some laughs.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

I <3 NY

I really do. Most of the time. But then once in a while, they decide to do something really annoying, probably unconstitutional, and just plain wrong. And it makes me just. go. berserk. Just like Billy Jack.

Lotta rhetoric flying around the idea of gay marriage, in New York and across the country. Six New York Democrats voted against it. Well, seven, if you count Ruben "It's Treason" Diaz, but I honestly don't know if anyone is thinking of him as a Democrat anymore in anything but name.

On the other hand, maybe the Dems deserve the name he's giving them. You saw what I posted yesterday about the Afghan War. And a little while ago, 64 of them in the U.S. House voted to dial back women's access to safe and legal abortions, as I've discussed here too. You know: Safe. Legal. Like you'd want if someone you love needed one. Like women in this country have been able to count on for a couple generations. Like Democrats used to insist on as a base level for the discussion. Here's Barbara Ehrenreich with a really good article on the defanging of feminism. (The gist - while once American women took stands and took to the streets en masse, now you get to call yourself 'aware' of 'women's health concerns' by wearing a little pink pin.) And while we're on Democratic selldowns, where is the New Deal for this generation's economic crisis? Where are the jobs? Where is the aggressive handling of the outsized robber barons of Wall Street?

Ok, ok - I still like Obama better than Bush. I guess I like the Democrats better than the Republicans. (I guess.) But hoooo boy, I'm tired of paying them and getting out the vote for them and not getting what I paid and voted for.

Keep writing those letters and emails and making those phone calls, people. Make it clear that your wallets are closed to officials that don't effect the policies you support and demand.

What would Billy Jack do?


But as I imagine going all Billy Jack on them, I'm thinking of a quote I saw earlier today and now can't remember where it was. I'll try to track it down, but it went something like: "...then you realize that there is no 'Them,' there's only 'Us,' and We fucked up."

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

And on a Lighter Note


Tough Going

In the shadow of imminent troop escalation, Bob Herbert on Obama, Afghanistan and real strength.

I keep hearing that Americans are concerned about gargantuan budget deficits. Well, the idea that you can control mounting deficits while engaged in two wars that you refuse to raise taxes to pay for is a patent absurdity. Small children might believe something along those lines. Rational adults should not...

Afghanistan is not Vietnam. There was every reason for American forces to invade Afghanistan in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001. But that war was botched and lost by the Bush crowd, and Barack Obama does not have a magic wand now to make it all better...

The tougher choice for the president would have been to tell the public that the U.S. is a nation faced with terrible troubles here at home and that it is time to begin winding down a war that veered wildly off track years ago. But that would have taken great political courage. It would have left Mr. Obama vulnerable to the charge of being weak, of cutting and running, of betraying the troops who have already served. The Republicans would have a field day with that scenario.

Gatherings this week - in Chelsea, UES and Times Square. Thanks to Sherin for the 411.