Monday, January 16, 2017

rogue one: a star wars story [2016]

it's been a long, hard three-day weekend.  anna and i have spent the past couple of weekends, when not raining literal cats&dogs, cleaning up the front and back gardens, and rearranging items in our sheds.  strong toil and physical labor woke up muscles that screamed, feel me now, mutherfucker!  

but instead of resting on the third day, MLK's holiday, i took nick and his friend to see roque one: a star wars story at the newest theater in sac.  indeed, the theater, i don't remember the name of it at the moment, and am feeling too lazy to look it up, was built on the site of the century cinedomes where i saw the original star wars flick as an eager lad of 10 in 1977.  but we live in a different world now.  the old cinedomes, architectural marvels, really, sort of like googie architecture because the theater were really in the shape of domes.  that was all.  when the domes were built in the early '70s movies needed be the only draw to get people out of their homes and into the theaters.  today, we stream nearly everything we want, and what we can't stream we order via online with delivery promised sometimes in a mere couple hours.

so theater owners and film studios need to do something different.  the movies are no longer the only draw.  the theaters have to turn in to places where you want to hang out.  and but so these new theaters built on the site of the old cinedomes feature seats that ease back and let you relax like laz-e-boy recliners.  i nearly fell asleep in one of them chairs.  the snack bar has transmogrified into a lounge with beer and wine on tap and snackables beyond the mere nachos and pizza.  there are booths in the dining area where you can eat, shoot the breeze, tap in to the wifi, or people watch.  the menu screens are digital; so are the signs for the theaters which change from movie titles to product adverts.  the whole of the place is light, airy and roomy.  except for the theaters.  those are pretty small affairs.

what makes the experience so relaxing are those recliners.  one can doze in them, and forget there is a movie on the large screen in digital projects.  lo!  it is so a digital world that we bought our tickets, and reserved our seats, online and nick used his phone to get us checked in.  i don't have a phone. . .yet.  i guess i haven't fully entered the 21st century.

but then this boy born in the latter half of the 20th century still digs the movie going experience.  i do miss the cheap seats variety of old-time movie going when you saw trailers and snack bar ads viewable nowhere else.  this age is so gimmicky that the flick was presented in 3D, a forum that did not enhance the movie one jot.  i want to see this pic again, not because it is a great movie, but because there were lots of little details that i think i missed due to wearing those goofy 3D glasses.

and then there was the movie directed by gareth edwards, who helmed one of my favorite flicks a few years ago, monsters [2010], a real slow burn of a horror movie, and then guided the messy and confused reboot, godzilla [2014].  i didn't know what to expect from edwards this go around but the filmmaker created an admirable movie in the star wars mythology.

i really do need to see this movie again to give it a fair airing.  i thought felicity jones and diego luna were very good as our heroes, and it is a delight to see another strong female character take charge, kick butt, and think her way thru difficult odds to achieve her goals.  the special fx are state of the art.  the galaxy far, far away is grittier, bloodier, dirtier, and messier than ever.  grime and dust are very much in evidence.  these details made me wonder what a truly dark star wars movie would be like.  i'm sure there are novels, and there are oodles of books published about this galaxy and its characters, that are pretty bleak and dark that could make a viewer blanche.

i said we live in a digital world, and we do.  after the movie i asked nick and his friend their thoughts.  they liked it.  i said did you see anything wrong with the man playing grand moff tarkin?  who? they asked.  the old guy in charge of the death star.  no, they said.  i said he's a digital recreation of the man who played tarkin in the first star wars movie, peter cushing, who died some years ago.  then there was carrie fisher's digital visage as princess leia circa the first star wars pic.  the boys didn't seem to notice the uncanny valley of digital recreation.

that seems to be the rub of our age and the subject of another essay, digital culture, AI and automation.  three things i think are helping to transform our civilization in ways we have yet to fathom.  at any rate, edwards and co. have made a worthy edition to the star wars legacy that i find admirable.  there were enough little details to keep the fan boys and girls on the edge of their seats, e.g. cameos by the criminal luke skywalker crosses paths with at the cantina who tells luke he has the death sentence on 12 systems in the original flick, and by rt-d2 and c-3po.  lovely little moments that tie the story in with the original movie.

the recliners were so comfy i nearly fell asleep but that wasn't the fault of the movie.  rather it was because i'd been kicking my ass with hard physical labor this weekend.  my muscles ache!  after the movie i took my sorry ass home to soak in a hot shower, after dropping off nick's friend at his house.  all in all it was a delightful long weekend.       

Thursday, January 12, 2017


watching a television show set in 1998
the characters say, it is 1998,
as if the year is the apex
of modernity
& we say, how quaint,
from our vantage of the second decade
of the 21st century,
but step back
when you think about the situation,
our daily lives,
every moment is modern

Friday, January 06, 2017

check it out*

rob mclennan profiles mi amigo y poeta magnifico michael dennis here 

*also the title of one of my favorite late-'80s songs by john mellancamp

Thursday, January 05, 2017

i don't know how i missed the death of my favorite prose writer, thom jones, but jones passed away on october, 14, 2016 at age 71.  here is the new york times obituary.

jones was educated at the university of iowa but was working as a high school janitor when the new yorker published his story, 'the pugilist at rest', which became the title of his first collection of stories.  jones went on to publish two more collections of stories.  the dude was not prolific but his prose held a gritty grace that i fell in love with on first read.  jones' characters were often highly educated, odd fish who often suffered from mental illness and/or drug addiction.  their professions ranged from boxer to doctor to janitor.  but they were all lovable to me, and indeed, when i was working as a janitor at my alma mater, i became an addicted reader of the new yorker because i started combing thru back issues looking for more of jones' stories in the early '90s.

at the turn of the century jones fell silent, or at least published fewer pieces.  he didn't seem like a digital kind of guy so whenever i googled for news about thom jones i'd come up with very little.  i was surprised to read about his death today.  i was hoping for more essays, and the novel his bio notes in his books said he was working on.  but i do have his three collections of stories.  we have his fiction, his singular voice, and his presence upon this earth.  as anna reminded me tonight death is not optional.  we all die.  we all have six, seven, eight, or if we are real lucky, nine decades on this planet.  such a short time, but it is enough, nearly, for reading and writing.  i am grateful for thom jones and his beautiful stories.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

i love reading biographies because i love knowing that a human life is present in our world but i don't care for the obligatory early chapters of the subject's childhood particularly when the subject is an artist because inevitably his/her childhood is damaged and/or fucked up which makes it appear that a fucked up childhood is necessary for a creative life i would rather skip those opening chapters not because i think childhood is not needed for our growing as human beings but because who doesn't come for some form of the fucked up so it ain't about sometimes how you got into this world but how you managed to live because i am firmly convinced there is not a high or low art the same as there are no high or low lives for we are all pretty warped because warped is the human condition so i'd rather not read the early chapters of a biography where the subject was born of this or that flawed and/or toxic early life because really that is such a large club

Monday, January 02, 2017

& what did you want of the world

                        to say things plainly simply beautifully
& love as much as my heart can hold for there
is only this world for you & you & you & you
& me being in it

--for my brother in rhyme jonathan hayes


thinking of s. beckett & i too have nothing to say & the words to say it

watching the rushes of the film of my life as the film keeps breaking

meet the new year same as the old year but with a lot of surprises

the TV is on it is always on there be words & images & sounds

i wonder if the things i want are the same as the things i look for

i often have dreams of reading/writing that when i wake i don't know from dreaming to conscious life

what is it that i wanted to say again fail again fail well then good

oh yes hello to everyone as n. parra sd hello again

Friday, December 30, 2016

i'm de-laminating after a short, but hectic work week, and sit between two holidays, last week christmas, tomorrow new year's eve.  i like new year's eve, even if i think the numbers we give our years are arbitrary.  e.g. what year did the 21st century begin, 2000 or 2001?  for many our new century began in 2000.  but we don't count from zero.  we begin our count with the number one.  so the 21st century began, if we want to be academic about it, on jan. 1, 2001.  but that's not how most of us counted the start of this bright, shiny century.  it started on jan. 1, 2000.  and if that is the case then the 20th century is the ony 99 year century of our civilization.  oh, yes, i remember the brouhaha over all this shit.  i recall the late scientist and writer stephen jay gould weighing in with all this nonsense.  gould wrote -- i'm paraphrasing, of course -- we can call time whatever we wish.  there is a thing called absolute time, but how we label the passage of time is entirely our making.  we can call any year anything we wish so if the 21st century begins on jan. 1, 2000, leaving the 20th century with just 99 years instead of 100, so be it.

well, what a year it was. lots of deaths.  political upheavals.  our near, and far, future perhaps not so bright.  still, i read poetry, to misquote the polish poet adam zagajewski, for stability, serenity and strength.  anna and nick are in the next room watching one of our favorite TV comedies.  i'm watching/listening to performances and interviews of favorite bands: my bloody valentine, sonic youth, guided by voices.  anthony bourdain's travel show on CNN, parts unknown, is on the TV as i type.  i make the world as it makes me.  as tomas transtromer wrote, 'task: to be where I am/even in this solemn and absurd role/I am still the place where creation works on itself.' 

in short, the world is our creation as we are the products of the world.  if it is going to shit we have the ability to change in whatever image we choose.  i agree with the climate scientist i quoted a few posts back who said, 'we're fucked'.  but i add we are also lucky to be alive, to read, to write, to think, to love.  i have no idea what the new year will bring.  thom gunn in a poem for the new year 1997 said, 'I'm not superstitious/the new year could be very rewarding/Let's reschedule!'

let's reschedule, brothers and sisters.  let us create and love and have sex and eat and drink and share and insert your favorite things here because i'm almost 50, motherfuckers, i'm getting old, or older, and i'm telling you the world is a breathtakingly beautiful place.  as rimbaud said, now is the time of the assassins. or, at least, now is the time to not give in to despair.  now is the time for love.

peace and happy fucking new year!