Monday, August 31, 2009

duncan mcnaughton

this video is a crappy recording of the very fine poet reading his poem 'dining in an age incapable of itself' but it's better than nothing. mcnaughton looks like he's reading in a castle, but don't castles also have doors? certainly the door coulda been shut against the street noise. also, the video cuts out too early leaving the poem incomplete. even so, you get a taste here of mcnaughton's poem and his deadpan, kick-serious-butt-its-so-good delivery. at least i think so.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

at the fair today i ate a booger

nicholas & i stood in line at the great hall of candy exhibit

the gist was to guess what sort of beans made by the jelly belly factory was which

turned a wheel very much like the wheel in THE WHEEL OF FORTUNE

to find our fate if fate it might be

just the same some of the flavors went like this






at our turn nicholas got a juicy pear

i got one that tasted like a booger

slightly bitter & salty but missing the crucial embedded black hair

Saturday, August 29, 2009

a small good thing

every now and then i google the poet michael estabrook. i don't know how i discovered his work, perhaps it was from an edition of can we have our ball back the same edition i think i had a couple of poems in. there's a simplicity in estabrook's poems i find appealing. i don't mean his poetry is simple, i mean that his technique is very straight-forward and his subject matter often includes the life of a working man. the drudgery, the daily slog, the stress of having to drag yourself to the office each day and toil under the glare of fluorescent lights in front of computer screens for hours upon hours are what i like about estabrook's poems. and that there's still a spirit in the work that finds a buoyancy in a singular life that makes the reader, at least this reader, glad to be alive.

there are other things too. yesterday for lunch we finally made it to la bonne soup cafe. think of the '90s sitcom seinfeld, the one about the soup nazi and you might have an idea of la bonne soup. only that the chef and sole proprieter of the cafe is an older frenchman who is rather quiet and self-effacing, if at least from my limited perspective of the man and his shop. nestled between a liquor store and bailbonds office [the city jail is just 3 blocks away and this part of downtown is rife with bailbonds offices] the cafe is a rather bare counter with the chef and his soups. to call it tiny is no mean understatement. there are a few tables tucked here and there but those of us standing in line -- more than 6 persons make the cafe feel more crowded than a cross-country flight on us airlines -- are in danger of knocking the brioche off a diner's plate.

it had been a long week at the office. work piled on top of work. and more was piling up as we waited in line for the better part of our lunch hour. right off the bat i don't like soup. there were sandwiches to be had and the handwritten menu board posted a mozzarella, tomato and basil sandwich that i decided to have. watching the chef work was amazing. slow, methodical, cutting brie with a hatchet, slicing romaine lettuce with a paring knife, watching the bread toast in the oven was killing me.

finally we got our sandwiches and had just enough time to run back to the office. now, i wouldn't say i'm a connoisseur of sandwiches but i've had my fair share of them in my 42 years of life on this planet. i know good ones from not so good ones. i'm not a picky eater at all. with all that i'd yet to have a sandwich that knocked me on my ass from pure goodness. this sandwich, my friends, was such a sandwich. it was perfect. it was one of those small good things that made me glad to be alive.

ballad of the sad good grey poet

perhaps a little
                              grecian formula?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


letting his mind wander watering the potted plants in the garden

he brushed against the slight shadow of a thought

firing up the laptop to flesh out the thought

he stroked a few of the keys

the thought decided to stay hidden

hit ctrl alt delete

Monday, August 24, 2009

the consequences

the doctor on saturday attempted to dig the bead that nicholas stuffed into his ear. gently she did, but the bead wouldn't budge. then two nurses tried to sluice it out with water. no go. suddenly one of the nurses said, a ha, and left the room. she returned a few seconds later with a set of alligators clippers and made a show of unpacking it from its sterilized packaging for the benefit of nicholas who was in awe of the instrument. three seconds later the bead was out of the boy's ear and in his hand.

when the doctor asked nicholas how and why he put a plastic bead in his ear the child responded, i wasn't thinking of the consequences.

later we had a lovely evening at the state fair. attendance must be way down perhaps because of the down economy. usually packed shoulder to shoulder the fairgrounds were lightly populated and navigating from site to site was a breeze. the weather was breezy and cool. my father and his wife are volunteers and have worked at the fair for a few years now. they started by volunteering to be shadowing the police as the police made their rounds. cal expo has its own police force and even has holding cells and their are times when the police are sorely needed at the state fair. their also been complaints about the police so my father and l. would observe both the police and the public and report if anything went down between the cops and the public. nothing rarely went down.

this year they worked a booth at the farm exhibit giving away organic juice, chips and fruit and vegetables. no matter how light attendance might be when giving away free stuff people will line up all the time. my old man and l. were deeply happy to see us, especially nicholas and we had dinner and a long, leisurely conversation after their shift was over and the farm exhibit closed up.

my old man wears a big straw fedora type hat. kinda like a trademark. can't be seen without it. he lamented not being able to do any skydives because of his work at the fair. he nearly fell over in surprise when we were gabbing and said to me, hey now your 41. i corrected him. i'm 42, i said. oh shit, that's right, he laughed, i'm 62!

we are exactly 20 years apart. he took off his hat. his hair is white now. but if i might add a cool looking white. i don't have long before my own hair will be the same. when i laugh i can hear his voice in mine as i can feel my father in some of my own body movements. there comes a point in our lives, in my life at any rate, where we become our parents, not just in attitude but physically and mentally too. we are not without our own history, some of it quite painful and difficult. but there i sat next to my father who is as physically affectionate to me still in my early 40s as i am to nicholas and anna. i think i get that from my old man. one of the consequences i guess of my being his son.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

sgt. pepper's lonely hearts club band [1978]

bless my mother-in-law's heart. she has one of these space-age devices called tivo that allows her to digitally record live tv. tivo will even scour the channels and record programs it thinks you might like based on your viewing habits. she remembered that i had talked about this film a few weeks ago and when her tivo device recorded it she watched i think about a quarter of the movie before she could take no more. running for the toilet with her hand over her mouth to keep the barf from spilling on the floor the poor woman had the courage to check her gag reflex and keep from her urge to delete the flick so that i might have the pleasure of watching it.

and i did. watch it. with pleasure. the movie is an abomination. a crime against nature. and no self-respecting beatles fan should watch, much less like, this movie. and i was such a fan. at age eight i managed to secure a copy of the titular album by the beatles and i became obsessed with it. in my late teens and early 20s i had a pretty damn good beatles record collection, all on vinyl, some, such as rubber soul, were first pressing pilfered from older hippie friends.

i don't know what the plot of this flick might be. featuring the bee gees, who were the biggest thing on the planet after the success of saturday night fever [1977], a movie i absolutely adore, and peter frampton who found phenomenal success when his live double-lp franklin comes alive! [1976] broke all kinds of records and made him, albeit briefly, in the words of john lennon, bigger than god. the gist of the flick is the beatles music and a kind of whimsy that it inspires. no dialogue whatsoever is spoken, except for the narration of george burns. the bee gees fucking mutilate the beatles' songs which consist chiefly from the albums sgt pepper's lonely hearts club band [1967] and abbey road [1969]. franklin does hardly better. that's it. story conveyed by music and narration.

i said i enjoyed the movie. i did. and do. part of it is because i saw this at the theater upon its release in 1978. instead of getting angry at the travesty the bee gees had done with my beloved beatles i bought the soundtrack. i wore the vinyl out. a veritable who's who of pop culture is in this flick, from steve martin who plays dr maxwell of 'maxwell's silver hammer' song to aerosmith to even sha na na, a 1950s greaser nostalgia act that had a variety show at the time and also played woodstock, and wolfman jack, the radio dj made famous in george lucas's paean to teen angst and cruising set in modesto, ca american graffiti [1973]. i think the lot of them have deleted this outing from their resumes.

now i have a crapload of beatles songs running thru my noggin thanks to this flick. after watching it tonight i made my mother-in-law happy. she can now delete it from her tivo. i'm sure john keats had movies in mind when he wrote about negative capability. how one person can hold a bad movie in one mind with no ill effect. i've not seen this flick since i was a pup. horrible, shitty, vomit-inducing, yes, but quite a gully-washer just the same. why would frampton and the bee gees agree to appear in such tripe? i think liberace had the best answer to his critics, he was crying all the way to the bank.

Friday, August 21, 2009

w/ an arrow to the head

what attracts me to beckett's, tom beckett's great uncle sam beckett, work is not just it's minimalism but the fact that the old irish writer turned french author knew that no matter how fucked up we are in relation to ourselves, our society, nature, the universer and our inner-lives, no matter how weird and strange it gets, the going is still very funny. so when i posted that heaney quote a couple days ago about summoning a post-beckettian poetics i did so because i recalled the frisson of energy felt when i first ran across it back in the day when i was a younger poet and very much enthrall to heaney's early works.

life is funny. sometimes the joke is on us. thus tonight after picking up nicholas from daycare and walking the mile home in 100 plus f. heat, a walk that took two hours because of nicholas's propensity to stop and admire or stomp on every leaf, examine every crack in the sidewalk, investigate each insect, i was soaking wet from sweating and somewhat in a cranky mood. anna had the day off and had dinner waiting for us. nicholas was in dire need of a bath and rather than bore the shit out of you with further description of my minor domestic details i'll say that nicholas and i watched a movie, zathura: a space adventure [2005], a charming feature about two boys who play an intergalactic game with some wild consequences and directed by jon favreau.

afterward, setting our boy to bed he tells anna and i that he stuffed a bead in his ear. huh? we look. sure enough there's a ball of something jammed deep in nicholas's ear canal. i don't know. i kind of freaked out. anna was much cooler and tried sluicing it out with water. no go. so i get on the phone to the advice nurse and nervously pace the house with the phone to my ear as i waited. what can you do. the nurse laughed, said it was better than getting something stuck in his nose and now we have an appointment tomorrow morning for the doctor to remove what nicholas tells us is a bead. we can see the damn thing. it's pretty deep.

which is pretty funny in retrospect. a typical four-year-old act. nicholas told us that he was playing with the bead and stuffed it into his ear today at daycare but told no one about it. now i'm calming down. we go to the hospital directly across the street from cal expo, the site of the california state fair that opened today. we are going to the fair tomorrow night.

is there a poem, or line of verse, that might encapsulate the life of a quickly approaching middle-aged poet with a young son who freaked his parents out by stuffing a rubber ball in his ear? might be the stuff of stand-up comedy, which i think is closely related to poetry. i can't think of nothing but perhaps i should get an arrow thru the head as if life is indeed a stage and i'm merely the court jester. oh shit, i nearly quoted the old band rush's song 'the limelight'. god help us all.

oh what the hell:

Thursday, August 20, 2009

district 9 [2009]

when i checked the listings to find out what theaters and what times this flick was playing i was suprised to see that the movie, helmed by a rather unknown south african directorr neill blomkamp, and produced by peter jackson whose fx company weta digital had a hand in creating the film's astonishing visual fx, was in wide release rather than the more limited arthouse run that i expected. i avoided reading any reviews before seeing the movie and i was aware of just the bare plot of the film. i expected a rather cerebral, if perhaps violent, play of early 21st warfare, xenophobia, segregation and the commingling roles of government and private industry in the prosecution of police matters and combat. i expected an arthouse film. by the roll of the credits i discovered why blomkamp's turn at cinema was playing at my local cineplex.

not that the movie is a disappointment. it is a near-brilliant miss. sci-fi is good at creating allegories for the times that spawned them. setting the movie in johannesburg, south africa about aliens who are, for the past 20 years, stranded on earth and segregated from the human population in a slum as their massive ship hovers motionless above the city is a powerful beginning for a story of the conflicts of an us v. them, culture v. culture commentary on how we live in the early 21st century.

which blomkamp achieves for two-thirds of the run time. the movie begins as a documentary about what went wrong when a private security company hired by the south african government to manage the alien ghetto, and styled i suppose on blackwater, mnu tries to allay the fears of the human population of the aliens themselves and attempts to relocate the aliens, derogatorily called prawns because of how the insect-like creatures look. we are introduced to mnu bureaucrat wikus van de merwe, played by sharlto copley, an awkward and goofy employee who has just been promoted by his boss and father-in-law to lead the relocation.

the relocation is horrible with lots of bodies and bullets sprayed. still in the faux-documentary style of following wikus as he struggles to lead in his newly-appointed role he discovers that the aliens are not simply just the violent, brutish creatures everyone believes. something else is afoot. that's when we are introduced to christopher johnson, the rather blandly named alien, and his son. and that's when blomkamp abandons the documentary style and moves into a straight action film.

nothing wrong with action films, especially for the summer, but to have such a brilliant set-up devolve in the final third of the movie is a huge let-down. still, the casting of copley as almost unlikable and the creation of the aliens as pretty damn repugnant in both behavior and appearance is a fresh approach to the usual mystical appliances of making a feature about aliens among us. it is hard to like these characters, they are much like people we might even know, and it is brilliant of blomkamp to make them rather unlikable.

also the fx is as i said at the beginning astonishing. the alien ship is huge, brown, dirty, and looks like a freighter rather than a gleaming machine like in too many sci-fi flicks. the main population of the aliens are rough-hewn deckhands and behave just like the humans around them, ignorant, greedy and violent even with such high technology, much like us. what is also maddening is the failure of wikus to be a curious intellect. when he travels into the alien ghetto he doesn't wonder why or how the alien ship manages to float above the city, why they are on earth, what was their mission and so forth. perhaps these issues had already been covered years before, to no one's satisfaction. i am left to guess since it seems all we humans are curious about is the aliens' weapons and how they work.

i'll leave that up to the viewers to discover. i'd rather not give away more of the plot. this movie can be described as the thinking person's action film. but i'd rather not. instead, it is the arthouse flick that could be. blomkamp is a talented filmmaker and as i checked at a very young one at that. this film is doing rather well at the box office. i hope that gives him enough cache for another film and see what he can really do other than loud explosions.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

quote unquote

'what is called for is a post-beckettian poetics, a brutal, cinematic language, opening trapdoors, doing a postmodern doubletake'

--paraphrasing, and most probably fucking up, seamus heaney from a mid-90s interview

Monday, August 17, 2009

ain't no cure for the summertime blues

once upon a time i bought my music on cassette tape. anna and i have a shitload of those old cassettes hanging around. we still have a cassette player but we rarely use it. instead, our old tapes, perhaps a couple hundred or so, sit and wait for a technology that will never come around again.

imagine my surprise then when a coworker, guessing my taste in music, gave me a few cds. you see, these discs weren't her thing at all and thought i'd enjoy them. one is a neko case cd, another is a compilation of the old neo-hippie, post-rave manchester band the stone roses. still another is workbook by ex-husker du bandmate bob mould.

it's been years since i listened to workbook because i bought it on cassette when it was first released. i loved that album, all earnest and forthright, mould's harmonies and explosive guitar gives me heart a pitter-patter. can you see my shock then when a couple weeks ago i was listening to it at work, grooving on songs like 'heartbreak a stranger' and 'brasilia crossed with trenton' when i couldn't remember the year the album came out.

i picked up the jewel case and tried to read the very fine print at the bottom of the back of the cd. i had to take off my glasses and adjust for the light because the print was so small and i needed my eyes to adjust to the tiny print. i was about to curse the printer for making text so bloody small when the year of copyright, 1989, came into focus. 20 years ago. suddenly i was hit with something like interstellar cold. 20 years. just flew by. like that. 20 fucking years. the music still sounds brand new to me.

what can you do but roll along. if that shock of years left me feeling old i can think what the survivors of woodstock circa 1969 must feel. 40 years ago today marks the end of three days of peace and music. i was but a drooling two-year-old when woodstock happened and my parents were a lot of things but hippies weren't one of them. nevertheless, woodstock has entered the culture at large and the music, popular music, rock&roll, is trans-generational. i grew up on the who and jimi hendrix and the doors as much as i did with black flag, circle jerks and social distortion.

perhaps we need a reminder of that old peace, love and understanding. 40 years goes by just like that. part of the summertime blues. the world is still fucked up. it is also absolutely magical. so now go get your hippie on. it's all our trip. but beware of the brown acid.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

seen / un / seen

driving east on q st after grocery shopping at safeway
hi '90s summer late

way out beyond
the shops the gee gaws the novelty wares

3 guys in wife-beaters
mid-20s looking to sell some used shit

in a make-shift yard sale
in the tiny spit of grass before their 1970s era flat

boring and brown
the day the heat the paint on the building

one guy stands and points
at another

with something in his hand
anna asks was that a gun?

a scene from a minor crime thriller
maybe or a joke gone bad

entertains the civility
that the theory of light

can be disproven by
low laughter and hot lead

Friday, August 14, 2009

a conversation

fade in

dusk. a father and small son are walking north on busy alhambra blvd. the usual street scene. traffic. pedestrians. homeless pushing their shopping carts. on one corner is a starbucks. the smell of coffee in the late summer air. directly across the street on the opposite corner is a kfc. the smell of deep-fried competes with the rich aroma of coffee & diesel fumes & car exhaust.

son: how do you become a vampire?

father: you must be bit in the neck by a vampire to become a vampire.

son: then you won't die?

father: vampires never die. they live forever.

son: then we won't die?

father: we won't die. there is a small wrinkle. vampires exist only in movies, books and stories. they are not real.

son: then we won't die?

father: not for a very long time.

son: then we won't die?

father: we won't die.

son: why do we have ankles?

father: to keep are legs from dragging on the ground.

wipe and fade to black

Thursday, August 13, 2009

the poet and the cook

lest you begin to think i'm on an august kleinzahler kick i'll go on record as saying that he is indeed a favorite poet of mine. what i find interesting about the world of poets and poetry is how even famous poets, exceptions accepted of course, are not as well known as one might think. we are all not reading the same writers. no biggie, the world is large, and poetry is a vast universe with room for all. my obsessions ain't your own, and vice versa.

which makes seeing a favorite poet of mine on my favorite tv show a real tail-wagger. no reservations, hosted by anthony bourdain, airs on the travel channel and just started a new season. bourdain is a very likable, charming, slightly ascerbic, certainly ironic, and funny host. the former head chef of nyc eatery les halles and now a writer and tv host bourdain travels the globe in search of thrills, sometimes cheap, food, culture and people. all done with a sly wit and a real gusto for living.

when bourdain visited san francisco i figured he'd do the usual route and be guided by a few locals to out of the way bars and restaurants. which he did. i left the room after the show started to go play with nicholas figuring i'd catch the sf episode on a rerun. that's when anna shouts, do you know a poet named august. not personally, i answered. well, she replied, he's on the show right now. i run into the room and see that yes indeed kleinzahler is one of bourdain's guides. got me kinda stoked. hell, a tv show that would even feature a poet got me by the boo-boo at word one. i made a note to watch the repeat at 11:00 pm and returned to my play with nicholas.

no shit. no reservations began with kleinzahler reading a poem. then the poet reads from his essay 'the zam zam room' when both the host and he visit the self-same bar. a tv show that begins with a poem? you know, i nearly fucking died of happiness. not that i'm that hugely ga ga over kleinzahler but because a tv show began with poetry. that episode probably had more viewers, i'm guessing maybe 1-3 million, way more than readers for kleinzahler's books, in my lifetime.

but what the fuck. all things are relative. when i told some friends at work some time back about no reservations being one of my favorite shows i get this blank stare. when i attempt to describe anthony bourdain or his books my friends are rather non-plussed, shrug their shoulders, and move on to a different topic. some things ain't everything for everybody. judge for yourself.

below is the opening segment with kleinzahler reading.

and this second segment is the bulk with the poet and the cook as they tour the zam zam room and a prime rib joint. you might disagree with kleinzahler's summation of poetry's lack of social utility, or its uses for delight in love, but maybe, perhaps, poetry's been so rarely talked about on tv before in such a way as the two dine on huge honking pieces of bloody meat and with such lipsmacking, soul-nurturing relish.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

light in august

looking for synonyms for the word, light, i turned to the oed this morning and found scores and scores of words. originally thinking of doing a poem of samples taken from the oed for the word, light, i thought better of it. not that i think sampling is a dead-end, far from it, only that a text for the word, light, would be inadequate toward my expression of utter awe of the light of my section of norcal the past few days.

smoky, umber, hazy come close to it. early fall, it appears nearly spectral but with much warmth. it is a light made for painting and photography. to try to capture the light in language is a failure. but a failure in necessity and all the better for trying. this light is one of the many reasons why i live where i live, and where i hope to die.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

a vision

smudged light:::vertical lift of the eyes:::the airport fields open golden:::ruddy disc of sun:::city an escutcheon of the horizon:::the streets of our neighbors:::the driveway:::light red flickers on the silver of an airstream

Saturday, August 08, 2009

something v. nothing

the subject of metaphysics. i've come to my atheism rather late in life and am influenced by the rational mind of anna whose thinking on everything is sharper and clearer than i can partake. i grew up nominally catholic, but never went to church much less mass, but i've long thought that the universe is numinous. not just simply that, i claim to have seen a ghost, a real ghost, when i was a child and tho that ghost may have been my own mind in the act of creation i posit that perhaps it might've been an authentic ghost just the same.

what of it. it's not the first time i've encountered contradictions. when i was younger i wanted to be a mystical poet. i read the works of philip k. dick and longed for visions such as his. that those visions are just so much bullshit, i think, don't invalidate their authenticity. for the most part i am happy to be conscious and verbal without the false comfort of a big daddy in the sky looking out for us all.

perhaps existence is because it can't but be. we are lucky to be alive, i think. often that is enough. i agree with the late great george carlin that religion is bullshit. a couple weeks ago i posted a snippet of an interview with thom gunn where the poet declares himself an atheist that admits to the supernatural. i posted that bit because gunn best encapsulated my own feeling and thought on the matter.

who knows. these thoughts come bidden after reading posts by both geof huth and w.b. keckler. huth quotes canadian poet gary barwin's desire to be cremated at his death and used in ink to print text. a joyous end and a utility novel by its simplicity for writers. what better way for our useless matter to be used after our expiration on earth. read huth's post here.

keckler is investigating why there is something rather than nothing. bill is a brilliant mind and it is a pleasure to read his posts and watch the youtube videos he links to. my favorite is the young physicist in part 2 who claims that religion and philosophy are useless endeavours. read part 1 here and part 2 there.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

john hughes 1950-2009

director john hughes died today at the very early age of 59. the cause of death was a heart attack. ap story can be found by clicking here.

hughes has not directed a film since the early '90s. if you were a teen in the '80s, however, and i was, the impact of his movies is incalculable. there are better filmmakers out there and more important films. yet hughes tapped into the teenager in everyone and his films were both solid works of effervescent human comedy. no one was poor in a hughes film, even if the characters were supposed to be poor, hughes populated his movies with people who always lived in magnificent, yet comfy, houses, and every one, except for a few of the villains, were slightly goofy and full of life. at their best hughes' films embodied a joy of living that can be traced back to the classic cinema of screwball comedies and old musicals.

i'll end with an example of hughes' brand of cinema. in this clip of ferris bueller's day off [1986] the eponymous lead played by matthew broderick sneaks onto a float during a parade in downtown chicago and lip syncs to the beatles' 'twist&shout'. only in the movies can everyone, i mean everyone, spontaneously take part in this joy.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

the watchmen [2009]

this is a film that i'd wanted to see in the theater when it was in wide-release but it seems the only movies i see in the theater nowadays are kid flicks with nicholas. took me a while to get to see this movie. by the time i did watch it, which was last night, i was frankly indifferent to the experience. i've never read the source book and really had no idea, and still don't have any idea, of the depths of the story. the teaser trailer released last summer declared the watchmen to be the citizen kane of superhero movies. i don't agree.

director zack snyder is one lucky sonofabitch. his remake of george a. romero's dawn of the dead is a thrill-ride of a revisionist zombie flick. snyder's timing and compositional skills seem to lend itself to the comic book form. when i saw 300, an adaptation of frank miller's graphic novel reworking of the spartan hold out at the battle of thermopylae, i became less enthused by the talents of snyder. the movie looked pretty and pretty weird too. snyder's fidelity to the art of the graphic novel and his own lyric sensibilities can bring a motion picture only so far. 300 is an entertaining bit of fluff, a piece of eye-candy packed to the frames with beautiful men and bloody action. but by the last reel the story runs out of steam and the narration is irritating as fuck. a classic it ain't

when i placed the dvd of the watchmen in the tray i figured with the long running time, 162 minutes, and a very convoluted story i'd maybe turn it off if my attention flagged. why waste two hours of precious life enduring a movie when i could be doing anything else, staring out the window, surfing the net, listening to music, beating off, reading poetry, or even watching a different movie, if the movie sucked. having declared my innocence of the source material i had no emotional investment in the finished product.

snyder still has yet to make a masterpiece. but the boy's got talent. when dylan's song, 'the times are a'changing', plays over the flashback sequences that are photographed and staged like pages from the novel, heavily voilent images sorted into various grotesqueries and high artifice, mr snyder got my attention. tho the movie is flabby in certain sections, i could do without the love-making sequences which fall flat, the narration, this time, provided by jackie earle haley as rorschach, a real sociopath, delivered in a gutteral growl and sprinkled with hatred and bile, is mesmerising. haley's character is the pulse of the movie.

now, i've no idea how a movie about a parallel u.s.a. in 1985 with nixon as the perpetual president in the midst of the cold war and mano-a-mano with the soviet union with nukes plays with an audience born after the fall of the soviet union. the references, from lee iacocco to the nagels hanging on the walls, were obscure even to me who came of age during that era. yet the film didn't seem dated, at least for me, as i became absorbed in that alien and familiar world.

it would be instructive to compare and contrast this movie with the dark knight. eras often reflect themselves in their movies. value systems are questioned and strengthened in the cinema, turmoils enacted in the streets are portrayed on the screen. comparing and contrasting both superhero flicks is not the scope of this little rant. but i think perhaps snyder created a better film than did christopher nolan as it reflects our time in the early 21st century. moral relativism always needs to be guarded against and heroes that are as psychotic as the villains they combat becomes a metaphysical issue as well as a moral temper.

we look to the cinema because often it shows the times that become us. snyder et al. made a mess of a movie. a very watchable one at that. many set pieces are utterly mind-blowing even if much of the dialogue and acting are rather stiff. what saves this flick is the presence of rorschach and even, yes, even a vision to try to pull this film together. on the strength of this movie i look forward to snyder's next effort.

Monday, August 03, 2009

spanish weekend

i'm offline like since thursday night and whoa! i see that otoliths #14 is live and as always mark young makes for an excellent editor as well as poet. clicking thru very quickly there's much to admire but for the moment i'll point out daniel f bradley's visual poems white whitch 1 & 2 which i dunno just knock me out, and nicholas michael ravnikar's pieces that i think achieve i kind of tonal and visual grace that recalls some of the distortion and feedback of sonic youth as they expand and recreate the structure of the pop song. i recalled a few pieces by ravnikar that i read some years ago in the columbia poetry journal that i liked. i think there's a few younger poets writing this sort of hyper-extended lyric that recalls the dissonance of langpo while retaining lyric sensibilities. that's how i read it anyway. there's another younger poet i think quite good writing in this vain too, ryan philip kulefsky, that i google every now and then.

it's not like i'm disenchanted or nothing. i stayed away from poetry over the weekend, with one exception, i exchanged chaps with noah falck last week and his chap life as a crossword puzzle arrived on friday. i'll write about it later but i read the chap with admiration and delight as nicholas splashed in the tub and i put down the my-life-as-the-son-of-a-fucked-up-set-of-parents memoir that i'm currently reading. are all memoirs about anything but being fucked up? c'mon, give me a break now. i suppose steadyness and sobriety are boring reads but in order to write one must indeed be steady and at least possess a modicum of sober otherwise what gets written is gibberish. ah, but we all must have our mornings of drunkenness now don't we. i'm guilty as charged too. hence, my reason for reading the memoir, because i've got a soft spot for louts as well. maybe it's like looking in a mirror.

be that as it may, we spent the weekend doing family things, including cleaning the house and tidying up the garden. the weather couldn't be nicer, almost like fall, which is, again, my favorite time of year. but for the hottest parts of the day we took long siestas and did our work in the late afternoon and evening. nothing, i mean nothing, feels more luxurious and refreshing than long naps in the middle of the day. dinnertime was late, around 9:30 pm, and if that ain't too much information, and i suppose it is, the weekend lent itself to a grace and civility that is sometimes sorely lacking.

such was our spanish weekend. it began by my taking nicholas to the drive-in, just me and him. the place is great with bounce houses for the children located by the snack bar. there is a bit of seediness to the place, it is a drive-in after all, still a bit run down and the menu boards at the snack bar are hand-painted and the movie posters are framed in broken sills. even with all that i call it a family-style atmosphere. we loved it, both nicholas and i, but boy am i feeling old. my eyes are worn-out you see. even with my glasses reading small print is getting harder to do but reading signs from a distance, such as road signs is damn near impossible too. it was dusk when we arrived at the drive-in. there are 6 movie screens but only two kiosks to purchase your admission. the 2 lines became very long and i couldn't read the signs for what movie was for what kiosk. i needed binoculars, i swear. squinting didn't help either. so i asked the suv in the next line what the signs said. they give me this look and i tell them i can't read them at all. then very kindly and very patiently the ticked the movies off then asked if i need to be in their line. i said no thank you, i am in the right line, as i sat scratching my head and stared down the long line toward what maybe the onset of what i dunno old-timer's disease as i stretch out for that big cane and a hitch in my step and call everyone i meet young whippersnappers. oh lord. time for a nap.