A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Monday, September 7, 2009

What I'm Listening To

Benjamin Britten, Death in Venice. Peter Pears (Gustav von Aschenbach); John Shirley-Quirk (The Traveller, et al.) Members of the English Opera Group, English Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Steuart Bedford.

Is it boorish to wish that Britten and Pears had been a little less devoted to each other? As in Billy Budd, it seems to me that the vocal writing in Death in Venice is superior for every part except the one composed for Pears. Here, it's the multiple roles for John Shirley-Quirk and the chorus of minor characters that make most of the vocal impact. Yes, Pears is dramatically intense, but if his voice had had more range and flexibility, mightn't the part have been given more musical challenges, resulting in a greater emotional variety? Still, this is a fascinating opera, here given what must be a definitive performance -- so why is it hard to get in the States?

Fired Up

This is why I voted for the guy. Maybe if he can keep this up, he can get things done.

Thoughts While Waiting for the Clothes to Dry

When did "mic" become the dominant spelling for the short form of "microphone"? I see it everywhere in newspapers and online: e.g., "He grabbed the mic out of my hands" and "Tuesday is open mic night at the comedy club." When I was editing stuff, I used to change it to "mike," which seems to me a better spelling because it looks like words it rhymes with: "bike" and "hike" and ... well, "like." But "mic" seems to me like it should sound like a derogatory word for an Irishman. And other words spelled with a final -ic, like a ballpoint pen brand name and another racist word that unfortunately comes to mind, are pronounced as if they rhyme with "pick," not "pike."

Noise of the Day

TPM Muckraker on the extremes of the extreme:
It's basically impossible for the "respectable" leadership of the Tea Party movement to ensure that their ranks don't include the kind of people who call Obama both Goebbels and Mengele in the space of a few days. And that's because, frankly, unhinged crazy people simply make up too great a proportion of the movement to be kept permanently at arm's length.

We lose Ted Kennedy and are left with ... Max Baucus?
After months of frustrating deliberations, and a threat from the White House that President Obama would write his own legislation, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus has finally circulated a draft of a health care bill--one that does not create a public option, but allows for the creation of health care co-operatives.

John Aravosis is convinced that Obama is going to wuss out on ... well, everything.
We worry that every time Obama refuses to fight, in the spirt of bipartisanship, he lets a problem grow, and inspires more Republicans to push him even harder, further polarizing the country, further damaging the very bipartisanship he claims he's trying to promote.

The New York Times reports on the rise in homelessness among schoolchildren.
While current national data are not available, the number of schoolchildren in homeless families appears to have risen by 75 percent to 100 percent in many districts over the last two years, according to Barbara Duffield, policy director of the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, an advocacy group.

David Neiwert puts Glenn Beck's success in ousting Van Jones in perspective.
Probably the most ironic -- no, make that flat-out bizarre -- aspect of Glenn Beck's ultimately successful campaign to force out Van Jones is that it was predicated on Jones' supposed indulgence in extremist rhetoric ideas. ... Beck's history of indulging in extremism -- not just turning a blind eye to its presence, but promoting it outright to an audience of millions -- is so deep and wide that whatever indiscretions Jones might be guilty of fade into total insignificance.