Friday, October 31, 2008

Oh, How This Resonates with Me

Looking back, in an effort to see myself as I was in those days, I am afraid I was not a very friendly or agreeable young man. I was carrying a chip on my shoulder and daring the whole world to knock it off. And the reason I so often took a high tone with people who, it seemed to me, doubted my ability to do the thing I wanted to do, was that, inwardly, I was by no means sure I could do it myself. It was a form of whistling to keep one's courage up.

Inside, I was full of the disdainful scorn of the small and precious snob.

I had not yet learned that one cannot really be superior without humility and tolerance and human understanding.- Thomas Wolfe.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

And The Seventh Brings Return

I've got a lot to do today, so I don't have the time to write a detailed entry. I'll try to get to other peoples' blogs later on if I can.

At this late stage in the Presidential race, this song and these lyrics seem apt.

All movement is accomplished in six stages
And the seventh brings return.
The seven is the number of the young light
It forms when darkness is increased by one.

Change returns success
Going and coming without error.
Action brings good fortune.

The time is with the month of winter solstice
When the change is due to come
Thunder in the Earth, the course of heaven
Things cannot be destroyed once and for all

Change returns success
Going and coming without error
Action brings good fortune Sunset

All movement is accomplished in six stages
And the seventh brings return
The seven is the number of the young light
It forms when darkness is increased by one
Change returns success
Going and coming without error
Action brings good fortune

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


In which I share an anecdote with all of you.

Being approached by a woman who barely speaks English who could have been hitting on me, speaking a few words between us that never hit their stride, resolving that we had absolutely no shred of commonality between us whatsoever, then having her flee in an opposite direction.

I was mortified. Already keyed up and socially anxious after having moments before threaded my way through the subway system of an unfamiliar city, I was caught aback when she introduced herself.

Her behavior was a combination of bizarre, socially awkward, intrusive, and rude. Being approached randomly by a woman hardly ever happens to me. I'm usually the one who initiates contact in that situation and now I hope to God I've never put some poor girl on the spot by acting in kind. The she in question was a slightly mousy looking Indian girl who spoke to me on the shuttle bus over to the building where I am typing this to you now.

She smiled and said hello. My first thought was do I know you?

I smiled in reply and she smiled back at me. Her English was adequate but I noticed she talked like one who has memorized a few pertinent phrases, knows how to use them to suit her purpose, but doesn't know much more than that. Certainly speaking off the cuff is not her forte.

What was the strangest thing is that the conversation never hit its stride. Conversation requires two people to have a mutual understanding of what was said before and then to add to it. Once the process stops, conversations ceases.

She asked.

Where do you work here?

I don't. I'm here for a study. (Please don't ask anything else!)

What study? (Oh, Christ, how am I going to phrase this? She's looking and me and responding so weirdly. Perhaps the truth would be best?)

Well (looks around nervously) I have an anxiety disorder. (Oh Christ, I bet she thinks I'm insane).

Taking control of the questioning this time, I ask,

Where do you work?

I work in the ER.

I bet that can be a very challenging occupation.

She breaks eye contact and looks as though she would very much like me as far away from her as humanely possible.

I'm going to walk over in this direction now (heads towards a recently closed coffee stand).

It took me two hours to decompress from this.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Pause That Refreshes

I had every intention of visiting the National Gallery of Art today, but I'll have to cut my trip back by a couple hours. They're conducting an extensive psychiatric history called the SKID, in order to determine what medication study I will be best suited. The woman who will give the test is on her way and I'm preparing myself to rehash all the gruesome details of my illness one more time. I must have explained the nature of my affliction three times already, but no matter.

I spoke with a doctor today who had a few reservations about my participation in the study. Most of the concerns focused on the fact that many of the studies would require me to come off medication altogether. I have developed insomnia over the past three years and as such I take meds that allow me the ability to get a good night's sleep. Taken completely off of them, sleep would be difficult. I'm willing to run the risk though, even if I don't sleep much for several days in a row. Eventually my body will train itself to sleep naturally, though I must admit that it will be rather painful to adjust at first.

My blogging time is short today, so please pardon. For right now, visiting other sites is going to be a two to three times a week only thing.

Monday, October 27, 2008

If Obama Wins, Then What?

Unlike many lefty bloggers, I jumped on board the Obama train almost from the beginning. I was swayed by his intellect, his ability to give a spine-tingling speech, and furthermore I thought him to be the only candidate strong enough to defeat Hillary Clinton. I knew most of the candidates were too weak to win across-the-board support and Obama's moderate stances would appeal more to the voting public than the unabashedly left-leaning candidates. For the first time in my voting career, I was proven right.

Today, I feel like reflecting back upon this exhaustive campaign cycle in an effort to note where we've been.

Obama securing the Democratic nomination for President didn't seem likely for a while, I must admit. I volunteered for his campaign in the summer of last year, back when the Junior Senator from Illinois was still relatively unknown and thought by most to be an afterthought to the Clinton Restoration. I was assigned to be crowd control, instructing people to line up properly and then escort them into the Atlanta Convention Center, where they would stand to observe a procession of speakers and celebrities, eventually culminating with the main attraction. Though Barack Obama had recently received the endorsement of Oprah Winfrey, from the Senator's body language, it was evident that he wasn't particularly encouraged by showing as a distant, but respectable second place.

After the singer Usher, an Atlanta native, was finished talking and the smitten screams of women had subsided, Obama stood up to speak. The backdrop was a series of large American flags, hanging vertically towards the stage. Obama came on to a round of thunderous applause and gave an excellent speech. After it had subsided and the crowds had headed out, he shook hands with all of us volunteers. Handlers pushed him quickly from person to person and he only lingered a few seconds with each of us. In trying to leave the building, Obama found himself corned in a dead end at the back of the room, a room without an exit, and he made a few caustic, sarcastic comments towards his staff in response. Perhaps he was just tired. Perhaps he doubted that this, his first run for the Highest Office in the Land, would accomplish much of anything besides padding his nest for subsequent runs.

In those days, much of the liberal blogosphere was united behind Dennis Kucinich. I agreed with most of Kucinich's After the first few caucuses and primaries, some peoples' allegiance shifted to John Edwards. Many feared that if nominated, and then elected, Obama would govern from the center-right, neglecting the base in the process. These fears came to the forefront again a few months later when it was widely perceived that Obama was drifting to the right in an effort to combat his characterization as a far-left liberal. But, as a fellow blogger has pointed out, the contrast with the largely dysfunctional McCain campaign has allowed Obama to spread his wings and espouse a more liberal philosophy. Whether this stance will be adopted by Obama if he wins the right to take the Oath of Office remains to be seen.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Word of Thanks

Thanks to all those who have left encouraging comments and wished me a happy birthday. I really do have the best readers in the world. I think I'll have some time this week to check out just about everyone's blog. It takes, as I'm sure you understand, several days to get used to new surroundings.

To provide you a bit of context, I decided to undergo this treatment about six months ago, immediately after having an awful manic episode. When my head began to clear and I realized how destructive I had been, I knew I needed to make arrangements to ensure that something that bad never happened again. At the moment I'm at the evaluation phase, meaning that they're in the process of determining which medications would be best suited to treat my symptoms. I'll talk about this more in detail when I know more.

And on that note, dinner has arrived. I hope everyone has a good week!

Movie Review: Breathless

The seminal film of the French New Wave, Breathless is auteur director Jean-Luc Godard's first, and arguably best film. The editing innovations, revolutionary for their time, remain as unique and novel as they were nearly fifty years ago. A particularly clever reliance upon jump cuts, long verboten according to the unofficial rules of film grammar, inserts a few seconds at a time of five to six takes of a particular scene against each other. This device informs the audience that they're watching a movie, not a strict simulation of real life. Yet, paradoxically, much of the face to face interaction between characters is designed to portray an accurate representation of the way people actually talk to each other. Lengthy, verbose takes, the director's trademark, contain a kind of authenticity and spontaneity accomplished by granting both lead actors the ability to improvise. In an often grimly over-serious genre, Breathless is a self-consciously fun film, one that, in typical Godard fashion litters the movie landscape with coy references and inside jokes which movie buffs and the literate alone will notice. Often considered the French director's best work, it is certainly his most accessible and likely the best place from which to start.

also features an especially creative use of shot composition, which playfully pans past, circles around, and dives by the actors as they perform in front of the camera, making this movie a most entertaining experience. Defying conventions, Godard's characters talk directly into the lens, willfully and quite proudly breaking the fourth wall. The lens itself acts like a fly on the wall, following the behavior of each scene like an unseen bystander. The construction of the film reveals an overall independent spirit that mocks the polished Hollywood pictures of the time and shows that even a relatively modest budget is no handicap to producing excellent art. In these days, independent film has a target audience and is perceived as more artistically pure overall than a major studio feature. In the 1950's and 1960's, however, small budget often meant cheap, inferior, or of low quality and was often relegated to the B feature on the bill. Breathless helped to change that perception. The consummate thinking person's director and director's director, Godard made approximately one high-budget feature film in the course of his entire career and, disliking the meddling manner by which a major studio release is severely micromanaged by the top brass of the major studios, never made another one. Certainly he could have never made Breathless the way he'd wanted in Hollywood--it would have been seen as too radical a work and one not expected to make much money at the box office. Yet, defying the odds, the picture was a major success on its own terms, ushering in the era of experimentation and the overall ethos of the 1960's.

Cinematic eye candy aside, the plot is rather loosely constructed, at times even appearing cartoonish, superficial, and underdeveloped as a result. A bit of an homage to film noir, Breathless discards the elements of a classic noir film, believing that character development and dialogue are more important than a robust series of dramatic events in sequence. Godard was famouskt fond of flaunting convention, and here he judiciously prunes and shrinks the events of the film to their barest essentials. In a conventional Hollywood picture, several minutes of screen time would have been devoted to dote and muse upon an act of violence--- in order to extract the maximum melodramatic value. In Breathless, a dramatic event occurs on screen just long enough to clue the audience into what has transpired, then quickly shifts to another scene altogether. This abruptness also emphasizes the jittery, jerky, on edge feel of the picture, which ostensibly revolves around a police chase to apprehend a murderer. Much of the film is comprised of a series of lengthy takes involving two characters talking to another, frequently making philosophical points and spouting non sequiters. This can at times be trying, since in doing so Godard forces the audience to accept his reality on his own terms; the phenomenon is typically Godard, who with the passage of time became more and more radical and less and less inclined to broaden his audience beyond a few devoted fans.

Breathless is a film that grows upon the viewer and reveals more with each showing. Those interested in what transpired concurrently in the fruitful period of the French New Wave, British New Wave, and far beyond will easily be able to see the film's influence upon the directors of its time and upon many of the directors active now.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Saturday Video

Weezer were the Lazarus of the mid 90's alternative scene. After a well-received debut in 1994, they released an almost universally panned second album, Pinkerton, which was famously savaged with a one star review in Rolling Stone. When Pinkerton failed to live up to expectations, Weezer disbanded for four years. With time, however, a fan buzz began to build, which transformed the group from a cult sensation to a resoundingly mainstream success. By the beginning of the 2000's a wholesale reconsideration of the group resulted, one that was both critically and commercially laudatory. Largely due to the widely perceived sorry state of music by the end of the 90's, Weezer was prompted to reform and resume recording in the studio. The later releases, however, are often perceived as not nearly as good as the first two.

"Say It Ain't So" was the third single from the self-titled debut, Weezer, often referred to as "The Blue Album" due to a predominately blue background on the cover. Not nearly as successful as the first single, "Buddy Holly", best known for its music video which clevery utilized digital imagery to simulate the set of the TV show "Happy Days", or the follow-up, "Undone" (The Sweater Song), the song still managed to be a minor hit in the Modern Rock charts. With the passage of time, "Say It Ain't So" became a staple of alternative music radio.

Friday, October 24, 2008


On this day, in which I turn aged twenty-eight, I find it appropriate that the financial markets are tanking. Having contemplated momentous events which have occurred in the past on this date, a huge stock market crash seems apt and altogether fitting. I've always had a rush of contradictory feeling on the day of my birth and this year is no exception. I am one year closer to thirty, a milestone I must admit in my younger years I thought I would never live to see. Those who I talk to who are older than me have had encouraging things to say, telling me that thirties are far more comforting times than twenties, which are fraught with confusion and abject selfishness. At twenty-one, I wouldn't have understood what they were saying. Now, closer to the end of the spectrum then the beginning, I see what they mean and hope their advice comes to pass.

Since I've been up here, I haven't wanted to blog much about politics. Right now, with a severe recession in our future and no end in sight to a growing sense of pessimism, I'd rather not contribute my voice. Virginia, which is due south of here is an all important swing state so the television inundates us every few seconds with either an Obama ad or a McCain ad. As the economy continues to worsen and the question becomes not if we are headed to a recession, but how pronounced a recession this will be, I enjoy distancing myself a bit from the political banter on both sides. This has gone on far too long. For the first six months, this Presidential race was exciting and altogether thrilling. Now, it's exhausting. So what I'm going to do instead is enjoy myself as best I can and appreciate a change of scenery.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Few Thoughts on Our Nation's Capital

DC is a town that takes itself very seriously. Since I take myself very seriously too, I seem to be an ideal fit. The city is teeming with young professionals, who often take that exact attitude and apply it to ever facet of their own lives. Any place with this many yuppies-in-training is bound to be full of health food stores, hand-knitted shawls, and designer eyeglasses. It's tough to know these days where a hipster begins and a yuppie ends, since they both seem to congregate in large cities where the cost of living is quite high.

Those who prefer a casual, laid back town need apply elsewhere. Washingtonians enjoy dressing up and looking thoroughly fashionable. I'm most struck with how many people my age and a few years younger shun contact lenses for the old-style frames. Geek chic seems to be the default these days. It's an intensely cerebral, intellectual city as well, full of university students and the intelligent-in-general. I fit in here much better than home, making me realize again how extreme the brain drain is in Birmingham. Everyone stays for high school, then leaves for sunnier climes. Some stay for college and then move away and never come back. Seeing how much DC has to offer, I understand even better why.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The First of Many Updates.

Eventually as I get used to the daily routine I'll post longer entries. I've been on the ward now upstairs for a few hours and am beginning to adjust to the routine, the daily activities, meal time, medication time, and all of the particulars that they entail. This morning I woke up early, then moved all my stuff out of the Family Lodge. I was shuttled to Building 10 via a small bus, underwent registration, was formally admitted, underwent several tests (an EKG, blood work, in depth interview with a psychiatrist, a chest x-ray), ate lunch, then settled down to read and play guitar for a few hours.

To reiterate what I told someone earlier today, I will be on two medications simultaneously. One is ketamine, known to most as cat tranquilizers and to a league of recreational drug users as Special K. I will receive, by injection, a much smaller dose than is abused and have around thirty minutes or so of feeling a tad strange until the worst effects wear off. Though it might seem strange, ketamine has shown some real promise for treating depression. The second drug is brand new, designed to specifically treat anxiety. I'll be one of the first to try it out. I am in a better mood, for sure. I got stuck in a rut for six months after my last hospitalization and wasn't really doing all that much, since I'm still officially disabled. The realization that I will be here for several months is beginning to make itself clear and I'll be sure to provide more insight and summary of what's gone on as I receive it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

We Interrupt This Regularly Scheduled Blogging Hiatus

So many stories to tell, so little time online to tell them.

Suffice to say that I will be hospitalized in-patient here in Washington, DC, for the next four to six months. I'm excited about this, of course. These people feel as though they have something to offer me, and I will be afforded the ability to try out a new drug specifically designed to treat chronic anxiety, something that has always plagued me throughout the course of my life.

More updates later after I get into a rhythm of routine.

One quick aside: DC has more people my age than any other place I've visited before. It's both enthralling and humbling. I'm not nearly as unique as I thought I was. A million clones of myself file past me on my way to catch the Metro train. I'll gladly sacrifice being unusual to being thoroughly understood, any day.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Say Au Revior, Not Goodbye

My flight out to DC leaves in a matter of a few hours, and so I'm pausing briefly to let you all know that I'm finally heading out Washington, DC to participate in the medical study. After I finish writing this out to you, I am jumping into the shower, then making sure I've packed everything I need for what could be an extensive stay, one that would keep me away from home until March or April of next year. I'm excited to get away, eager to find better medications to treat my condition, and have always enjoyed traveling, too.

That being said, this blog will likely not be updated again until late this week, likely Thursday, and potentially even a little longer than that. If I am away for several months, I am not sure what the frequency of posting will be. To wit, I've recorded the last performance video for a while. Likely the posts I leave will be short and to the point and I won't be able to leave comments on other peoples' blogs on a daily basis as I've been able to do before. Today this site goes into a kind of semi-hiatus for the first time ever and while it saddens me a little to acknowledge that, I appreciate my regular readers and my fans. Thanks for everything!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Screwed Up Eyes and Screwed Down Hairdo

When I am at today---The American Street.

Saturday Video

David Bowie needs no introduction. Yet, even so perhaps a slight one is due for this early period, shortly after the release of Hunky Dory and slightly before his commercial breakthrough, Ziggy Stardust. This song "Queen Bitch" is the former David Jones' homage to Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, though the lyrics are far more playful and sassy than anything Reed could have composed himself. It also happens to be one of my personal favorites.

This performance shows the band and the artist in top form. At this point in his career, Bowie was still largely unknown by the UK public, evident by the fact that a voice-over introduces him to BBC viewers.

Friday, October 17, 2008

How To Vote Absentee

1. Drive to your nearest courthouse. Park.

2. Inquire as to where one can obtain an absentee ballot. Proceed to the first floor.

3. To aid in your convenience, "absentee ballot" is neither clearly marked, nor marked at all on any of the offices in the building.

4. After arriving at the first floor, the first clerk available looks perplexed and tells you that you're in the wrong place, but she thinks the place you need to be is on the third floor annex.

5. While walking past courtrooms, see the latest bumper crop of juvenile delinquents awaiting sentence. Ponder what caused them to be arrested.

6. Arrive at the third floor annex. Wait in line approximately five minutes. Be told that you don't actually vote here, either. The clerk calls for assistance, hoping to find someone who knows for sure.

7. Proceed to the fifth floor, growing increasingly frustrated.

8. Walk past a long line of working class couples working out child support arrangements. Notice a collection of hairstyles at minimum fifteen years out of date and a variety of women wearing too much foundation makeup.

9. Arrive finally at the proper location, after a wild goose chase lasting approximately half of an hour, by finding the one competent employee in the building.

10. Sign your name four times in four different places, then receive a ballot. Vote "yes", allowing Lee County to sell peanuts on Tuesdays after sundown, even though you don't live in Lee County. You see, the state you live in doesn't have home rule, meaning everyone in the state has to vote on each county's constitutional amendment.

11. While walking out the door, observe a minor sensation as a woman tries to walk into the courthouse with a knife in her purse. She quickly surrenders the knife.

12. Drive away, feeling secure in the fact you have performed your civic duty. Think to yourself that you're glad you don't have to do this again for a good long while.

Who Are You, and Who Am I?

You shout in your sleep
Perhaps the price was just too steep

Is your conscience at rest
If once put to the test?

You awake with a start
To just the beating of your heart

Just one man beneath the sky
Just two ears just two eyes

You set sail across the sea
Of long past thoughts and memories

Childhood's end your fantasies
Merge with harsh realities

And then as the sail is hoist

You find your eyes are growing moist
And all the fears never voiced

Say you have to make the final choice

Who are you and who am I
To say we know the reason why?

Some are born some men die
Beneath one infinite sky

There'll be war and there'll be peace
But everything one day will cease

All the iron turned to rust
All the proud men turned to dust

So all things time will mend
So this song will end.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

High Standards

I admit I hold myself and the rest of the world to an exacting standard of perfection. Seldom am I ever satisfied with anything I do and frequently I lament that which, in my mind, could be improved, revised, and otherwise sharpened into something better. This is why I find the below sketch so amusing. The questions it raises are many of the same interrogatives I frequently ponder.

Some artists wish believe that art should be for the people and as such should make concessions to the audience, giving them hints along the way. Some believe that art is for intellectuals first and foremost and enjoy interjecting their works with high-brow references, thrilling for those in on the joke and flying over the head of those not inclined that way. I'm more inclined to believe in the latter, if only that I never felt a part of the mainstream and always delighted in the company of intelligent people.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Who would have ever thought THIS GUY would be the star of the third Presidential Debate.

All hail Joe the Plumber.

A Few Thoughts

My tenth grade English teacher was Laura Bush's press secretary for most of our current President's two terms of office and I had never figured out exactly HOW she'd managed it. I received my answer by way of a Google search; she went to college with our current Governor's kids and was active in student government. The governor's children then referred her to the Governor himself some ten years later. She was Governor Riley's Press Secretary for a couple years and then used that position as a springboard for launching her political career on a national scale. Proving, of course, that it's all in who you know. And it certainly helps to be a Republican in Alabama.

Now, I can't imagine how anyone's could think that toiling under this tainted administration as any kind of feather in the cap---even southern belles with minimal competence, just the way W. likes them, apparently.

I, back in 1996, knew the woman as a mediocre teacher, a good assigner of tasks frequently noted on the board and then promptly not followed up with in the following days. Though a competent teacher, personal issues frequently found their way into her lecture. She often told us, her students, in less-than-professional fashion, how desperate she was to find a husband and all of her attempts to find a man. I mean, she's not an unattractive woman, but she had frequent problems with weight gain. Now she looks as though she has the money to dress more expensively, pay for a personal trainer, and show the theatrical gloss that years under the public eye forces one to adapt.

I'll never think that sixteen-year-olds need to be informed about the dating habits of their teachers and I suppose I always will. The woman is a bit of a flake, when you closely examine her. And I have a bit of a personal grudge---I'll always be a little annoyed at her when she didn't know how to properly respond to me when I was at my sickest and most depressed. Maybe I'm asking too much and holding people to too high a standard, but if you can't handle a depressed teenager, one of your English students, I don't know how you can manage the press affairs of the First Lady and the First Daughters. I am thankful for some sympathetic teachers who knew I was depressed and suicidal and directed me in the proper ways. Even more ironic, perhaps her heart was not in instructing teenagers, but she talks about the experience of teaching as though it was the most wonderful thing she'd ever done in her life. Count me as a contrary voice speaking in opposition, from now until forever.


I have resisted recording this song for a long while because it's so cliche. Still, I figure I did it justice.

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Broke Down and Busted

I think it's worth your while to deconstruct the artists, musicians, actors, actresses, and talented folks from whom you derive an especial emotional response. How powerfully memory comes attached to melody.

Sometimes, though not as often as I once did, I wonder what it would be like to be famous. And in doing so, I wonder through what lens the world would view me. I see myself in interviews, feeling awkward and put on the spot, never looking at the interviewer, instead looking intensely focused and meditative when delivering my response. Would they out there understand, really?



And do you, dear readers, dare see the parts of them in you? Do you, do you dare?


And was I this way then? And what did I romanticize and what was I really? If you asked around, what would they say? Was I misunderstood or mostly isolated? Was it mostly me in the end?

And in middle school did you secretly lust after the tomboy? She tried so hard to be tough.

Did you find her anger a secret, private aphrodisiac? And have you since divined this as fatal attraction personified?


For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

Movie Review: The Wicker Man

The consummate cult horror film, The Wicker Man, deserves much of the adoration granted to it by the film press, modern day audiences, and influential critics. While it's not a great movie by any stretch, nor is it high art, in a genre too often characterized by formula and mediocrity, the picture shines. There are a few moments of over-theatrical camp and one or two weak actors, but its flaws can be easily overlooked by the intelligence of the script and the horrifying final scene. Though it has slightly dated over time: hairstyles, clothes, and culture have changed a little, the movie has retained much of its chilling power and its ability to hold the attention of the audience.

Heavily truncated to keep its length down and not promoted heavily at the time of release by a British film industry in chaos and in a country in severe economic turmoil, the film made not much of an impact at the time of release. A cleaned up version more faithful to the director's original intent was re-released five years later and made the film's reputation. The original negative was somehow lost over the years, though subsequent versions produced over the years have cleaned up the print substantially. Some early versions are very muddy and show significant image deterioration. The same unfortunate visual phenomenon was evident in the print of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, filmed about the same time as The Wicker Man and also hamstrung by budget restrictions, until happily a version put together from the original negatives made its way to home video.

Much of the picture focuses on the smug, self-righteous Christian police officer Sgt. Neil Howie and his search for a missing girl. The girl, Rowan Morrison, lives in a small island village miles from the mainland. After scouring the town for any and every trace of the girl, Howie gets a royal comeuppance at the film's conclusion. The final minutes reveal a particularly vicious criticism towards priggish intolerance and the frequent inability for those so devout in their own faith to respect other faith traditions. That underlying precept is probably the most important theme to be drawn from the film, since much of the on screen action is designed to build tension and mystery at the expense of making a statement. Some films deeply moralize. The Wicker Man eschews much of this, exploring instead the elaborate rituals and beliefs of ancient Paganism along with Sgt. Howie as he pieces together often baffling clues in an effort to make sense of the town's strange customs in a desperate effort to divine where the missing child could be located.

While the Pagan cultism practiced by the residents of a remote, tiny island off the coast of Scotland is at times ridiculous to behold, it is mostly historically factual, closely related to Celtic Paganism. What is never explained however, is why the residents were convinced to throw aside their Christian tradition and embrace a religion that had not been actively practiced in thousands of years. The point, I suppose, is not to question this too much since plot devices of this nature are the conceit upon which most horror is grounded. An interesting aside---though set in and about the first of May, it's easy to observe that primary filming transpired much later. The waning intensity of the sunlight and the behavior of the actors and actresses reveal that in reality shooting occurred in the frigid cold of late autumn and early winter.

Well worth a look, The Wicker Man might not be suitable for conservative Christians or those without a sense of irony or self-reflection. Those who have seen it will understand completely what I mean. Those who have not might wish to see for themselves.

Ziggy Played Guitar

Monday, October 13, 2008

What People Thought This Morning Versus What They Think Now

Before the stock market closed up nearly 1,000 points.

Conquest, War, Famine, and Death.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

After the stock market closed up nearly 1,000 points.

I Ain't Gonna Leave You Behind

Hey, where you're going
it's hard to tell

You know that that road leads straight to hell
Start where you finish, end up dead

With brain cells diminished and underfed

If you're gonna leave me behind
You don't have to talk so kind
If you think I'm gonna lay down and die
Baby, you're out of your mind

Hey, what you doing in your head
You locked all your thoughts in a box of lead

Life will be better just wait and see
Just give me the word and I'll set you free

But I ain't gonna leave you behind
Alone in this life so unkind

If you think I'll let you lay down and die
Baby, you're out of your mind

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Liberality tagged me with one of those fun answer-the-question memes, so I shall respond.

1. Clothes Shop: The thrift store, at times. Often what is on sale at a decent department store. I'm not particularly interested in clothes or fashion, though women I have dated have from time to time sought to dress me rather nattily in peak fashion.

2. Furniture Shop: I care even less about furniture than I do about clothes.

3. Sweet: I enjoy chocolate, but I also enjoy citrus flavors, lemon, lime, and orange particularly.

4. City: Birmingham, which is what it is. It's the bluest, most culturally diverse city in a state that is not particularly blessed by sophistication or liberalism. I really could have it much worse.

5. Drink: I can't drink anymore due to my meds. Fruit juices, particularly cranberry has been my most frequent drink of choice. And milk, of course. I love milk.

6. Music: My music tastes are very specific and very broad at the same time. I'm picky. I enjoy music from a variety of genres, with the exception of country, rap, and what passes for alternative music these days.

7. TV Series: The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. I'm not a big TV person.

8. Film: Silent film, art film, and most stuff you're not going to be able to buy at a store, rent, or borrow from the library. I'm a bit of an amateur film critic, as regular readers of this blog can vouch for.

9. Workout: Like many people, I don't exercise enough. I hate exercise, actually, and I don't have enough money to go to a gym or do anything like yoga. So that's certainly an area of my life that needs some work.

10: Pastries: I've been trying to limit my intake of pastries recently in an effort to fit into most of my long pants so that I don't have to go buy more. Now that it's fall, shorts weather is over.

11. Coffee: I'm not really a coffee aesthete as some are, but there's a local store here called O'Henry's who roast their own beans and have started selling them whole bean in the store. The house blend is $10 a pound but occasionally I can splurge and buy one.

An Important Note

Dear Readership,

A week from today, I will fly to Washington, DC, with the purpose of undergoing a lengthy medical study. The intent of the study will be to discover new and different treatments to address my bipolar disorder. It is increasingly looking like I will be away from home for four to six months. While it's possible that I'll only be away just three days, having talked with the power that be over the course of the last couple weeks, there's a good chance I'll be included in an extended study which will keep me in a involved in-patient setting for a good long while.

While internet access will be provided on site, I'm not sure how often I'll have access to to it. Likely I will be able to continue blogging to some degree while I'm away, but I'm letting all of you know now that posting won't be as frequent (i.e. not every day) nor as thorough in scope as it is normally. This could well be the last week of musical performance videos, to give one example. Since I expect my time at the computer will be much reduced, I will likely be unable to leave frequent comments on the sites of those of you on my blogroll.

I'm excited. This is something I've been seeking for many months and I hope the results will be beneficial. In the meantime, I'll miss you all and I hope you miss me, too.


Comrade Kevin.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

6 String Serenade

At The American Street.

Linger On

        Sometimes I feel so happy
sometimes I feel so sad
Sometimes I feel so happy
but mostly you just make me mad
Baby, you just make me mad

Linger on your pale blue eyes
Linger on your pale blue eyes

Thought of you as my mountain top
thought of you as my peak
Thought of you as everything
I've had but couldn't keep
I've had but couldn't keep

Linger on your pale blue eyes
Linger on your pale blue eyes

If I could make the world as pure
and strange as what I see
I'd put you in a mirror
I put in front of me
I put in front of me

Linger on your pale blue eyes
Linger on your pale blue eyes

Skip a life completely
stuff it in a cup
She said money is like us in time
it lies but can't stand up
Down for you is up

Linger on your pale blue eyes
Linger on your pale blue eyes

It was good what we did yesterday
and I'd do it once again
The fact that you are married
only proves you're my best friend
But it's truly, truly a sin

Linger on your pale blue eyes
Linger on your pale blue eyes

Saturday Video

"Today" was, for better or for worse, the song that made the musical reputation of The Smashing Pumpkins. Having two years before released a decent debut album, Gish, on an independent distributor---a release which won critical acclaim but sold modestly, the band attracted the attention of a major label and promptly recorded a follow up, Siamese Dream, on Virgin Records. Alternative rock guru Butch Vig signed on for a second go round in the producer's chair, eager to record the session tracks which would prove to be the group's commercial breakthrough. For three or four years afterward, the band's popularity rivaled that of Nirvana.

Billy Corgan's typically ironic, deeply sarcastic lyrics punctuate this dark ode to suicidal depression, a point which many listeners at the time missed altogether due to the odd, but strangely well-suited juxtaposition of downbeat lyrics and upbeat melody. From 1993 forward, The Smashing Pumpkins scaled the heights of massive chart success, critical praise, and immense popularity for a few fruitful years. By the end of the 90's the Pumpkins and alternative rock itself waned in both competence and popular interest. Like many similar acts of the period, The Smashing Pumpkins were constantly plagued by personality conflicts, internal strife, and drug addiction. Still, during the group's heyday, they released one memorable single after another, feeding Corgan's towering ego, which was frequently on public display for all to see. A tortured genius he might be, but a series of well-documented character defects rendered the Pumpkins' front man a not particularly approachable, nor well-liked star.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Stealth Obama Voter

The more the economy tanks, the more traditionally Republican voters will move to Obama. This is why I've dubbed these people "Stealth Obama Voters". In an era of the country where blatant honesty is still often smoothed over by euphemism, many unlikely Democratic voters will either remain silent about who they voted for, or lie and claim they didn't cast their ballots in the manner they did. Deception aside, the end result will be the same. Though McCain will comfortably win this state's electoral college vote, I predict the final tally will be much closer than the polls would indicated.

Had we not been in an economic crisis, one wouldn't have seen much of this phenomenon. Don't get me wrong. There will, of course, be some partisan loyalists who will never cast a vote for any Democrat, no matter what the circumstances, but in conversation with some local residents, I've found several who sing a different tune. Off the record, of course. No one wants to be quoted as such. Nor, certainly, will anyone admit to voting for George W. Bush, but I remember seeing their W stickers and I know they did.

In a sublime moment of irony, I realize that the roles have reversed in half a century. In my Grandparent's generation, voting Republican was seen as a sense of shame. Damaging rumors revolved around people who dared to vote against Saint Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whose New Deal completely restored the region from abject poverty. We might very well need another New Deal, the way the market continues to tank and the farther we slip into a severe recession. But as for societal trends, so much depends on circumstance and uncertainty that I'm not making much of a prediction either way.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Lessons Unlearned

The collapse of the Stock Market, which had begun in late October, was in some ways like the fall of a gigantic boulder into the still waters of a lake. The suddenness of it sent waves of desperate fear moving in ever-widening circles throughout America. Millions of people in the far-off hamlets, towns, and cities did not know what to make of it. Would its effects touch them? They hoped not. And the waters of the lake closed over the fallen boulder, and for a while most Americans went about their day's work just as usual.

There was another deeper, darker, and more nameless wound throughout the land. What was it? Was it in the record of corrupt officials and polluted governments, administrations twisted to the core, the huge excess of privilege and graft, protected criminals and gangster rule, the democratic forms all rotten and putrescent with disease? Was it in "puritanism"---that great, vague name: whatever it may be? Was it in the bloated surfeits of monopoly, and the crimes of wealth against the worker's life? Yes, it was in all of these, and in the daily tolling of the murdered men, the lurid rendering of promiscuous and casual slaughter everywhere throughout the land, and in the pious hypocrisy of the press with its swift-forgotten prayers for our improvement, the editorial moaning while the front page gloats.

-Thomas Wolfe, 1930. You Can't Go Home Again

How sad that it appears we haven't learned from the lessons of the past at all.

I'm Gonna Watch the Blue Bird Fly

        Candy says, I've come to hate my body
And all that it requires in this world

Candy says, I'd like to know completely
What others so discreetly talk about

I'm gonna watch the blue birds fly
over my shoulder
I'm gonna watch 'em pass me by
maybe when I'm older

What do you think I'd see
if I could walk away from me

Candy says, I hate the quiet places
That cause the smallest taste of what will be

Candy says, I hate the big decisions
That cause endless revisions in my mind

I'm gonna watch the blue birds fly
over my shoulder
I'm gonna watch 'em pass me by
maybe when I'm older

What do you think I'd see
if I could walk away from me

Doo, doo-doo-wah
Doo, doo-doo-wah
Doo, doo-doo-wah
Doo, doo-doo-wah

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Take On Me?

Proving that music videos would be more fun if the lyrics literally matched the action on screen.

Here is A-Ha's 1985 hit "Take on Me".

Amusing Anecdote

I was in the bookstore earlier today buying a copy of Richard Yates' classic book Revolutionary Road. The work has been turned into a film, which will be released in late December of this year. I noticed a gold embossed sticker stuck to the front cover, imploring its readers to "First read the book, then see the movie".

I joked with the lady behind the counter. "I think this sticker should be mandatory on every book which has a movie version."

She smiled, agreeing with me.

Then, following up on what I'd said earlier: "Or, better yet, read the book, and don't watch the movie."

If only, if only.

Where Everything Seems So Pretty

        Looking for another chance
for someone else to be
Looking for another place
to ride into the sun

Ride into the sun
ride into the sun
Ride into the sun
ride into the sun
Where -

- everything seems so pretty
but if you're tired and you're sick of the city
Remember that it's just a flower
made out of clay

where everything seems so dirty
but if you're tired and you're filled with self-pity
Remember that you're just one more
person who's there

It's hard to live in the city
It's hard to live in the city,
It's hard to live in the city,
It's hard to live in the city

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Film Review: Contempt

Contempt was famed French New Wave director Jean-Luc Godard first and only big budget film. Although given an ample budget and A list talent, Godard found the experience not to his liking and never again directed a major studio film, instead setting his focus on small independent features with which he could have complete artistic control. As such, the title, while it might be interpreted specifically to relate to the deteriorating marriage between screenwriter Paul Javal (Michel Piccoli) and his beautiful wife Camille, here played by French sex symbol Brigitte Bardot, Contempt easily showcases Director Godard's extreme revulsion for the ceaseless demands of mainstream cinema. Several shots are filmed in exact imitation of the over-the-top grandiosity and overzealous pomposity common in overblown epics popular in American films during the early 1960's. The film's satirical jabs are both sly and subtle and only become evident to the audience by the end of the film. The hauntingly repetitive film score, which at first confuses viewers with its constant usage of the same passage throughout the movie, eventually is understood as making a serious critical point, specifically critiquing in American epic films the overuse of dramatic strings and other related wholly unnecessary histrionics.

The decision to film the movie both in color and in Cinemascope wide screen, the way a typical Hollywood epic would be shot, is further evidence of Godard's contempt. This time he's thumbing his nose at the expectation that artistic vision should be sacrificed for cheap theatrics, dumbed-down dialogue, and general lowest common denominator thinking. In keeping with his criticisms of the entire business, Godard was forced, post-production, to include a few shots of then hugely popular sex symbol Bardot in some state of undress. However, Godot only reveals a few modest views of her backside, a rather tame rendering for conventional films, proving that although the French auteur could be coerced under duress to add changes demanded by the studio, he would do them on his terms alone. Nudity throughout the movie is used as a bit of a tease, frustrating both studio brass and male viewers, who were obviously expecting much more.

Primarily, the film itself muses on the act of selling out. This is not an uncommon conflict in the life of an artist, visual or otherwise. Any talent who attains some degree of artistic success faces this identical dilemma. As a means of underscoring this exact point, I think my favorite moment in the film appears early on, when a young fan meets legendary German director Fritz Lang (here playing himself) and expresses her love for a rather pedestrian Western he directed starring Marlene Dietrich. He replies, "Well, I prefer M much better." M is, of course, Lang's landmark 1931 film, one routinely listed as one of the best films ever on critic's lists. I know exactly how he feels. While he would quite understandably prefer to be known for his greatest work, he is instead appreciated for a relative mediocrity the plebian fawn over, utterly ignorant of the director's superior efforts. In that spirit, American producer Jeremy Prokosch (Jack Palance) plays a tyrannical Hollywood producer who throws a fit in the screening room when the first cut of Lang's retelling of Homer's Odyssey proves to be far too much of an art film than a commercial effort. By the film's conclusion, in disgust Paul Javal leaves the production, telling the director and producer both that he is a playwright, not a screenwriter, and as such not up to the effort. Godard puts his own views of film theory into the mouth of Lang, emphasizing that the director ought to be left alone to create, without the interference of producers, studios, or the almighty dollar.

This production of The Odyssey appears ill-fated from the very beginning, since a good half of the film is devoted to the methodical unraveling of the marriage between Paul and his beautiful wife Camille. That event itself mirrors the kind of travails Godard himself was experiencing in his personal life with his wife and cinematic muse Anna Karina, who would both later divorce for good four years later. The main characters--Paul, Camille, and Prokosch loosely correspond to Odysseus, Penelope, and Poseidon which will be interesting for those who love Greek mythology. The middle of the film features some very creative camera work on the part of Godard, who frames the back and forth bantering of the screenwriter and his bride in a series of side to side tracking shots. Though the reason for the conflict is never fully explained, Camille eventually leaves her husband for the company of the American bigwig, whereby the both of them run into a major tragedy by the end of the film. In a film that forces the audience to accept its own peculiar cinematic world, it comes careening to a rather abrupt end that resolves absolutely nothing. The film itself is still in the process of filming, it's just that all the major players have left the set.

How Could You Treat Me This Way?

        Oh, Gin
how could you treat me this way
Oh, treat me this way

Oh, Gin
how could you treat me this way
Baby, treat me this way

You know you broke my heart
ever since you went away

You gotta feel it and like it
and if you move you gotta drill it and hold it
Oh, oh, oh, oh, Gin
how could you treatin' me this way

You know you broke my heart
ever since you went away

Oh, Gin
how could you treat me this way
Hey, you treat me this way

Oh, Gin
how could you treat me this way
How you treat me this way

You know you broke my heart
ever since you went away

You gotta feel it and like it
and if you move it like it
Oh, oh, oh, oh, Gin
how could you treat me this way

You know I'm gonna stay alone
'til you're coming back and play

You know I've been so sad
ever since you went away
You know I've been so sad
ever since you went away

Monday, October 06, 2008

Economic Meltdown

A quick note to those who wished me well during yesterday's chore of getting the front flower bed ship shape for winter. It looks much better but it was an all day ordeal. And I am still trying to dislodge eucalyptus mulch from my shoes.

As for what we're experiencing now, I don't know how else to say it. We are in a recession. We will stay in a recession for several years. The recession will probably get worse. Though this might not be a particularly popular notion, a) sustained economic health is no guarantee of its permanence and b) all systems derived by human hands are transitory and thus prone to fail. I think at times we believe that it is our post World War II birthright as Americans to live a charmed existence with no bumps, bruises, or turbulence along the way. It has been through sheer luck alone that we've lived here in Magic America with a minimum of jostling.

In observing the roller-coaster ride of the stock market over the past few weeks, I was reminded of the way the market performed directly before the Great Crash. Stocks zigzagged up and down dramatically from day to day until finally, eventually plunging downward, erasing the gains of a year in one trading session. During the preceding two years, the market had hit record highs, stimulated by optimism, easy credit, and speculators' manipulations. Sound familiar? You'd think that by itself would have fixed the problem but although the American people may have a short memory, greed apparently has a shorter one than that.

I'm not anticipating a crisis that dire but I am expecting what some will generously refer to as "a correction". Is this the end of the United States as we know it? No. But it is also something that's been a long time coming, something we were due for, statistically speaking. Gnash your teeth and let your righteous indignation fly, but so long as maximum material gain fuels business, events such as these will happen again. I just hope we're much wiser then and have better safeguards in place.

When the Bonus Marchers battled police in the streets of Washington D.C. shortly before the election of 1932, the needless police violence and resulting outrage among the American People led Democratic nominee for President Franklin D. Roosevelt to observe, "Well, this will elect me." It most certainly did, since FDR captured a landslide in the popular vote, picking up all but 59 votes in the Electoral College as well. Until that point, the race had been reasonably close. From that point onward, FDR's lead swelled to massive proportions.

The longer the focus stays on the floundering economy, the better the chances are Barack Obama will win election in a month's time. It's a regrettable way to have to win an election, but we'll certainly take it. One thing is clear, Senator Obama if he is to become President Obama will have his work cut out for him. By the time January rolls around, we might need, yet again, one hundred days of dramatic reforms.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

No Time for Blogging Today!

Lawn care must be performed! Tree branches must be pruned! Flower beds must be prepared for wintertime! Effort must be exerted!

More tomorrow.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Film Review: O Lucky Man!

O Lucky Man! is Lindsay Anderson's most patently surrealist film and also his most visually expansive. As some directors are apt to do, Anderson retained many of the actors and actresses in If... and used them in his follow up movie---most notably keeping Malcolm McDowell as the central lead; McDowell plays a character with the identical name as had been cast four years before, Mick Travis. Much like the Boulting Brothers, whose economically budgeted, coal black satires influenced the Scottish director, Anderson largely maintain the same corps of actors and actresses from film to film. Those who have watched several of them in sequential order will quickly be able to recognize many of the same faces.

Reviewers frequently compare O Lucky Man! to Voltaire's satirical novel Candide---although there are a few similarities between the two, the comparison is a rather loose one at best, inasmuch as both works of fiction concern a young innocent thrust into a largely unfriendly, hostile environment of eccentric characters--- roaming freely with no firm sense of direction or purpose into one odd misadventure after another. At 186 minutes, the movie is over three hours long, and so lengthy, in fact, that one has to change DVDs between the first and second ninety minutes. Due to its meandering plot one is never quite sure where McDowell's peripatetic coffee salesman will end up. In the hands of a lesser talent, this degree of fluidity and pacing could have easily exhausted the audience's patience but the film's high visual quality and skillfully crafted screenplay (written by David Sherman, a frequently collaborator with Anderson) keeps viewers from growing bored.

Director Anderson enjoyed dividing his films into separate, but tightly interwoven segments. Where If.... was divided into six parts, all under different single word subheadings, O Lucky Man! is separated by title sequences into cardinal directions, all presumably regions of England that Travis, the coffee salesman, would cover as part of his business territory. At one section of the picture, the titles take on a particularly anarchic function, spouting forth a few minutes worth of non sequitors. Still another short section briefly parodies Tony Richardson's opening sequence of the 1963 film Tom Jones, itself filmed in the same manner, in keeping with the techniques of silent cinema. The movie also features frequent musical interludes provided by keyboardist Alan Price, probably best known as a member of the early British Invasion group The Animals. Price's songs thematically underscore the narrative of the film and also crop up periodically at the end of scenes, thus functioning as a kind of period-era Greek Chorus. Thankfully Price's compositions all the way through are surprisingly tuneful and of a consistently high quality, traits often in short supply for a movie soundtrack.

The director's background as a documentary filmmaker must have led to a burning desire to capture live a pop music performance. O Lucky Man! began its life as a rock documentary seeking to detail the touring and performance life of Alan Price's band. However, that idea was quickly discarded when Anderson decided that filming a documentary and paying substantial musical royalty fees would be far more expensive and prohibitive than making a feature film. Nonetheless the director retained the services of Price and his group when it was decided to film O Lucky Man! instead of the rockumentary. What is often forgotten in these days is that at the time of filming , in 1972, the incorporation of 100% rock n' roll into a film soundtrack, scorning altogether a conventional orchestral score was still a relatively infrequent phenomenon in major studio features. Now, rock music or some variation thereof is almost always used in the background and in the source music of almost every film, so much so that we take it for granted. Anderson would try his hand again at music documentary, even going so far as to visually record the mid 1980's tour of then-extremely popular British group Wham! It's hard to understand why the same man who directed If.... would have found anything about eighties dance pop the least bit appealing, but he did somehow. The final product, Wham! in China: Foreign Skies, was largely pronounced a mediocre effort at best, leading many to believe Anderson might have been wise to stick with Alan Price instead of George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley.

Anderson productions prior to O Lucky Man! had been limited in scope by relatively modest budgets. This time around, the unexpected commercial as well as critical success of the director's second film gave him the ability to, on his third cinematic effort, shoot on location all over the United Kingdom. While the director found more success on the stage than in the cinema, here we see Anderson disregard the spartan settings of the theater to embrace the full scope and breadth only possible with a big budget. It would be the only time the director would get the opportunity to utilize location shooting to such a grand degree, and to his credit the pictorial results are quite impressive indeed. Though a flop at the box office, O Lucky Man! is still considered by many critics and viewers as Lindsay Anderson's best. It is certainly his most epic in scale and construction. As it goes for many movies ahead of their time, the picture was certainly too bizarre for mainstream audiences and a shade too grotesque to suite the tastes of the art house crowd. With the passage of time the picture was acknowledged to be a cult film but it took the establishment of home video to build the film's reputation as a forgotten gem of the early 1970's.

As for the director's intent and unifying theme, O Lucky Man! plays as an extended allegory criticizing the supposed merits of the capitalist system. It maintains that although adopting an air of confidence and proper mindset is often thought to be enough in and of itself to be the road to financial success, the reality is much grimmer. The process of attaining wealth is shown to be an inhuman, unpleasant, and cruel endeavor run by heartless tycoons. Though many at the top advance a self-serving myth, adopted by Travis at the outset, namely that financial success comes to all those inclined to hard work and the proper attitude, Travis learns instead the dismal reality: the system is unfair, hypocritical, and hopelessly corrupt, gobbling up and grinding people underfoot without remorse. Director Anderson's films each scathingly criticized different facets of his native Great Britain and this installment holds particular scorn for big business excess, government paranoia, and military-industrial turpitude. The cast is in fine form throughout and even the notoriously crabby, cynical director allows himself a moment of unrestrained euphoria at the film's conclusion. It would be another decade before the next Anderson film was released. Lamentably it would be the 1982 critical and commercial disaster Britannia Hospital, which was savaged by both the press and the public so severely that its director never really recovered from the shock. Anderson directed only one major studio picture after that public relations debacle, dying unexpectedly in 1994 at the home of one of his first patrons.

Don't Be Like John McCain

Get it. At the American Street.

Saturday Video

Alan Price was the original keyboardist for the early British Invasion group The Animals from its formation until he left it behind in 1965. Striking out on his own, he formed the Alan Price Set, who were moderately popular in the UK, though nowhere near as successful as his first group. Sadly, many of the band's albums are long out of print and have not yet been reissued on compact disc.

This song, "Poor People" comes from the 1973 Lindsay Anderson film O Lucky Man! to which Price contributed most of the soundtrack. The way the economy's going, we might all be poor people soon.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Pretty Much

It's So Cold in Alaska

Stephanie says
      that she wants to know
Why she's given half her life
to people she hates now

Stephanie says
when answering the phone
What country shall I say is calling
from across the world?

But she's not afraid to die
the people all call her Alaska
Between worlds so the people ask her

'Cause it's all in her mind
it's all in her mind
They're asking is it good or bad?
       It's such an icy feeling

It's so cold in Alaska
it's so cold in Alaska
It's so cold in Alaska

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Proving What Is Old Is New

In reading You Can't Go Home Again by Thomas Wolfe, I thought this passage was particularly applicable to today. In this part of the book, Wolfe is talking about the kind of decadent corruption of American society immediately prior to the Great Crash of 1929.

The highest intelligences of the time---the very subtlest of the chosen few---were bored by many things. They tilled the waste land, and erosion had grown fashionable. They were bored with love, and they were bored with hate. They were bored with men that worked, and with men who loafed. They were bored with people who created something, and with people who created nothing. They were bored with marriage, and with single blessedness. They were bored with chastity, and they were bored with adultery. They were bored with going abroad, and they were bored with staying at home. They were bored with the great poets of the world, whose great poems they had never read. They were bored with hunger in the streets, with the men who were killed, with the children who starved, and with the injustice, cruelty, and oppression all around them; and they were bored with justice, freedom, and a man's right to live. They were bored with living, they were bored with dying, but---they were not bored that year [with the latest short-term sensation].

Help Me Find My Proper Place

Vice-Presidential Debates, Then and Now

Vice-Presidential Debates have been relatively sedate affairs, though there have been a few notable contests over the years. Here are the highlights.


Darth Cheney cravenly lying like usual.


As if it needed to be confirmed, here we see just how much of a geek Al Gore is. I remember watching this at the time and cringing.


Here is Dan Quayle in all his awkward glory.

And Admiral James Stockdale, whose senile performance was much lampooned in the media afterward.


This is the best known Vice Presidential Debate Moment. Sadly, it didn't redeem Michael Dukakis.


Geraldine Ferraro strikes a blow for second-wave feminists. But it was not enough to redeem Walter Mondale's floundering campaign.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008