Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Pat Robertson's latest test of his followers' blind faith.

Over 20 years ago, there was a song on Leo Kottke's album GREAT BIG BOY called "The Other Day In Santa Cruz" where Kottke wryly referred to a relative who thought "Pat Robertson is It--and that's that."

Here's the latest example of how Pat Robertson keeps the members of his television church forever fearful and ready to contribute to Pat's ministry:

Monday, February 25, 2013

A few observations re what did/didn't win the 2013 Academy Awards.

1. Steven Spielberg, with LINCOLN, headed further into his desired elder-statesman-classicist phase--with a palpable desire to be the William Wyler/George Stevens/Fred Zinnemann of his generation.  But Ang Lee deserved the win for LIFE OF PI because the task of marrying 3-D/CGI technologies to humanistic storytelling is a more challenging achievement than making historical re-enactment epics (even those with Tony Kushner screenplays)--and Lee pulled it off quite well.

2. Emmanuelle Riva's mixture of physical detail (declining health due to multiple strokes) and emotional clarity in AMOUR was no match for the Movie Star likability of Jennifer Lawrence in SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK.  It may be good that Ms. Lawrence is choosing to work on multiple projects with David O. Russell--because her acting can be variable (witness her flatness in the getting-to-love-you cave scene with Josh Hutcherson in THE HUNGER GAMES) depending on what her directors can pull from her.

3. Daniel Day-Lewis deserved his third win for LINCOLN.  But it's a shame that Jean-Louis Trintingant was unrecognized by the Academy voters for his totally convincing performance as the devoted/despairing husband in AMOUR.

4. Yes, ARGO was entertaining.  But future generations of movie-watchers may wonder why it received Best Picture.  After the duofecta of THE TOWN/ARGO, it's obvious Ben Affleck is an accomplished mainstream director addicted to directing himself in none-too-complex flawed-but-good-guy leading roles.  Whether he'll ever color outside the lines (of what studios want in their idea of Serious Films) as an actor/director is yet to be seen.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Recycling a poem I wrote for the 2012 Presidential election.

This time around, the poem is applicable to the city election happening in Los Angeles on March 5th.


don't be afraid to research the issues
don't give in to the electric shocks of
exaggerated TV commercials
and three-color ad pages of papered insults
in your mailbox
don't give a damn about which candidate
your workplace says
you "should" vote for
just read, think and decide
and be confident in your informed beliefs
when you use the inkstamp
in the voting booth
on Election Day

Monday, February 18, 2013

Quoting Ian Murphy on ZERO DARK THIRTY.

Excerpted from Ian Murphy's recent 50 MOST LOATHSOME AMERICANS post on re Kathryn Bigelow:
Charges: Directed a movie which unsuccessfully tries to be both “based on first-hand accounts” of the bin Laden hunt and also a jingoist dramatization where tortured brown-faces spill leads and the poorly cast CIA interrogator is the one left traumatized. Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal defend the enhanced interrogation scenes in Zero Dark Thirty because redacting them would be to whitewash history. True. The problem, however, is that according to members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, the film’s breakthrough torture intel is as real as Santa Claus.
Smoking Gun: “In the end, bro, everybody breaks. It’s biology.”

Friday, February 15, 2013

Really uncomfortable when poets say "I'm better than you!"

Something I read earlier on Facebook, reprinted here: This Friday, don't miss "So Bad It's Funny" a reading of (intentionally) bad poetry by the famous and infamous and anyone with the guts to read their own! There will be featured bits by [poets' names redacted] and [redacted] as emcee and reader of arcane but ridiculous verse. It's all happening at [Los Angeles poetry venue name redacted.]

I'll say this one more time: I really hate the idea of "intentionally bad" poetry, whether it's intended for an evening of laughs such as the above event--or used as a Wergle Flomp-esque bludgeon over the metaphoric cranium of "we'll take your money" poetry contests/expensive-see-yourself-in-our-book scams.

Poetry communities have enough difficulty as it is with members who perceive themselves as superior poets/people exercising dominion over their supposed inferiors.

So, please, cut it out before the world of poetry becomes so small that those considering themselves Brilliant are all which remain--and they begin destroying each other in lieu of laughing/ignoring alleged "bad poets" to death.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Ted Nugent and tonight's State of the Union address.

Forwarding this e-mail from Dave Marsh's ROCK AND RAP CONFIDENTIAL
RRC Extra No. 33: Wango Tango Makes
Perfect Sense Compared to This

Ted Nugent is slated to make a live appearance tonight at the State of the Union speech, arriving as a guest of his Congressman, Steve Stockman, who recently announced he was pursuing impeachment of the President. Presuming Ted shows, and presuming the Secret Service lets him in despite Ted's avowal that he'll be 20 pounds lighter from leaving his guns at home, how many other people in the room do you figure:

1) Are currently on federal probation (stemming from a 2012 plea agreement for illegal hunting)?
2) Have been vetted by the Secret Service after making open threats against the life of the President who is giving the speech?
3) Have been accused--without refutation--by Courtney Love of having sex with her when she was 12 years old? (Nugent, by the way, would have been 28.)
4) Openly proclaim not only that the Southern traitors should have won the Civil War but that the only "real Americans" are "working hard, playing hard, white motherfucking shit kickers"?

This is to say nothing of Nugent's other bigoted sexist, racist and homicidal pronouncements which will, it apparently goes almost without saying, be shared by a significant number of attendees.

Nugent's appearance is even more odd given that he proclaimed during the election that if Obama was re-elected he'd be "either dead or in jail." Or maybe it's his ghost who'll fill the seat?

Monday, February 11, 2013

What do Lena Dunham, Barbra Streisand, Jeannie Berlin and Janeane Garafolo have in common?

The question in the post title can be easily answered: they've all played roles where they have romantic/sexual relationships with handsome leading men (in Ms. Berlin's case, I'm referring to the now-forgotten film SHEILA LEVINE IS DEAD AND LIVING IN NEW YORK from 1975, which paired her with Roy Scheider)--and were greeted with sexist putdowns for doing so.

Here's a link to the JEZEBEL on-line article re last night's GIRLS episode about Lena Dunham's brief encounter with Patrick Wilson:

Friday, February 8, 2013

Another pinched-nose, hysterical article complaining about slam poetry--this one from UK.

A few prize quotes from the above article by Nathan A. Thompson:
"Poetry is dying. Actually, it's pretty dead already for all intents and purposes and the rise of performance poetry slams is doing nothing to help matters. I know, I used to be a performance poet."

"[The early slam poets] demanded, along with Bukowski, that poetry “have guts”. They wanted to democratise poetry and drag it from the academic ivory tower.
But there never was an ivory tower. There was no cabal of posh people who had purposely made poetry unintelligible. Poetry has always been words on a page, open to anyone. The politicisation of art and the drawing of sectarian lines continues to damage poetry to this today."

"A further nail in the coffin is the rise of poetry slams. I have performed at many slams and the audience is almost always half drunk and if you want to win you have to pitch your poem pretty low. The result is a scene rife with the poetic equivalent of nob jokes – and plenty of actual nob jokes.
The only division in poetry is between those people willing to take the time to read it and those who will not. When Emily Dickinson said only “the fairest” may enter her house of “possibility”, she wasn't being elitist –she was putting up a barrier against the lazy.
Most slam poems are not strong enough to be published in even minor poetry journals. And that's fine; maybe they don't want to be. Then why attack the poems that do? It's like there is an oedipal urge to kill the art that made it. We cannot allow slam poetry to replace the role poetry plays in our lives. The threat is there."

As SCTV's TV horror host/film reviewer Count Floyd (look him up on YouTube) used to say:
"Oooooh!  Scary stuff!"

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Re the John Brennan confirmation hearings.

Excerpted from Robert Dreyfuss's live blog of John Brennan's CIA confirmation hearings in THE NATION:

4:20 pm: Maybe I've missed something, though i don't think so, but so far the senators haven't bothered to ask Brennan any of the tough questions suggested by, among others, The Nation, the New York Review of Books, and many others. It's as if the "kill list," the president's authority to order drone assassinations, the legal authority on which it's based, the efficacy of using drones all over the world, etc., aren't worth worrying about. The Republicans are obsessed with asking Brennan about "leaks" -- as Dan Coats (R.-Ind.) is doing now -- and the Democrats are obsessed with the malfeasance of the CIA in the George W. Bush administration. Senator Levin (D.-Mich.) went back to 2002, when the CIA have credence to Cheney's nonsense about secret meetings between Iraqi offiials and Mohammad Atta of the 9/11 Al Qaeda team.

Monday, February 4, 2013

When the words "grow up" are used as an epithet: re last night's episode of GIRLS

Excerpt from Todd VanDerWerff's AV CLUB article on the GIRLS episode "It's A Shame About Ray":
Throughout “It’s A Shame About Ray,” characters tell other characters to “grow up,” either literally in those words or just in general. Girls is a show about people who think that being grown up requires doing things a certain way—preparing pad Thai for your friends from scratch, getting married, having a house, moving on past a broken relationship—but they’re only starting to realize that nobody quite understands what being grown up means. It’s not an achievement you can unlock. It’s a thing you keep moving toward, until you’re old and perhaps experienced and realize just how little you knew back when. Put another way: I look back at the me of 10 years ago, the me who was 22 years old, and I think, “Jesus Christ, that guy was an idiot,” but I lack the self-awareness to know that 42-year-old me will look back on this version of myself and say, “What the fuck was he thinking?” Being grown up means being perfectly self-aware, and that’s almost impossible to achieve.

Revised old poem POET IN BLACK


Friday, February 1, 2013

Billy Joel says his old music is "juvenile"--giving inadvertent finger to longtime fans.

In 1982, Billy Joel took an artistic leap forward with the album THE NYLON CURTAIN.  As a result, he wanted to ensure he'd read good reviews from rock critics instead of bad ones.  So, around that time, a more-positive relationship was created between Billy and ROLLING STONE. 

Prior to that, Billy Joel received variable reviews from the biweekly publication.  Positive ones overall for THE STRANGER and 52ND STREET, but then the late Paul Nelson dinged him for 1980's GLASS HOUSES.  If memory is correct, Nelson wrote that Billy came off like "a drunken fratboy putting the make on an airline stewardess."

Anyway, Billy got good treatment from ROLLING STONE hereafter.  He retired from making pop/rock albums in 1993, but would occasionally tour.  And Sony/Columbia reshuffled Billy's existing song catalog to dribble out hits compilations, live albums, album reissues and one rarities-dominated box set to the fan base.

And for the past twenty years, Jann Wenner and ROLLING STONE have continued publishing Billy Joel stories, regardless of valid readership interest.

This week, there's another Billy Joel one-page puff interview in ROLLING STONE (the issue with the cover story on Rihanna--haven't read it yet but I'm assuming it tries to spin the Chris Brown re-relationship in a positive rather than pathetic victim-goes-back-to-victimizer way).  It avoids mentioning the 412th compilation (this time of love songs), but centers on good notices for Billy's participation in recent NY hurricane benefit shows.

And then Billy Joel proceeds to call his pre-retirement music "juvenile."

This longtime fan's blood pressure went up upon reading that passage.

The logic is: it's okay/financially and morally defensible to keep making money by having Sony repackage the old "juvenile" music, but Billy can't be bothered to, say, create a second "adult" classical album or even another Broadway show (remembering the Twyla Tharp dance concept show MOVIN' OUT from the previous decade).

Fine if he wants to be Charles Foster Kane shuffling in ultracomfort between Manhattan and Hamptons Xanadus.

But if Billy Joel wants nothing more to do with actively creating music for ears other than his own, then it should be time for him and Jann Wenner to can the solipsistic crap periodically appearing in ROLLING STONE.