Saturday, April 27, 2013

Two more things you can do in Las Vegas.

"You can do anything in Vegas."--comment from decades past by (if I'm recalling correctly) veteran comic David Brenner (original context referring to what a comic could get away with on-stage, though a broader meaning will be applied to this post).

For $29.00, you can go to Battlefield Las Vegas behind the Circus Circus Hotel and shoot an Uzi.

For ten times that much ($299), you can drive around the local racetrack for an hour in the high-end sportscar of your choice.

And that's in addition to all the other unfettered options available to the Vegas vacationer (sex, high-and-low-roller gambling, alcohol, extravagant shows, shopping malls for the top 1/2 %, smoking cigarettes/cigars just about anywhere, etc. etc.).

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Towel-snapping in the Poetry Locker Room.

Days ago, I posted a poem here called POEM FOR NATIONAL POETRY MONTH.

And I received this response from commenter "AG" who chooses to take the veil of anonymity (boldface provided by me):

How does this qualify as a poem? Just because you used enjambment? Buddy, use some figurative language, assonance, alliteration. Something. This is more of a rant.

I'm not sure how, you, the reader, might react if you heard this kind of comment at a workshop from either the leader or one of the other poets present.

As far as I'm concerned, once someone uses the word "buddy" to me, it means that the person is less interested in constructive advice (re what he/she thinks is a proper poem using poetic forms) than triumphally crashing a sledgehammer over my head as if I'm a steer in a slaughterhouse.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Louis C.K. explains for me why I don't read THE HUFFINGTON POST like I used to.

I used to read Huffington Post, and I can't anymore, because it's all "Britney Spears' ass stuck out of her pants."  It's just mean.  There's so much meanness slung on people, people that are victims.  Everybody gets made fun of, the way they look, and we all just fucking yap and speculate with quote-unquote outrage, tragic sadness.  I don't think anybody's doing a great job with this stuff.--
Louis C.K. interviewed by Brian Hiatt in the current issue of ROLLING STONE.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A few words on Terrence Malick's TO THE WONDER.

Someday, I'll finally watch the DVD of THE NEW WORLD (which I still haven't seen) to get a more complete idea of where TO THE WONDER fits in the scheme of Terrence Malick's fifteen-years-and-counting Second Act as a filmmaker (the First Act produced two masterpieces, BADLANDS and DAYS OF HEAVEN; the Second Act has offered up two bloated-length films with sections of brilliance, THE THIN RED LINE and THE TREE OF LIFE).

SPOILER ALERT: TO THE WONDER does have a plot thread (recounted here without the religious/mythic/stylized/nature&humanity overtones Malick and gifted cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki splash onto the widescreen canvas) which carries throughout the entirety of the film: Man working as environmental inspector meets ethereal Femme, brings her and elementary-school-aged daughter from Paris to Oklahoma; Man loses Femme because he Can't Commit and Femme's Visa has expired, Man has affair with Woman he once knew; Man loses Woman because he Won't Commit; Femme (daughter lives now with birth father) wants to come back to America; Man and Femme marry and create child of their own; Man has Committer's Remorse; Femme has one-afternoon stand at an Econo Lodge with neighbor; Man upset over affair; Man and Femme divorce; Femme returns to a cold, grey-weathered France; Man Half-Commits To Something by raising their daughter in Oklahoma.

And there's a fourth major character in the film.  I wrote the paragraph below as a comment on a critic's film blog:
If one could cut together footage both in the film and what Malick probably discarded, an interesting Antonioni/Bergman/Bresson-influenced 75-minute feature--about the trials and attempt at renewed faith of Javier Bardem's priest (attending to the lost and broken of Bartlesville, Oklahoma)--would appear.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


was it that long ago
when the poet rulers
spun a successful illusion
based on the Mark Twain quote
that goes something like:
"The really great make you believe
one day you too can be great"
if only it could be true
it certainly wasn't true then
but at least the poetry tent
was large enough
where open mike regulars
didn't feel like complete losers
if they didn't conform
to certain hosts' templates
of talent and status
now I see people
come and go
to and from
formerly egalitarian coffeehouses
talking to truly true friends
and the air-kiss folks
some poets just know
have their backs
when they submit poems,
small press manuscripts
and beg (without
looking too needy)
for the privilege of
getting a slot
at a group reading
happy national poetry month
to you temperate gladiators out there
may a few of your dreams come true
but hopefully not
at the expense of others

Friday, April 12, 2013

How a song from THE WIZARD OF OZ has hindered the mythification of Margaret Thatcher.

The above article is quite interesting, though I wonder what would have occurred if, say, a song written during the Margaret Thatcher era (implicitly/explicitly about Thatcher and her policies) had been chosen instead to climb the UK charts.

Bonus irony: For a few minutes (CORRECTION: only five seconds), the ever-current BBC Radio One has to play a hit song from 1939--a supreme rarity. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Depressing comment from actual person re the film 42.

This comment (from "Roscoep Coltrane" on the HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE site) echoes something I overheard weeks ago from two moviegoers at the Pacific Winnetka 21 in Chatsworth CA; they were talking at the concession counter after looking at the cardboard display for 42 in the lobby:
"I'm not sure who the audience is for this. It doesn't look like a fun movie, it looks like medicine. I don't go to the movies for medicine, no matter how sweet it is."

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Russell Brand eulogizes Margaret Thatcher.

Excerpted from Russell Brand's GUARDIAN column; the full text can be found
There were sporadic resurrections [after her time as Prime Minister came to an end]. She would appear in public to drape a hankie over a model BA plane tailfin because she disliked the unpatriotic logo with which they'd replaced the union flag (maybe don't privatise BA then), or to shuffle about some country pile arm in arm with a doddery Pinochet and tell us all what a fine fellow he was. It always irks when rightwing folk demonstrate in a familial or exclusive setting the values that they deny in a broader social context. They're happy to share big windfall bonuses with their cronies, they'll stick up for deposed dictator chums when they're down on their luck, they'll find opportunities in business for people they care about. I hope I'm not being reductive but it seems Thatcher's time in power was solely spent diminishing the resources of those who had least for the advancement of those who had most. I know from my own indulgence in selfish behaviour that it's much easier to get what you want if you remove from consideration the effect your actions will have on others.
Is that what made her so formidable, her ability to ignore the suffering of others? Given the nature of her legacy "survival of the fittest" – a phrase that Darwin himself only used twice in On the Origin of Species, compared to hundreds of references to altruism, love and cooperation, it isn't surprising that there are parties tonight in Liverpool, Glasgow and Brixton – from where are they to have learned compassion and forgiveness?

The blunt, pathetic reality today is that a little old lady has died, who in the winter of her life had to water roses alone under police supervision. If you behave like there's no such thing as society, in the end there isn't. Her death must be sad for the handful of people she was nice to and the rich people who got richer under her stewardship. It isn't sad for anyone else. There are pangs of nostalgia, yes, because for me she's all tied up with Hi-De-Hi and Speak and Spell and Blockbusters and "follow the bear". What is more troubling is my inability to ascertain where my own selfishness ends and her neo-liberal inculcation begins. All of us that grew up under Thatcher were taught that it is good to be selfish, that other people's pain is not your problem, that pain is in fact a weakness and suffering is deserved and shameful. Perhaps there is resentment because the clemency and respect that are being mawkishly displayed now by some and haughtily demanded of the rest of us at the impending, solemn ceremonial funeral, are values that her government and policies sought to annihilate.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Facebook, a SoCal revival-theatre employee, and me.

Apologizing in advance for any complaints about perceived "bad manners" of mine.

Saturday night, I attended part of a Montgomery Clift double bill of THE MISFITS/WILD RIVER (have seen both before) at the American Cinematheque's Aero Theatre in Santa Monica.

The young male Cinematheque employee (who will go unnamed here) gave an introduction to the films which began with out-loud musings about how the audience was bigger than expected (from my estimate, about 40% full, surprising for an evening of its Clift mini-fest).  It didn't improve from there, with the employee discussing the upcoming slate of movies in what seemed to me to be an "I-don't-care" fashion.  And, when in the lobby, I happened to notice the employee was sporadically playing chess behind the snack-and-soda counter with another young male employee.

So, I made the impulsive decision to complain about this on Facebook--specifically on the Aero Theatre page.

And I received this response from the introduction-giving employee, which mixed a reasonable reply with a passage (highlighted by me) I took offense to:
I'm sorry you were unhappy with my intro. I've been working at the Aero for five years and I finally decided to try giving the intro - it looks like you mistook my stage fright for apathy.
We are always happy to hear from our customers at the counter and if you feel like you need to speak to a manager you can address complaints directly to [name deleted by me], the theater manager, or [name deleted], the director of the American Cinematheque.
By making your complaint public, you not only embarrass me personally (which I can get over), but you also make the whole institution look bad (which is harder to rectify).
If you think that we should only have employees who are already comfortable on stage give the introductions I encourage you to suggest that to one of our managers, but I would like to ask you personally if you would consider sending your message privately and take down the public comment.

I hope that other than my less-than-stellar introduction, your time at the Aero was enjoyable.

I wrote back to the young man as follows:

I will not take the comment down. If you do further intros, take a moment to get focused and have some knowledge about the films you're promoting. And remember that it makes the institution look bad when you're talking openly to the audience about how many audience members are in attendance.

Since the Aero Theatre Facebook page isn't intended as the comments section of, I knew that my public incorrectness would be removed by him or someone else involved with the page.  And it was.

My final words to the young man were these:
"....if you had only stayed with your clarification and not hectored me about taking down the comments, I would very likely have done so voluntarily. So, in the end, we both have to take responsibility for this matter leaving a bitter aftertaste."

In closing, I like the American Cinematheque overall.  I've attended since the 90s across various venues including the DGA Theatres on Sunset Boulevard and the Melrose Studios screening room, plus the permanent sites of the Egyptian and Aero.  And I'm hoping that examining this molehill (which isn't really one, since it's part of the quality of revival-house presentation) of an incident here won't preclude me (plus my wife and mutual friends of ours) from attending future film programs.

I just hope that the employees--regardless of stage-fright--will express some genuine enthusiasm about the theatre's film choices to audiences, regardless of whether the number of patrons are twenty or 200. 


          Thursday, April 4, 2013

          RIP Roger Ebert.

          "When critics like Roger Ebert or Janet Maslin talk about film, they
          demonstrate a deep knowledge of and respect for their subject, a
          respect for filmmakers regardless of the specific blunders made on a
          particular film, and a genuine unwavering joy at the magic of cinema.
          Even when they don't like something of mine, I respect the source.
          They make me want to try harder."--James Cameron in 1998, in the midst
          of his rebuttal to Kenneth Turan's negative review of TITANIC.

          Tuesday, April 2, 2013