Thursday, July 31, 2008
Interactive Thursday: Before I Die
I would like to accomplish at least three of these five things, and they are not necessarily my top five things:
* Run a coatimundi ranch.
* Learn to play the bandoneon.
* Gain true fluency in Spanish and French...and Catalan, Japanese, Quichua, Gaelic...
* Spend a year in Greenland.
* Die peacefully at an old age in the bed of my tastefully appointment penthouse in l'Eixample Dreta of Barcelona, Poulenc playing in the background.
What's on your list? (This isn't a tagging blog or a meme post, by the way.)
I'd Rather Imagine What Your Legs Look Like
Another reminder of why I want to continue living in a cooler climate is this article in today's Times about shorts now being acceptable for business wear. The only thing more annoying than a "no pants policy" in an office environment would be one where they play volleyball or other enforced fun activities. I long for a return to the days of men in gray flannel suits.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
...In honor of Obama's recent Berlin triumph, I am listening to my favorite lesbian singer of dirty ditties, Claire Waldoff. She has the reputation of being Dietrich's first female lover, but I doubt that (not that Dietrich had female lovers but that they came that late). She's up there with Anita Berber with her monkey and monocle as far as my favorite Weimar characters.
Along with Guy Maddin, she's making me feel quite cheery in a darkly fatalistic way. how else would one want to have it.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Icks Cured by Gay Bison
There has not been a lot of activity or interesting activity on the blog recent due to some distractions, also known as chronic, crippling depression. I don't go into those sort of things here and hate too much of vomiting up personal emotions, but I'll just leave it that I've felt there has been so little of value here recently and that I've been leaving sometimes comments on other blogs that border on inappropriate. I have come close to retiring from the blog world and knew I needed something to snap me out of it.
Tonight I went to see Guy Maddin's My Winnipeg which was the perfect downer movie to make me come away feeling healed, restored and ready to return. There is lecherous Mayor Cornish who serves as the only judge to crown the golden boy at the man pageant held on the fifth floor of The Bay department store, a mother that is tortured by her children with a parakeet, gay bison whose lovemaking causes a stampeded on Happyland, homeless people hidden on tops of the city's buildings, horny prepubescent boys who torture the director's eight-year-old self with hairless boners, a sister who hides her sluttiness with deer flesh and blood on the hood of the car. It's all there, and I took summer comfort in the solace of the coldest city in the world. Ninety percent of the film is narration by Maddin himself, his recent narration of The Unkown at the Silent Film Festival echoing in my mind. He uses Winnipeg much the way John Waters uses Baltimore in his films but is much sicker, stranger and creative.
To borrow the catch phrase of a fellow blogger, Maddin is beligerantly nonsensical, mixing fact, fancy and fiction. Did a group of Rotarians actually dress up like Nazis during World War II and stage a mock siege of the city? I don't need to know the "facts" to accept this truth. While I've always loved Maddin short film which I've felt is his best format for his hodge podge of ideas, his manic, surreal narration built like a wacked tone poem that ultimately merged into what was truth rooted in dreams and the haze of memory and was deeply, unexpectedly moving. I am sure I'll end up seeing it again.
Monday, July 28, 2008
While I continue to consider the ampersand to be one of the most brilliant forms of typography in human history, I think the worst member of the keyboard family (besides the option to use Comic Sans) is the exclamation point. There are times it and 120 point type are warranted -- end of times, new Scott Walker album, death of Jesse Helms -- but rarely in a movie title. Was it "Hello, Dolly!" or "Hello, Dolly! "?
Thus, I was pleased to see these quotes in Anthony Lane's review of Meryl Streep's latest outing in the current issue of The New Yorker which will help the rag be forgiven of any sins committed against the Obama campaign:
"Like many people, I was under the impression that the new Meryl Streep film was called 'Mamma Mia.' The correct title is, in fact, 'Mamma Mia!', and, in one keystroke, the exclamation mark tells you all you need to know about the movie. Billy Wilder tried the same trick with 'Avanti!', in 1972, but that felt like Chekov compared with this ferocious onslaught of obligatory good cheer.
"The legal definition of torture has been much aired in recent years, and I take 'Mamma Mia!' to be a useful contribution to that debate."
When a friend dragged me to this atrocity in its pre-Broadway staging a number of years back, I think it was being billed as some sort of feel good fest insured to blast people out of their post-9/11 funk. It only made me want to run to a cave in Central Asia, especially when there was an audience clap along encore in which the audience was expected to stand, an action I refused to participate by claiming my Constitutional rights to not be moved.
And then there is the ellipsis.
I'm going to go read some Chekov to get me out of this feel good funk.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
Friday Chez le Jardin du Junque
Happy 150th Central Park
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Sally Kern County
Having grown up in Oklahoma, I can attest that it is not made up exclusively of wingnut wackos and actually had a history of progressives (Fred Harris, Woody Guthrie, the leftist Green Corn Movement and the largest block voting for Socialist Eugene Debs in his 1912 presidential bid).
However recent news about Brent Rinehart and Sally Kern makes me wonder if the state stands at risk of being taken over by such loonies. Having lived in California long enough and having traveled frequently inland, I can attest that there are more here.
Having recently learned about the performer Joan Crawford Texas (seen below), I suggest that she hook up with a new artist using the name of Sally Kern County. That would be a perfect tribute to the county with Okies too wacko for even Oklahoma. I think Sally would be honored since the photo above proves that she's already hanging out with Oklahoma's top Divine imitator (on the left).
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
See Baku Before It's Lost
Just as the first half of the 20th century saw the demise of the British Empire, the same is now, fortunately, happening to the U.S. Empire. Fears of the "Manhattanizing" of urban skylines is quickly being replaced by the Shanghaiing or Dubaiing of skylines. That's not necessarily an improvement as evidenced in this rendering of these hideous spots being planned for once unassuming Baku. I need to plan my visit soon before the city is lost.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Someone Left the Cake Out in the Rain
Monday, July 21, 2008
Sunday, July 20, 2008
The weather this weekend in San Francisco has been about as close to perfection as it gets for me. It never topped 60 degrees, it was mildly overcast but not gloomy and a slight mist was in the air. This is perfect weather for walking, long stops for having coffee outside, reading or chatting with friends. And to think it's late July! I've suffered through enough hot summers (including the week before last and May here) in other places to appreciate such a day. Though I am not that fond of extended overcast skies or ran, I definitely consider extended days of sun extremely depressing and Key West, Hawaii and Bali are my definition of hell.
There are the usual annoying SF whiners who define days like this as "cold", and I only want to send them to Alabama. Though I am not totally opposed to sun, I prefer to look at it from inside and almost always hate being in it. It's another reminder of why I need to start my plans years in advance of retiring to a more northern climate.
Though I certainly won't be going to see the Indiana Jones, Batman or other blockbusters this summer (I'll wait until they're on the small screen of an airlines), I am compelled to go see Wall-E, despite the generally glowing reviews. Besides a brilliant repurposing of Hello, Dolly!, its first third is all about junk, for Chirsakes.
Today, I managed to go see a lesser hyped but still still heavily promoted summer film, Chris and Don. Fortunately it lived up to the hype. Though not exactly groundbreaking as a documentary, there was some interesting innovations. Seeing a tale of a 30 year relationship made me think of my own series that, in the end, mirror a bento box -- a series of compartmentalized treats that don't touch that range from sweet to crunchy to slightly nutty to fish -- most of them forgotten by tea time the same afternoon.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
What's You're Walking Score?
San Francisco is supposedly the nation's most walkable city in the nation, and my corner of the berg ranks a 92% score ahead of the city's average. Anyone who has ever walked here where 60-70% of the driver -- especially MUNI -- seem to take delight in playing pedestrian hockey would realize how outrageous such a score is.
The ranking site WalkScore is another interesting diversion. I've already wasted a good 90 seconds checking out the walkability of former addresses of mine.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Who Needs iTunes?
One of the highlights of the show last night at the Knockout was a DJ from KUSF-FM who spun a wacky series of 45s -- most from the New Frontier era with German swing, post-cool/bop finger snapping jazz, psycho-polka, Swedish country swing and just plain weird. Though I mainly listen to KCRW-FM in Santa Monica as far as "broadcast" radio goes, I forget sometimes how much fun 45s can be. Usually just two songs, and the B-sides are often the true jewels and rarities available nowhere else.
So I swung over to the every reliable Community Thrift after work this evening and came home with this stash that cost less than downloading one album from iTunes. It ranges from Romanian love songs, to called and uncalled square dance, the Swedish pop band Sven-Ingars (a sweet find), a couple of Neil Diamond and Lesley Gore rarities, the Village Stompers and another dozen or so goofy to weird singles.
I've already digitalized half of them and may have to have a jukebox party soon. Let me know if you'd like an invite or plan to bring your own Twister.
Advice from Walter
Since Tugboat Dave no longer posts his random Spanish language channel images, I felt compelled to share this one of Walter Mercado. Last night while I was at El Patio pupuseria on Mission enjoying excellent $2.50 fish tacos before the Pope of Yes show, I heard Bryce Digdug scream out "It's Walter of el Show de Walter." On the wall next to a rifle and glittering sombrero was this creature, Walter Mercado who at age 76 looks little different than he did at 56 or 36 or...
Say what you will, but Walter holds a doctorate in Divinity from the International Philo-Byzantine Academy & University. Although he holds it, I'm not sure if he earned it or if it has his name on it.
Knocked Out by the Pope
Knock Out south of Cesar Chavez. That area is fast becoming my favorite part of the city as Valencia becomes more and more of a Chestnut/Union Street Clone. Best of all, I got to shake hands with the Pope/Sean and his drummer Joe Schmoe. And they both signed my poster for their show. The Pope shared that he was featured on the Fox News site listing of bands around the country but they renamed him Papa Yes to avoid offending any of the rosary counters. The show was great as he put on his hat at the end and absolved or praised the crowd for their sins.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Just Say Pope
I'm going to see the Pope of Yes tonight. I like his views on zoos and parents. He is also the best advocate for brightly colored patchwork since Holly Hobby. His drummer seems to sort of serve the same role as Dick Cheney in telling the leader what to say, but his words are much more profound than anything created by puppet master Cheney.
It's hard to have anything less than respect for a man who can spit up doll parts on Bernal Hill. That is talent.
Yes, say yes.
Monday, July 14, 2008
The Unpleasant Mold of the Recent Past
I was talking to a friend the other day that five to ten years after the fact, pop culture of that period is regarded as ridiculous and embarrassing. After about 15 years it's regarded as worth re-examining, and 20 years on it has gone from camp to brilliant.
Where will Web Van fall on that map in a couple more years? When one of my exes was moving out in 2002, he was packing away his things in the storage bins of that then recently defunct dot-com. The only thing that I regretted about his departure was that he was taking those bins that I knew then would someday fetch a fair dollar. I never used the service, but even though he lacked the available cash he'd call them to deliver a container or cleanser and chewing gum in one order and charge it to his MasterCard instead of walking across the street to buy the same things. It was a fitting symbol of a bad era and bad relationship that would go bust with the new century. In the aftermath, I'd run into one of their former vehicles with their logo painted over. Now you don't even see those, and I rarely see him.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Hush, Hush Sweet Junk Thief
I wrapped up the silent film festival weekend with two completely unrelated films as the afternoon moved into early evening.
A restored print of Her Wild Oat discovered in the Czech Republic and starring Colleen Moore was a nice treat. I first discovered her nearly 40 years ago in middle school when I picked up her autobiography in the bargain bin. Though she was the top box office draw in 1926 and 1927, she is pretty much forgotten by non-silent movie fans. Ironically, Louise Brooks was relatively obscure at the time and considered a cheap Colleen Moore knock off. Colleen had the flapper thing going long before Louise went to Berlin to be Lulu. Perhaps because she retired fairly happily and spent the next 50 years happily married and sane hurt her reputation as a legend. Her persona was somewhere between Clara Bow and Mary Pickford. Speaking of which, the feature was preceded by a two minute techincolor screen test of Pickford having dropped the orphan-waif and looking vampish, seductive and ready to play Lulu. Her Wild Oat merged the hard working orphan with the gauche flapper with scenes at the Del Coronado Hotel that seemed the template for Some Like It Hot to ultimately copy.
Having such a light but touching comedy before Teinosuke Kinugasa's Jujiro was not the best build up for such an intensely dark film. I appreciated that it was not a film about samurais, geishas, martial arts or an Ozu family chamber drama. Its central theme of a younger brother declaring to his big sister "I will follow you to the end of the earth" carried greater resonance after the screen faded to black, and it was all so dark -- sets painted gray and filmed at night -- with plenty of rain, blood, ash, painted hussies, a greedy old madam and a host of villains with bad teeth.
As always, this festival is the best trip to a foreign land -- the first quarter of the 20th century -- and I come away wishing I'd seen even more in the series.
Get Up and Make Us a Meatloaf -- NOW
Being just a few inches away from Guy Maddin last night, I wished I'd been brave enough to ask him when My Winnipeg will finally be screened in this cultural backwater that is San Francisco. They're showing it in Palm Springs fro Chrissakes!
I really need to see those Canadian man pageants.
Midnight Dismemberment and Sissies
Few things confirm my film nerddom more than the annual Silent Film Festival, but I am always in good company with the packed houses. Last night was the latest film screening in the festival's history with the director's pick, The Unknown. The hour-long Tod Browning directed featured starred Lon Chaney and Joan Crawford and heavily featured dismemberment. You could tell what sort of crowd was there when the theater erupted in hysterical applause when during the pre-show slide show there was an image from Browning's Freaks. To top things off, there was an introduction and English reading of the French inter-titles by Guy Maddin, director of The Saddest Music in the World (which also features dismemberment and glass legs filled with beer), Center of the World and Sissy Boy Slap party. The last entry drew heavy, knowing applause too. What, you've never seen it? Here it is.
Labels: silent film stars
Friday, July 11, 2008
Dave's Photo Challenge: Mundane
Dave's got a great photo challenge this week: Mundane. Here is my response since I've been hearing a lot about appliances having personalities this recently and have spent a lot of time with my week and a half off cleaning and doing repairs here at the JunkPlex.
Feel free to give my vacuum a name. I think it's a girl. Her last name is Hoover.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
I Still Have...
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Frida with Regained Potency
When I told friends a few weeks ago that I had no intention of going to see the Frida Kahlo show at SFMOMA, they either were shocked or told me I was missing a once in a lifetime opportunity. Living a decade in the Mission -- where we even had a Frida's Pizza for Chrissakes -- I had been so oversaturated by her images that they'd lost the potency they first held for me in the 1980s when I became fascinated by her. Sure, you could buy Frida refrigerator magnets, Post its, umbrellas, mugs or t-shirts at the kiosk. And the cliched trademarks -- the mustache, the unibrow, the chihuahua, the monkeys, the parrots -- are all there. But Frida was never a cuddly Latin American folk artist that her over exposure has turned her into. The show reminded me of this twisted, angry and defiant Hungarian Jew who happened to live in the Republic of Mexico much of her life. It is remarkable in scope and size, and this is the final in its three city tour.
The most remarkable image, and new to me, was a relatively small painting called "Moses" inspired by her reading of Freud that packs in almost the entire history of humanity since the day of that famed floating baby in a basket. Though I bought no refrigerator magnets or other trinkets, I came home with a revived sense of defiance but also plucked a few pesky strands in between my eyebrows.
Monday, July 07, 2008
More '80s Hair
official 1983 Haircut 100 Calendar. Don't get your hopes up, this baby won't be showing up on eBay anytime soon. Bribe me, and I might show it to you but with the drapes down in case anyone is peeking in the windows and might rob me.