Saturday, January 10, 2004
But I decided that there were two audio commentaries so why not give them a try? Steve Buscemi's for "The Pine Barrens" was pretty tedious. He apparently loves working with every single actor in the series, very nearly claims to have no creative input and frequently sounds like a grade-schooler presenting a report (in fact he actually sounds at times like he's reading the commentary). I gave up halfway through, especially after he said he didn't know what happened to the Russian in the episode. The other commentary was David Chase on "Amour Fou" (why not the correctly spelled "L'Amour Fou"?) and it's the sort of thing you'd hope all commentaries are. Chase is conversational but focused as he gives background info on things like the show's writing staff, technical details or criticisms of various aspects. Much more interesting are his views on the characters and how they're developed through story and dialogue. In a way, his commentary is almost like a mini-workshop that deepens the episode instead of closing off interpretations.
Friday, January 9, 2004
"It also makes The Nazi Officer's Wife one of the most compelling films the Holocaust has yet produced." (from Janice Page's review)
Tuesday, January 6, 2004
On a narrative level, it's still unclear exactly how he's planning his revenge. Obviously simple death isn't the goal and perhaps not even an attempt at ruining the lives of the venal men who sent him to prison. Maybe he's attempting a more complete ruin of the man and his family but done in an untraceable manner. One storytelling oddity is that one of the Count's servants tells him a lengthy story about his vendetta which he had previously told to Dantes in his guise of a priest. The priest sent the man with a note for possible employment to the Count (Dantes again of course) who is now hearing the story again though it's the first time for the reader. Clearly the first telling wouldn't fit into the plot as it's structured (the Dantes to Count transformation is almost completely omitted though the remaining 500 pages may have a flashback or two) but there's still something almost unintentionally humorous about this.
http://www.artsjournal.com/sandow/archives20040104.shtml#65498 (Greg Sandow's blog and worth reading in case you hadn't already guessed).
Monday, January 5, 2004
Your Pazz & Jop albums ballot was submitted as follows:
1. Kaito UK - Band Red - SpinArt (15 points)
2. Wire - Send - Pink Flag (15 points)
3. Spring Heel Jack - Live - Thirsty Ear (15 points)
4. Television - Live at the Old Waldorf - Elektra/Rhino (15 points)
5. Asha Bhosle - The Rough Guide to Bollywood Legends: Asha Bhosle - World Music Network (10 points)
6. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Fever to Tell - Interscope (10 points)
7. Outkast - Speakerboxxx/The Love Below - Arista (5 points)
8. Jason Moran - The Bandwagon - Blue Note (5 points)
9. - Kill Bill: Vol. 1 - Maverick (5 points)
10. The Strokes - Room on Fire - RCA (5 points)
Your Pazz & Jop singles ballot has been recorded as follows:
1. Beyonce feat. Jay-Z - "Crazy in Love" - Columbia
2. Liam Lynch - "United States of Whatever" - S-Curve
3. Bubba Sparxxx - "Take a Load Off" - Beat-Club
4. Buck 65 - "Wicked and Weird" - Warner Canada
5. The White Stripes - "The Hardest Button to Button" - V2
6. Panjabi MC - "Jogi" - Sequence
7. Fountains of Wayne - "Stacy's Mom" - S-Curve
8. Freelance Hairdresser - "Marshall's Been Snookered" - no label
9. Smash@mash - "Wild Rock Music!" - no label
10. Alan Friedman - "Breakbeatles" - no label
Sunday, January 4, 2004
mastodon harmony ineffable
That's the subject line of a spam email I received; at least now I know what to name my first-born. The odd thing is that there have been other spam with a sort of found dadaist poetry feel to it (example below). I haven't read anything about this but would guess that it's an attempt to trick spam filtering software or at least make the recipient curious enough to open the email. The words appear to be drawn from a small standard dictionary (because there are very few archaic or obscure words) and from a medical dictionary. Or maybe it's just the spellchecker from a hospital computer.
And you can start the criticism: Note the consonance of "abort pit sit." Is "madeleine" a Proust mention? Is "seraglio tahiti" a disapproving Gaugin reference? And why "bartok"? There's a self-reflexive note in "morpheme" and possibly "rosette." Maybe the whole thing was created by a "tardy binocular enthusiast."
tardy binocular enthusiast written screechy stoneware captaincy hypothalamus cellar billiard cause brutal ceremonial capstone accessory congress lousy buxton coiffure perceptive cloth adjourn countywide beware rhode citrus instead
city save shrugging votive bourgeois pea tangle seraglio tahiti horology rebel viscoelastic vagabond
leigh sough picnicking parsimony halve oldy deadline wilkinson poplin glint tableaux cavalry diversionary madeleine cosgrove epithet anisotropy idiot saxony buxton dusenbury newscast tomograph disputant makeshift
inhalation mack taxi ghent backstitch holeable seem orthicon danielson cook cepheus allotted brazil allegoric deject hydrochloride roughneck warty brush superstitious ashland compensate armadillo diathesis natal
plumage shunt wallow tentative vaporous lament louvre sabina
inversion obsessive deborah condone cottage grandniece mesenteric ventilate provoke inaccessible deportation extant boric cocaine fellow
aorta craig dressy quasiparticle physik promote forfeit tiny nimble elide needle candlelight literature charity command scapula pecan swaziland delegate blair stahl plentiful deodorant bartok belfry
trundle flung gyroscope collect cabaret coddle weldon bandstop crowberry ague grown walkway palladian antigen greenland sepal squeal vanilla sherwood conquer morpheme
cliche rosebush diorama log sonority astronaut tyburn shimmy patrolmen lime rosette broadside daybreak banana clung ulysses drainage abort pit sit
Friday, January 2, 2004
In any case, why did I start reading The Count of Monte Cristo? The story sounds fairly blah, so much that I've never seen any of the film versions. But there was a cheap remainder of a recent translation by Robin Buss (published by Penguin whose recent decision to change the design of their classics line threw many titles into sale bins) that promised to be complete with material deemed inappropriate for earlier translations. So (1) there's the aura of "something I really should read" and (2) the possibility of discovering something beyond its reputation: narrative innovation, historical depth, psychological insight, what have you.
Now I've read over 400 pages without having reached the halfway point so the first thing that jumps out is that Dumas really needed an editor. It's easy to believe that he was paid by the line given that some incidents are retold just a few chapters later, that everybody is pretty verbose and that the pacing is quite leisurely. The biggest surprise so far is that the familiar part of the story--as Buss points out in his introduction most of us know the basic story even if we've never encountered the work or any of its avatars--barely takes up the first fifth or so of the book. There really aren't any discoveries. Sure there's a tale-within-a-tale, a bit of drug use, a fairly disturbing abduction, some political intrigue and similar elements but really nothing to base a claim that this is a misappreciated masterpiece. Despite the length it actually is pretty entertaining though I'm starting to wonder about whether this will be true of the remainder. The Count has appeared now in his guise of a mysterious traveller and the way he comes across as a super-connoisseur stretches belief in a way that hidden treasure and daring prison escapes don't quite. Maybe that's because while I know that treasures have been hidden and prisons escaped I don't have any experience with that but I do know how much time, effort and money it takes to develop cultural knowledge and that's not particularly plausible here. (Buss points out something similar in his introduction when he says that Dantes and the Count are basically separate characters.) And Dumas isn't a graceful writer--as far as that can be judged through a translation--which only makes me wish there was more than just the storytelling. Still, the novel has held up enough so far that I'm thinking of checking out more of his books.