Tuesday, May 25, 2004


Entertainment Weekly ran true to its corporate overlords and rejected a Pekar/Crumb strip about Billy Bragg because they were afraid of appearing too liberal. Now the BBC is presenting it to the world at large.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Remember the claim that multiplex theatres would be large enough to allow some screening space for indie and foreign films? My local 24-plex is showing only 12 films and worse a 6-plex that claims to be devoted to independent film culture is showing six mainstream Hollywood films (unless for some peculiar reason you think Connie and Carla shouldn't count).

This is the start of the summer season and to give proper credit the 24-plex has the best projection of any place in the city, including the various genuine arthouses, the museum and certainly the local colleges (one of which has a supposedly top-notch film program but invariably has projection problems; for two years it ran a poorly set-up projector that was unable to show any aspect ratio correctly even though I pointed this out twice to the head of the film program).

So what's the point? Capitalism rules? None of this is a surprise but in some way I'm still disappointed. Even money-grubbing record labels and publishers still support what they consider prestige projects so even though Hollywood's idea of this runs to garbage like Chicago and American Beauty it's not far-fetched that theatre chains could tap into a small but loyal and largely underserved market. Oh, stop snickering....

Friday, May 21, 2004

The latest in amusement from automatic computer data manipulation: If you look

up Auerbach's Mimesis at Amazon the section titled "Customers interested in

this title may also be interested in:" includes Find Local Realtors Here and

Find Real Estate Agents. Huh? Probably the system looks at the book's

subtitle, "The Representation of Reality in Western Literature," picks up

"reality" and makes a connection to real property. Wonder why it didn't grab

"re-presentation" and link to sites about make-overs?

I earlier discovered another: Look for "Flowers of Evil" and one of the Related

Searches is "nantucket sleighride."

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Heard a college radio DJ today play a song by some band I'd never heard of. His description was that they were researching the beginnings of the blues and discovered this obscure guy Alan Lomax so this band just pulled the field recordings and created songs around them. However shaky this may be it's even more striking that the DJ seemed completely oblivious that Moby had done exactly this same thing on Play, one of the best-selling albums of the past decade.
Wow, talk about being out of touch but I just found out that there's a new translation of Proust with each volume done by a different translator. So far only the first (by Lydia Davis) has come out in the U.S. but they're all available in England. This was probably reviewed in lots of places I should have read but, well, didn't. Wasn't Richard Howard working on this as well?

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

The recent mention of Cadence reminded me that I’ve planned to do a compilation of embarassing moments from reviews. Not from Cadence since the writers are unpaid and the volume of work is admirably hefty so instead the April issue of Downbeat seems like a good choice. I’ve left out names but if anybody recognizes their work, don’t write me just but just do the same thing from my writing; there’s certainly enough there.

“They possess that startling flash of stimulation that puts the best players on the edge and throws unexpected light into unanticipated places. Each is a swift, precisely cut little gem that one may not only admire but actually like a lot.”

“While known for the rich harmonic texturing of his big band and jazz orchestra charts, here he boils his style down to the thoughtful gestures of melodic conversation.”

“If one’s tastes are more catholic and pure...” [The reviewer is mis-using “catholic” which means “universal” and contradicts “pure.”]

“The result is marked by exemplary musicianship, brave composing and the pure joy of music.” [“Brave composing”? Maybe Shostakovich at times but certainly not anybody releasing a fusion record.]

Monday, May 17, 2004

Having heard that Mr. Show was hilarious and ground-breaking, I rented the first season. Maybe other seasons are different but I can't see exactly what's so unusual that wasn't first done by Monty Python (at least to us Yanks since I've never been able to see any of the other shows that led up to Python). Breaking character, linked skits, revisions in process, etc can all be seen in Python. The one difference of course is that Mr. Show is American so there's pretty much no references outside pop culture. Can you imagine any show here doing a "Summarize Proust" skit? On the other hand, when Mr. Show has Lincoln explain the meaning of the stars in the flag I'm guessing that only a small part of the audience gets the joke (an urban legend that you probably have to be a male between 40 and 70 to have ever heard). But innovation, who really cares? Mr. Show does have some pretty amusing stuff--I particularly like the discovery of the 13th apostle who was a motivational speaker/huckster--but as far as laughs and genuine satire it doesn't match, say, The Simpsons and South Park.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Watching Kill Bill, Vol. 2 it's hard not to wonder whether the contrasting tone and pacing of the two parts is due to the decision to split them or to a general messiness overall. While Jackie Brown had shown that Tarrantino had the potential to move past his numerous imitators, Kill Bill lapsed into amusing flash (Vol. 1) and sporadic tedium (Vol. 2). Perhaps a one-part 150-minute edit would have solved some of the problems but the whole thing has a self-referential home-movie feel like most of Kevin Smith's films. Tarrantino's film knowledge has always been over-stated--though deep in certain areas it's certainly quite narrow--but here he's just falling into his comfort zones. That may not necessarily be a bad place (it's where Shakespeare seems to have worked) but you'd better hope it's not a tiny clubhouse. I'm perhaps one of Kill Bill's almost-ideal viewers since I recognize the Morricone riffs (some anyway), catch the references to They Call Her One-Eye among numerous exploitation outings and know why Shogun Assassin is an appropriate, though still not particularly resonant, film for an assassin's child to watch. Still, while I kept trying to excuse the revenge concept as just a MacGuffin after a while it looks like Tarrantino takes it somewhat seriously, at least enough that it bogs down Vol. 2. Everything's slow enough that the plot actually starts to matter or anyway become something to think about other than the purty cinematography since not much else is going on. I mean: Who is this guy that gives away Bill's final location? And does it because Bill would want it that way? You half-expect to hear MST3K comments about "it's exposition time." The problems hardly stop there but I don't particularly feel like going further tonight.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Maybe I should try a stand-up comic's "Don't you hate" whine but: It always seems odd to me when a blogger explains why it's been so long since their last post. Is anybody really reading every day, noting week-long absences? I've been off about three weeks due to work and other assorted matters but since my working assumption is that nobody reads this anyway, well, so what?

But I was catching up on other blogs--generally I read a week or two's worth at a time--and noticed that Kyle Gann had quoted my bit about free improv that quoted his bit. Nice, huh? The odd thing is that I have no idea how he knew about this so I guess somebody's out there. A quick check of my webstats (which I haven't done in at least a year) shows that the blog had almost a hundred hits so far this month though most of the action is at my other frozen sites.

Well, enough of navel-gaze blogging and back to impersonal criticism....