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Month: March 2009

Sean Howard: Modern Moments

Sean Howard: Modern Moments

modern moments (main-à-dieu, nova scotia)


sun & cloud (reproduction)



band, slow mov-

ing, copy-






nest (goodyear)



weed, dulse &

sorrel, moss a-

round the




night journey (disconnect)



ing star,


cry, jet st-

reams in




Altea Reincarnate

Altea Reincarnate




Look for me after I die
I’m coming back as a cello
All the emotions intact
With cool low sawing notes
Heart rising in the throat
Brought to near ecstasy
By the sweet caress of Yo-Yo Ma
Gently drawing the seductive tones
From my spruce and poplar heart
With his pernambuco slow bow

Notes of longing contentment
Haunting darkness and spiccato joy
My next life of pure passion
The giving and receiving of it
Back and forth artistry
Cruel agony hot caustic erotic
The darkness and joy
Rich romantic vibrato
Of me
The cello




I recall the sound of
dried bougainvillea petals
scuttling down
narrow ancient stone steps
pink petals bunched
at each crooked turn

Altea held in time
along the Costa Blanca
haunted by ghostly Moors
and feral cats
who roam the harbour
in search of a
tossed off cuttlefish

Altea, rising
in stark whiteness
up up to its
blue and … Click to continue . . .

Real So Real

Real So Real

Rachel Getting Married
Rachel Getting Married

Are we the center of everything? Can we be the center without disrupting other centers? Smashing into each other, again and again. Ego against ego. Id against id. Timing is everything. Crashing into someone else’s time. Knocking that time off kilter like a shot blocker, like someone who moves the target, the goal posts, the field of drama, over and over again . . . .

March was an especially good month for DVD releases. Watched Jonathan Demme’s Rachel Getting Married, and was knocked out by the realism, depth and honesty on display. It, too, dealt with the impact of pity (among many other things) on our lives and ties in well with Zweig’s book. There are also some faint echoes with another movie I reviewed here, I’ve Loved you for so Long

Two sisters. One with a tragic past. The impact on family, friends. Pity. Self-pity. Love, despite tremendous, shattering obstacles. Both movies handle this brilliantly.… Click to continue . . .

Letting go of Pity

Letting go of Pity

Beware of Pity, by Stefan Zweig
Beware of Pity, by Stefan Zweig

 A bit of synchronicity and chance today. About half way through Zweig’s excellent Beware of Pity, I decided to take a break and watch The Cake Eaters, primarily because Kristen Stewart is in it. Almost right from the start, I could see her role echoed Zweig’s story in some important ways. Stefan Zweig’s novel centers on a young woman who is paralyzed, and befriended by a young lieutenant in the Austro-Hungarian army. Befriended, at first, because of his sense of pity, duty, honor, guilt. Because he had asked her to dance at a lavish party, not knowing she was too crippled to. She goes into hysterics and he flees from the house in shame. But comes back out of guilt. The book travels through the Hungarian countryside as well as the country of the mind, our phobias, our fears, our strange sense of debt and the psychology of pity.

In The Cake Click to continue . . .

Elegant, Passionate Witchery

Elegant, Passionate Witchery

Kate Bush
Kate Bush

Kate Bush’s first album came out when she was just 20 years old, in 1978. She had been “discovered” prior to that by David Gilmour, of Pink Floyd fame. I imagine it wasn’t that difficult to notice how unusual she was, how eccentric, cerebral, gifted, and glowingly strange. Many of my favorite female singer/songwriters from the 90s were influenced a great deal by her. Milla Jovovich, Tori Amos, and P.J. Harvey, especially. And she was quite the buzz in the literary circles of two colleges I attended. Which made sense. Sound and sense. Kate Bush utilized literary sources for many of her songs, and recently contributed to the songtrack of The Golden Compass. Dickens, Bronte, Joyce and Tennyson are some of the literary giants she integrated into her music. Bush wanted to use at least some of Molly Bloom’s soliloquy from Ulysses in her song, The Sensual World, but the Joyce estate said no. So she … Click to continue . . .

All the World’s a Stage

All the World’s a Stage

Charlie Kaufman's Synecdoche, New York
Charlie Kaufman’s Synecdoche, New York

Baffling, surreal, and haunting, Synecdoche, New York presents a world within a world, a stage within a stage, doubled, tripled, extended, bounded and unbounded by dream logic and existential dread. It is a film that needs to be seen more than once. More than twice. I know because I watched it yesterday for the first time . . .

and it’s still banging around in my head.

Charlie Kaufman, the writer behind Being John Malkovich; Adaptation; and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, directs for the first time from his own script. And it’s a Vianesque doozy.

Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Caden Cotard, a theater director in Schenectady, New York. Cotard is married to Adele Lack (played by Catherine Keener), an artist of miniatures. They have a daughter, Olive (Sadie Goldstein), age 4 when the movie opens. The film traverses roughly 40 to 50 years, with much of the passage of time being lost … Click to continue . . .

Suppressed Internal Dimensions

Suppressed Internal Dimensions

 I’ve Loved you for so Long is not a movie for everyone. As has been noted perhaps a billion times, we live in a culture with mounting pressure for quick payoffs, and our attention spans have shrunk. This brilliant film takes its time. It builds up story elements slowly, develops its characters and their relationships with great care, nuance and subtlety, and never hits you over the head with messages or symbols or histrionics. It treats you like an adult. The subject matter could easily call for endless scene chewing and heightened melodrama, but the director, Phillippe Claudel (a novelist and professor of Literature at the University of Nancy), chooses a different path.

Kristin Scott Thomas plays Juliette Fontaine, a woman with a tragic, terrible secret, just released from prison. Her sister Lea, played by Elsa Zylberstein, welcomes her into her home to help her get back on her feet. Elsa is married to Luc (played by Serge Hazanavicius), and … Click to continue . . .

The Inelegance of Hierarchies

The Inelegance of Hierarchies

Head of a Peasant Girl, by Kazimir Malevich. 1913
Head of a Peasant Girl, by Kazimir Malevich. 1913

In The Elegance of the Hedgehog, class and age play a big part. Hierarchies play a big part. Elitism and the stigma of the lower classes are dissected and become almost characters in the novel. Madame Michel, who suffers from a very poor background, feels obliged for many reasons to present to the wealthy tenants of Number 7, Rue de Grenelle, that which they already assume: her ignorance and her virtual insignificance. This is a tragedy that underlies other tragedies in the novel, and it works two ways at least. At the very least.

Madame Michel both loves and hates the fact that she must hide. There is perhaps a secret sense of joy that she has a secret life. This lifts her up to the degree that it remains hidden. But at the same time she realizes she is trapped by a stereotype, by the projection of that stereotype … Click to continue . . .