Friday, July 31st, 2009
I do not follow Fred Clarke's Left Behind analyses religiously; but when I do read one, I am never disappointed. In today's post, he looks at the unusual meaning of "literal" when that term is used by a fundamentalist Christian explicator of the Bible.
We've already seen how, for Bruce as for Tim LaHaye, this word "literally" is not meant literally. For them it means something more like "my way." It's opposite would be "mere symbolism," which means for them, roughly, "any meaning other than the meaning imposed on a passage by reading it my way."
Clarke reads LaHaye's explanation of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and my mind is drawn irresistably to Patrick Farley's Apocamon -- I can see the First through Fourth Living Creatures calling out, "Come and See!" and once again I feel sad. So sad, because Apocamon is no longer available ever since a spammer stole Farley's Electric Sheep domain name...
Well, one thing led to another, and I looked at Google, and Apocamon is back on the web. Not only that, but Farley has written two new episodes of it since the last time I saw it! Go and See! It is seriously one of the finest comics I've ever read. I wonder if the rest of the Electric Sheep strips are online again -- they don't seem to be at Serializer but some searching is in order.
Thursday, July 30th, 2009
Last time I went to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, was with my friends Monique and Jeremy; and I took a couple of pictures on Monique's camera which I had since forgotten all about. But today she mailed them to me. Thanks Monique!
The pictures are of a statue whose title and author I have since forgotten, I'm hoping somebody will recognize these photos. If you do, please let me know in comments. Here is the front view of the statue:
and here is the view from behind, over the statue's shoulder, which is what initially caught my eye:
And speaking of that Museum: I'm going there this Sunday afternoon to meet up with Bill of Orbis Quintus; Bill let me know about the current exhibition of James Ensor's work. (So if nobody recognizes the statue, I will check when I'm there.) I don't know much about Ensor but I'm very intrigued by the sample images I've found looking around the web.
Wednesday, July 29th, 2009
Harry Patch, the last surviving British combat veteran from World War I, died this week. He was 111 years old. He said he aimed at the German soldiers' legs, that "war is not worth one life" -- it is "a calculated and condoned slaughter of human beings." Here is a video of him revisiting Passchendaele two years ago:
A few years back, Michael Palin filmed a documentary for the BBC called "The Last Day of World War One," in which he examines the question of the six-hour period between 5 am and 11 am on November 11, 1918, and the soldiers who fought and killed and died in these hours between the signing of the armistice and its taking effect. You can watch the documentary at mazalien.com.
So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
And builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretchèd forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him. Behold,
A ram caught in a thicket by its horns;
Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.
But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.
- Wilfrid Owen, "The parable of the Old Man and the Young"
Last week, it was Photoshop Phriday at Something Awful, with the proprietors trying to assemble their favorite fictional animals out of real photographs. Results are mixed but some of them are just great -- check out this take on Miyazaki's Catbus:
I want to take a ride with Totoro! (And speaking of Studio Ghibli, I am on pins and needles waiting for Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea to hit the theaters...)
On another page, we see in quick succession Charmander, Road Runner and Wile E., and Cat Dog.
Tuesday, July 28th, 2009
I was reminded this weekend of a song I love, and I bothered to do a little research and find out more about it. Here's the version I was listening to this weekend:
I always think of this as a Rockabilly tune; turns out the original version predates Rockabilly by a few years. It was written by Granville "Stick" McGhee when he was in the army in WWII (supposedly under the title "Drinkin Wine, Motherfucker" -- I hope hope hope this is not apocryphal*) and recorded on Decca in 1946 -- Granville's elder brother Brownie(!) played guitar.
They re-recorded it in 1949 on the Atlantic label and had a hit record:
I can't find the 1946 record on the internet anywhere - hoyhoy.com says Decca re-issued it after Atlantic's hit and "It flopped because it didn't rock."
The big hit, the reason I think of this as a Rockabilly number, was Jerry Lee Lewis:
So which do you like best? I hear things I love in each of them, I'm leaning towards thinking the Pirates version rocks the hardest... Any other favorite covers of this tune?
*Update: I found a reference for this story, and more information about Stick McGhee, in The Unsung Heroes of Rock n Roll, by Nick Tosches.
I dreamt of frozen detectives in the great
I'm getting really excited and champing at the bit to read Thomas Pynchon's new novel, Inherent Vice, which will be coming out one week from today (if my fingers are accurate). Here are some preparatory links I've been collecting over the last little while:
refrigerator of Los Angeles
in the great refrigerator of Mexico City.
-- Roberto Bolaño
- Louis Menand's review in the New Yorker is to my way of thinking, a model for how book reviews ought to be written. Every other review of this book I've read has contained the same superficial, thoughtless (and in some cases debatable) bits of information -- that the novel is a detective story set in Los Angeles, the main character "Doc" Sportello is a stoner and gumshoe, that the story is more straightforward and plotted than your archetypally cryptic Pynchon novel, that Hollywood is talking about optioning rights, a first for the famously unfilmable TRP... Menand goes much deeper, pulls in Pynchon's other work in specific ways rather than general, really thinks about the consequences of what he is saying.
- Tim Ware of thomaspynchon.com has created an Inherent Vice Wiki, initialized with his page-by-page notes. It's just waiting for other people to read the book and start contributing.
- Wired has published The Unofficial Pynchon Guide to Los Angeles, an interactive map of the city marked up with references from Inherent Vice. Useful for finding your way around as you read.
- Update: And furthermore: the mysterious Basileios (of the Against The Day weblog) will be keeping an Inherent Vice weblog as well. This seems like good news to me.
Speaking by the way of excellent book reviews, Giles Harvey has a very nice take (and cleverly titled!) on Bolaño's The Skating Rink in the Abu Dhabi National. Thanks for the link, badger!
Finally today I read a notice that The Elephant's Journey is going to be published in English; but not until more than a year from now! Jull Costa will be translating it, as I had assumed she would be; Houghton Mifflin will publish it next fall.
Monday, July 27th, 2009
The bedroom door, which was only pushed to, opened softly in the darkness. Tomarctus, the household dog, had come in. He came to find out if this master, who only turns up very infrequently, was still here. He is a medium-sized dog, and inky black, not like other dogs that, when seen from up close, are really gray.
Nice to see the dog making his appearance -- I think there have been dogs in every Saramago book I've read so far -- it is a nice linking thread. Tomarctus is the name of a prehistoric species which is an ancestor of canis familiaris.
I am wondering about the roles of the female characters in this book, Maria, Helena, and Tertuliano's mother. Each one of them seems pretty cryptic in her own way.
Saturday, July 25th, 2009
They say that if you meet your double, you should kill him -- or that he will kill you. I can't remember which; but the gist of it is, that two of you is one too many.
I'm midway through The Double now, and still not sure how to approach reading it. It seems at times like a Woody Allen movie, exploring the humorous consequences of its main character's depression/inferiority complex; at other times I think Saramago has something enlightening to say about depression, but the (overly?) dismissive tone of his narrator makes it impossible to develop this much -- every thing he says, he cuts down. I'm pretty sure the intent of the book is neither broad comedy nor pedagogy, but I'm sort of alternating between these poles in my reading -- I'm hoping Saramago will show his hand a bit when the doubles meet.
-- Double Take
Bill of Orbis Quintus linked to an interview with screenwriter Tom McCarthy, in which he discusses among other things his most recent project, the movie Double Take (a longer article about the movie is at Art in America). Sounds great -- he says it is based on "a Borges tale about meeting his own double" -- at first I thought this was referring to "Borges and I", but this is probably wrong, unless the relationship between the source text and the movie is very loose indeed.* He's changed it around so that the movie is about Alfred Hitchcock rather than Borges, which seems to me like a excellent move -- not that I wouldn't be glad to see a movie about Borges, but throwing Hitchcock into the mix can only produce good consequences. Here is a clip:...And yikes! another, mind-boggling, clip underneath the fold.
* (The story referenced is "The Other", from The Book of Sand.)
(...And thinking further, I'd say the relationship between source text and movie is indeed very loose, and who knows, "Borges and I" may have been the inspiration for this. I need to see more of the movie to have any actual opinion about this, though.)
Sunday, July 19th, 2009
Here is a chicken salad recipe that I came up with today and brought along to a potluck supper, where it was a hit. It is a good use for leftover chicken.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add carrots and fennel. After about a minute add peppers -- immediately drain and rinse with cold water. Combine all ingredients in a salad bowl and toss with whatever dressing you like -- I used balsamic vinaigrette.
- All or part of a roast chicken, cut into bite-size pieces.
- 1 head fennel, chopped into bite-size pieces
- 2 or 3 carrots diced
- 2 green bell peppers diced
- 1 red onion diced small
- a head of spinach cleaned and picked
Drop me a line! or, sign my Guestbook.
Check out Ellen's writing at Patch.com.